Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cat scratch fever

At a critical junction in my life, I was faced with a complex decision: Continue forward as a motojournalist and motorcycle newspaper editor, or chase down the road of another passion - that of a rock and roll concert photographer.

I was using my spare time away from Cycle News to cop gigs in rock and roll, and made a contact with the PR rep at the Agora Ballroom in Atlanta. At that time, the Agora was booking many of the hot rock acts, and the Agora traded high access credentials for photo images.

The shot at left is none other than the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, performing in all his glory at the Georgia Jam outdoor concert at Road Atlanta, must have been 1980.

The bands came on, and I was front and center in the mosh pit, shooting with two fast lenses - a 135mm Nikkor lens that stopped down to f 2.8, and a Vivitar 200mm lens that stopped down to f 3. The body was a FE2 with a motor drive, and I think I was shooting Kodachrome 64 slide film, really rich in color in those days.

It was rock heaven - Nugent, Molly Hatchet, Pat Travers, Def Leppard...maybe others, my memory is fading. The crowd was getting a bit out of control, and by the time Nugent played, beer bottles were raining down onto the stage...it was mayhem, and personal safety was getting in the way of making great photos!

The day played out like a war zone. Drunken rock fans were passed out everywhere - most laying partially naked and blistering in the sun. There were reports of cooked out attendees laying on the roadway near the entrance to I-85.

After the dust settled, Road Atlanta stopped hosting rock concerts for quite some time.

My rock photo career was short lived. Not too many weeks later, my boss at Cycle News jerked a knot in my ass for working on the side, and told me to get my head into my job. That was good advice. I embraced motorcycle racing with a passion, and had several good years on the National Motocross circuit.

But, when I see this photo of Ted, I sometimes wonder what might have been.

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