Archive for August, 2008

That’s So Raven

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Safari Sam’s
Hollywood, CA
August 23, 2008

It wasn’t exactly 1983’s Kill ‘Em All For One Tour, but as I mentioned in my previous post (see Hirax: True Age Of Terror), it sure looked like it outside the club. Raven’s one night stand in L.A. with Hirax was an event. Mark and John Gallagher have given up the “athletic” side of their live shows – no more football helmets, shoulder pads, or catchers masks crashing down on their cymbals and guitar necks – although Mark was sporting some catcher’s knee pads that night.

It was obvious that the new generation of fans in the audience that night had done their homework on the band. They were all aware of how influential this band was and the history that is Raven – Metallica was the opening act for Raven in ’83…that is how big they were. Raven was a key element in helping bands like Metallica and Anthrax make their move from the indies to the majors.

The highlight of the night for me was watching Raven arrive to the venue at the very last second. Katon from Hirax had told me that he thought they might have been partying too hard after the show the night before in San Francisco. With just moments to spare, Raven’s van skidded in to the parking lot and the band hurried into the small venue through the front door. It was hilarious, all three guys were rolling their suitcases behind them, doing their best to squeeze through the kids in line. It was like a bad Samsonite commercial.

True Age Of Terror

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Safari Sam’s
Hollywood, CA
August 23, 2008

If I didn’t see kids texting on their cell phones, I would have had no idea that it was still 2008. Denim vests, patches, leather, spiked wristbands, miniskirts…I thought I died and was sent back to 1983. This is what happens when Hirax and Raven come to town. For those of you who don’t know, along with Metallica and Slayer, Hirax was one of the Southern California originators of Speed and Thrash Metal in the early 1980’s. Twenty some years later Katon DePena and Hirax are still going for it.

Before the show, I hung out with Katon in the dressing room…this guy still has Metal pouring through his veins. He was just as cool, just as pumped and just as motivated as he was in 1985 when their first LP was released on Metal Blade Records. As he and I chatted, I couldn’t help but wonder and appreciate what mountains he must have climbed to gain the respect that he has achieved in a genre of music that is predominantly white. Katon and the band brought it all to the stage – bullet belts, leather, smoke. It is shows like this that truly keep metal alive. A whole new generation of metal kids have the chance to get a glimpse of what the glory days of metal were like.

I will throw up some shots of metal godfathers Raven in my next post.

Photographed with my Canon 5D, a Canon 70mm-200mm f2.8 lens and a Canon 580 EX flash. All shot on Manual Modes.

A True Symbol Of Salvation – The R.I.P. Series

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Dave Pritchard
Armored Saint

Date Of Death: February 27, 1990
Cause Of Death: Leukemia

One thing that you need to understand about my early teens is that local bands were just as big as arena bands to us. We had the great and unfair advantage of seeing many of our local heroes blow up and become some of the biggest names in rock – Van Halen, Motley Crue, Ratt, etc. Armored Saint was next in line and in prime position. Armored Saint went from being the biggest unsigned local band in the San Gabriel Valley to a household name around the country.

During Armored Saint’s rollercoaster of a career, the band faced some serious changes that challenged the future of the mighty rockers. In 1989, the band made a bold decision to replace guitarist Phil Sandoval, recruiting another local hero, Jeff Duncan of Odin. As the new Saint lineup began work on new songs and demos for their upcoming album, guitarist Dave Pritchard was diagnosed with Leukemia. Unfortunately, the aggressiveness of the disease would prevent Pritchard from taking part in the final recording sessions of Symbol Of Salvation.

In a heartfelt move, Sandoval returned to Armored Saint, replacing Pritchard and bringing harmony to the Saint Family. Armored Saint honored Pritchard’s memory by using his guitar solo that he recorded on the four-track demo version of Tainted Past for the final album version that was released on Symbol Of Salvation.

Photographed with my old Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

High And Not So Dry – The R.I.P. Series

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Steve Clark
Def Leppard

Date Of Death: January 8, 1991
Cause Of Death: Mixture Of Anti-Depressants and Alcohol

Def Leppard was a huge influence on me growing up. Most of the metal and hard rock bands I listened to were from America. Def Leppard, along with Iron Maiden, were the most important bands that hit me out of The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement. The bands first three albums blew me away…all edgy, hooky and heavy in a way that was completely original and legit.

Def Leppard has obviously had their fair share of problems over the years: drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in an auto accident; guitarist Pete Willis was asked to leave the band due to a severe drinking problem; and that brings us to Steve Clark.

Steve Clark was one of the main contributors to the band’s music, lyrics and sound. His live performances were quite memorable, he was always on fire. Despite the creative genius that was Steve Clark, his musical work with the group was increasingly interrupted by his severe battle with alcoholism.

Clark’s battle began in the early 1980’s and increasingly grew more and more dangerous to him and the band. Alcoholism was seriously damaging his musical career. At the time of his death, his band-mates had placed Clark on a six-month leave of absence from Def Leppard in an attempt to reform the guitarist.

