Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Classic Photo of "Hillman-Lala-Stills"

Recently I was contacted by an associate of legendary singer-songwriter & musician Mr. Chris Hillman. Wow! Naturally I was excited as I was being contacted regarding a classic photograph that I had taken years ago. Come to find out, Hillman had seen the photo of a stageshot that was taken when he was playing with Stephen Stills & Manassas. For me, the contact was a pleasant reunion of sorts as I had toured with the band in the early 1970's while working for Atlantic Records. Plus, this also reconnected me with one of my all time favorites as I had always admired Chris Hillman for his low key presence and not seeking the limelight. Hillman had seen the photo of him (on left below) taking a courtesy bow on stage with noted percussionist Joe Lala and mega-star Stephen Stills and thought it would be a good addition to his career archive.

At the time of the photo, Manassas was red-hot and rapidly moving up the charts and on their way to a Gold selling album with the hit singles "It Doesn't Matter" and "Rock 'n' Roll Crazies." Plus, talk about a who's-who of influential rock musicians, Chris Hillman was an early frontrunner in the Folk-Rock movement in the late 1960's and 1970's. As an original member of the Hall of Fame Rock Band, The Byrds, Hillman was influential in introducing psychedelia, folk rock, and country combined with electronic music. The Byrds used pedal steel guitar with a moog synthesizer into their music with their monster hits such as "Turn, Turn, Turn"- "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Eight Miles High." Hillman would go on the record & tour with such notables, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, Souther, Hillman and Furay and others. Currently Hillman has released a solo CD and produced by the late Tom Petty and available at his personal website: www.ChrisHillman.com

But wait just a minute, the other two musicians pictured here were certainly no sloches. Pictured in the center is percussionist and vocalist Joe Lala (1947-2014) whose work included being an original member of Blues Image and Manassas. Plus, he also worked and toured with CSNY, The Byrds, Joe Walsh, The Bee Gees and Whitney Houston among others. Yet, after a painful battle with carpal tunnel syndrome, he retired from playing percussions and performing live. But Joe Lala would continue his lengthy career while becoming an actor and appearing in many popular TV shows including, Miami Vice, Melrose Place, Seinfeld, General Hospital.

But, as pictured on the right, what can you say about the legendary singer-songwriter Stephen Stills. Consider that he was an early entree, if not the first, California-based musician that epitomized the modern day West Coast Sound that was not associated with the Surf Music movement or a produced session music. In 1966 Stills formed Hall of Fame Rock Band "The Buffalo Springfield" who opened many doors for a avalanche of Pop-Rock bands to flood the U.S. marketplace. His band The Buffalo Springfield had memorable hits such as, "For What' It's Worth" - "Sit Down I Think I Love You" and "Stop Children - What's That Sound." Stills' next musical venture was mastering the very tasteful and harmonious sounds of Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) with monster hits such as, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" - "Teach Your Children Well' - "Marrakesh Express" - "Our House" and many others. Stills would go on to record several solo albums while striking gold with the notable single, "Love The One You're With". The next Stills project was Manassas combined with numerous collaborations with other noted rock stars. To put the great Stephen Stills long career in perspective, he is the only person to be inducted twice on the same night into the Rock 'n' Roll Music Hall of Fame. Yet, what else can you possibly say about Stephen Stills as so many others have draped him with homage and praise. Perhaps it sums him up when his long time musical colleleague Neil Young called him, "a genius."

So, with all things said and done, how lucky I was to be a small part of this photograph and capturing a significant moment. Here, these legendary musicians are on stage and having a good time while giving the audience a gracious and courteous bow. Captured moments like this share a great story!