I had just graduated from Art Center in 1980 and was making the rounds with my portfolio, seeing anyone who’d take the time to look at my work. Claxton was the art director at Motor Trend Magazine then, and he was the first guy to give me a job on the spot. I didn’t know about his history as a legendary photographer, he was gracious and handsome and seemed to be the coolest guy in the building. Years later his first book of jazz photographs was published and it introduced his work to a whole new generation. Our paths crossed a few times at parties and clubs and we struck up a bit of a friendship. Claxton was always the coolest guy in the room and he had a way making those around him feel cool too. I remember a party when my beautiful wife Jill and I sat at a table with Bill and his beautiful wife Peggy talking about jazz and art. I was working on the illustrations for Jazz ABZ
, but I didn’t have a publisher yet, or any real idea if the book would ever see the light of day. Bill was very encouraging and reminded me that he started many projects by following his instincts and working on things that he loved.
I’m going to miss bumping into Clax around L.A., when ever I saw him I knew that I was at the coolest spot in town .
J.D. King October 14, 2008
Huh! This is the first I'd heard of his passing, Paul.
He's long been a favorite of mine, and I have links to his site on mine, and on Drawger.
He's got quite a history.
Clickin' with Clax, RIP!
Bill Koeb October 16, 2008
I have seen and loved many of his photographs. It is obvious he meant a lot to you. I believe he would be very happy to read your tribute and memorial about him.
Jeffrey Smith October 16, 2008
Very cool post. I'm not the Jazzophile that you are, not by a long shot. As you know, I role with Johnny Cash, George Jones, Jimmy Rogers and Lefty Frizzell.
But your recollection of this man is touching. I wonder if there is a Country equivalent to William Claxton? I mean, is there a photographer who photographed all the great Country artists in the 1930's, 40's, 50's and 60's?
Thanks for the post... very cool.