Photography of David Gahr

Natalia Natasha Bezdrowskiy
Dec 10, 2013 8:48AM

The Photographer with the soul of Rock'n Roll

David Gahr was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1922. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after serving in Europe during World War II. But rather than embark on a promising career as a scholar, he chose a life in music and art instead, working at a Sam Goody record store to support his family. And that’s where Gahr became a photographer, shooting iconic musicians who came in as customers.

He captured some of the most iconic album covers of the postwar era, spanning from Miles Davis  to Bruce Springsteen's. He is nevertheless best known for documenting Bob Dylan's epochal electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Gahr's photos of folk and blues icons including Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Phil Ochs, Mary Travers, Johnny Cash, and Sonny Terry were compiled in 1968 in the book The Face of Folk Music, a collaboration with the writer Robert Shelton. By that time the photographer was in the midst of a decade-long affiliation with Time, snapping for the magazine portraits of fine artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Salvador Dalí, and Georgia O'Keeffe. 

In 1970 Gahr shot Janis Joplin for the cover of Rolling Stone, and also snapped the cover of her classic posthumous LP Pearl. Other subjects include John Lennon, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell. Gahr died at his New York City home on May 25, 2008.

More of his work you can find

Natalia Natasha Bezdrowskiy