Seeing the Other Side

John Olson is most famous for his visceral images of conflict in Vietnam, but in 1971, having joined Life magazine as its youngest ever photographer, he was commissioned to shoot a series of portraits of rock stars and their parents. It was, he said, "a hell of a lot more difficult and unrewarding than war photography". Whatever, I think they show a human side of rock stars' lives. Click to enlargify:

Eric Clapton with his gran, Rose, in the
house he bought her in Surrey, England.

Frank Zappa with his parents, Francis
and Rosemary, in California.

Grace Slick with her mom, Virginia Wing, in her
mom’s home in Palo Alto, California.

Joe Cocker sits with his mum, Marjorie, in
her home in Sheffield, England.

Ritchie Havens with his parents, Richard and Mildred,
hanging out in their home in Brooklyn, NY.

Donovan and his parents in England. Also, the
Jackson Five with their parents in Encino, California.

Elton John with his mum, Shelia, and stepdad,
Fred in their London apartment.

David Crosby with his father, Floyd, in
father’s house in Ojai, California.


  1. How neat! I love those.

    The one of Grace Slick with her mother makes me think of my grandmother's house, who also lived in Palo Alto and had almost identical furniture.

  2. An interesting look back.. in time and into their past. Very cool.

  3. These photos are really wonderful, the relationships, the furnishings, the pride..and how young they are! Thanks for a great post...

  4. Those are fascinating and kind of touching. The clothes, the's also interesting to see how differently the generations dressed. (Esp. David Crosby and his dad).

    I wonder how portraits of current stars with their parents would differ today?

  5. I'd like to see a picture of Wayne Brady with his mom. I just love Wayne. I'll bet he was a pistol when he was a kid!


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