Rockin' Houston Site Is a Glorious Monument to Local Concerts Past


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And the photographic documents these guys kept are top-notch. Backstage happenings, scans of the tickets, the press badges, the record-store appearances, all in beautiful, colorful scans. Kessler also hints at also a lot of debauchery behind these shots.

Check out the shots of the afterparty that Keith Moon attended in 1975 after the first rock concert at the Summit. Ahem.

Plus, the site is easy to use and navigate. Obviously you cannot right-click and save these shots, and Kessler says that he is not intending on selling prints of these. I could see signing over my power of attorney for a glossy, matted, ZZ Top print from 1971, 1976 or 1983.

Kessler's body of work is utterly jaw-dropping, but in his opinion, what's best thing he ever shot?

"There isn't one," he swears. "Just when I thought it couldn't get any cooler, it did. When you have told Elton John how to pose for a backstage shot, or shot Jimmy Page and Robert Plant onstage together, you cannot pick one thing."

He's right. Poring over his work cost me a good half a day of productivity here at the office. I cannot pick one singular shot myself, and I wasn't even born when these concerts happened.

"Being in the pit, literally three-feet away from Paul McCartney playing 'Yesterday' on acoustic guitar. I was still somehow disappointed I didn't get him wearing the cowboy hat and playing electric," Kessler laughs, talking about a magic Texas moment he missed earlier in that Wings set in the '70s.

Kessler also dealt with plenty of odd rules for prima dona artists in the '80s. For instance, George Michael could only be shot before he touched the microphone. After that, no more photos.

Back then, photogs had much greater access than they do now. (Rocks Off photogs, you can begin salivating now.)

"We shot the whole show," says Kessler. "You were there for the whole show, and somewhere in the late '70s and early '80s it became three songs with no flash."

Any fan could bring in their own camera -- that's how Kessler began -- no matter the quality of the equipment at that time. Given their caliber and trustworthiness, photogs like Kessler and his mates were given backstage access.

Besides the photos and passes, Kessler has plenty of memorabilia that is now just sitting in storage. He talks of one day showing those off, but there is also a trove of pictures of him with the artists he shot that he prefers to keep to himself.

Look for Kessler and his work a lot more here on Rocks Off.





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6 comments
gilvaz1
gilvaz1

I was there and it was great. Can't wait to see more. 

mysticalcrow
mysticalcrow

I have been attending concerts in Houston since 1975. Looking at these photos have brought back many happy memories. Yes, the Dylan "Rolling Thunder" show at the Astrodome was fabulous. Minus the MC urging us all to yell "Free The Hurricane" while Ruben Carter was on the phone.

Greg Liestman
Greg Liestman

I can't wait to check this out. I may be on a "conference call" all day with my office door closed.

mcaphoto
mcaphoto

This is insane.  Makes me so happy to know that these chapters in Houston music history were so well cataloged.  Now to devote the rest of my day to clicking through this site.

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