Although I have met and photographed Def Leppard a few times, I never had the opportunity to meet Steve Clark. In memory of Clark, his band-mates wrote and recorded the song White Lightning – honoring Clark’s preference for white clothes on stage. Check out my photo…he is dressed all in white.

Photographed with my old Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Back For More – The R.I.P. Series

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Robbin Crosby

Date of Death: June 6, 2002
Cause Of Death: Heroine Overdose

Like many of the local bands that I would see as a teen, Ratt had emerged victorious – growing from a local, unsigned band to one of the biggest arena rock bands in history. I saw Ratt climb to stardom, step-by-step…it was a great time for Metal and Hard Rock.

Robbin Crosby teamed up with Ratt in 1982 and was a major force in Ratt’s songwriting and hit songs. Round And Round, Back For More, Lay It Down – all Crosby’s handiwork. There was always a rumor floating around that we used to hear back in those days; that Crosby’s band-mate Warren DeMartini seemed to get more attention and more praise than Crosby, regardless of the fact that Robbin Crosby wrote so many of the bands hit songs. This rumor is what eventually led Crosby down the dark and lonely road of drug addiction.

Crosby truly lived the rock and roll lifestyle that everyone has read about and soon became a habitual heroine user. Despite the drug use, Crosby always remained a sweet and soft-spoken person, dedicated and appreciative of his fans. Eventually his heroine use became much more severe and was seriously affecting his playing on stage, eventually forcing Crosby to exit Ratt. In early 2001, Robbin Crosby publicly announced that he had full-blown AIDS. A year later he was found dead of a heroin overdose, not AIDS as many believe.

Unfortunately, my last memory of Robbin Crosby is not a happy one. I was walking out of a now defunct comic book shop named The Fantastic Store on Highland in Hollywood. As I walked to my car, I saw Robbin – in the alley adjacent to the parking lot, scoring heroin from some filthy dealer. Robbin had lost everything to heroin – his family, his career, his home, his belongings. He looked horrible, the man who was fondly referred to as “King” was dirty and had put on massive amounts of weight. Shortly after this, “King” was gone. It was very saddening for me to see one of my teen heroes like this. It is an image that I don’t think I will ever be able to forget.

Photographed with my old Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

No More Tears – The R.I.P. Series

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Randy Castillo
Ozzy Osbourne Band
Motley Crue

Date Of Death: March 26, 2002
Cause Of Death: Cancer

It was on Ozzy Osbourne’s No Rest For The Wicked Tour that I first really noticed the greatness in Randy Castillo’s drumming. I am not a drummer or an drum critic by any means, but what I gathered was that Randy was not the greatest at copying parts that other drummers wrote, he was great at being himself and creating his own feel.

Castillo was plagued with serious ailments that forced the drummer to pop in and out of tours during his career. Just before he was set to tour with Motley Crue in support of New Tattoo, he was diagnosed with an extremely serious ulcer that had ruptured his stomach. While recovering from his surgery, Castillo found a small lump on his jaw. Within a month, the lump had grown to the size of a golf ball. The diagnosis was a common form of skin cancer. A few months later this monster got the best of him.

I was fortunate enough to have hung out with Randy just prior to his passing one night at The House Of Blues in Los Angeles. Mike Inez of Alice In Chains introduced me to Randy and they excitedly told me about a new band that they were working on together. Inez had always told me that Randy and I would get along great…and he was right. The moment Randy found out that my father also grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico we were instant pals. Shortly after that the Rock World was reading his obituary.

Photographed with my old Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Hang Your Head – The R.I.P. Series

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Kevin Dubrow
Quiet Riot

Date Of Death: November 19, 2007
Cause Of Death: Accidental Cocaine Overdose

Like a lot of Metal Kids my age, my interest in Quiet Riot stemmed from my fondness and appreciation of guitar god Randy Rhoads. It is no secret that Rhoads fame and, unfortunately his death, brought many fans to the new Quiet Riot camp.

I was never a huge Quiet Riot fan, although I did see them a handful of times during their ’83-’84 Metal Health Tour. Depending on whom you talked to, Kevin Dubrow was either a fantastic front-man or one of, if not THE, most annoying man in rock at the time. I was team captain on the “annoying” team. His feud with Van Halen’s David Lee Roth stands out in my mind…it was some silly Junior High type stuff.

I met Dubrow a couple of times, and as annoying as he was on stage, he was one of the nicest guys and coolest guys I have met. He was surprisingly soft-spoken and listened to me when we spoke – which really blew my mind.

Photographed with my old Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Red Hot Frilly Peppers

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Raleigh Studios : Hollywood, CA
December 18, 2006

I was hired to work with the Chili Peppers as they shot the music video for Dani California. During this two-day shoot, I was asked to be a fly on the wall and try to capture every special moment. Whether it is a video shoot, in the recording studio, or on the road – these are my favorite kinds of shoots – I love capturing those timeless images.

This video was a very elaborate undertaking. Director Tony Kaye, known for his feature film American History X, wanted to take the band through the history of music. From a 1950’s Ed Sullivan style setup, to the late 60’s drug-induced movement, to the flamboyant disco era to the glam rock era, to the1970’s Punk Rock scene, to the early 80’s post-punk Goth scene, to mid-80’s Hair-Metal, to the Grunge Movement and back to the Chile Peppers as we know them – the band wanted me to capture it all.

