Singer-songwriter Al Stewart, backstage Rockport, MA 2014

• Al Stewart

Al Stewart

Trenton State College, 1975

It’s a familiar story: we’re inspired by a piece of music, art, or literature when we’re young, and if we're lucky, that awakened sense of creative possibility follows us throughout our lives. I was very lucky- it turned out to be more than just a sense. My life’s work began one day in 1974, when a friend loaned me his copy of Past, Present and Future, a classic “concept album” by an obscure Scottish singer-songwriter named Al Stewart. It featured songs based on events from each decade of the 20th century, the kind of music that a history geek like me would listen to with headphones and an Encyclopedia Britannica.

As great as the songs were, it was the surreal black and white photograph on the album cover that made me declare, at age 17, “I’m gonna be a photographer! I’m gonna learn to take pictures just like that, maybe even for musicians just like Al Stewart!” While I set off to teach myself how to do that, Al went on to international pop stardom, then returned to a comfortable obscurity a few years later.

Fast forward about a decade– I had actually achieved my teenage goal to “be a photographer”. After seeing Al at a club in Boston one night, I worked up the nerve to sneak backstage and introduce myself. The eventual result of that introduction has been a long association with him as a creative collaborator on multiple CD and DVD packages, as an occasional driver and roadie on east coast tours, and most importantly, as a grateful friend.