fri 09/12/2022

Photo Gallery: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan | reviews, news & interviews

Photo Gallery: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Photo Gallery: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Don Hunstein's pictures catch the transformation from folkie to rock star

A near contemporary of the great jazz photographer Herman Leonard, who died last August, Don Hunstein has amassed a formidable collection of images of some of the most indelible names in music, from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong and Leonard Bernstein. His work with Bob Dylan in the Sixties, when Hunstein was a staff photographer for Columbia Records and Dylan was the visionary folk singer daring to cross the frontier into rock'n'roll, have become an indivisible part of the myth of the Bard of Minnesota.

Proud Chelsea's Hunstein exhibition is aptly titled The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, since the cover photo of Dylan's 1963 album of that name, with Dylan ambling down a snowy Jones Street in New York's Greenwich Village with girlfriend Suze Rotolo, wonderfully evoked a sense of the tousled balladeer setting out on his great artistic quest. Hunstein was on hand to capture most of the landmark moments of Dylan's explosive New York years, including his famous performance at Carnegie Hall on 26 October, 1963. Hunstein's shot from the back of the stage of Dylan rehearsing in the empty hall seems somehow even more charged than pictures of the concert itself.

Less than two years later, Dylan had galloped at astounding speed from finger-pointing folk songs like "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" to the surreal electric symphonies of Highway 61 Revisited, not least "Like a Rolling Stone". Hunstein was there to freeze the mercurial tunesmith in mid-transformation. His picture of Dylan seated at the piano, wearing shades and with a harmonica holder draped round his neck, represents the artist at his most provocative and unknowable. The shot of Dylan playing the electric bass helped to confirm the worst fears of his folky followers, that the acoustic pied piper of the protest movement had sold his soul to the cacophonous racket of the Beatles and The Byrds. Ah, but if only they'd known what else lay in store.


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