“Mark enjoys a stellar reputation in the recording industry because he understands the important role that photography plays in the way that we, as musicians, relate to our audience. Photography allows us to engage our listeners visually, and the right image can narrate our story without the sound of a single note.”
Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist, Radio Host, Author
Randy’s distinctive brand of guitar-driven, no-holds-barred hard rock is instantly recognized worldwide.
I first met Randy Bachman when he came by my studio to do some promotional shots for Peavey Amplifiers. He was calm, watchful, kind and quiet, and had just finished a radio interview at the CBC.
A few months later I was called to do promotional photos for his autobiography Vinyl Tap Stories. He requested the shoot take place at his home on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, as he was working on a few things he had to finish.
I think I drove past his house a few times, it was sort of hidden and the roof was covered in long wild grass. When I finally figured out I was at the right place, I was blown away.
His entire studio and home were made of compressed earth, the first of its kind in Canada. apparently a structure of this sort is great for your lungs and breathing.
On certain sections of the walls, Randy had commissioned artists to create wood carvings of flowers and intricate designs that he had pressed into the sediment as it dried, leaving imprints of the art on the walls. It was beautiful. We shot with one as a backdrop, and it ended up being the image on his book cover.
I discovered a complete set of drums in the bathroom, the whole room enclosed by a rounded wall. Randy let me know this circular compressed earth wall was the first ever of its kind in the world, and he recorded all the drums in there because the acoustics were phenomenal.
As I cleared some things for a few portraits in the studio,
I couldn’t believe the priceless rock’n’roll memorabilia that surrounded me. I cleared a horse blanked in one corner to unveil a set of bongo drums with the handwritten message “To Randy, Wow! Ringo Starr”
Randy has the largest collection of Gretsch guitars in the world. So large, that he was in the process of sending them to Gretsch for safekeeping. Treasured guitars such as the ones in his collection require special handling and care, and should be kept in a humidor like environment to ensure their quality maintains.
As I set up for different shots, Randy would disappear to another clay building, where his office was. At sixty something years old, he was constantly working. Even between setups, he was still taking care of business.
Randy wanted to be photographed with a few of his favorites, and throughout the shoot he would bring in a rare and gorgeous handmade guitar, and his calm, astute demeanor would melt away to a childlike excitement and glow as he explained the intricate, unique details, handling each guitar preciously, it was thrilling to see.
On my location scout, I found a café wall in the small city center, painted with musical notes and frets, as well as a wooden bench sitting in the water at the side of a lake Randy’s property overlooked.
When I mentioned to Randy’s managers that I had these two spots in mind, they warned me that Randy most likely wouldn’t be interested, he wasn’t much for going out, or sitting in a lake, he had too much to do.
After we finished photographing his studio and guitars, I ran both location ideas by Randy. He was a tremendous sport, and came outside to the musical wall and nodded and waved at the locals as they recognized him and shouted hellos. The photo we shot at the music mural is actually his Twitter profile photo. I don’t really think you can brand an icon, all you can really do is try to capture their awe inspiring-ness.
At the end of the day, he spent forty five minutes with his pants rolled up and feet in the water as the sun set, and I was treated to a rare, intimate concert as he strummed on one of his favorite Gretschs. He told me incredible stories, one of them being the secret to the uncommon sounds of Neil Young’s Harvest.
I’ll never forget my day with Randy, and how inspired I felt at the end of it, and truly thankful for the opportunity to be around a legend, and a living encyclopedia of music history.
Every time I hear a BTO or Guess Who song in a movie with Michael Cera, Jonah Hill or Ben Stiller, it makes me feel glad that his genius and talent and everlasting contributions to music are appreciated.
He truly is an outstanding man, whose talent and knowledge I’m sure of which, we ain’t see nothing yet.
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