Rock photographer John Rowlands’ career began when he was 13 years old and borrowed his father’s camera to take pictures of the then-teen idol Brenda Lee who had come to perform in Ottawa back in the 1950’s. To his great surprise Rowlands’ pictures impressed Brenda Lee’s management so much that not only did they pay for the photos they put the Ottawa teenager in contact with other popular music acts who only then were discovering the value of photographs of their performances. Before long, Rowlands was taking pictures of Sam Cook and Bobby Vee and Fabian. By the time of the British Invasion, Rowlands had a front row seat for The Beatles, The Who, The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones. His photographs were appearing regularly in magazines such as 16 and Teen and Time and Newsweek. Over his lengthy career Rowlands photographed music idols spanning several generations, from Tony Bennett to Rihanna, Brad Paisley to David Bowie.
Ken Rockburn spoke to John Rowlands in Ottawa about his career behind the lens.