The Sunset Marquis — the infamous celebrity hideaway that has served as a second home, work space and party pad to the stars for most of its 50 years — was converted into the Morrison Hotel on Thursday night, attracting such notables as Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Billy Bob Thornton and “Gossip Girl’s” Ed Westwick to savor a surfeit of iconic photos of rock royalty.
Photographer/curator Timothy White, who’s been a Sunset Marquis regular since the mid ’80s, convinced management and the New York-based Morrison Hotel Gallery owners that the photos and the hotel’s storied corridors were a perfect match. “It should be the best photos by the best photographers of the biggest stars,” recalls White of his pitch. “That’s what this hotel should be about. It’s about Hollywood history and music history and it should be reflected on the walls.”
A peek at the collection bears this out, from Joel Brodsky’s Adonis-like portrait of a shirtless Jim Morrison to Elliot Landy’s gorgeous album cover shot of Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline.” The Stones, of course, are heavily represented, including Eddie Kramer’s priceless backstage shot of Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix at Madison Square Garden in 1969 — get yer ya yas out, indeed!
Julian Lennon, one of the featured photographers, reveled in the opportunity to be judged on his own terms. “Photography has definitely taken over my main focus in life,” the musician-turned-shutterbug told Variety. “It allows me to breathe creatively rather than have that Lennon stigma of Beatles and everything else with the music where every single thing I do is compared to everything else. It’s expected but it’s a little annoying.”