Monday, April 11, 2011

In Praise of Jini Dellaccio: Northwest Rock'N' Roll Photographer

I feel like I'm surrounded by angels
and have been throughout my entire career.
~ Jini Dellaccio.

Jini Dellaccio was a 40-something L-A Fashion photographer when she moved to Gig Harbor,WA with her husband in the early 60's ... taking any assignment she could get.
One day the phone rang.
"They told me it was The Wailers, " She recounted in her small Seattle apartment. "And since I lived in Gig Harbor, a fishing village, I heard it as 'The Whalers'.
So I thought 'Well it was probably a group of fishermen.
Maybe they have guitars or something'.
And here came these tall handsome young men
all dressed in black leather and boots and long hair
all carrying guitar instruments
I said 'Well they don't look like fishermen'.

                                The Wailers

"They didnt really know what they wanted so I said well maybe we should just go out and start taking pictures
They were taken by that and they were running around.
There was a huuuge maple tree and they were willing to climb the tree
so that was absolutely the start of my rock n roll pictures."

Soon more Seattle bands showed up at Jini's doorstep: The Sonics, The Daily Flash, Don and The Goodtimes, Merrillee Rush and The Goodtimes.

Merrilee told me "The property wasn't very big but there were so many wonderful places to photograph:
On top of piers.Next to a tree.She was just very creative".

                                             Merrilee Rush

"Oh do I remember Merrilee," laughs Jimi. "She was so beautiful. She was my most beautiful subject to work with . She was such a gorgeous girl."

As Jini's reputation spread she met more rock stars. She did a photo session with Neil Young at his house in Laurel Canyon.
"I looked at him and he was wearing one of his new vests that had fringe just clear to the floor." She remembers. " It was beauuutiful grey leather and i said 'Well if i could get you on the roof i could sure get a good picture of you' and he said 'Oh ok'".

                                            Neil Young

"So we went outside. He got a ladder and went up on the roof.
He said 'Now what do you want me to do?' and I said 'Fly like a bird'
and thats how I did the picture."

The legendary Seattle DJ Pat O'Day got Jini front row seats at major concerts so she could shoot The Who, Jeff Beck and The Rolling Stones.
But the Stones concert would be her last.

"The police were there. " She remembers. "Oh man this policeman gave me a shove. Scared the life out of me says 'You cant go up there'.
I said "Well I'm doing this for Pat O'Day.I've been doing it for months'.
He said 'Well you cant do it now.'
When I finished the night I said I'm not going to do this anymore.
I quit. I'm kind of sorry that I did".

In the decades that have followed, her photos have become more influential.

                               The Sonics

"I had no idea that people were looking at my work as an example of 'this is what we should do' and they started doing.Never imagined that happening."

Jini Dellaccio is now in her 90's. Her extraordinary life behind the lens is the subject of an upcoming documentary.
To learn more about this amazing woman and to order her book, click  here.

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