SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Robert Altman, a legendary photojournalist who helped document San Francisco’s counterculture while working for Rolling Stone Magazine, has died at age 76.
A press release issued on Tuesday confirmed that Altman died at his San Francisco home on or around Sept. 24, one month short of his 77th birthday. The cause of death was attributed to complications of his long battle with esophageal cancer, according to the release.READ MORE: COVID: Oakland Unified Sets January Deadline For Students 12 And Up To Be Fully Vaccinated
Altman’s photographs of San Francisco’s counterculture and burgeoning rock ‘n roll scene during the 1960s and 1970s established him as one of the premiere photojournalists working for Rolling Stone Magazine during the publication’s formative years. He later focused on the fashion world.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Altman attended Hunter College, eventually studying photography under Ansel Adams before moving to San Francisco. He became a fixture within the city’s art community. Initially published in the underground newspaper Good Times, Altman later succeeded fellow photog Baron Wollman as Chief Staff Photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine.
He would go on to shoot some of the iconic artists of the era, photographing epochal events like the Big Sur Folk Festival and the Rolling Stones’ ill-fated concert at Altamont in 1969. He took photos of the Stones while working in the recording studio on their album “Let It Bleed” and captured the likes of Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Iggy Pop, Janis Joplin, the Doors and many others live as they performed onstage.READ MORE: Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 8: Can Kirk Cousins Put Up Points On The Cowboys Defense?
“Robert Altman was instrumental in portraying the look and feeling and vitality of the Sixties,” Rolling Stone founder, Editor, and Publisher Jann Wenner once said. Altman held this position at Rolling Stone from 1970 to 1973, though he would contribute to the magazine in later years.
“Robert Altman has left us with some indelible images from a time and place that will ring through the ages as an enduring American archetype, The San Francisco Hippie,” said Bay Area music critic and author Joel Selvin.
Altman’s photos were used in director Cameron Crowe’s 2000 film “Almost Famous,” covering the walls of the staged version of the Rolling Stone Magazine’s office. Legendary Rolling Stone writer and Bay Area journalist Ben Fong-Torres penned the forward to Altman’s 2007 photo book “The Sixties” that featured many of the timeless images he took for the magazine.
For several decades Altman also operated his own commercial studio in San Francisco, specializing in fashion photography and becoming an early adopter of digital photography. He additionally taught at the Center For Electronic Art, UC Berkeley Extension and San Francisco State University’s Multimedia Center.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: High-Speed Stolen RV Pursuit Ends In Horrific San Ramon Crash
UC Berkeley acquired Altman’s work to form the Robert Altman Photograph Archive which is currently housed in the Bancroft Library.