When I grabbed a glass of red wine, I was surprised to see Henry Diltz. His photos have been on the walls since the opening (he's done over 200 album covers, including the Doors' Morrison Hotel, which is how the place got its name).
I remembered he had done the photos for a Steve Poltz CD, and I had run into Poltz the night before. He said, "I didn't realize he was from San Diego. He's one of my favorites." We ended up talking about a lot of the old '60s bands.
A cute woman with blonde hair and a thick accent was working at the gallery. She told me she is from South Africa. Since I know nothing about South Africa, I looked at my friend and said, "Ah, I got nothing." He shrugged his shoulders but came up with a few facts about South Africa. I wandered off to look at photos.
I ran into a couple who were Springsteen fans. The woman told me she thought her husband looked like Springsteen's keyboardist Roy Bittan. They told me about concerts where they were followed and asked for autographs.
A few people were asking Stefanko to sign his new book. When he was free, I asked him about Patti Smith (one of my favorite songwriters). He said, "I met her in the mid-'60s, while we were attending Glassboro State College in South Jersey." I told him his photos make her look beautiful, when she's not that attractive a person. He said, "It's because that's the way I see her. And because she is beautiful in her very special way."
Bruce Springsteen saw Stefanko's photographs of Patti Smith and hired him as a photographer. I mentioned that songwriters make big bucks if a song of theirs is covered, and that his photographs on Springsteen albums have sold over 10 million copies. Even though it's bad etiquette, I asked if that made him a millionaire. He laughed and said, "I'm not a millionaire. Not even close. I still have a day job."I asked him if friends ever want backstage passes from him. He said, "All the time. My answer is always no. You don't stay friends with performers if you ask for favors all the time."
As I was leaving, I asked Rich Horowitz, who runs this gallery, to tell me about it. He said, "It's the only gallery in San Diego specializing in fine art music photography. The guest photographers who will be exhibiting are the best in the world. People like Bob Gruen, Neal Preston, and Mick Rock."
I left the gallery thinking a lot of these photos would look perfect across the street on the walls of the Hard Rock Café, which also took its name from a Doors album.
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.