During 2019, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been celebrating Woodstock’s 50th anniversary - and that era – and has just launched an extraordinary photo exhibit entitled, “Exposed! Music Legends 1969-1973: The Once Lost Photography of Michael Friedman.” 

The photos have been described in the media as a “1960s Rock n’ Roll Time Capsule.” The “Exposed!” exhibit displays historic rock and roll photographs taken during the late 60s and early 70s by former music manager and producer Michael Friedman.  Friedman’s candid photos offer a fresh new look, on stage and behind the scenes, at some of the most important artists of the time.  

The exhibition, which will run through mid 2020, includes never before seen images along with the stories behind the photos. The photographs will be permanently archived as “The Michael Friedman Collection” in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum’s Library and Archives. 

When Greg Harris, President and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, first saw the photos he said, “It’s remarkable that Michael was there at this important flash point in music history, and that he documented it with a great eye for capturing its energy and personality." On the opening night of the exhibit Harris said, “It’s really an honor for the museum.  On behalf of Rock & Roll fans all over the world, we’re very glad Michael found those negatives!” 

Harris further stated, “Our mission at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is to engage, teach, and inspire through the power of rock and roll. There are so many ways to do that. But, to do it through an amazing exhibit of Michael’s photographs of these iconic artists - really in their element 50 years ago – is remarkable. The fact that the negatives for these photos were lost for 45 years, then re-discovered, and are now being shared with the world, along with the stories behind them - that’s a great way to engage, teach and inspire others through the power of rock and roll.”

Michael Friedman, a former Music Manager and Producer, found himself standing quite literally in the hurricane’s eye of America’s folk, rock and roll, and pop music industry during the late ‘60s through the early ‘80s. 

During the 1960s and early ‘70s era, Michael Friedman had the good fortune of working, traveling, and befriending dozens of highly respected and legendary musical artists.  While initially working as a publicist, and subsequently a manager and music producer, he was also an avid photographer.  Due to his unparalleled access to numerous top musicians and performers, his candid photography was able to capture the essence of that historic period in music. 

One of the most striking and intimate images out of the collection is of Mick Jagger playing Madison Square Garden with The Rolling Stones in 1969 in front of thousands of people.  Friedman was standing just a few feet away from him when he took the shot.  Jagger seems absolutely luminous by the stage lighting while everything behind was simply black.  It’s an extraordinary image given the photo’s composition as it gives the illusion that Mick Jagger is performing to a small room. 

Between 1969 and 1973, Friedman shot thousands of photographs, but before he printed the majority of them, he packed the negatives away, lost track of them, and eventually considered them lost.  In 2017, after 45 years, the long lost negatives were found by Friedman’s wife, Donna Vita, in a box of old music contracts which was stored away in their attic.

Now fully restored, these historic photographs represent a stunning collection of candid shots of legendary musicians, including The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, The Band, Todd Rundgren, Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Butterfield, Johnny Winter, Tina Turner, James Cotton, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, and other musicians Friedman worked with..  

"Looking back, I think of the late 60’s and early 70’s as a sweet spot in the history of American music,” Friedman now says. “There were so many talented young songwriters and musicians during that era, and I was very fortunate as a young man to be working with some of the most enduring and iconic. Photographically, my perspective was one of reportage - I wanted to capture the moment. No one was posing for me, because I was not a hired photographer, but rather part of their team and a friend.  My hope is that many of these photos will give the viewer a glimpse of the artists as individuals, unselfconscious, relaxed, and just being themselves."

A wonderful addition to Friedman’s “Exposed!” exhibit is Janis Joplin’s guitar, which is on display through producer and singer-songwriter, Bob Neuwirth.  In 1969, Gordon Lightfoot told Neuwirth about a great song he had heard from a local Nashville songwriter, Kris Kristofferson, and sang it for him.  Neuwirth asked Gordon to teach it to him then and there.  Later that evening, Neuwirth was having dinner with Janis Joplin and sang the song for her.  She insisted he teach it to her on the spot.  She was set to perform in Nashville the next day and was looking for a song to play with only a guitar for accompaniment.  That performance made the front pages of the local papers and the song was “Me and Bobby McGee.”  On display next to the guitar is Friedman’s rare photo of Janis playing that guitar to “Me and Bobby McGee” at Madison Square Garden in December 1969.

More Information about Michael Friedman’s photo collection is available at: https://www.michaelfriedmanphotography.com

Michael Friedman's career in the music industry began in 1967 at the New York  PR agency Ivor Associates when he was 24 years old.  At the time, Ivor's clients included The Mamas and the Pappas, The Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits, Glen Campbell, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil among others.  

While at Ivor, Friedman transitioned to management and music production when he and partner John Kurland signed an unknown band from Philadelphia called Nazz, whose leader was Todd Rundgren.  

In 1968, Friedman went to work with the legendary music business manager Albert Grossman, best known for managing Bob Dylan. Friedman helped run Grossman’s management firm (ABGM) in NY and brought Todd Rundgren along with him.  Among the other notable artists Friedman worked with at ABGM were Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield, Odetta, Ian and Sylvia, Ritchie Havens, Peter Paul and Mary, James Cotton, Todd Rundgren, Professor Longhair, Tom Rush, and Gordon Lightfoot. At the time, Albert Grossman Management was considered the premier music management company in the US.

In 1970, Friedman moved to Woodstock, NY, to work on the early stages of Grossman’s Bearsville Records and Bearsville Studios. He subsequently joined Bert Block managing Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.     

In 1980, Friedman joined Arista records to work with Clive Davis as Davis’s executive assistant and as the Director of Video Services, and the Director of Associated Labels. He and Davis worked closely on various projects, including the formation of Arista's new music video department.  Friedman's first two projects included "Dionne Warwick: Live in Las Vegas,” and the 1980 production of the first feature length music video entitled “The Kinks: One for the Road," filmed at the Providence Civic Center. These productions were joint ventures with Time Life Entertainment. The Kinks rock video marked an industry first, and the soundtrack resulted in the Arista double album, “One for the Road,” which went gold.

Friedman also oversaw all Arista distributed labels, including Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen’s jazz label GRP Records.

Friedman later went on to form The Empire Project, a music production and management firm in New York, with Arista A&R executive Don Silver. There, the two men produced and managed such artists as Orleans and Mayday. 

In 1982, with marriage and a new baby in the picture, Friedman decided he had had enough of the pressures of city life and the music business, and moved to Connecticut to pursue his other longtime interest in antiques and design. There, he opened the Friedman Gallery, and Artafax, a European high tech design store, both in Westport, CT.

In 1992, he opened the Ash Creek Saloon, the first of three successful restaurants. Also in 1992, Friedman authored the highly acclaimed book “Cowboy Culture: The Last Frontier of American Antiques.”

In 2018, The California Heritage Museum exhibited more than 60 of Friedman’s photos as a single exhibition from April 2018 – August 2018.  The exhibit was entitled, “Rock & Roll Legends: The Lost Negatives of Michael Friedman,” and was one of the museum’s most attended and successful exhibits in its history.

Friedman has three daughters and a young grandson. He lives with his wife, Donna Vita, in Connecticut.