Herb Wise was seen at live music events for roughly three decades, not by audiences but by the stars he captured with his camera. His unassuming, laid-back vibe allowed him to work unobserved right on-stage, and made musicians and singers open up backstage. This handsome book will be prized by fans of the artists who defined 20th century American music.
Among the un-posed, affectionate and revealing black-and-white portraits: Charles Mingus plays an upright bass, the humming strings almost audible. Carole King, with Tapestry topping the charts, looks as romantic as any love song. Chuck Berry wears an especially impish grin while doing his famous duck walk; Debbie Harry, with her half-blonde hair, bad girl attitude and goddess cheekbones, stares down the sun. Arnie Berle, who played flute and reeds with the top big bands, stands in midday city traffic swinging on his sax with one hand, waving a guitar in the other. Divine reclines in full drag backstage, an elegant black gown contrasting with his masculine shoulder.
As Wise said, “You’d like many of these people. They are good friends, even to know them through a brief glance along the way.”