Essence of Rock

Wriggling his undraped rump while rising from a pool — thank you, Robert Plant, for at least not flashing your zeppelin at the shutterbug.

Over here is a three-frame montage of Bette Midler performing in … what is that, a slip with a heart stitched between her breasts, or a bizarre cocktail dress?

There’s shirtless “Shaft” composer Isaac Hayes snapped while garbed in crisscrossing chains — clearly a baaad mutha. (Fine, we’ll say it: Shut your mouth!)

And what in the name of Bennie and the Jets is Elton John wearing? (You know what? Forget it: Most of us have stopped asking.)

“I couldn’t play, so what would be my access to this world? My camera,” says photographer Robert M. Knight, a 59-year-old chronicler of rock royalty. “I remember everything because I never did any drugs.”

That must have been a formidable pharmaceutical temptation to resist given the chemically adventurous company he’s kept, but Knight’s sober eye through the lens yielded “40 x 40,” a collection of 40 portraits taken over four decades at the newly opened Symbolic Gallery.

“When I walk into the Hard Rock, it’s like I’m walking through my life,” says the Hawaii-born Knight, a cool-cat vision in black — leather jacket, pants, half-boots, Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, hepcat glasses and the sort of beret that should only be issued to artistic types — as he guides a guest through the retrospective that reflects his rock ‘n’ roll journey. “Every hero I’ve ever had, I’ve met. And I’m probably the only guy who has worked with both Hendrix and Panic! at the Disco.”

Let’s start with Plant’s immodest emergence from a swim. “I shot Led Zeppelin’s first show in America, 175 people at the Whiskey a Go Go. … He looks like a Greek god, doesn’t he?” … Next. Here’s Hendrix, performance photos capturing a prism of pleasure and passion on his face: “A really mellow guy. There was all this pressure then on black artists to join all the black power movements, but he didn’t have time for that. He was a multinational person.”

And Elton John, dressed in … something. “He called me at home and asked if he could come over, said he didn’t want to stay at a hotel,” Knight recalls. “Wouldn’t you like to have Elton John as a houseguest? When I photographed him onstage, he’d stop in the middle of a song and pose, then continue. I have lots of crazy shots of Elton.”

The exhibit’s a potpourri of rockers in midrock, and repose: Mick Jagger, serpentine style caught in midslither; guitar-wielding Eddie Van Halen scissor-kicking in midair; B.B. King, head tossed back in a joyous laugh in one shot, eyes closed in concentration as he strums in another; craggy Johnny Cash, weathered mug resembling a dry riverbed; Billy Idol, left side of his haunting profile cloaked in shadow; Ray Charles at the piano, stage lights sparkling off his dark glasses.

The hitmakers just keep on coming: Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Santana, Tommy Lee, Rufus Wainwright, Green Day, George Clinton. And the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, snapped by Knight just before the helicopter ride he would not survive.

“There’s such an amazing artistic quality,” says Robert Rios, vice president of the gallery. “And there’s a level of intimacy Robert has with them. These photos really capture an essential part of American history.”

We stroll on.

There’s top-hatted Slash, face lit by an affable smirk. “A great friend,” says Knight, whose life is the basis for an upcoming documentary. “I didn’t see any drug use. When I’ve been around, he’s the model of control. I’ve seen him have a beer, but never screwed up.” … Little Richard, head aloft, eyes wide. “He was running about five hours late. He came in, said he had to go to the bank, and I had a minute and a half to do an entire shoot. But we nailed it.” …

There’s the oddly benevolent menace of Alice Cooper, cooing seductively at a snake. “We were invited to a Halloween party, and he said, ‘I’ll go as Alice Cooper.’ And no one was the wiser. They just thought it was some guy dressed up as Alice Cooper.” And good buddy Jeff Beck, flanked by cars, one prop noticeably absent. “The greatest guitar player, and when I shot this he didn’t have one. He has no interest in drugs and spends all his free time building hot rods.”

Listen to him: The man is still giddy after decades around the greats. For Knight — with a nod to Billy Joel — whether playing hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk, they’re still rock ‘n’ rollers to him.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0256.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like