Music icons from the 1970s rock scene

By Erik Alexander, Special to CNN

Published 0235 GMT (1035 HKT) November 10, 2016
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Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the rock band The Who, performs in California in 1973. Michael Zagaris began his photography career shooting some of the most iconic figures in rock 'n' roll from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The name of his new book, "Total Excess," refers to the total access he was given to these artists -- and the excess he encountered along the way. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Debbie Harry and members of Blondie pose at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Zagaris would usually go into a shoot with only a rough idea of what he wanted to do. "When you're shooting, you're meeting the band sometimes for the first time," he said. "And a lot of what you do is going to depend on the chemistry that flows between you and the band." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
David Bowie performs at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. "Here's an artist that constantly reinvented himself," Zagaris said. "That particular show, it was all sound and light, and he had three changes of wardrobe." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
The SNACK benefit concert of 1975 (SNACK stood for Students Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks) raised money for San Francisco's public schools after big budget cuts put music, arts and athletics programs at risk. The impromptu show featured celebrities such as Joan Baez, Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan, seen here. "Bob was never very accessible, and to be able to shoot him there at that point at that time was very special," Zagaris said. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Rod Stewart, right, and Ronnie Wood perform one of the Faces' final shows in 1972. "The Faces were kind of like an ongoing party," Zagaris remembered. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Zagaris took this photo of Rick James on a shoot for Rolling Stone magazine. "What I don't want to do is just take a picture," Zagaris said. "I want this to be almost like a movie where it's something that evolves." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Jim Morrison, frontman for The Doors, falls onto the stage floor at the Santa Clara Folk Rock Festival in 1968. At the time, Zagaris was still in law school and working for Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign. He called in sick to go to the show, which cost $3.50 to attend. It also featured artists such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Ravi Shankar, The Youngbloods, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane and others. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Patti Smith poses in a dressing room at the Boarding House nightclub in San Francisco. Zagaris was on assignment for After Dark magazine. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
This photo, which is also the cover image of "Total Excess," shows Lou Reed at San Francisco International Airport. "It said everything about that period," Zagaris said. "It just screams total excess." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Joe Strummer performs during The Clash's first tour of the United States in 1979. "Of all the bands I ever worked with, the Clash were probably the most fun," Zagaris said. "They really resonated with me with their politics, with their music, with their style." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
The Blues Brothers do a soundcheck at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in 1978. That night, they opened for the Grateful Dead. It was the venue's final concert before it closed. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
The Sex Pistols perform their last song at their final show ever at the Winterland Ballroom in 1978. Prior to the show, Zagaris had found the Sex Pistols' music unbearable. But he said as he saw the band members exit their bus, he immediately felt the energy and knew he was in for something special. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Chris Isaac, center, and his manager, Mark Plummer, wait for a taxi in New York in 1985. "I can still smell the stale beer and fresh piss wafting up from the sidewalk in the humidity," Zagaris said. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Jerry Garcia, left, and Carlos Santana were two giants in the San Francisco music scene. "The key to a lot of this when I shot ... was them trusting you and being able to let go," Zagaris said. "You know in the end what I really want to do? I want to capture you either as you are or as you think you are or as you want to be." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
The Who performs at the Oakland Coliseum in 1976. "Very much the way an actor that really is into the whole Stanislavski thing where you become what you're doing, I wanted to become whoever I was with," Zagaris said. "And then, in doing that, my portrayal with the camera would get you an inside-out view." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
The dressing room of Keith Moon, in utter disarray. The Who's drummer was notorious for trashing hotel rooms and being a prankster. "I loved being around him, as long as I didn't have to pay the legal bills," Zagaris said. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant performs in 1977. "He epitomized the Dionysian dream that so many of the English bands and really that era of that type of rock music epitomized," Zagaris said. "It was beauty, it was decadence, it was excess." Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Eric Clapton plays the Cow Palace, outside San Francisco, in 1974. It was Clapton who gave Zagaris the idea to pursue photography as an avocation. After seeing several proofs that Zagaris had taken of him, Clapton asked if he could use them for songbooks and albums: "He said, 'Look man, we'll pay you,' and I said, 'Cool!' " Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Although Zagaris usually establishes some sort of relationship with his subjects, this photo of Iggy Pop was taken without the two exchanging any words. Despite the lack of dialogue, Zagaris claims that the energy was there -- otherwise the moment would not have happened. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
On the day before New Year's Eve in 1976, Zagaris took photos of Lynyrd Skynyrd for the band's album. This would be one of their last shoots together. On October 20, 1977, the band's plane crashed, killing three members. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Tom Petty performs in San Francisco at the Fillmore West concert hall in 1975. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press
Nico stands in the alley of the Mabuhay Gardens nightclub in San Francisco. Zagaris says the photo is evocative of where she was at that moment in her life as an artist in the punk scene. "Total Excess: Photographs by Michael Zagaris" will be published November 15 by Reel Art Press. Michael Zagaris/Reel Art Press