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Nancy Clendaniel | profile | all galleries >> Coco Montoya tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Coco Montoya

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
March 29, 1989
The Los Angeles Photography Center
Los Angeles, CA
I was more than 8 months pregnant when I got the phone call from legendary blues artist John Mayall, asking if I could do a new photo of him and the band. Evidently John had quite liked the recent headshots I’d done of his wife, Maggie, so he tracked me down. He was about to head out on tour with a new line up of musicians, making a new photo essential. I jumped at the opportunity and we scheduled the session the following week at the Los Angeles Photography Center. *

On the day of the scheduled photo session, I arrived over an hour early to set the lights. To my dismay, when I walked into the Center I saw that 500 folding chairs had been unloaded on the very cove where I was going to photograph John and The Bluesbreakers! Had I not been so heavily pregnant, I would have set about moving the chairs to the other side of the main room, using the dolly that was always on hand. But fearing such an effort might cause me to go into labor, I began scanning the room for help. In the corner of the main room, I noticed a young, Hispanic man dressed in coveralls. With no time to spare, I plucked up my courage and headed straight for him. Explaining my dilemma, the man didn’t even wait for me to finish ‘ “You sit right there,” he insisted, “And I’ll get those chairs out of your way.”

While he was schlepping, I was setting lights and putting film in my cameras. No sooner had he relocated the very last chair than John Mayall bounced in the back door. Smiling broadly, John made a beeline straight for me saying “Hello Nancy!” And then, turning to the man who by this time was removing his coveralls to reveal a blue silk shirt and dress pants, he said “Hello Coco.” GASP. Coco? As in THE Coco Montoya - one of the most celebrated guitarists in the world? (AKA: The musician who had replaced Eric Clapton when Clapton left the Bluesbreakers?) He saw the realization of my faux pas on my face and smiled. “Not to worry, Nancy. I’m glad I could help.”

The photo session began: First multiple group shots of John and the Bluesbreakers, followed by some solo portraits of John, followed by…a special portrait session for Coco (shown here!)...to thank him for saving the day!

* LAPC was a multi-purpose facility in downtown Los Angeles where I often rented studio space when planning to a photo session of this size. LAPC was a unique community center that incorporated a gallery, a full size studio space with a built in cove, a community darkroom, and a shared main hall for events.
Coco Montoya 1989
Coco Montoya 1989

With John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
With John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers