So you want to be a rock and roll star

My Christmas present to my readers this holiday season is to post these great candid photos of vintage rock artists during their peak years in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, with a couple more recent shots thrown in for good measure.

I gathered these from various websites that serve as platforms for rock photography, as well as from websites of specific photographers like the great Henry Diltz. They show us the musicians in not-often-seen moments — rare concert shots, backstage huddles, outtakes from staged photo shoots — revealing them as mere humans just doing the deal.

May the Yuletide season bring you peace and comfort.

Rock on!


Keith Richards takes a moment between songs during a 1972 concert.

Bob Dylan rehearses with Tom Petty and Heartbreakers bassist Howie Epstein during a 1986 tour.

Emily Hackett rocks out on stage at the LaurelLive festival in Cleveland in 2019.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, 1973 LP album cover photo shoot

A young Jim Messina as producer of the final Buffalo Springfield album, with Neil Young looking on, in 1968.

Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt and John Prine hang out backstage at a Los Angeles gig in 1973.

A rare shot of Paul McCartney and John Lennon together in Los Angeles, early 1975.

John Sebastian, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell and David Crosby at the Big Sur folk festival, late 1969.

Carole King and Paul Simon early in their careers at the Brill Building, New York City, 1961.

Peter Paul & Mary visit with The Beatles at the Plaza Hotel before their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” 1964.

George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan lay down vocals, 1988.

Jackson Browne at a friend’s backyard pool in Los Angeles, 1973.

Linda Ronstadt chilling at her Santa Monica bungalow, 1971.

An outtake from the photo shoot for The Doors‘ “Morrison Hotel” album cover, 1970.

Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Randy Meisner during The Eagles’ “Desperado” album cover photo shoot, 1973.

Gerry Beckley, Dan Peek and Dewey Bunnell during a photo shoot for America’s “Homecoming” album, 1972.

Frank Zappa during recovery from a multiple-injury, on-stage assault in London in 1971.

Debbie Harry at age 23 in 1968, long before she dyed her hair and became Blondie.

Keith Richards in a tuxedo (!) gets married to Patti Hansen in 1983, with Mick Jagger serving as best man.

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in 1968 when they met in Vancouver and began honing their drug-oriented comedy routines.

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck rekindle a friendship and rehash Yardbirds memories, 2016.

George Harrison and Paul McCartney recording vocals during the “Abbey Road” sessions in 1969.

Elton John blows minds with his U.S. debut at the Troubadour in L.A., 1970.

Buffalo Springfield, led by guitarists Neil Young, Richie Furay and Stephen Stills, at Whisky A Go Go in L.A., 1966.

David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed pose during a party in New York in 1973.

A young Michael Jackson gets chummy with a seemingly reluctant Elton John, 1977.

Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant with John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham, 1975.

Joan Jett indulges in French fries at the Santa Monica Pier, 1983.

Carly Simon and James Taylor during their married years at a party on Martha’s Vineyard, 1977.

Bruce Springsteen holds a first pressing of his debut LP, “Greetings From Asbury Park,” in New York, 1973

Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel during their nine-year marriage, 1988.

John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey clowning during a photo shoot for “Who’s Next” in 1971.

Penny Marshall, Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher at the Oscars, 1983.


  1. Hugh Bache · December 23

    Great idea for a Backpage. Some wild photos.
    Hope to catch up in Nashville. Fall for sure if not before.


  2. Budd · December 23

    Nice job, Bruce!


  3. Nanci Drum · December 23

    These photos are amazing, Bruce! The only problem is that I couldn’t put a heart on Emily’s photo. My girl, Linda Ronstadt, is looking as cute as ever…still one of my all-time favorite female performers!


  4. Chris Dixon · December 24

    Fun pix, esp cool that got that shot of Emily in there among other legends!

    Minor correction: in the Dylan/Petty pic the guy at far right is bassist Howie Epstein not guitarist Mike Campbell.

    Minor additional detail: the pic with Crosby, Stills & Nash with Sebastian and Mitchell was taken at the Big Sur (CA) Folk Festival on the grounds of the Esalen Institute.


  5. brucehhackett · December 25

    Thank you, kind sir, for your proofreading!


    • Chris Dixon · December 27

      You bet! Epstein (and of course Petty) no longer with us sadly, RIP


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