33 years as a Slayer fan
Where do I even begin this journey with what has become my all time favorite band….
They same way every show starts, FUCKING SLAYER !!!
Sometime back in 1986, 13 year old me was turned on to a cassette called Reign In Blood. This album all 28 minutes and 58 seconds of it is one of the greatest metal albums of all time. Like most people I was completely blown away by it , still getting HEAVY play in my home all these years later. Had you told 8th grade me that in the future I would see the band 208 times, and become friends with the band members, I would have said ” YOU ARE HIGH” .
It would not be until 2 years later , specifically November 11, 1988 I would experience my first Slayer concert. Chicago’s infamous Aragon Ballroom with Motorhead and Overkill . From that moment I was hooked, and a Slayer fan for life. Who would have thought at that time , 15 years later I would back at that very venue meeting my hero’s and photographing them for the first time. Over the next several years I would see the band 15 times until 2002.
First time photographing
As a fan of music and concerts I would always sneak my camera in to concerts. In the mid 1990’s I started getting photo passes to shoot shows. At the time I was a carpenter in Chicago. Working in the blistering heat of the summers and freezing cold of winters. I vividly remember thinking on a frozen roof ” there has got to be a better way”. Through collecting Kiss posters I met and became friends with then Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 . Through that friendship , after seeing some Kiss photos I had taken from the front row in 1997. John said ” dude you are good at this you should do it for a living” In 2001 John hooked me up to go to my first Namm show to show my work. That is where i met Jack Nau of EMG Pickups , forged an amazing friendship and sold my first published photo. October 18 of 2003 Jack sent me to shoot my first Slayer show, and a shoot with Kerry King before the show. Literally, I was beside myself. Not only was I getting paid to see and photograph Slayer. I got to meet them , hang out and at the very same venue I saw them for the first time 15 years earlier . After seeing images from that show a few weeks later Kerry suggested I send a few to Bc Rich Guitars . They were looking for a new image for the cover of Kerry’s signature models. The photo below would end up on posters, magazine ads and the box cover around the world !
Summer of 2004 I went on tour with Ozzfest and photographed 12 shows around the country. On that tour I shot photos that would end up being used by Emg, Esp Guitairs Kahler and Marshall Amps .At this time I had also spent a lot of time working with Dimebag Darrell and Zakk Wylde . Early in August of 2004 Dime asked to fly me out to a show in Houston Texas at Cynthia Woods Pavilion . Slayer, Black Label Society and Judas Priest had a show that Dime and Vinnie were going to come up for. Unbelievably at this point in there careers Dime, Kerry and Zakk had never been photographed together. We did the photo shoot before the show and got HAMMERED after. Those photos have now become somewhat legendary.
2005 and beyond
November of 2005 Esp sent me to Los Angeles for a photo shoot with Jeff Hanneman at the band’s jam spot. These images would be used later in their catalog , magazine ads and promotional posters. Through the following years I shot numerous shows on tour with Ozzfest, Mayhem Fest, Rock On The Range, Louder Than Life, Knotfest and others. August of 2007 Esp again sent me out to shoot Jeff and Tom Araya for media use. The band was currently on tour with Marilyn Manson. Remembering the teenager again, it blew my mind I was shooting 2 members again at a HUGE arena I grew up seeing shows at.
February of 2016 Slayer had a day off in Nashville , that saw Gary Holt in my studio for a photo shoot. The first session with his custom guitar hand painted in HIS OWN BLOOD !
When the band announced it’s farewell tour in 2018 I was crushed as a fan. Yet determined to see as many shows as I could. This included a trip to Europe with a high school friend for some shows, including the final show of the tour in Helsinki Finland on December 8. That date will be forever remembered at the date Darrell was tragically taken from us. This leg of the tour also featured my good friend Phil Demmel, former Machine Head guitarist. Gary Holt was forced to leave the tour as his father passed. We saw the Helsinki show and Oslo Norway, followed by 2 days in Amsterdam. Before the last show I was asked to take a band photo before they went on stage and the final shot. Taken from atop the drum riser in a sold out arena. Again, the teenager in me would never have seen this coming back in 1988.
I managed to shoot six shows in 2019 with the band. Including the first 3 nights of the final leg of the tour in North Carolina. Kerry has recently signed on with Dean Guitars as a signature artist. Dean hired me to do the first photo shoot and live shots of Kerry with his new guitars. Always an honor and pleasure to work with Dean and Kerry.
I was scheduled to fly to LA for the first night of the last 2 shows, but life had a different plan for me. Last week I was forced to see the doctor as my shoulder was in ungodly pain. I was told my right shoulder was riddled with arthritis , a torn rotator cuff and something called frozen shoulder. I would need physical therapy and surgery in the near future. The pain in PT forced me to cancel the trip. Making November 11, 2019 my final Slayer show. How ironic it the very same date 31 years earlier that I had seen my very first show. Funny how life has a way of working out sometimes. In those years I ended up seeing the band a total of 208 times, photographing them 192 . Went through my hard drive tonight and totaled the number of shots taken , a whopping 52, 875 !!
Thank you Slayer, management and crew for the years of music, memories and friendship !
The LAST shot taken by me at a Slayer show November 11, 2019 in Louisville Kentucky at KFC Yum Center , Kerry waving ” hello ” to me in the pit at the end of the show.
You can view over 50 shows of live photos, with more to be added over time here SLAYER Concert Photos
Some of my personal favorites through the years.