We are delighted to be able to offer collectors the first opportunity to acquire limited edition photographs from the 1975 Born To Run archives of Barbara Pyle. Barbara’s delicious sepia-toned photographs are offered in a choice of sizes, each one signed and numbered by Barbara on the front under the image. Barbara gives us the privilege of private access to some special moments behind the scenes on the ’75 Born to Run tour.
When looking at this collection, you might well be wondering, how did the Oklahoma-born photographer know where Bruce and the band members were going to be during their time in New Orleans back in 1975? The answer is really simple. She took them there. By the time of the Born to Run Tour, Barbara had 10 years of deep roots throughout the New Orleans musical community.
“When the Band headed to New Orleans, so did I. My love affair with New Orleans had begun a decade earlier in 1965 – but I was in her full grip by 1969. The music had taken me over. I wanted to show them the New Orleans that I know. I wanted them to experience the magic of New Orleans. I hope these photos tell a small part of the tale.”
On Barbara Pyle’s first night in New Orleans, Betsy struck. Many call Betsy the “prelude to Katrina”. Levees breeched and areas flooded as high as one story roof tops. “Billion Dollar Betsy” was what they named her in 1965 because she was the most expensive hurricane to have hit New Orleans. For Pyle, it was a transformative experience. She volunteered for the Red Cross and found herself literally parachuted into a different world. “Betsy and I arrived in New Orleans on the same night. Volunteering for the Red Cross was my introduction to both the unique people and that very special culture that can only be found in New Orleans. The lyrics from Backstreets, ‘The fire we was born in’ have always struck a huge chord with me. I guess they remind me of Betsy.”
It was in those days that her lifelong love affair with New Orleans would begin. It was 10 years later almost to the day that she nominated herself official unofficial New Orleans tour guide to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Barbara is not kidding when she says: “I felt like it was some sort of moral imperative that I meet Bruce and the E Street Band in New Orleans. It was my New Orleans musical roots that enabled me to fall in step with them so quickly. Music lies at the heart of it. I call New Orleans ‘my heart, my soul and my inspiration.’ The beauty and spirit that is New Orleans inspired me to photography. I really do believe that in those couple days, I was able to show Bruce and the Band an “off-the-beaten-path”side of New Orleans that they would not have had quick or easy access to – the New Orleans shaped my life.”
Bruce’s Born to Run concert was in the New Orleans Performing Arts Center, just next to Congo Square, the scene of New Orleans’ first Jazz Fest. So it is no surprise that in the wake of New Orleans’ worst hour, he headlined the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and closed the first weekend with a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The white handkerchief was out, but few danced. Bruce sang it as if it was a hymn for New Orleans. He closed that weekend with a rarely heard verse: “Some say this world of trouble is the only world we’ll ever see/ But I’m waiting for that morning when the new world is revealed.”
But what of Bruce back in the day? We will probably have to wait for Barbara’s book for the complete skinny, but it’s fair to say that Bruce was still in a pretty marginal mood, filled with trepidation about the success of Born To Run. As Barbara remembers it, New Orleans was the first time that he hung out and had a good time for a very long time. She’ll never say it herself, but Barbara should be claiming part credit for this, because it was her that coaxed them out of their hotel rooms to groove around New Orleans, introducing them to her musician pals and taking them to funky places / events. In the New Orleans Collection, you’ll see the guys playing pool, performing with Lee Dorsey, shopping for clothes and music, and generally having a blast.
Here’s the interesting thing you will notice with Barbara’s photographs. They work so well together, that it actually becomes extremely difficult to pick just one favourite. Once you see them, we think you will want to own more than one… maybe two, four, six, who knows. And that’s a bit of a problem. After all, you can’t just have everything you want, because of the wall space you need, and also because of budget… right? No, No, No!!! Here’s why. All of Barbara’s work is available to purchase in a range of sizes, starting with an 8 x 10 inch paper size, with an image size approximately 5.75 x 8.5 inches. When matted and framed, the external dimensions come out at around 12 x 14 inches – so it’s a nice small size for the wall. And let’s face it: often it is easier to swing a purchase past your partner if they know it isn’t going to dominate the room. With this size, the wives need never know, to paraphrase Laurel and Hardy.
On this one we have worked with Barbara to keep the prices as keen as mustard, offering something in a much smaller physical size than is perhaps the ‘norm’ in galleries and at a much more affordable price. When we ran this past Barbara, she was hooked on the idea – her reaction was instant, and she told us: "Bruce at the ‘people’s price’ …fabulous…it will be great fun to take the photographs out to a broader audience. That was always my intention." So we have an entry price point of GBP 150 / USD 250 (approx) for a signed limited edition 8×10 inch photograph. We think that these smaller size 8×10 prints are exactly what people need right now. And if you want larger sizes, those are available too. Why not get creative and pepper your walls with a combination of large and small variants? For completists who want one of each piece in the collection, we will do you a special discount and a nice presentation box thrown in as well.
Barbara adds a sepia tone to her photographs because it reminds her of how she used to make her prints back in the day. All the photographs in the New Orleans Collection are on show in the flesh in our London Mayfair gallery space as part of out “Happy Birthday Bruce Springsteen!” exhibition which runs from 28 September 2009. Come and see them for yourself. Barbara’s great photograph of Bruce with his Born to Run 26th Birthday cake is also available as part of the 60th birthday exhibition.