Heard You Missed Us…We’re Back!

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Van Halen
Reunion Press Conference
Four Seasons Hotel
Los Angeles, CA
August 10, 2008

This was the day I had been waiting for since the DLR and the band split in 1986.  A reunion…well, not exactly…not without Michael Anthony.  But I think true Van Halen fans, myself included,  felt that this was the closest we were going to get to a true reunion.

This was the first big press conference I had ever really attended…I really don’t go to these kinds of things…but hey, this is Van Halen!

I had never felt so much excitement and electricity in the air that day.  Everyone attending had smiles across their faces.  And as soon as the band marched through the crowd to the stage, everyone regressed to acting like a teen.

Diamond Dave proved that he had not lost the gift of gab, but it was the brotherly hug between Eddie Van Halen and DLR that made the crowd melt.  It was magic, if only for a brief moment in time.

I was on cloud nine as I left the building that day looking through the bands list of tour dates for the reunion tour.  I noticed that the L.A. date fell on my wedding anniversary…ugh!  Guess how I celebrated our anniversary?  That’s right, my photos came out great!

Photographed with my Canon 5D, a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens and a Canon 580 EX flash.

Vote With A Bullet – The ‘Off The Clock’ Series

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Pepper Keenan (C.O.C.) & Layne Staley (Alice In Chains)
Cathouse : Hollywood, CA
March 1991

Corrosion Of Conformity had just released the Blind CD and the band had boldly taken a huge leap in both their sound and in their new lineup.  Although the band was now moving from their hardcore/punk roots to more of a true metal sound, they became more politically involved than they had ever been before.  The band spearheaded the new CD with the controversial single, Vote With A Bullet.

The band wanted more, they wanted to really spread the word and increase voter turnout.  Sounds like  a good excuse to have a party!  I was lucky enough to get invited to tag along with the band and some of their good pals in the rock world as they joined forces with the Rock The Vote Organization at The World Famous Cathouse in Hollywood.  It was a great night!  There were so many rock giants there that I will have to post a few photos in the upcoming weeks to really show all who was there.

I thought I would start with this photo first as it holds a great memory for me.  Earlier that evening, Layne from Alice In Chains had challenged me to a “friendly” game of pool.  Luck was on my side and I beat him pretty badly.  The rest of the night he was giving me a hard time, asking for a rematch, but I didn’t have the time as I needed to snap photos.  He must have thrown the finger at me 20 times that night and threw me some of the funniest “dirty” looks possible.  Here he is sticking his tongue out at me trying to stir me up…and to top it off, Pepper is giving me the finger in support of Layne….good times!  R.I.P Layne.

Photographed with my Canon EOS-1, a cheap, no name 24mm-70mm lens, and a Sunpak 100 flash. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Black N Blue…Literally!

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized on May 4, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Black N Blue
June 8, 1984
Hollywood Palladium
Hollywood, CA
(opening for Night Ranger)

When I was a young teen I started listening and collecting demos from the local L.A. bands.  Some of the tapes I got from the bands and at shows; some I traded through the mail with other metal fans around the world.  It was a great time for heavy music out here in Southern California and a great time to be a music fan.

Steeler, Ratt, WASP, Armored Saint – they were all looking for record deals and they were all handing out their music for free, building their fan-base.  Black N Blue was one of the new bands on the scene and their early demos were among the strongest.  Each demo was better than their previous one, and it did not take much time before they nabbed a major label deal.

By the time I shot these photos, Black N Blue’s debut record had just hit the streets and they were on a national tour supporting Night Ranger.  As you will read, I went through a lot to get these photos.

As always, I had to make sure I could get as close as possible to the stage in order to get good shots, so my buddy Howie and I headed straight to the Palladium after school and jumped in line.  It was at least 100 degrees that day, and to make things worse, I had to wear a long sleeved, hoodie sweatshirt – it was the only way I could sneak my camera in.  Poor Howie, I also made him wear the same sort of hoodie – he was sneaking in my lens for me…what a pal!  We sat in line for at least 3 hours, sweating our balls off.  I can’t even tell you how many stares we got because we were wearing sweatshirts in the middle of a heat-wave.

They finally opened the doors and we moved towards the entrance.  First I slipped in with my camera unnoticed and untouched, Howie followed right behind me. We were in!

I remember getting in to the lobby and having to step to the side for a moment, I thought I was going to faint.  All that heat and all that stress had taken its toll on me.  I gained my composure and we both headed to the bathroom and rinsed our faces with cold water.  We were wiped out and the show hadn’t even started yet.

