Eventually he met Gary Burden, who had been a Marine and became an architect but had never considered art direction as a career until Elliot, one of his home-renovation clients, asked him to design a cover for her solo album. Burden needed a photographer; he saw Diltz in the park at a love-in, taking pictures of hippies.
Over the next six years, golden ones for Boomer rock, they did dozens more together. Every used-record bin in America is a little Henry Diltz exhibit. The Doors loitering pretentiously at the Morrison Hotel. A sweet-baby-faced James Taylor. Jackson Browne’s face on burlap. Richard Pryor in a loincloth. A pensive Richard Harris, for “The Yard Went on Forever,” which credits Diltz with “Photography and Good Karma.”
Diltz’s most aesthetic-defining cover might be Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled debut. It’s the antithesis of Marshall’s defiant Cash, or Hendrix with his flaming guitar: some guys in boots and jeans, sitting on an old couch on the porch of an abandoned house on Palm Avenue, just off Santa Monica Boulevard.
Three elite singer-songwriter-players, impersonating bumps on a log. And yet, in a phone interview, Graham Nash confirmed they’d chosen the image as a statement, about who they were and weren’t. “We wanted to be human beings,” he said.
Diltz wasn’t sure he had the shot — that same day, he took the band around the corner, spent an hour with them at a used-clothing store, shooting them with the mannequins. Those shots are in the book, too. They’re fine rock ’n’ roll photos. But they don’t have what the couch photo has. A radiance. Something unrepeatable.
When they got the pictures back, Nash said, they realized they were sitting in the wrong order — Nash, Stills, Crosby, left to right — and decided to go back for another shoot.