This week, Iconic Images take a look at the remarkable archive of Ted Williams who captured the world's greatest jazz pioneers.
Before his death, Ted Williams went through some of his photographic archive and noted down specific stories. Here are Ted’s memories of that long drive with Dizzy.
“Gene Lees, editor of Downbeat magazine and close friend of Dizzy, arranged to do a Downbeat magazine cover shoot on Birk’s off day. John Birks Gillespie, in spite of his famous nickname, was not ‘Dizzy’ – his friends called him Birks. He was a complex man and it was always difficult to capture all aspects of him in one photo so I usually had to settle for showing Birks as he was at the time.
It was winter and we were going to shoot the cover in Milwaukee. We were in Chicago and drove up to Milwaukee—about a 2 hour drive north—I suppose Birks was headed up there for a gig. At the time, I was driving a Saab – a rather small call and Dizzy was smoking one of those Sherlock Holmes pipes – a rather large pipe, especially when filled with green tobacco.
It was too cold to open a window. I’m not sure any of us really wanted to anyway. By the time we got to the hotel, we were all feeling pretty good, and I was still in good enough shape to focus.
These portraits were done in the hotel room. Birks stayed mellow … probably for the whole week!”
Ted Williams portrait of Dizzy Gillespie ran on the June 23rd 1960 issue of Downbeat magazine and remains one of the classic portraits ever taken of the music legend.