Howie and I worked our way through the floor towards the stage.  I found a spot that I thought would work for photos and held our ground. Usually, when I was shooting from the crowd, I would grab a char and stand on its arms to shoot over everyone’s heads.  But there were no chairs in the Palladium, so I was forced to hop on Howie’s shoulders to snap my photos.  We must have looked like a couple of fruit-cakes.  I didn’t care, I was getting my photos.  But Howie was still exhausted from all the heat and was very shakey and could only hold me up for small amounts of time.

As soon as Black N Blue had finished their set we headed out of the crowd to get some air and maybe throw some more cold water on our faces.  I took my sweatshirt off and wrapped my camera in it. I must not have been thinking straight – that was a big mistake! It was very obvious that I had something inside that hoodie as I cradled it in my arms in the lobby.

From out of nowhere, a security guard grabbed me and ordered me to open up my hoodie.  He saw my camera, grabbed it and put me in a headlock.  He threw me in a small office and started questioning me…just like in the movies.  He asked me how I got the camera and lens into the venue.  I told him that I just walked in with it.  He didn’t believe me.  He started demanding that I tell him which security guard I paid off to allow me in with the camera.  I tried to tell him that he was nuts, but before I could finish my sentence he sucker punched me – square in the temple of my head.  I was on dream street, I was fading, passing out.  He smacked me in the face to wake me and punched me again.

I knew I was in trouble, but there was no one else around to help…it was just me and him in this little room.  All  I could think about was my camera and protecting the film.  I was so broke that I could only afford one roll of film that night. I had gone through hell to get these photos, there was no way I was going to lose them.  I reached for the camera, but the security guard beat me to it.  He gave me a sinister smirk and said, “Say bye-bye.”  He tried to open my camera to expose the film, but he couldn’t figure out how to open it.  I think all the duct tape I had on the camera body threw him off.

He finally got frustrated and gave up on my camera and threw it at me.  He grabbed my hair and lifted me from the chair and escorted me out of the venue.  Howie was waiting near the door, unsure of where I had been taken and followed us out of the venue.  Poor Howie did want to see Night Ranger, but instead he chose to follow me out to make sure I was okay.  Again, what a pal!

I didn’t really care that I was thrown out, I was only there to see Black N Blue. Most importantly, I had my camera and the film was still safely inside.

I never got the chance to tell the guys from Black N Blue what I went through to get these photos.  When I was shooting KISS on their reunion tour, I was just about to tell Tommy Thayer (he was their tour manager at the time), but he was pulled away with some sort of last minute stage drama.

If any of you loyal readers know the Black N Blue guys, please point them to my blog and have them read this –  it would mean a lot to me.

Photographed on Howie’s shoulders with my smuggled in Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-200mm f 5.6 lens.  Shot on Kodak Negative film.

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“Kevin…you have come so far!”

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Ozzy Osbourne
Us Festival
San Bernardino, CA
May 29, 1983

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Ozzy Osbourne
Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
Laguna Hills, CA
August 3, 1989

I am blessed.  Ever since I was a kid all I wanted to do was take photos of my favorite rock bands and artists.  I am living proof that if you want something bad enough; if you have the talent; and if you never give up – no matter how tough things may get – you can achieve your dream.  I am often told, “Kevin, you have come so far.”

Take a look at that Ozzy photo from the Us Festival in 1983.  I was just a kid shooting from the crowd back then with a smuggled-in-camera.  Sometimes I could make my way right up front and sometimes I was stuck in the boonies.  Now look at the Ozzy photo I shot at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, I was living my dream shooting Ozzy for my first time up front inside his photo pit.

So yes, I have come pretty far…about 150 ft. closer to the stage to be exact.

Ozzy at the Us Festival shot on my brothers Pentax K-1000 camera with a Pentax 80mm lens.  Shot on Kodak Negative Film.

Ozzy at Irvine Meadows Amp. shot with my Canon AE1 Program and a no name 80-200mm f 5.6 lens.  Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

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The Many Faces Of Metallica : 2008 James Hetfield

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Metallica
Los Angeles Forum
Inglewood, CA
December 17, 2008

Metallica was back.  And they were back in a big way.  The release of Death Magnetic proved that life after death does indeed exist.  2008’s Death Magnetic cd is undoubtably the strongest and truest cd Metallica has created since …And Justice For All or, as some may argue, The Black Album.  Regardless, Metallica, proved once again that they were still the greatest and biggest rock band in the world.

