John Scheele, Bill Scheele & Family in Garth Hudson's back yard (1975)


 JOHN SCHEELE began photographing The Band as he was still in high school, covering their appearance at the 1969 Toronto Pop Festival. That summer he joined his brother Bill working for the group, leading up to the Woodstock Festival in nearby Bethel. In 1970, John rode on the Festival Express train with Rick Danko, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia. His photography in the studio includes the recording of Stage Fright at the Woodstock Playhouse and their historic New Years’ shows at the Academy of Music in 1971, where Bob Dylan rejoined The Band on stage after a 5 year hiatus.

When Bob and The Band went out in force during 1974, John documented “Before the Flood” from backstage. His later photography of sessions at their Shangri-La Ranch in Malibu is a unique record of their ongoing creative process, as Levon and Rick rehearsed to record and tour on their own, joined by Garth, Robbie, Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles and others.

 

 

  



The Basement Tapes Cover Shoot (1975)

John's recollection:

"That was a most surreal day: No cameras were ever allowed back then, so this was a conscious effort to evoke the spirit of those sessions. It brought out a mischievous side of Bob Dylan - how he could put on a hat or costume and assume a new identity. In hindsight, that's a hallmark of his songs and creative work.

Reid Miles, the artist who photographed The Basement Tapes cover, was a brilliant graphic designer himself, and cast his album covers like Fellini, with odd characters and costumes that paralleled the tapestry of Bob's songs. Mrs. Henry was there and Quinn the Eskimo, but also Ed Andersen, who was Sound Engineer during those years, dressed in a taffeta like a Southern Belle. Levon primped with great civility, as if for a wedding ceremony, while Garth picked out a processional on his tuba. Richard was retired Air Force, Rick a lovable flasher in a long overcoat, and Robbie outfitted in a Red Army uniform. Bob switched into a red and white Mexican jacket, playing mandolin with an invisible bow. Everyone was very high and happy - you can feel what great friends and comrades they were.

We started up in a bright room with pool tables to get dressed and ready. When we moved downstairs, Bob took charge in a subtle way, repositioning people where he wanted them. I took a few more documentary photos before Bill and I stepped into the frame ourselves - we're back there in the smoke and mist.

Reid
always destroyed his own outtakes, and only one alternate cover shot survives from his camera. That way he was sure the pictures he liked would be used on the album. The shoot created its own set of memories, and my images fill in for photos that were never taken back in that remarkable time, in the Red Room at Bob Dylan's house and that legendary Basement at Big Pink."

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