Sparkling Diamond

Above: Rick Diamond

Every photographer craves exposure, so the saying goes. Well, Rick Diamond has certainly had his share of exposure in a glittering career that has spanned more than 45 years. In that time he has snapped pretty much every major rock band on the planet, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Rossington Collins Band. Not only that, film stars and former US Presidents also feature in his impressive archive.

His journey into rock concert photography began in 10th grade in Fort Lauderdale. Rick went to see the Allman Brothers Band who had just released their first LP and enjoyed the experience so much he started hitchhiking to the band’s gigs, which led to a chance encounter with the brother of Allman’s tour manager, Twiggs Lyndon:

I’d sweep the stage, help him do whatever, he’d let me take pictures. Basically they started my career as a photographer and it just went from there.”

With gusto, Rick embraced the flourishing concert scene in South Florida photographing every band that passed through the area. Many of the great British bands of the era – Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many others – were captured by his lens. That was thanks to Leas Campbell, at the time the biggest concert promoter in that part of the state.

Around this time, in the early 70s, he met Outlaws guitarist Henry Paul and the band’s manager, Charlie Brusco.

I used to go to Tampa to Henry Paul’s house to listen to the Outlaws rehearse and that’s how I met Charlie Brusco. He was managing them before they got a record deal. We just became friends and then the band got signed.”

Above: Allen Collins, Barry Harwood, Gary Rossington – Fox Theatre party, Atlanta on 21 June,1980

Rick moved to Atlanta in 1974. Once more, for him, it was about being in the right place at the right time.

By day, I worked in a photo lab, and at night I would shoot concerts. I met all the concert promoters here. There were three promoters that liked me and basically gave me carte blanche to their clubs.

Alex Cooley, who was the biggest and became one of my best friends, allowed me to meet everybody that played the Electric Ballroom, the Omni and the Fox.

At that time, other than New York and Los Angeles, we had every single record label. It was the South East HQ for every major label. I got hired so much that I had three photographers working with me. And it became a career.”

Above – photo of Fox Theatre marquee, Atlanta on June 21, 1980

What might have been. In 1977, George Osaki, MCA Record’s Art Director, called Rick to invite him to pick up Skynyrd’s Street Survivors tour at the Omni, Atlanta on 27/28 November.

That night (20 October) I drove to Macon with two friends to see Ted Nugent – my friend Derek St Holmes was lead singer. We were driving back and it came on the radio that there had been a plane crash. I just pulled off the road, it was a weird feeling.”

In June 1980, Rick was asked to shoot live pics at the Fox Theatre of the Rossington Collins Band’s debut show. He was also snapping backstage later at a party thrown by MCA Records. At the end of that year, he photographed RCB’s New Year’s Eve show at the Omni.

At the Omni show, Rick captured a shot of the band receiving an accolade from the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia Zell Miller. This is a photo her remembers well.

It was kind of ironic that they were celebrated by the city. Alex Cooley told me a great a story about the band staying at the Peachtree Plaza hotel, it’s where Burt Reynolds shot the movie Sharkey’s Machine. Because they destroyed so much crap there, they were banned from every hotel in Atlanta so he had to keep them 60 miles out at Lake Lanier.”

Above: Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller proclaims 21 June ‘Rossington Collins Band’ day.

Above: Rossington Collins Band at the Omni, Atlanta on New Years Eve, 1980

Charlie Brusco, who was Skynyrd’s manager at the time, booked Rick in 1987 to photograph the band during the Tribute Tour. Many of his images adorn the sleeve of the band’s first post-crash live LP, Southern By The Grace Of God, which was released in 1988. In the intervening years he has continued to photograph Skynyrd: the Atlanta premiere of the Skynyrd movie If I Leave Here Tomorrow, and in September 2018, the Farewell Tour hometown show in Jacksonville.

For the last 18 years of his career Rick was staff photographer for Getty Images and has approximately 3,000 of his images on the agency’s website.

Below: Lynyrd Skynyrd TIAA Stadium show, Jacksonville on 2 September, 2018
















All photos copyright Rick Diamond, not to be reproduced without permission.

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Rick at Getty Images