Good band photos have never been more important than they are now. But, there have always been awesome band photos out there and this is our list of the 10 best band photos of all time!
What makes a great band photo? That really is open to debate and interpretation. For me though, it’s all about something different, ground breaking, and something that really shows the band character and music. Everyone knows a BAD band photo when they see one, hell there are even groups on Facebook setup where you can view some truly bad photos, but everyone should know a great band photo when they see it. Below are my 10 best band photos of all time. I may expand this list in the future, who knows. But for now, here we go! Enjoy.
Also, these are in no particular order.
Shot by Paul Ferrara back in 1968, this was a bit of a ground breaking image for the time. Not many bands, and especially not many popular bands at that time had images that were as badass as this. It truly encapsulated the attitude and image of the band and their music. The location and theme of the shoot was perfect for the album and the band at the time. While this image may look cliche now, it was truly one of the first shot like this and has a style that has been copied over and over since.
You can see many more images from this photoshoot over on The Doors website.
Yeah, it’s another Doors image. Well, actually it’s a Jim Morrison image that wound up being used on quite a few different Doors items. Shot by Joel Brodsky in 1967 this is THE iconic image of Jim Morrison. Taken in a time where labels and PR were only able to promote through good visual content, this single image by Joel was a goldmine for the record label and PR companies. This image perfectly captures Jim Morrison’s mystique and charisma and should be in everyone’s top 10 all time band photos…anyone that doesn’t have this in there is just crazy.
There are a lot of awesome photos of Nirvana out there, but this image has always been my favourite of theirs. Shot by Anton Corbjin, this image sums up everything about Nirvana to me. It shows the funny, quirkiness of Christ Novaselic, the dark broodiness of Dave Grohl, and the reluctant rock star in Kurt Cobain. It was at a time that the band were still happy, happy to be making music and having fun. The image invites you into their world and makes you want to listen to their music. THIS is what great band photos should do, and something this image does perfectly.
Love him or hate him, there is absolutely no denying that Kayne West knows how to promote himself. Being originally from Chicago myself, I have always held a bit of a soft spot for Kanye. This image graced the cover of Rolling Stone, and in my opinion is one of the best musician photos ever. Taken by a true master photographer David LaChapelle, the photo is pure art. It is captivating, emotive, and simply awesome.
Some may not know this image, but everyone should recognise the band and the “theme” of the image. I could have picked nearly any image that My Chemical Romance used for promoting The Black Parade, they all do an excellent job of portraying the music, the band, and the album. But this poster image goes beyond all that. You can look at this image and see the entire story of the album…in one image, and that is awesome. Shot by Chris Anthony, all of The Black Parade images are simply amazing in that they truly depict the bands message.
So this is where a little bit of my own bias will come into play. 😀 I love NOFX, and I think this image taken by Adam Elmakias ranks right up there with some of my favourites. It is a newer shot of NOFX, but it does a fantastic job of capturing the personality of the band. Hell, NOFX have been punk trail blazers for over 25 years and still going strong. They make fun of themselves, they don’t take themselves seriously and they like a good laugh…all around a photo that full captures all of this.
Shot by Art Kane, and used as the cover for The Kids Are Alright, the above photos epitomises everything that is The Who. It is instantly recognisable by anyone that this is a photo of The Who. Part of that is down the The Who’s brilliant brand recognition and marketing that they did to build a brand, and another part is down to the photo. Sadly, not many have seen the full version of this photo, as you see it above. Due to the nature of albums, the image was cropped square and focused solely on the band…which isn’t a bad thing at all, but the full image just adds that extra oomph.
I don’t think a lot needs to be said of this iconic photo by Glen E Freidman‘s shot of The Beastie Boys. It absolutely sums them up and offers something different and fun in a band photo, especially for the late 1980’s.
The cover for Bob Dylan’s “The Basement Tapes” photo is the work of genius photographer Jim Linderman. There is so much going on in this photo that you could just stare at it for hours. It gives you the idea that this might actually be what it’s like to be with Bob Dylan in his basement when he is writing or recording.
Unfortunately I cannot seem to find who took the above photo. But, I absolutely love it. It captures most everything there is about the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl has turned himself into a rock god, and he has never taken himself, or his band to seriously. Dave Grohl also pokes a little fun at himself by enlarging his mouth, which he has admitted is a little big for his face. 😀 If anyone knows who took this photos, please let me know so I can put the credit where it is duly deserved.
So there you have it. My top 10 band and musician photos of all time. Probably quite a few surprises on there, and probably quite a few seemingly obvious ommissions. So, if there are any you think I missed, please let me know in the comments below!
Till next time!