As both a sports and concert photographer, Michael Zagaris might be a bit of an adrenaline junkie.
“When you come on to the field, you feel not only the eyes of the people; you feel the energy in every molecule of the body … The same with a rock and roll show,” he recently told Business Insider.
In his new book, “Total Excess,” Zagaris holds nothing back, sharing all of the gritty details of what life was like for bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who in the ’70s, when they were at the top of the world of rock ‘n’ roll.
The photos are also appearing in a gallery show at Milk Gallery through December 18. They show a previously unseen behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a rock star, from both the front of the stage and behind it.
Zagaris first photographed The Rolling Stones in 1972. After several failed attempts at getting a photo pass to their shows, Zagaris landed the job by calling Mick Jagger's personal assistant pretending to be a photo editor from Vogue.
The trick worked, and Zagaris was able to photograph a few of the band's first shows during their '72 tour. Zagaris described the rowdy experience in his book as 'one of the last tours where the backstage life was everything everyone had ever imagined and much more.'
According to Zagaris, Roger Daltrey is 'the heart' of The Who. 'When he took the stage he was a dynamo always in motion, looking like a young Adonis,' Zagaris wrote.
However it's Pete Townshend that is 'the soul' of the band, Zagaris said. Feeling claustrophobic during this show due to the psychedelic drugs he had taken with drummer Keith Moon, Zagaris moved up to a balcony. He almost missed this shot of Townshend throwing his guitar into the air.
Zagaris calls this image of Lou Reed 'one of my most iconic shots.' On assignment for Creem magazine, Zagaris was told to document 'everything' Reed did during his short time in San Francisco.
Zagaris stayed with Reed during the entire trip, from the sound check at Winterland Ballroom, to his departure at the airport, where he captured this photograph.
Zagaris wrote of the experience: 'Patti was trying on different hats and scarves, finally saying, 'Do you think we've got it?'' When Zagaris made it clear he needed a few more formal portrait photos, Smith walked over to the bathroom and while standing above the toilet, asked Zagaris, 'How is this for a portrait?'
Zagaris photographed Bob Dylan in 1975 during a benefit concert in San Francisco. An all-star lineup including Neil Young, Dylan, and various members of The Band graced the stage to sing 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door.' Zagaris described the experience as 'beyond amazing.'
Zagaris photographed Led Zeppelin's last-ever show in the United States. It almost didn't happen because of a hostile backstage dispute between the stage hands and Led Zeppelin's entourage.
Zagaris took Blondie to San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers for their shoot. '(Debbie Harry) channeled a Marilyn Monroe-esque glamour fronting the brand's gritty East Coast urban feel,' he wrote.
When Zagaris first met David Bowie in 1972, Zagaris was transfixed. 'With his translucent skin and the way he moved and spoke, (he) seemed like an alien from another world,' he wrote. It wasn't until 1978 that he was able to photograph a live Bowie show.
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