Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photographer Bob Willoughby & Drummer The Reverend Tholomew Plague

Bob Willoughby

Photographer Bob Willoughby, who took candid photos of Hollywood legends from Audrey Hepburn to Dustin Hoffman, passed on December 18 at the age of 82.

Bob Willoughby was born in Los Angeles on June 30, 1927. He developed an interest in photography after he got a camera as a present for his 12th birthday  He enrolled in classes at the film school at the University of Southern California, and apprenticed under various photographers. At the Kann Art Institute in Los Angeles he studied under legendary graphic designer Saul Bass.

Willoughby began his career photographing jazz musicians in various clubs around California. This would lead him to photograph album covers for Fantasy Records, a label ran by his friends Max and Sol Weiss. He eventually received a contract with Globe Photos. It was in 1953 that he received his big break when his agent sent him on an assignment to take photographs of Audrey Hepburn at work on Roman Holiday for the magazine Harpers Bazaar. Rather than taking the usually stills, Willoughby instead took the documentary approach of photographing Hepburn at work. This brought Willoughby to the attention of Warner Brothers, who found his approach appealing. In 1954 he photographed Judy Garland at work on A Star is Born. One of his photographs of Garland made the cover of the September 13 issue of Life.

Unlike traditional Hollywood photographers of the past, who simply took posed photographs, Bob Willoughby preferred candid shots of the stars. He would blend in with film crews to get shots of the stars at work, and sometimes even with their guard down. In 1963 he invented the first remote controlled camera for use for shooting on Hollywood sets.Over the years Willoughby shot the stars and directors of many films, including the Rat Pack on the set of Ocean's Eleven, Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Marnie, Blake Edwards on the set of The Great Race,  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Dustin Hoffman on the set of The Graduate, Roman Polanski on the set of Rosemary's Baby, and Jane Fonda on the set of Klute.

Bob Willoughby was not simply one of the greatest Hollywood photographers of all time, but one of the most revolutionary. Not only did he introduce the idea of taking pictures of actors at work on the set, but he even developed technology to make doing so even easier. It is Bob Willoughby that we owe the shots of scenes from movies that look almost exactly as they do on the big screen. He was one of the best photographers in Hollywood and perhaps the most innovative. I doubt we'll ever see his like again.

The Reverend Tholomew Plague

The Reverend Tholomew Plague, most often simply called The Rev, passed on December 28 at the age of 28. He was the drummer for heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold.

The Rev was born James Owen Sullivan on February 9, 1981 in Huntingdon Beach, California. It was while in high school that he met and befriended the other future members of Avenged Sevenfold. Together M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, The Rev and Matt Wendt formed Avenged Sevenfold in 1999. M. Shadows came up with the band's name (often abbreviated A7X) , a reference to the story of Cain and Abel from the Torah. Avenged Sevenfold released two demos in 1999 and 2000 respectively. The band developed a strong local following in the Huntington Beach area. Their first official album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, was released on the minor label Good Life Recordings in 2001. It was later released on Hopeless Records in 2002. Their second album, Waking the Fallen, was released on Hopeless Records in 2003.

It was not long after the release of Waking the Fallen that Avenged Sevenfold was signed to a major label, Warner Brothers Records. Their first album with Warner, City of Evil, was released in 2005. It produced their first hit, "Bat Country," which reached #2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart. This was followed by the release of a self titled album in 2007, which produced the hits "Almost Easy" and "Afterlife." The band was at work on another album at the time of  The Rev's death.

In addition to his work with Avenged Sevenfold, The Rev also played piano and sang vocals for Pinkly Smooth, a side project with A7X guitarist Synyster Gates.

Avenged Sevenfold was one of the bands responsible for the re-emergence of heavy metal in the Naughts. Much of their success was largely due to The Rev, who was arguably one of the best drummers currently in the music business. With The Rev's powerful drumbeat backing the guitars and bass, Avenged Sevenfold became one of the best heavy metal bands in later years. Of course, it must be pointed out that The Rev did not simply play drums. He also provided backing vocals on tracks, as well as played piano. There are even those who believe that The Rev was so pivotal to the sound of Avenged Sevenfold that, wit his loss, the band's sound will change. Regardless, he was an immensely talented drummer and an important part of one of the best bands of the Naughts. He died far, far too young.

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