James Fortune is a noted rock photographer who grew up in Southern California, before eventually moving to Virginia. In 1966, he attended Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA, becoming photo editor of their college weekly newspaper called “The Roundup.”
His professional career began later than year when he took a photograph during the LA riots of hippy protestors on top of a bus in West Hollywood. He sold the shot that evening to United Press International and the next day the photograph ran on the front page of major US and international newspapers, and became regarded as an iconic image of the times.
In 1967 his rock photography began when he captured Jim Morrison and The Doors recording their second album “Strange Days“ for Electra Records, at Sunset Sound Recording Studio. The candid shots, both inside and out of the studio, are a rare look at a legendary band at work on a masterpiece.
After serving as a combat photographer in the US Navy, in 1972 James joined Vanguard Photography, a Hollywood public relations and advertising photography studio. He asked owner Charles Paolillo if he could expand the client list to include music industry record companies, and soon brought in clients like MCA Universal Records, ABC Records, Gibson and Stromberg, Warner Records.
On January 18, 1973, Fortune photographed The Rolling Stones at the Los Angeles Forum. The concert was held to benefit Nicaraguan earthquake victims. The following month Fortune was asked to photograph Led Zeppelin at the Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles. His famous black and white group photo from that hotel room session became Led Zeppelin’s official PR photo for 1973-1974.
James Fortune spent more than a decade photographing rock & roll greats including Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Alice Cooper and Bob Dylan to name a few. Over 150 of his iconic shots are part of the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame permanent collection and his work has been fetaured in countless documentaries and books.