About The Book
Kirk West is probably best known for his life long association with The Allman Brothers Band as a Tour Manager & Photographer.
However, many people don't know that the subject matter he was first passionate about was the Blues of Chicago.
In 1968 he left home in Nevada,Iowa & moved to the big city to be close to his heroes, the bluesmen that frequented the clubs on Chicago's Southside. In places where many folks feared to tread, Kirk found himself accepted. Basement bar rooms & dark corner stages, lit only by a single 100 watt light bulb hangin from the ceiling on an electrical wire, became his home from the early '70's thru the '80's.
To say Kirk was accepted as part of the Chicago Blues scene, is a bit of an understatement. Here was a guy who was married onstage at Buddy Guy's world famous Checkerboard Lounge and photographed every great blues act that came thru Chicago, whether it was downstairs at Theresa's or out on Navy Pier during Chicagofest or the Chicago Blues Festival.
Kirk was such a fixture he was allowed to photograph Muddy Water's funeral and the wake at the Checkerboard later that night.
Now those photographs recording moments in time forgotten, are being seen for the very first time by anyone other than Kirk West himself.
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The Blues in Black and White is hand packaged and shipped by the author. All books are shipped Priority Mail through the United States Postal Service, which provides automatic tracking.
If you would like to contact the author for special arrangements, such as gift inscriptions or bulk purchases email TBIBnW@kirkwestphotography.com
Artists of all kinds often reach a tipping point where their life no longer reflects their work as much as their work becomes a reflection of their life; it becomes a history of the journeys taken and the destinations reached. The path is not as significant as the journey itself and what was recorded along the way is what remains most important. One morning Kirk West awoke to the realization that he had a lifetime of special moments stored in boxes that had yet to see the light of day.
Being a fan first and foremost, of music and photography, Kirk knew this had to change. When life presented the opportunity to catalogue and organize his archives, he jumped on it. Fate, they say, is not a trivial thing.
Kirk West is first and foremost a music lover. He has never been able to get enough of the people, places, and things that comprise the life of a touring artist. In search of the richness that musicians and their music bring the world, his travels and life have taken him from his Iowa birthplace to far flung reaches of the globe, camera in hand.
Beginning at age 18 with his first concert shoot of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Kirk went on to build an archive of images taken over more than 40 years, covering a wide range of music icons and cultural phenomena. Over his career, Kirk found himself in some amazing places with amazing and iconic people. Fortunately, he had the relationships, good sense, and personal eye to capture much of it beautifully on film with a sense of both compassion and urgency.
In the fall of 1968, West moved to Chicago to shoot the blues. He made his mark at the legendary joints found on the North and South Sides of the city, from Theresa’s Lounge to the Checkerboard, from Pepper’s to Blues on Halsted, Biddy Mulligan’s and Rosa’s, where he befriended and photographed singular artists including Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, and many others. West honed his visceral, in-the-moment style, night after night, down in the pit, shooting away. He also made his way to every rock club and concert venue in the Midwest, putting his highly personal touch on thousands of images covering an enormous variety of music styles, personalities, and venues.
Beginning in 1989, Kirk served as Tour Manager for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years. During his tenure, Kirk shot 10 Allman Brothers Band LP, CD or DVD covers, as well as over 15 picture sleeves for the group’s records. A renowned archivist, West also directed the critically-acclaimed Please Call Home documentary, which covered the early years of the Allman Brothers Band while living at the Big House in Macon, Georgia.
While lovers of music photography may have seen other images of some of the artists Kirk has captured over the years, his photographs have until now never been seen by anyone other than his close circle of friends. Without exception, these photographs have back stories as rich as the images themselves and are a must for any serious collector.
Kirsten West opened Gallery West in January as a venue to feature the photography of her husband, Kirk, who has more than 40 years of pictures from a wide range of music genres, from rock to country and blues.
“I retired, and Kirsten basically got tired of me sitting around the house,” Kirk said with a chuckle. “I can instigate (stuff), but she makes it happen.”
Kirk West’s Photographic Journey with The Brothers
It’s not beyond possible belief that another book of this scope and depth could be assembled.
Assembled being the key word in that thought.
It is possible that by piecing together pictures from the collections of the individual band members, crew members, venue employees, fans and industry people someone could possible put together a book of this density.
However there is no single source that could provide a solitary viewing point, from which to see The Allman Brothers go down that road toward forever, as complete as the one presented here. To share the unique vision and point of view of one man through the turbulence of 4 decades of pure and true rock-n-roll lifestyles is the gift this book delivers.
Former Allman Brothers Band “Tour Mystic” and world renowned photographer Kirk West sits down to talk about some of his favorite music. He’s seen it all, and has taken photographs of most of it. West’s career began in Chicago in the early ’60s, where he photographed Frank Zappa, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, to name a few. Later on, he found himself on the Outlaw Country Circuit, and some of his photos of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, George Jones (Shirtless) captured some of the most iconic moments in country music history. Then there were the Tom Waits’ years, Bob Marley, the list goes on and on. Into the Mystic will take on a different form each episode. We might here all blues, we might hear all country, we might hear obscure jazz. The common thread will be phenomenol stories from the life of one of our favorite photographers. Gallery West is located at 447 Third Street in downtown Macon.
Join tour mystic Kirk West every Wednesday at 7 p.m. as he delves into the deeper side of the music.
A Look Inside The Book
Copyright © 2020 Kirk West Photography