Encore

Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard
PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF CHOSE “A FUNKY little hotel” in downtown L.A. to shoot this session for Merle Haggard’s 1981 album Big City. “With wry humor, Merle said, ‘This is what you learn in jail’ as he peeled the apple in one cut,” recalls Seeff. “He didn’t try to hide his past.” As the session progressed, a different facet of the country legend emerged. “He had a kind of duality,” explains Seeff. “One part was rough and... 

ISAAC HAYES

ISAAC HAYES
ISAAC HAYES HAD JUST WRAPPED A CONCERT WHEN photographer Norman Seeff shot this session for the soul legend’s 1977 album, New Horizon. “We rented a beautiful studio in San Francisco,” recalls Seeff, “and didn’t begin shooting until 1 a.m. I told him, ‘I’m concerned; you must be exhausted.’ He said, ‘No, no, I’m fine.’” Hayes sang for Seeff and his team. “Everyone was transfixed,” says Seeff. “There was an energy in the... 

THE BAND

THE BAND
NORMAN SEEFF HAD RECENTLY MOVED TO NEW YORK from South Africa—with dreams of becoming a photographer—when he shot this session for the Band’s 1970 album, Stage Fright. “I bought six rolls of film, borrowed a car and a strobe, and set out for Big Pink—their house in Woodstock,” he recalls. “But I got lost and arrived more than two hours late. The guys were furious.” Seeff tried to make the best of the situation. “I rearranged the... 

BOBBY WOMACK

BOBBY WOMACK
BOBBY WOMACK NEEDED LITTLE DIRECTION FROM photographer Norman Seeff during this L.A. session for his 1971 album, Communication. “He loved performing—I didn’t have to push him at all,” recalls Seeff. “He would just launch right into a song. He had an energy that, for me, was a benchmark for being in the moment.” It was a satisfying shoot for Seeff. “Every frame has its own character,” he says. “He was willing to be vulnerable and... 

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau
PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF’S SESSION WITH Al Jarreau for his 1983 album, Jarreau, was a memorable, fun affair. “He brought this bubbling laughter and enthusiasm,” recalls Seeff. “Al came across as someone who loved his life and loved this great gift he has.” Seeff’s young daughter, Tai Power Seeff, joined the son of the photographer’s assistant in some playful interaction with the singer. “It was a time when we all had kids,” says... 

Van Morrison

Van Morrison
PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF’S SESSION FOR Van Morrison’s 1979 album, Into the Music, nearly never happened. “I met with him at his home in Northern California,” recalls Seeff, “and he took me on a crazy drive in his Porsche as we listened to the album.” But by the end of the day the quixotic artist expressed doubts about using his image on the album cover. Seeff turned to a mutual friend, who had played violin on one of Morrison’s previous... 

JAMES TAYLOR

JAMES TAYLOR
JAMES TAYLOR WAS AT THE HEIGHT OF STARDOM when photographer Norman Seeff shot this session for the 1975 album Gorilla. “It was one of those wonderful weekdays in Malibu when you can go to the beach and no one’s there,” says Seeff. Having previously worked with Taylor, Seeff was aware of his unassuming nature in front of the camera. “I wouldn’t say he was shy, but reserved, retiring,” he explains. “He was very much himself and didn’t... 

CHAKA KHAN

CHAKA KHAN
CHAKA KHAN HAD ONLY RECENTLY ACHIEVED stardom when photographer Norman Seeff shot this session for Rufus’ 1974 album, Rufusized. “I was living in my studio in Los Angeles,” Seeff recalls. “She began rolling around on my bed like a teenage girl—barefoot, wiggling her big toe at me. It was fun, creative and free.” The session was the first of several Seeff shot with the R&B legend, whose talent was entwined with a fragile temperament.... 

BLONDIE

BLONDIE
PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF SHOT THIS SESSION for Blondie’s 1979 Eat to the Beat album at New York’s historic Chelsea Hotel, a famous haunt of the Manhattan arts crowd. “The band seemed to be part of that milieu,” says Seeff. “They were a quintessential New York group.” Singer Deborah Harry arrived late to the shoot and in a funk. “She walked away while we were shooting without explanation,” recalls Seeff. “We’re all standing... 

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac Photographer norman seeff rented a beautiful Malibu home overlooking the Pacific to shoot Fleetwood Mac for their 1979 album, Tusk. “They were like kids in a sandbox, having fun,” Seeff recalls. “But they also knew exactly what they were doing. They understood that by being spontaneous they would capture something they wouldn’t get if they were more controlled.” As the wine began to flow, the band became more rambunctious.... 

