Last night at The Observatory in Santa Ana was the party for photographer Andrew Youssef. Youssef has stage four colon cancer, and has chronicled his experiences in his column Last Shot; be sure to also check out OC Weekly music editor Nate Jackson's recent cover story for that publication about his life and battle.
Youssef has not been given much time to live, but last night was a celebration. The event was MCed by KROQ's Kat Corbett, and featured a series of friends and colleagues -- and even Youssef's oncologist -- who took the stage to share their favorite stories about the man affectionately known as Amateur Chemist. (His day job is as a pharmacist.)
Ace, Youssef's friend from college, recalled him heading to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to see Pearl Jam, Neil Young and Bad Religion in 1995 on a whim. A friend from high school recalled how she and the photographer would talk endlessly about their favorite bands, jokingly recalling that her wardrobe in the early '90s consisted "mostly of flannel" due to his influence.
The event was organized collaboratively by Nate Jackson, Jennifer Park of the Bucket List Project, Andrew's brother Patrick Youssef and The Observatory's Jon Reiser.
Youssef's work was presented in a series of slideshows put together by his brother Patrick. The first traced his formative years as a music fan with family photos, including one of Youssef dressed in full KISS makeup.
His work, which has been featured in OC Weekly, Stereogum, L.A. Weekly and elsewhere, was presented in two slideshows that ran about 15 minutes. The bands that Youssef has shot over the years are an enviable list, including Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Helmet and his favorite band, Nine Inch Nails.
The event also included live music: Big Black Delta and Nightmare Air provided the evening's soundtrack.
Those in attendance included fellow music journalists and photographers, as well as label execs and fans of Youssef's work were there as well.
What could have easy been a sad, somber event turned into a great tribute to Youssef and his unrelenting dedication to the music scene. While tears were shed and emotions were tough to check at times, folks were inspired by stories of his dashing from Los Angeles to Pomona and back to Downey to file a story before its deadline.
The glory of Youssef has been his ability to power through his condition through his love of music.
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