Grammys Honor Photographer Henry Diltz with Trustees Award

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Henry Diltz on the inside looking out instead of from behind the lens at the fourth "Day of the Doors" event, Morrison Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 4, 2020, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of The Doors' "Morrison Hotel" album, released in February 1970. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples / Stephen K. Peeples Productions.

Renowned music photographer and Morrison Hotel Gallery founding partner Henry Diltz was honored with a Recording Academy Trustees Award on February 4 as a part of the Academy’s annual Grammy Week festivities, according to a Gallery press release (portions of which follow).

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) presents this Special Merit Award to people who have made significant contributions to the music industry during their careers. Previous honorees include The Beatles, Dick Clark, Walt Disney, Duke Ellington, and many more (here’s the complete Trustees list).

Joining Diltz as 2023 Trustees Award recipients posthumously were New Orleans jazz legend and musical family patriarch Ellis Marsalis (who died April 1, 2020) and Stax Records co-founder-producer and “Memphis Sound” pioneer Jim Stewart (who died December 5).

The honors were awarded during the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 4, the night before the live telecast of the 65th annual Grammy Awards.

They were the first in-person Grammy events since January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

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It’s all done with mirrors, right? Henry Diltz in a pre-digital selfie. Photo: Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.

Henry Diltz: ‘One Lucky Hippie’

Diltz, who celebrated his 84th birthday on September 6, 2022, has photographed more than 250 album covers and thousands of publicity shots since the mid-1960s, including the “Morrison Hotel” cover for The Doors, released on February 9, 1970.

With a candid photographic style and a friendly smile, he has captured memorable images of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Eagles, Cass Elliot, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, America, Keith Richards, Steppenwolf, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, The Monkees, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, David Cassidy, Garth Brooks, Kurt Cobain, and multitudes more.

Diltz was the official photographer of the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967 and all three Woodstock festivals (1969, 1994, and 1999). His images have been featured in numerous books, including his own “Unpainted Faces” (now out of print and extremely rare) as well as countless newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, LIFE, People, Rolling Stone, High Times, and Billboard.

“Congratulations, Henry, on your Trustees Award,” said The Doors’ guitarist, Robby Krieger, also the author of the 2022 rock and roll memoir “Set the Night on Fire.” “You put together one of the most iconic album cover photos ever, and The Doors will never forget that!”

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An outtake of the cover photo for The Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” album, released in February 1970. Photo: Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.

“Henry is one lucky hippie,” said John Van Hamersveld, the legendary graphic artist, photographer, and two-time Grammy-nominated album cover designer. He created “The Endless Summer” surf movie poster in 1963; he and Diltz have known each other almost as long.

Diltz reacted to the news of his Trustees Award with characteristic humility.

“A couple of months ago, a guy called from the Grammys and said, ‘We’d like to honor you this year,'” he told this writer in mid-January. “‘Wow, that’s nice, that’s great,’ I thought. But I was also thinking, ‘Well, wait a minute: I’m the tiger hiding in the bushes, just observing. Don’t look at me. I don’t want to be noticed.’

“Then I realized, ‘Okay, now I’ve got to think about myself and what to say.’ The whole thing is daunting, really. Of course, what an honor, how wonderful, and that’s the truth. But then, secretly, in my head, it’s different.

“I fantasize standing up there and saying, ‘Well, thank you so much. But you know, you’ve got the wrong guy. I was just having fun photographing my friends,'” Diltz said. “I’ve talked to some of them about what I might say or not say. Or I might just walk up to the mic and say, ‘Thanks very much, everybody,’ wave and walk off the stage. But I do have to say something, you know, give a couple of quotes. I guess I do have many things I could talk about!”

As it turns out, he did: Here’s video of his Trustees Award presentation and acceptance speech (with special thanks to Gary Strobl, Henry’s archivist).

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Pre-Award Party at Rona Elliot’s

The night before Diltz received his Trustees Award, Rona Elliot, renowned entertainment reporter (NBC’s “Today,” VH1) and a Friend of Henry since she was a teenager, hosted an intimate party in his honor at her hilltop retreat in Bel-Air.

About 50 fellow FOHs including famous and almost-famous music biz contemporaries and civilians alike gathered to congratulate him on his prestigious Trustees Award and show their love and support.

Here are a couple of clips by yours truly:

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Grammy Night Party at Morrison Hotel Gallery L.A.

The Morrison Hotel Gallery at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood hosted a Grammy night bash in honor of one of the Gallery’s founders and the very first photographer it represented two decades ago.

Here’s a taste of what the scene looked and sounded like:

Partway through the party, MHG partner Timothy White maneuvered Henry through the throng into the bar across the lobby from the Gallery, where Micky Dolenz hoisted a glass to toast his friend since the mid-1960s.

[Both videos are by the author.]

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Grammy Eye on The Tiger: How Diltz’s Trustees Award Caught Him

Henry Diltz and art director-collaborator Gary Burden (who died in 2018) earned Grammy nominations for the cover they created for comedian Richard Pryor’s eponymous debut album, out in October 1968. Nominated a total of five times, Burden finally won a Grammy in January 2010 for designing Neil Young’s “Archives Vol. I (1963-1972)” box set.

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Richard Pryor’s 1968 debut album cover was conceived and designed by Gary Burden and photographed by Henry Diltz.

But Diltz has never scored a Grammy win.

