John Scheele Q&A on Dylan Basement Tapes Cover Shoot, Pts. 3-4
Parts 3 and 4 of an Exclusive 4-Part Interview About the Historic 1975 ‘Basement Tapes’ Cover Shoot with Bob Dylan & The Band
LOS ANGELES – Multimedia pop culture archival company Rare Cool Stuff Unltd. (http://www.rarecoolstuff.com), in association with EARL Company (http://earlcompany.com/), presents the final half of an exclusive video interview with Photographer John Scheele.
John Scheele documented the moments leading up to the Bob Dylan & The Band’s “The Basement Tapes” album cover shoot at the Hollywood YMCA in 1975. As no outtakes exist from this shoot, Scheele’s work offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at this famous photo session.
In the second half of his interview with Rare Cool Stuff Unltd., Scheele recalls the chemistry between the characters in the shoot and Reid Miles’ creative process (click here for Parts 1 and 2).
EARL Company presents a selection of Scheele’s photos in “The Basement Tapes Photo Session Folio,” a limited-edition, signed and numbered set of full-frame duotone lithographs printed with archival inks on museum-quality paper. The folio is available for purchase through Jan. 25. Click here to order.
Folio orders placed before Dec. 25 will include a bonus 12″x18″ one-sheet of all 36 photographs shot by Scheele during the photo session, and all orders will be delivered in February 2015.
Click the Start button to watch Part 3:
Here’s the transcript for Part 3 of the John Scheele interview about the Basement Tapes cover shoot:
Stephen K. Peeples: The photos disappeared for a while, didn’t they?
John Scheele: Reid Miles, who shot the cover picture, had an odd method with his own photographs. He submitted them to Columbia… He destroyed all of his photographs except for these two that are on the  album. He made his own editorial choices. To make sure that no one second-guessed him, he would destroy his own photographs, his outtakes. So sadly, there would’ve been perhaps some other great pictures…
I never had done anything with my pictures commercially but I got in touch through Jeff Rosen and Geoff Gans, and what we’re doing with these pictures is going back to the set of photographs that I took documentary-style leading up to the album shoot itself. So, I don’t have this exact [cover] shot – this is Reid’s camera – but I have pictures that lead up to that moment.
Peeples: Your photos, then, basically comprise the only really documentation photographically of that particular session, aside from the cover shots.
Scheele: Right. I think they really open up in this book, which is a fabulous look at the period that the music was recorded.
You can see in these photographs a little bit of what led up to that moment. For example, here’s Bob coming in and shedding his heavy clothes and starting to get into costume. He picked this nice poncho to start off with, wore that around, and ended up in this beautiful Mexican coat.
You can see the ballerina getting ready here. Levon Helm is dressing himself like for a wedding. His wedding mate is Ed Anderson, our sound engineer, in a big Southern Belle dress with “Big Pink” emblazoned over it. It was a really odd photograph.
Here’s my brother Bill with Garth, getting dressed, and Garth tapping out a song on his tuba.
Scheele: He’s a droll man. Garth is such a cut-up, and so brilliant and shy. He’s a real character without trying to be so, and I’m so pleased in putting this book together and the album together because [I was] able to be in the center of that. I’ve seen some interviews with him, and it just makes my heart warm. I’m very glad to see that. He’s an amazing, amazing man.
This is the nun whom Rick Danko was having a moment with. Here’s everybody getting a little high over in the corner – Bob, Levon and Robbie. Here’s a photo that shows Bob starting to bring everybody into the clothes and find their positions. Here he is on his hands and knees adjusting Angelo’s clothes and getting everybody ready for the shot.
It was quite a fluid situation like a family portrait, a formal portrait, but with characters and people playing off each other, just having a lot of fun.
Click the Start button to watch Part 4:
Here’s the transcript for the John Scheele interview about the Basement Tapes cover shoot, Part 4:
Peeples: Staging that [Basement Tapes cover] shot – Bob [Dylan] was directly involved and Miles was directly involved. How long did it take to set that up?
Scheele: It didn’t take long. We were upstairs and having a ball with putting the costumes on, everybody hanging out. When we came downstairs, the vibe changed. It was like descending into another level. It was daylight up above, in a bright, outdoorsy room, and the basement was smoky and strange and nobody had seen it before except Reid. It had a real feeling of going into a secret, special place.
The group gelled together. We had created a composition for everyone to stand as a starting point, but what I was surprised to find was that Bob really took charge in his own way, quietly. Everyone looked to him, as with all his music and everything he does.
I’ve seen him on stage, for example – if you’ve ever noticed, he is shooting looks across to people, directing people with his eyes and giving musical signals. He’s got a very strong instinct visually as well, in his filmmaking and his photography and his posing.
So he took charge of that moment. Reid was a real cooperative guy, so it was just like he was staging a party and letting those people stand up there. He let it take its own shape, which it did do.
Peeples: Yeah, I think it would’ve been completely different if he tried to take control and direct everybody.
Scheele: Not at all, no. Reid was a very, very sweet guy…
Peeples: But it came together very organically.
Scheele: Right, and at the same time, I think… For example, one of the attributes of The Band was when they played with Bob in those sessions is, they would deliberately pass instruments around. They would play different roles. Somebody would get on drums who couldn’t play drums at all, someone would start playing the horn who did not know how to play a horn, but they were all collaborators musically. In this posing too, they trade off the way they did as a musical group. It was a very improvised feeling.
Scheele: I’m so thrilled to have a chance to have my photographs be part of this. This meant the world to me, really a lot to me. I remember this moment so clearly, this period of time, and I cut my teeth on – I grew up on “The Basement Tapes,” I grew up on this music. My last years of high school, that’s when this music came out.
I couldn’t believe, a few years later, I was standing in the room and part of that group, part of that band. It was an awesome day and an awesome experience to be part of that tour and then be part of this album shoot. It feels like it’s really come full circle now. I’m so happy to hear the music in the way Bob intended it, in the way it was recorded, and it’s presented like a musical archive. All the tapes and all the variations are intact.
These photographs? That’s a little bit of that, too. This is the way it was that day. They’re like a documentary of that day, not just outtakes. It would be great to have Reid Miles’ outtakes, but what I feel is these photographs give you a little taste of what it was like to be in that room that day, to be there with them while they find their characters, while they express their personalities.
And you get a real feeling of what was so special between Bob and The Band back in the day when they recorded that music, and that was still happening here in 1975 when they got together again to do this album shoot.
Peeples: John, thank you very much for your time. It was a great interview.
Scheele: Thanks, Stephen.
Peeples: All the best of luck in the future.
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Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Category: Latest News
Article Source: RareCoolStuff.com
John Scheele Q&A on Dylan Basement Tapes Cover Shoot, Pts. 3-4