Auctions | June 29, 2021

Sworders July 14 Sale Features Ed Finnell’s Photos of '70s Rock Stars

Courtesy of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers

David Bowie - The Thin White Duke - Station to Station Tour, 1976, signed Ed Finnell, numbered 3/5. Estimate £250-350

Stansted Mountfichet, UK — Original photographs of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Robert Plant and Elton John performing in their pomp come for sale at Sworders next month. The Design sale on July 14 includes a cache of prints taken by music photographer Ed Finnell at legendary gigs held in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

Born in LA in 1956, Ed Finnell became interested in photography at the age of 10 or 11 years old, his subject matter turning to rock and roll in the late 1960s. He attended his first concerts in 1972, and thereafter shot every major band that came through his city. At the Pirate Sound Rehearsal Space in Hollywood, he met many performers, some of them choosing to use his work in promotional materials or hiring him for official tour shoots. In addition to publication in countless books, magazines and tour programs, Finnell’s photographs have appeared on four Rolling Stones album covers.

Signed limited-edition prints of photos taken during The Who’s Quadrophenia Tour, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellowbrick Road Tour and Rod Stewart and The Faces’ Ooh La La Tour are included in the sale. Each has a pre-auction estimate of £200-300.

Courtesy of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers

David Bowie, the subject of some of Finnell’s most iconic shots, was the photographer’s favourite, his stage sets always proving “photographer lighting friendly.” The sale includes some of his most iconic images of Bowie, including Bowie as The Thin White Duke from the Station to Station tour (Los Angeles Forum, February 9, 1976), guided at £250-350, and Bowie as Ziggy Stardust during the eponymous tour (Long Beach Arena, March 10, 1973) at £200-300.

Led Zeppelin sets were always more challenging as “the lighting was terrible - dark and evil.“ Nonetheless he took some epoch-defining images of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant including those from the Physical Graffiti Tour (March 27, 1975).

In the last 49 years Finnell estimates he has amassed close to 200 000 concert negatives. He still prints his photographs, typically gelatin silver prints, in the old-fashioned way in a dark room using the original negatives.

Although he has sold his prints through galleries in Europe and the US, this is his first time Finnell's work has been available at auction in the UK. “I like auctions” he says. “I am an old hippie. People can buy direct from an auction house with less fees than if buying from a gallery. Gallery overheads are too high."