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Story Behind The Image Print-ready version

by Sherry Rayn Barnett
Getty Images
February 2, 2015

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JONI MITCHELL, "COURT & SPARK" recording, A&M Studios, Hollywood, 1973. Photo and story by Sherry Rayn Barnett

I had just recently moved to Los Angeles from NYC, to continue my career as a young music photographer and photojournalist. I became acquainted with a concert promoter and activist named Jennie Baughman who was friends with the famed engineer/producer, Henry Lewy. Henry had been at A&M Recording Studios on La Brea Ave. in Hollywood since 1967, and was already responsible for a number of A&M's most legendary albums.

Henry had become acquainted Joni Mitchell during his recordings of Crosby, Stills and Nash in the 60's. This led to his collaboration with Joni on a remarkable 13 (!) albums of hers ... including her historic LP, "Court & Spark" in 1973.

I had been fortunate to be invited with my camera to several iconic sessions of Henry Lewy's during that era, including those of Joan Baez ("Gracias A La Vida"), Graham Nash and Leah Kunkel as well as photographing Almo Irving singer/songwriters Ronee Blakley and Renee Armand on the A&M lot.

But the invite to the "Court & Spark" session was definitely the highlight. I had photographed early Joni back in NYC in concert with James Taylor and also solo. I knew this was going to be a rare opportunity. Henry Lewy only worked with the best. When I got to the session however, it was clear that this session was intimate and private. There was not going to be a photo shoot. In a moment that proved too irresistible however, I pulled out my Nikon and shot a handful of quick, discreet shots ... one of which is the iconic shot seen here. Who knew how "legendary" this session was to become?

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