Ethan Russell didn't shoot the birth of rock and roll, but he was certainly there for its early childhood.
As the most enduring names in rock were emerging, Russell was a young UC Davis graduate living in London hoping to become a writer.
"A friend of a friend came by and knew I'd taken some pictures," Russell said. "I'd never had a photography class and he said 'Do you want to shot my next interview?' and I said 'Yeah, who is it?' and he said 'Mick Jagger.'
Russell must have done something right, because his friend called him back two months later to ask for help with another interview: John Lennon.
Since then Russell has shot Linda Ronstadt to John and Yoko to the Eagles and the Doors.
As rock grew up, so did Russell and he doubts the current music industry would allow for such candid, un-scripted and undirected purely historic documentation.
"In the music business it's really tough because the music business is really business," Russell said. "They really limit what you can get because they want to control it. It's a manager's business, lawyers game with copy write. And the part that's the biggest loss and I mean this, is nobody is recording the history."
Russell calls himself lucky, but anyone whose met him can tell there is something about him that put those bands at ease.
"I wasn't the guy who wanted to be cool like you," Russell said. "I was lucky to be there. That was the way I felt. The way I shot was to be very much on the edges, not to ask people to do anything. Sometimes it frustrated people. Pete Townsend used to say 'Tell us what to do.'"
Russell compares his photography to his days as a kid hunting, where patience, distance and quickness allowed his pray, or project, to reveal themselves in front of his lens.
Russell will be at the Harris Center in Folsom on Friday night for one show only at 7:30. Tickets are still available.
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