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Bob Dylan 1984
May 23, 1984 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 1984

The Beverly Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA

This photo was taken on May 23, 1984 at The Beverly Theatre, in Beverly Hills, CA. (The day before Dylan's 43rd birthday) As House Photographer for The Beverly Theatre, I was asked by theatre owners Jay Marciano and Bob Stein to "get down to the theatre and bring lots of film." This was probably the only time I was asked to shoot at The Beverly during the day. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find out that the reason I had been called in was to photograph...Bob Dylan. Cloaked in mystery, he was rehearsing with Carlos Santana just prior to leaving on their European Tour. This was definitely one of those magical moments in music history. But the adventure didn't stop there. Waiting in the Beverly's business office with owners Jay, Bob, and Steve - who should walk in but legendary producer, Bill Graham. Okay. Everyone keep cool. There were brief introductions, followed by an announcement that the rehearsal was about to begin. I was heading toward the door trying to be inconspicuous with my camera bag, when someone barked "No photos! Mr. Dylan wants no photos. " Sheepishly, I muttered "Ok", and walked out the door, dazed by the drastic change of plan. Accepting my fate, I was heading toward the front exit when Jay Marciano, who had followed me out of the office, grabbed my arm and said firmly "Nancy, get these photos. I don't care what it takes, but get them." I swerved and tip-toes up the staircase to the balcony. I stepped in, looked around, and was delighted to see that I was the only person up there. Suddenly feeling very clandestine, I began to plot how to proceed. Thankfully my trusty OM-1 was one of the most silent 35mm's going at the time, and as I never used a motor winder, the likelihood of anyone hearing me as I shot off frame after frame was remote. But I had not anticipated having to shoot the rehearsal from the balcony, and suddenly wondered what - if anything - could be accomplished with a 100mm f2 lens. I put camera to eye and Dylan looked miniscule in the frame. This wouldn't work. Then I remembered an old, seldom-used and rather wonky 2x doubler attachment that was buried in the bottom pocket of my bag. So now thanks to this funky little adapter, I was shooting with a 200mm lens with f4. Hardly optimum for low lighting conditions. Now what? Thank God for Tri-x film, which could be 'pushed' up to 1600 ASA rather effectively. So that's how the above photo was achieved! I managed to shoot 2 rolls of B&W film and one roll of color, before other people began drifting into the balcony. Afraid of being apprehended or, at the very least, humiliated for disobeying direct orders from the artist I decided to make a hasty exit. Years later I was asked during an interview by a Dylan Fan Club Magazine in Scotland "What songs were they rehearsing?" And you know, only then did I realize how frightened I must have been because - I could not recall a single song!

The final episode of this story involves a call I received the following week from Rolling Stone Magazine in NYC. "We understand you have photos of Dylan rehearsing with Santana?" Oh dear. How even the most secret-of-secrets manages to slip out in the music industry. Hesitantly I said, "Yes, why do you ask?" Response: "Well, we're doing a feature and wanted to use one of your shots of Dylan on the cover." Still nervous about the circumstances under which the photos were taken, I explained the unexpected drama that proceeded the shoot.
And so it happened that my first big break as a photographer - having one of my photos on the cover of Rolling Stone - went unheralded...un-captioned, but happy to say - NOT unpaid!

Olympus OM-1 ,Olympus Zuiko 100mm w/2x doubler,Pushed to ASA 1600

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