James Joseph (Jim) Marshall Biography

James Joseph (Jim) Marshall




Photographer James Joseph (Jim) Marshall was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 3, 1936. His family moved to San Francisco when he was two, settling in the Fillmore District. While a student in high school he purchased his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, documenting the goings-on in his neighborhood and getting to know the jazz musicians who frequented San Francisco in the 1950s. It wasn't long before Marshall would be known for having at least one Leica M2 camera on him at all times.

Marshall served in the Air Force right after high school; once he was finished with his stint, he went back to photographing musicians in his hometown neighborhood, now at the beginnings of its status as a hub for the blossoming counter culture. In 1960 he had his breakthrough moment: he was asked for directions to a house by none other than John Coltrane, at the home of his friend music critic Ralph J. Gleason. He moved to New York in 1962, working on assignment for Atlantic Records, Columbia Records, and a feature on Thelonius Monk for the Saturday Evening Post. By the late 1960s he'd managed to gain access to most of the country's leading musicians in intimate backstage and iconic on-stage moments, including Jimi Hendrix at Monterey pop, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash at San Quentin, and the Beatles' famous last concert at Candlestick Park.

By the 1970s Marshall was considered the quintessential American rock photographer. He published several books on the subject of music--his first, "Festival", published in 1969--but pursued other subjects as well, shooting sets for television, images of the everyday streets of the Bay Area and elsewhere, and covering NASCAR.

Marshall remained active in photography and publishing until his abrupt passing on March 24, 2010 on his way to a retrospective in New York.