I must have shot at least 4000 images over those two days. I really captured more than I thought possible. In fact, the record label and RHCP management were overwhelmed at how many photos I shot and turned in. The band really had fun with this video and really got into character. I never knew what to expect from these guys when they popped on a new wig and new outfits. These guys are pros and they are the coolest and most professional people you would want to work with.

For some reason these were the outfits that the band seemed the most comfortable in and I didn’t think they were ever going to take them off. The mustaches that Flea and Chad are sporting were hilarious…Flee looks like some cheesy Phys Ed teacher from the 70’s. Check out Anthony, he looks like some suave, artsy Puerto Rican or Carlos Santana’s little brother. And take a look at John Frusciante, I would not want him hanging around any minors dressed like that.

Time was super-tight, but I knew that the band would want to have a memory of this, so I grabbed each of them and popped this shot off. Just then, it was time to switch outfits. I really like this photo alot – itt just says so much – I think it will become more and more special as time goes on.

Photographed with my Canon EOS-5D and a Canon 24mm-70mm lens.

Idol Chatter

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Billy Idol
KROQ Inland Invasion 4
Hyundai Pavillion
Devore, CA
September 18, 2004

I was hired by Billy Idol’s management company to work with Billy. Billy was getting a new start with his career and besides great live shots, they wanted me to spend some time with Billy that day and really capture who he is and what he does before and after a gig. I had never worked with Billy Idol before and I had never even met the man, so it felt a bit strange to just pop in and say, “Hi, I am Kevin Estrada, let’s spend the day together.”

I was set up with his right-hand person – a hard edged woman almost completely covered in tattoos and took no nonsense. I met with her when I arrived at the venue and introduced myself to her. She and Billy were expecting me. As we walked over to the bus to meet with Billy, I thought it was a good idea if I ran my photo “wish-list” by her to make sure we got it all covered. As I finished reading her my list, she stopped and told me that she was not sure if Billy was going to go for all of what I wanted. I told her that I expected that, but we should see what his thoughts were first.

We got to Billy’s bus and she told me to wait outside, she was going to run in and tell him that I was here and inform him that I wanted to go over my “wish-list.” She opened the door and hopped in. About 5 minutes later, she exits the bus and closes the door behind her. I thought it was odd that she closed the door and did not invite me in. She told me that Billy wanted me and his assistant to trim down my “wish-list” to the shots that I felt were most important. I broke it down for her and handed her a new list. “Great,” she said as she entered the bus once again.

Another 5 minutes or so goes by and again, she exits the bus and closes the door behind her. She says, “Billy is cool with Set-Up A and Set-Up B, but he wants to know if you can move Set-Up C to earlier”. This was becoming a mess. I explained, “Sure, I can do that, although if we move C to earlier, than B has to be done first because we need the sun.” “Got it, be right back.” She hops back onto the bus and I wait again as she talks with Billy.

A few minutes later, she comes out again. “Billy said that is cool, but he wants to know if you can move Set-Up A from the side area to the load-in area.” I answer her, “I am not sure if we can do that because The Killers will be loading out at that time. How about we move it to the grassy area?” She smiles and says, “Cool, let me run this by Billy…be right back.” Again, I wait for her outside the bus. I was really getting irritated by this point. This back and forth craziness went on and on for another 20 minutes or so. She emerged from the bus again, although this would be her last time.

Just as she is about to open her mouth, the bus door violently swings open and Billy Idol is hanging on it like a rabid ape. His mouth is snarled up in classic Billy Idol fashion as he looks at me. With his two fingers flipping back and forth at me (like a Brit flipping someone the “bird”), he yells in his thick British accent, “Hey, are you the photographa’?” I was frozen – I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak…I had never seen something so amazing in my life. It was one of the rare moments that I get to experience in my job as a rock photographer. Billy Idol is the real deal! He is exactly who you would think he would be…irate, annoyed, pissed off. And it was all directed at me…I loved every second of it!

I said, “Yea, I’m your snapper.” (Note: “snapper” is a word that I discovered the British love to use in place of “photographer”). He snarled at me and yelled, “Then get in here!” As I entered his bus, he popped open two beers and handed me one. “Alright, fuck, let’s quit fucking around.” I was just as irritated and annoyed from all the back and forth nonsense as he was, and Billy was cool enough to recognize that. We sat together sipping our beers and worked out the shoot in about 5 minutes. What a great guy!

To make a long story even longer, we never got to shoot any of the photos from my “wish-list.” His meet-and-greet went longer than expected and he ended up doing an impromptu interview with KROQ-fm. All that madness for nothing. But honestly, it was all worth it…Billy Idol is the real deal, not some phony character that he pretends to be. Billy idol really is who he is. These are the moments when I really and truly love my job even more than I think possible. Besides, I think this shot captured who Billy Idol really is!

Photographed with my old Canon EOS 1D and a Canon 70mm-200mm f2.8 lens.