Photo by Michael Friedman

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | November 15, 2021

Michael Friedman had a job most people would dream of. He spent the 1960s and 1970s managing and producing musicians all the while snapping candid photos of his interactions.

Nearly 50 years ago, however, he misplaced the negatives of more than 2,000 photographs. Considered lost and nearly forgotten, the negatives were found by his wife, Donna Vita, in a box of old music business papers in their attic. Together they restored the negatives.

After a successful year-long exhibit at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the newly curated and expanded collection of 80 restored images dubbed “The Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends” will be on display at Found: RE Hotel in Phoenix starting Friday, November 19, with a preview ticketed reception, gallery talk and conversation.

On Saturday, November 20, and Sunday, November 21, the exhibition and sale, presented by the Men’s Arts Council of the Phoenix Art Museum, will be open to the public. The curated exhibition of rare photos includes snaps of Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, The Band, Kris Kristofferson, James Cotton, Butterfield Blues Band and Todd Rundgren.

“It’s remarkable that Michael Friedman documented this important flash point in music history and captured its energy and personality,” says Greg Harris, president and chief executive officer of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This is the Connecticut resident’s third time showing his photos, however, the exhibitions were smaller. Friedman chose Phoenix for his next visit on the recommendation of a Men’s Arts Council member who saw the show at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica.

“He felt this would be a good opportunity to do a fundraiser for the museum,” says Friedman, during a travel stop in Texas on his way to Phoenix. “I go way back in Arizona. I went to the University of Arizona and started my music career there. It feels like coming back home. It’s the largest exhibition yet.”

The 1965 UA graduate was in a garage band during his studies and drove to LA on the weekends to record.

“That got me started, even though I had been playing drums and doing things in high school,” he says. “We didn’t play around campus that much because we were interested in trying to make records. We would record a song and make up a name to go with it.”

The musicians eventually started their own label.

“You could never do that now,” Friedman says about releasing music. “The music business was a lot smaller and simpler then, and the world was a different place. There was no internet.”

Subsequently, Friedman landed a job with Albert Grossman, who managed American folk and rock bands. Friedman considers himself lucky.

“We were all basically the same age,” he says. “I also had a passion for photography. That was my main interest outside of music. I would bring a camera everywhere. I took thousands of pictures over the course of a few years, which I proceeded to misplace for 50 years. My wife found them a couple years ago and that’s what started all of this.”

For five decades, Friedman thought the negatives — as well as memories — were gone. He says it was a “total surprise” to find these “treasures.”

“Seeing these blasts from the past, in person, is truly jaw-dropping, extremely rare and very special,” says Men’s Arts Council Event Chairman Steven Stralser. “We’re so grateful to Mr. Friedman for collaborating with us to share these one-of-a-kind images with the Phoenix community.”

“The Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends” Preview Reception

When: 6 p.m. Friday, November 19

Where: Found: RE Hotel, 1100 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix

Cost: $125

Info: mensartcouncil.com

 

“The Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends” Exhibition and Sale

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, November 20, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, November 21

Where: Found: RE Hotel, 1100 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix

Cost: Free

Info: mensartcouncil.com