As Metallica readied for The World Magnetic Tour, I got a taste of it early as I shot the first two warm-up gigs before the tour officially kicked off.  These shows were great, but nothing like the actual Magnetic shows that are still rolling across the globe.

As they did on their last tour, Metallica chose to play in the round, giving the fans an equal chance at seeing the band up close and from all angles.  I knew I was going to be doing a lot of running and chasing again, so I staked out my starting point and readied for the band.  As the lights dropped out and their intro music rang, my hands immediately got clammy and wet…just like the old days.  This was a good sign, I was excited, focused.

The band hit the stage and tore into That Was Just Your Life.  Lasers shot everywhere, but the stage remained dark.  There was no way to shoot, I could only see the band when the blue lasers would hit or hang on them.  This was not good, at least not for me, but the crowd loved it.  At last the lights sprang up as the band broke into The End Of The Line.  Now I could get to work.  The band was so driven, pushing each other and challenging each other’s energy.

As the opening notes of Creeping Death blared through the arena, massive, white caskets dropped over the band from overhead.  It was eerie, yet beautiful.  Metallica’s vision was crystal clear and it was all connecting with their fans.  I never stopped moving and running around that stage, chasing down each member of the band.

This shot of James Hetfield really seems to capture the power and angst that makes Metallica who they are.

Photographed with my Nikon D300 and a Nikon 24mm-70mm lens.

Personal Historical Note:  This was the debut of my gradual switch from Canon to Nikon.
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The Many Faces Of Metallica : 2004 Lars Ulrich

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Metallica
Arrowhead Pond
Anaheim, CA
November 27, 2004

When Metallica rolled through Southern California on this leg of The Madly In Anger Tour, they hit Anaheim’s Arrowhead Pond for the first time – a very large and beautifully kept venue- right in the backyard of their original stomping grounds.

Despite mixed reviews and dispersed disappointment over the St. Anger cd, Metallica was back and they were still the biggest hard rock band in the world.  The band had thrown away the eyeliner, got rid of the designer clothing and got their edge back.

This shoot presented a bit of a challenge for me – Metallica was now playing in the round, and I was going to have be quick on my feet to keep up with the band.  Not only was the stage round allowing each member to run from side to side, from front to back, to face the audience on all sides of the arena, but the drum riser was also rotating on its own.  So as the band was constantly moving, so was Lars.

I never ran so much shooting a show in my life.  The band opened with Blackened, ripping everyone’s heads off.  Their energy was incredible and I knew I had to put a game plan together if I wanted to get the shots I needed.  For the next two songs – Fuel and The Four Horsemen – I decided to concentrate on one guy at a time – first Lars, then James, etc, while making sure to hit Kirk on all the solos.  Wherever my target moved, I would follow – no matter what.

I was tired, hot and sweaty, but my planned worked…I got it all.  I even got my face heated up pretty badly by the flame shooters at the base of the stage.

I always liked this shot of Lars, I felt that it really captured the excitement and energy that Metallica was giving to the audience that night.

Photographed with a Canon 1D and a Canon 70mm-200mm lens.

Historical Note:  Metallica’s first show ever was also in Anaheim, CA at Radio City on March 14, 1982.
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The Many Faces Of Metallica: 2003 Rob Trujillo

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Metallica
Summer Sanitarium
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, Ca
August 9, 2003

Metallica had just released the St. Anger CD about 8 weeks before this tour came through Los Angeles.  There were a number of notable changes this time around: the band was growing their hair out a bit; black t-shirts and jeans were brought back into the mix; and for the first time, a conscious decision was made by the band to give up alcohol.  But the band had one more trick up their sleeves, a secret weapon – new bass player Rob Trujillo.

As I popped off photos that night, I remember feeling the energy that Trujillo was giving off.  He was so powerful that the rest of the band had no choice but to try to keep up with Trujillo as he set the tone and pushed the band song after song.  It was the first time I felt true, pissed off energy from Metallica in years.  St. Anger may not have been the right choice, but Rob Trujillo definitely was.

One strange note worthy of mentioning: as I was in the photo pit that night, dodging crowd surfers that fall from the crowd into my tiny world, you will never guess who fell in.  Quentin Tarantino – sporting a $120 Metallica hockey jersey.  As security guards escorted him out, Quentin high fived me after experiencing his very first taste of crowd surfing.  He was on a natural high with a smile a mile wide.

Photographed with my Canon EOS-1 and a f5.6 Canon 80-300mm  lens.  Shot on Fujichrome film.