James Fortune has photographed stars like Sir Elton and the Doors. He has shared his thoughts about his experiences with this website. . . .
EJW: Your first assignment was photographing the Doors. How did that come about?
JF: I was a college student in L.A. and on the photo staff of the school newspaper. I got an idea while in the darkroom: If I contact some record companies, I might be able to photograph and interview rock stars. So I contacted Electra, who had the Doors. They called me back within a couple of weeks and invited to meet the band at Sunset Recording Studios. I spent five hours in the studio with them. I was nervous. I didn’t use a flash because I didn’t want to disturb them.
EJW: You went on to work with Elton quite a few times. That includes a charity tennis tournament in 1974. Who was the beneficiary?
JF: It actually wasn’t a charity event. I was assigned a photo shoot at Helen Reddy’s house and she had a tennis court in the backyard. Billie Jean King happened to be there with her; Elton was there as well (he was good friends with King). The photo became the cover of Zoo World magazine.
EJW: You’ve also done concerts and award shows with the performer. Which stand out for you and why?
JF: I loved photographing Elton. I was a fan of his music.
I vividly recall two shows in L.A. on October 31 and November 1, 1974. The photos from those shows became a best selling poster three weeks later.
EJW: You have around 150 photographs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Who is featured in them, and do any depict Elton?
JF: There are a lot of different groups, including several Elton John.
EJW: Are you still involved in the rock scene today? What are your future plans?
JF: I am retired and archive my photos. I constantly get requests to license them out for books, TV shows, and magazines.
The artist currently has an exhibit at C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut: