A live show featuring iconic photographs taken by Henry Diltz and Pattie Boyd of rock ’n’ roll legends is coming to the Fox Theatre.
Diltz, originally a musician himself, started shooting photos with a $20 secondhand camera in his Laurel Canyon neighborhood in the late 1960s, a time and place that served as a catalyst for the burgeoning singer-songwriter scene in Los Angeles.
Boyd was the muse for songs such as “Layla” and “Something” and is the former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton.
Boyd and Diltz are touring the country with “Behind the Lens: Up Close and Personal With Pattie Boyd and Henry Diltz,” in which the pair take the stage to reminisce about their lives and display their work.
“It’s been fun traveling with Pattie,” Diltz said on the phone from a hotel in Arizona. “We complement each other in terms of our photos. I do the L.A. singer-songwriter thing, and she does the Beatles and Clapton and the whole London scene, which I think is really the cherry on top of the dessert. It’s great fun to talk about all those days.”
Diltz said of that era in Southern California: “There was kind of a flowering, a whole renaissance.”
The trend of solo singers writing their own songs was a fairly recent phenomenon, and the likes of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor were just starting out and struggling to find an audience.
“In the ’40s and ’50s you had singers, and then you had songwriters. Frank Sinatra didn’t write songs, nor did Elvis Presley,” Diltz said. “Then in the middle ’60s, partly because of the Beatles and partly because of Dylan trying to be like Woody Guthrie, people started writing their own songs and expressing their own feelings and ideas. That was a brand-new thing and a sea change in the music industry, and a lot of that happened right in Laurel Canyon, where I lived.”
Diltz recalled an afternoon in 1968 in Mama Cass’ garden when Mitchell, then unknown, played her newly recorded songs for guests who included David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Micky Dolenz, as well as Clapton, who had just arrived from England.
“Crosby brought along this young girl he had discovered who had just done her first album, and she sat there playing the entire record before anyone had even heard it,” said Diltz, who duly captured the moment.
The archive of Diltz’s vast output spans almost five decades and contains hundreds of thousands of photographs. “They keep on wanting to use them; I’m always asked for photos of the ’60s and ’70s for books and magazines and films,” he said. “I just love taking photos, and I never wanted to spend the rest of my life dealing them out to people, but nonetheless it’s a good business.”
The Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York is now Diltz’s base of operations, and it’s where he met Boyd when she held an exhibition of her photography there. The two became friends and eventually hit the road to show off their wares. “I am so happy to be doing the ‘Behind the Lens’ tour again,” she said in a statement to the AJT. “It’s such a great feeling to share my photographs and the stories behind them with the people who come to see the show, and to see their reactions to hearing about my life and my work is just humbling and lovely. I am grateful and very happy.”
What: “Behind the Lens: Up Close and Personal With Pattie Boyd and Henry Diltz”
Where: Fox Theatre Egyptian Ballroom, 660 Peachtree St., Midtown
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19
Tickets: $42 to $83; foxtheatre.org/events/behind-the-lens