Decorated rock and roll photographer Guy Webster has passed away at the age of 79. Webster’s biographer Harvey Kubernik confirmed that the photographer passed away on February 5th after suffering from diabetes and liver cancer.
Among the notable images in Guy Webster’s portfolio are the photos used on The Doors‘ self-titled debut album cover, The Rolling Stones‘ (Big Hits) High Tide & Green Grass, Simon & Garfunkel‘s Sounds of Silence, Waylon Jennings‘ Don’t Think Twice, and more.
One of his most well-known album covers is the image he captured for The Mamas & The Papas‘ 1966 classic, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, in which the four band members appear together (clothed) in a bathtub with the toilet prominently displayed to their left. As Webster explained to Kubernik for his biography, Big Shots: Rock Legends and Hollywood Icons: The Photography of Guy Webster, “We were sitting around and … we were all really stoned. And in that apartment was that 1920s and 1930s bathroom with all the tile. I put them in the bathtub and I set up my tripod and my big two-and-a-quarter camera and shot that picture. And in that picture was the toilet. You can’t put a toilet on the cover of anything and sell it at Sears or one of those chain stores. So Lou came up with a great idea to put a little sticker on the shrink-wrap that said, ‘Including ‘California Dreaming’.” That covered the toilet. It became one of the most controversial album covers of its day. Which pleased us to no end.”
As Variety notes, Guy Webster also worked individually with such well-known artists as Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Herb Alpert, Jerry Lee Lewis, Judy Collins, Jose Feliciano, Janis Joplin, Micky Dolenz, Ricky Nelson, Ravi Shankar, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Sonny Bono.
Beyond his work in the music world, Guy Webster also photographed a number of other high-profile celebrities including Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Wood, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Edward G. Robinson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Eva Gabor, Jack Nicholson, Jane Fonda, John Belushi, Larry Hagman, Leonard Nimoy, Marlo Thomas, Priscilla Presley, Raquel Welch, Rock Hudson, Truman Capote and William Shatner.
You can peruse Guy Webster’s prodigious photo portfolio via his website here.