On March 16, 1999, Bill Clinton was president, Cher’s “Believe” was the No. 1 song in the country, and Danny Clinch hit the lottery.
Not the actual lottery. The rock photographer lottery.
In an interview on the “Financially Speaking With Mitch Slater” podcast, the photographer, musician and entrepreneur said that prior to that day, he had sent copies of his book, “Discovery Inn: The Photographs of Danny Clinch,” to Bruce Springsteen and Sandra Choron, who had worked as an art director for Springsteen projects for years. At the same time, Clinch had gotten to know publicist Larry Jenkins by working with John Mellencamp, and Jenkins told Clinch he would “throw his hat into the ring” for Bob Dylan’s next photo shoot.
On March 16, said Clinch, “I get a call from Jeff Rosen, who is Bob Dylan’s manager. I’ve gotten to know him over the years: He’s a wonderful man, and has a great sense of humor. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, and he calls me and says, ‘Danny, my name’s Jeff Rosen. I manage a singer-songwriter you might have heard of. His name is Bob Dylan.’
“He said, ‘Larry Jenkins says you’re the guy to photograph Bob Dylan.’ And I was like, ‘Well, Larry’s a genius, and we should listen to everything Larry says.’ We had a laugh and I said, ‘Yeah, count me in. Just let me know.’ ”
Clinch had a meeting at MTV that same day.
“I was telling them about sending the book to Springsteen and getting the call from Dylan,” he told Slater in the podcast. ” ‘Yeah, it’s not Springsteen, but come on! This is a win, right here, right?’ And we’re having a laugh …. and all of a sudden, my phone rings. I excuse myself and I pick up the phone … and it was Sandy Choron. Same day, same afternoon.
“She said, ‘Listen, I was heading to some rehearsals at Fort Monmouth with Bruce and the E Street Band.’ And she said, ‘I got the books, thank you very much. And I gave one to Bruce. And he wants to know if you want to come down and photograph at Fort Monmouth for the tour book. Because he’s putting the E Street Band back together.’ And of course my mind was blown, and I was like, ‘Wow, absolutely, just let me know when I need to be there, and I’ll show up.’ And I went back into that meeting, and I was just like, ‘You are not going to believe this. I just got a call to photograph Bruce Springsteen.’ ”
Clinch did the Dylan shoot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
“I chose that location because, visually, there were a lot of options,” Clinch said in the podcast. “But Dylan understood the history there. Which I assumed he would, but he was really excited to be there, because they had the Cocoanut Grove room, where the Rat Pack used to play, and of course the history with Kennedy.
“He really was into it, and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we were supposed to shoot for four hours, and we shot for more like six or seven.”
Clinch, who grew up in Toms River and now owns his own Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery (which doubles as a concert venue) in Asbury Park, has continued to photograph Springsteen often, over the years.
On the podcast (the episode is titled “The Rock Photography Business With Danny Clinch”), he tells other anecdotes from his career and talks about business and technical aspects of photography and other subjects, including the second annual Sea.Hear.Now Festival, which he co-founded. It takes place on the beach and in Bradley Park in Asbury Park on Sept. 21-22, and will feature The Dave Matthews Band, The Lumineers and others.
You can listen to the entire podcast here:
And here is a video of Springsteen performing with Clinch’s Tangiers Blues Band, earlier this year:
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