Rock and Roll Book Club: Jimmy Steinfeldt's 'Rock 'N' Roll Lens'

Jimmy Steinfeldt's two volumes of 'Rock 'N' Roll Lens'
Jimmy Steinfeldt's two volumes of 'Rock 'N' Roll Lens' (Jay Gabler/MPR)

When you think about stars who've played shows in Minnesota, your thoughts of course go to First Avenue's wall of stars — but there are a lot more stages in this state, and just about everyone in pop music has graced one or another of them.

Jimmy Steinfeldt's photo books include images from outside the state as well — particularly from Los Angeles, where the Hopkins native has lived since 1995 — but Minnesota music fans will be particularly fascinated to see shots of legendary performers playing the Gopher State.

Stevie Nicks at the Met Center (1982). Madonna (1985, in bridal veil) and U2 (1987, with Bono in his hat-and-vest phase) at the St. Paul Civic Center. Nirvana (1993) and R.E.M. (1985, with Michael Stipe hair-heavy and fresh-faced) at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Chuck Berry in 1983, playing the Metrodome. Warren Zevon, wearing a Twins jersey onstage at the Orpheum Theatre in 1987.

Of course, there are some great First Ave shots as well: Prince, looking sly in 1983. Tina Turner, looking fierce in 1985. A smiling (!) Billy Corgan in 1993. Maybe best of all, James Brown in the Mainroom working a keytar in in 1984. Living in America!

Steinfeldt's first Rock 'N' Roll Lens book, published in 2012, is a coffee-table volume with photos in full color. He's just published a second volume: a smaller paperback, featuring black and white shots. Both volumes feature brief anecdotes about the artists pictured. In the first book, Steinfeldt himself does the honors; in the second, he recruits friends ranging from Apollonia to David Was.

The first volume's stories reveal as much about life as a music photographer in the '80s and '90s as they do about the stars themselves. Steinfeldt spent a lot of time backstage, shooting photos like a posed shot of James Brown and Coolio. Steinfeldt got one frame, but Brown wouldn't wait for the flash to recharge to grab a second shot — even though Coolio was his opening act. "James Brown don't wait for no one," said the Godfather, walking off.

Steinfeldt also has a story about driving Johnny Cash to a Fort Snelling photo shoot in 1994. "Man," said the Man in Black as he squeezed into the photographer's Mazda, "this is smaller than June's Ferrari." Steinfeldt watched Minnesota State Fair fireworks with Rod Stewart, he shot pool with John Cougar Mellencamp (when he was still using the "Cougar"), he got a compliment from Bob Dylan in Rochester. He was there when David Bowie and Tin Machine played Minneapolis's Marriott Hotel for a trade show in 1991.

The anecdotes in Rock 'N' Roll Lens Volume II are more informative, but also more confusing. The sources' bios only appear at the end of the book, and most of them aren't household names. Still, there are some gems. Owen Husney — Prince's first manager — reveals that he still has an unopened bottle of Dom Perignon given to him by Joe Cocker for helping to promote a show at the Met Center. Guitarist Fernando Perdomo remembers going as a teenager to meet Tori Amos, and getting a ribald response to his question about her tempo changes. Peter Jesperson explains how his record store Oar Folkjokeopus made an event out of importing a crate of the Sex Pistols' debut single in 1976.

A selection of Steinfeldt's photos will be on display at the Jimmy Wilson Gallery, in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, from tomorrow, June 1, through July 30. Steinfeldt himself will be present at an opening reception this Saturday, June 3, from 6-9 p.m. You can enter below for a chance to win copies of both books; the books are also available via Steinfeldt's website.

The Current's Rock 'N' Roll Lens Giveaway

Use this form to enter The Current's Rock 'N' Roll Lens giveaway between 8 a.m. CT on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 and 11:59 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

One (1) winner will receive one (1) hardcover copy of Rock 'N' Roll Lens and one (1) softcover copy of Rock 'N' Roll Lens Volume II. Three (3) back up names will be drawn.

Prize retail value: $44.90

We will contact the winners on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Winner must accept by 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

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This giveaway is subject to Minnesota Public Radio's 2017 Official Giveaway Rules.

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