Sammy Davis Jr. backstage at CBS TV, Los Angeles, 1972
Amelia Davis: “This is actually one of Jim’s lesser known photos, which is pretty cool. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Jim started out photographing jazz and then he moved to New York in 1962 and came back in 1964 and it’s a good thing he did that because he was here when rock ‘n’ roll really started.
“He really just loved all kinds of music. For him it was just really natural; if he really loved somebody and they just happened to be blues, it was blues. His body of work is really incredible because he has jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, rock n’ roll. It’s amazing.
When he died, I found a box of songs that he wrote and they’re really bad. They’re like 'She left me and broke my heart.' [Laughs] But Jim was a sap at heart and you’d never know it from his gruff exterior but he had a really gentle soul on the inside if you got to know him.
"He really loved it all which is cuckoo and people would never realize it but he loved country music. When he died, I found a box of songs that he wrote and they’re really bad. They’re like 'She left me and broke my heart.' [Laughs]But Jim was a sap at heart and you’d never know it from his gruff exterior but he had a really gentle soul on the inside if you got to know him. So people are like 'What? Jim Marshall and country!'
"He was just down there to photograph the tribute show and again, just caught Sammy Davis Jr. at a moment when obviously he was thinking about something and wasn’t aware that Jim was there."But this photo was at the Duke Ellington tribute in the CBS TV studios in Los Angeles in 1972. The really pivotal years for Jim’s work was really 1963 and 1972 because in 1963 he got a lot of his iconic jazz photographs and then in 1972 he did a lot of rock ‘n’ roll stuff.
"The cool thing about Jim too is he used completely manual cameras - they were all Leicas so if you look at Jim’s work, it shows what a master he was. He never cropped, he pretty much composed in the camera and that’s really unusual, especially nowadays. It really is a tribute to Jim as a photographer to look at these photographs. They’re not manipulated at all, what you see is what you get. He rarely used any kind of flash, he mostly used available light so it’s pretty cool."