Jay Blakesberg was 16 years old when he decided it would be a fun idea to borrow his father's Pentax camera and take photos of his favorite band, The Grateful Dead. His idea became a rewarding 30+-year career as a photographer and video director, much of which is chronicled in the retrospective Traveling On A High Frequency.
Blakesberg partnered with local rock art gallery Mr. Musichead on Sunset Blvd. to celebrate the release of his book with an exhibit running through March 18. The March 4 opening celebration was a night filled with music lovers, amateur and professional photographers, curious passers-by and art collectors.
The gallery's walls were covered in many of his famous portraits, some of which have graced the covers and pages of Rolling Stone and Guitar Player magazines. A large photomosaic portrait of Neil Young looked off into the distance while, on the opposite wall, an iconic portrait of Jerry Garcia peered over his glasses with a look of approval at the crowd inside.
Younger versions of Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden appeared in a few photos. Other artists caught by his lens include B.B. King, James Brown, Les Claypool, Phish, Dave Matthews, Carlos Santana, Tracy Chapman, Siouxsie Sioux and many others.
Blakesberg made some new fans in local band Nico Vega who found a frame containing three live shots from one of their concerts placed below a photo of rock group Jane's Addiction. There were also a number of his portraits that were redesigned and painted onto canvas by artist Richard Biffle including an ominous portrait of Tom Waits.
Owner Sam Milgrom first opened the doors to Mr. Musichead in 1998 on Melrose Ave. after a successful career as a musician, record store owner, publisher and club owner in Detroit, where he also helped launch the careers of Ben Harper, Jeff Buckley, Roy Hargrove and others.
Milgrom moved the gallery to its present location on Sunset Blvd. in 2005 where it sits comfortably as the unofficial gateway to the Sunset Strip on the west and L.A.'s independent music scene in Echo Park/Silverlake on the east.