Black Lightning Gallery Feature Photographer Gene Kirkland
Veteran rock n’ roll photographer Gene Kirkland’s work extends to many genres in the music business and beyond.
Kirkland started doing photography while he was still a junior in high school in 1978.
“I had always enjoyed looking at photographs and playing around as a pre-teen with my parent’s 8mm movie camera and with their old Brownie camera.”
“I got into photography around the same time I discovered music. I had always wanted to go to concerts and capture the bands as they performed. My very first photo shoot was with Ronnie James Dio…he and his wife/manager Wendy gave me my first real start. I showed both Ronnie and Wendy some of my really primitive works, and Ronnie said to me, ‘Hey kid, I’ll give you a shot.’”
Thus, Kirkland ended up photographing candids and session material for the first Dio solo album, Holy Diver. These shots led to photo assignments from various music magazines, and Kirkland became Dio’s touring photographer.
Best known for his extensive work with such luminaries as Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne, Kirkland’s photographic resume also includes numerous photo shoots with Black Sabbath (with both Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio), Ronnie James Dio (as a solo artist), Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, Brian May/Queen, Skid Row, Slaughter, Ratt, Motorhead, The Cult, Velvet Revolver, White Zombie/Rob Zombie, Megadeth, Kiss, Poison, Motley Crue, Robbie Robertson, Green Day, Iggy Pop, Asia, Y&T, Blind Melon, Chris Isaak, Great White, ZZ Top, TSOL, Weezer, The Stray Cats, Beck, Jeff Beck, Nelson, Tesla, Robert Plant, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, The Scorpions and many more. Also included are country greats such as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Jr., Hank III and Toby Keith. He has also worked with screen and stage personalities such as Mark Wahlberg, Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay. His catalog also includes R & B greats such as Sly Stone, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Cameo, Sheila E and Prince. Kirkland has taken many trips around the globe as touring photographer for Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Slaughter and Nelson.
Kirkland’s photos have appeared in numerous magazines (Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, LA Times, US, People, US News and World Report, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Modern Drummer, Motor Cyclist, Rip, Circus, Metal Edge, Creem, Q, Bravo, Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Metal Hammer Germany, Hard Rock, Young Guitar, Burn, Classic Rock, etc.), in books (Guns N’ Roses: The Photographic History by Robert John, Slash’s autobiography, The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal, Watch Me Bleed, a Guns N’ Roses book by Stephen Davis, Life on Planet Rock by Lonn Friend, and more); various VH1 “Behind the Music” episodes (Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue); and CD/DVD covers (G N’ R Lies, Use Your Illusion I and II, The Spaghetti Incident, Guns N’ Roses Live Era and Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits Aerosmith Greatest Hits, Ozzy Osbourne Live & Loud, etc.).
“I have accomplished everything I had originally set out to do, yet I still have so many more photographic adventures to look forward to. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work so closely with the artists I’ve photographed, and taking pictures feels just as great to me now as it did when I was a junior in high school.”
All images are under copyright © Gene Kirkland