“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 happily riffing away on his guitar to the sounds of his band’s new album playing on the stereo in Seeff’s studio. “He and the guitar became one unit,” he recalls. “It wasn’t like a guy holding a guitar; it was more like an extension of his body.” Meanwhile, singer David Lee Roth’s “athleticism and physical innovation,” Seeff says, helped encourage the group to pose tightly together, all the better given the space limitations of an album cover. “Everyone was fully present, with intense eye contact into the camera,” Seeff says. “There is often a constellation in a group, where a frontman stands out and some of the others step into the background. In the case of Van Halen, everyone was a frontman in the most creative way.”

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