To many observers, that fact seems at odds with not only the widely recognized quality of his work, but also the breadth, depth, and length of his music industry career.

Among those observers was Roz Templin, Library Assistant at the El Segundo Public Library, where Diltz and Van Hamersveld co-headlined an SRO slideshow-Q&A session on January 31, 2020 (with this writer serving as moderator).

That was a week after the 62nd Grammys, when Ken Erlich, Philip Glass, and Frank Walker received Trustees Awards – and 10 days after the first COVID-19 case in the United States was announced in Washington State. Six weeks later, in mid-March, as the virus rapidly spread, the entire nation was shutting down.

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Roz Templin, Henry Diltz, and John Van Hamersveld, El Segundo Public Library, January 31, 2020. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples / Stephen K. Peeples Productions.

During the ensuing lockdown, Templin wrote and sent a letter about Diltz to the NARAS Trustees, with guidance from a friend of hers who had worked with the Recording Academy and knew the people and the process.

Providing detailed biographical information and multiple links to other sources (including this website) for further backup, Templin essentially nominated Diltz for a Trustees Award, pitching it for the next Grammy Awards cycle.

“I wanted to call the Trustees’ attention to the fact that Henry really is the photographic archivist of that historic era – Laurel Canyon and L.A. in the 1960s,” Templin said about her letter.

“Many of those artists probably wouldn’t have attained the visual connection with their audience they did without his images, and, of course, Gary Burden’s designs,” she said. “They allowed us to see these people for who they really were, as regular human beings who were also incredibly talented musicians and songwriters, rather than using some glammed-up photo studio shot that wasn’t authentic.”

As it happened, the Recording Academy did not name Trustees Awards recipients in 2021 or 2022 but included Diltz in the 2023 lineup – the only one of the year’s three honorees still alive.

And he knew nothing about Templin’s effort to make it a reality.

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Behind the lenses, looking at life through rosé-colored glasses: Henry Diltz, a free man in Paris, 2022. Photo: Paige Califano / Morrison Hotel Gallery.

More About Henry Diltz

Henry Diltz was a founding member of the Modern Folk Quartet in the early 1960s. He is as much at home as a touring musician as he is a visual historian of the last six decades of popular music. The rapport he and his musician friends share enables him to capture candid moments with his subjects that convey a rare feeling of trust and intimacy. They appreciate his down-to-earth, easy-going, fun-loving personality as much as his photos.

The Modern Folk Quartet recording their single “This Could Be the Night” at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, 1965 (from left): Cyrus Faryar, Jerry Yester, Chip Douglas, Phil Spector, Henry Diltz, Eddie Hoh.

For Diltz, the picture-taking began in February 1966 with a $20 second-hand Japanese camera and a few rolls of slide film purchased at a thrift store in Michigan while on MFQ’s farewell tour. That summer, the self-taught lensman began his professional photographic career shooting a tour and album cover for his friends in The Lovin’ Spoonful.

From there, Diltz just documented the scene in which he was already immersed: the road, the gigs, the humor, the social consciousness, the psychedelia, the up and down times.

Also a 2020 International Photography Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement honoree, Diltz continues his distinguished career today. And he is a partner in the Morrison Hotel Gallery (along with Peter Blachley, Rich Horowitz, and Timothy White), which exclusively represents Henry’s work as it celebrates his lifetime of achievement in both popular music and fine-art music photography.

View the Henry Diltz collection at the Morrison Hotel Gallery here.

Read the complete Henry Diltz biography by Stephen K. Peeples from the book “Unpainted Faces” here.

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Henry Diltz checks out the pop-up Morrison Hotel Gallery next to the old Morrison Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles during the 2020 “Day of the Doors” celebration on January 4. Photo: Stephen K. Peeples / Stephen K. Peeples Productions.

About Morrison Hotel Gallery

Founded in 2001 initially to manage and represent Henry Diltz’s massive photo archive, Morrison Hotel Gallery has become the leading brand in fine art music photography, now representing more than 125 of the world’s finest music photographers and their archives. MHG’s catalog encompasses jazz, blues, and rock imagery spanning several generations and now includes iconic celebrity and sports photographs as well.

There are now three Morrison Hotel Gallery locations: 116 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 (phone 212-941-8770; Sunset Marquis hotel, 1200 Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310-881-6025); and Fleetwood’s General Store, 744 Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761 (808-573-6425).

MHG also has a robust online presence, featuring more than 100,000 images searchable by photographer, music artist, band, or concert. Visit

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Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated multi-media writer-producer and award-winning radio/record-industry veteran raised in Miami and Los Angeles by career newspaper journalists and music lovers. He and Henry Diltz have been friends and occasional collaborators since 1978. Based in Santa Clarita, California, and retired in April 2021 after a 40-year media career, Peeples is (as of early 2023) co-authoring a new book with artist and pop-culture legend John Van Hamersveld commemorating the 60th anniversary in 2023-2024 of Hammer’s iconic poster for Bruce Brown’s epic surf movie “The Endless Summer.” Peeples is also developing an art book-biography, “Boyd Elder, Artlaw: The Greatest Artist You’ve Never Heard Of,” about the artist who created the skull art for three classic albums by the rock group Eagles and much more (due in 2024-25). See the “Stephen K. Peeples” page on his website. More original stories and exclusive interviews are posted there and on his YouTube channel.

Article: Grammys to Honor Photographer Henry Diltz with Trustees Award
Category: News and Reviews
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
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