SLY STONE

SLY STONE
SLY STONE WAS IN AN ESPECIALLY UPBEAT MOOD when photographer Norman Seeff shot this L.A. session for the 1974 album, Small Talk. “His music had such a scintillating vitality, and that’s exactly how I found him to be as a person,” Seeff recalls. “He was like, ‘Hey, whatever you want, I’m here.’ And then he would deliver.” Stone’s positive frame of mind appeared to be rooted in his new role as a husband and father, something Seeff... 

KISS

KISS
  KISS WAS A FULL YEAR AWAY FROM SUPERSTARDOM when photographer Norman Seeff shot this L.A. session for the cover of 1974’s Hotter Than Hell. When Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley (above, from left) entered his studio in full costume, says Seeff, “I was incredulous. My first thought was, ‘Are they covering up for mediocrity?’ Of course I was completely wrong about that.” Seeff quickly realized the foursome had... 

The Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters
“THEY KNEW HOW TO HAVE FUN TOGETHER,” SAYS photographer Norman Seeff, remembering his high-energy 1982 session for the Pointer Sisters’ So Excited! album (the final cover shot featured Anita, June and Ruth, from left). “I had them dance and perform four or five songs. They were lively and vibrant and a joy to work with.” Seeff recalls that youngest sister June needed some encouragement from her siblings. “She was hypersensitive,” he... 

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
  PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS SESSION WITH the late Whitney Houston in 1990, at the height of her career. “I viewed her as a towering master of emotional expression, someone whose voice was transcendent,” he says. “I was thrilled about the opportunity.” Seeff rented a large studio for the shoot, replete with clothing and makeup specialists. “We had a substantial team, and she brought her own people,” he says.... 

Ike and Tina Turner

Ike and Tina Turner
  PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF’S 1975 LOS ANGELES shoot with husband-and-wife R&B duo Ike and Tina Turner was among the most memorable of his storied career. “The footage was riveting,” he says. “They performed an amazing version of ‘Nutbush City Limits’ right there in my studio. There was incredible energy and vitality between them.” Seeff recalls that the couple’s contrasting personalities made their interactions all the more... 

John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp was relatively unknown when photographer Norman Seeff shot this 1979 session. “He was very young, kind of baby-faced,” recalls Seeff. “But I was blown away by his vitality.” Seeff was also impressed by Mellencamp’s authenticity, a trait reflected in his casual attire. “It was as if he was saying, ‘This is who I am. I come with nothing but a denim shirt and a cigarette,’” Seeff says. “There was nothing pre-conceptual... 

Van Halen

Van Halen
    “WORKING WITH A ROCK GROUP IS ALWAYS A challenge,” says photographer Norman Seeff, remembering his 1979 shoot for the cover of Van Halen’s third album, Women and Children First. “There are times when a group comes in for a session and I perceive there is tension among the members.” One sure way to defuse that tension, he says, was to ask the musicians to bring their instruments—and sure enough, Eddie Van Halen was soon... 

FRANK ZAPPA

FRANK ZAPPA
  PHOTOGRAPHER NORMAN SEEFF ALREADY KNEW HE was dealing with a unique artist when Frank Zappa arrived at his L.A. studio for this 1976 session. “Frank was very different from other people I photographed,” recalls Seeff. “Many artists are imaginative, but they aren’t conceptual. Frank was both.” Seeff remembers that Zappa seemed at first to be improvising, but soon made clear he had a direction in mind. “Without my telling him anything,... 

RAY CHARLES

RAY CHARLES
  THIS 1985 LOS ANGELES SESSION WITH THE LEGENDARY RAY Charles had a permanent impact on rock photographer Norman Seeff’s methods. “Within a couple minutes of beginning the session, we were involved in a deeply revealing conversation about his inner creative process,” Seeff recalls. “All the while, Ray was playing and demonstrating the power of emotional expression on the piano I had rented for the session. We got classic Ray shots... 

CARLY SIMON

CARLY SIMON
  CARLY SIMON WAS DRESSED FAIRLY CONSERVATIVELY when she turned up at legendary photographer Norman Seeff’s Los Angeles studio to shoot the cover for her 1975 album Playing Possum. But after a couple of glasses of wine, Seeff posed a provocative question: “Well, don’t you have something on under that?” Simon gamely stripped down to her black teddy and began dancing around the studio to the Shaft soundtrack as Seeff snapped away. “It... 
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