Rock photographer Guy Webster, whose images adorn dozens of classic album covers, has died at the age of 79.
Webster’s biographer Harvey Kubernik confirmed the photographer’s February 5th death to Rolling Stone, adding that Webster had been suffering from diabetes and liver cancer. Variety first reported Webster’s death.
“Guy Webster established his reputation as a photographer capable not only of capturing the emotional nuance of the era, but also of helping to define it, with shots of hundreds of personalities before they were legends—including Simon & Garfunkel, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Jane Fonda, Jim Morrison, Natalie Wood, Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch, Cher, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger,” Kubernik wrote.
“A slew of album covers Guy snapped in 1965 and ’66 of The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, The Doors, Love and The Byrds altered my life along with the sounds I investigated inside the cardboard.”
The son of Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter Paul Francis Webster, Guy Webster’s album covers include the photographs seen on the Doors’ 1967 self-titled album and Waiting for the Sun, the Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! and The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence, the Rolling Stones’ Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) and Tim Buckley’s Goodbye and Hello.
“I never meant to be a commercial photographer,” Webster told Kubernik in a 2011 interview. “I was going to be a fine art photographer. And [record producer] Terry Melcher said, ‘Hey, let’s do an album cover for The Rip Chords.’ And I was still in school. It was for their Three Window Coupe album, with their song ‘Hey Little Cobra.’ Terry and I were great friends… Terry actually got me started thinking, ‘I can shoot some album covers and make some money.’”
Webster’s rock photography – which spanned from 1964 to 1971, when Webster left America in protest of the Nixon administration – also features in Love’s Da Capo, Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk, the Mamas and the Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, Nico’s The Marble Index and the Beach Boys’ Love You as well as the group’s Smile sessions; Brian Wilson penned the foreword for Kenneth and Harvey Kubernik’s 2014 book Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons The Photography of Guy Webster. Webster also snapped countless celebrities, including iconic images of Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda and Dennis Hopper.
“My dad was loved by all,” Webster’s daughter Sara told Variety. “He was a peoples’ person and touched the lives of so many. He will be greatly missed and we are heart stricken that he left us so prematurely but rejoice in the thought that he had a fucking awesome life!”