JOHN SCHEELE’S RECOLLECTION:
“Reid photographed the cover itself, casting it like a Fellini film with characters and costumes that echoed Bob Dylan’s songs. Mrs. Henry was there and Quinn the Eskimo, while Bob himself wore a red and white Mexican jacket, playing Mandolin with an invisible bow. Everyone was high and happy – you could feel what great friends and comrades they were!
Bob repositioned a few characters at the last moment, while I took a few more shots to capture the moment. Then my brother Bill and I stepped into frame ourselves for Reid Miles’ camera: We’re standing back in the haze, sandwiched between Levon Helm and Richard Manuel and became part of his wild Basement Tapes tableau.”
John’s work from 1975 also includes unique coverage of Shangri-la, the Band’s new recording studio and clubhouse in Malibu, CA, just off Zuma Beach. In addition to group projects like “Northern Lights Southern Cross”, Levon Helm and Rick Danko were preparing to record and go out on tour on their own. Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson joined in those rehearsals – along with Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Fred Carter Jr, Henry Glover and many other friends.
Coming out of this fertile period, “The Last Waltz” was conceived as the Band’s farewell concert and was held on Thanksgiving 1976. For once, John only took a few master shots of the event, as Martin Scorsese’s crew was filming every aspect. Then John joined the other fans to enjoy the Band’s last show.
Fifty years on, John Scheele’s work has been included in many Band albums, documentaries, magazines, books and box sets – and his shots were featured in the expanded release of Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes”.
On a parallel path, John has had a long career as a Film Visual Effects Supervisor in Los Angeles, working with directors like Tim Burton, Oliver Stone and Warren Beatty. Photography is still his first love, and he’s returned to present these images again in a new light with a deeper understanding.
John cherishes his early memories and friendships with all members of the Band and has continued to be in touch with its surviving members Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson.