Rolling Stone Photographer Baron Wolman, Known for Iconic Images, Dies at 83 After Battling ALS

Eric Todisco
·3 min read

Anna Webber/WireImage Baron Wolman

Baron Wolman, who captured iconic images of rock and roll as the very first staff photographer for Rolling Stone, has died. He was 83.

His rep, Dianne Duenzl, confirmed to Rolling Stone and NPR in a statement that Wolman died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Monday following a battle with ALS.

"It is with a sad heart that we announce the passing of Baron Wolman on November 2, 2020,” Duenzl said. “Baron died peacefully at the age of 83, after a battle with ALS. Baron’s pictures gave us a rare, comprehensive, and accurate reflection of that time executed by a gifted artist whose visual intelligence is unsurpassed.”

Anna Webber/WireImage Baron Wolman

On Oct. 4, Wolman wrote on Facebook that he was "in the final sprint to the end" of his battle with ALS after being diagnosed with the disease a year prior.

"Just as the sun sets over the Pacific, so, too, is it about to set over my life," he wrote. "A few of you know that a year ago I was give the formal diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a disease for which there is no cure. Sad to say I’m now in the final sprint to the end."

"I go forward with a huge amount of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon me (family, friends, travels and more), with no regrets and appreciation for how my photographs - my life’s work - have been received," the legendary photographer added. "Leave comments if you wish, but please don’t ask any questions or expect any further words from me - I am very, very weak. Because of Covid, like thousands of others, I will pass quietly and with very few people around me. It’s been a great life, with Love being my salvation always."

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During his tenure with RS from 1967 to 1970, Wolman captured images — which NPR reported appeared in nearly every issue — of music legends like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Grateful Dead, Steve Miller and more.

"Everybody was approachable and appreciative in those days,” Wolman recalled to RS in 2011. “It was never difficult. We’d sit around and talk and I’d take pictures. There were a lot of changes going on, and people would show it in the way they put themselves together — long hair, granny glasses. For a photographer, it was a f----ing gold mine.”

Ilpo Musto/Shutterstock Baron Wolman

After Wolman attended and shot the Woodstock festival in 1969, his image of a nude concertgoer in a local waterway made the cover.

“I was so wired and so excited, and it was such an adrenaline rush because I’d never seen anything like this,” he told RS in 2019.

In 1992, Wolman published his first book Classic Rock & Other Rollers. According to NPR, RS founder Jann Wenner described Wolman in the book's introduction as one of the "unsung heroes" of the magazine's early days.

"He helped set [the magazine's] visual style and paved the way for those who followed him," Wenner reportedly wrote of Wolman.

Rob Monk/Future/Shutterstock Baron Wolman

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After his career at RS, Wolman briefly worked at a fashion and culture magazine Rags, and then as an aviation photographer, when he learned how to fly, RS reported. He later started his own publishing house, Square Books.

Wolman moved to Santa Fe in 2000 and lived there for the remainder of his life, according to RS. In 2011, he published Every Picture Tells a Story: The Rolling Stone Years, collection of his legendary work for the magazine.