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Professor’s Chicago photos used by Grateful Dead

Technical photography professor Chip Williams recently had five photographs of the Chicago Auditorium Theatre published in the Grateful Deads "Daves Picks Volume 3." PHOTO COURTESY Chip Williams
PHOTO COURTESY OF Chip Williams

Technical photography professor Chip Williams recently had five photographs of the Chicago Auditorium Theatre published in the Grateful Dead's "Dave's Picks Volume 3." PHOTO COURTESY Chip WilliamsAfter shooting photos for Esquire, Fortune and more, an Appalachian State University assistant professor has a new accomplishment to add to his resume: his work was picked up by the Grateful Dead.

Stock photos of Chicago’s Auditorium Theater taken by Williams were featured in the Dead’s limited-release “Dave’s Picks Volume 3,” a live album recorded at the Auditorium Theater in 1971.

“It was literally just an unexpected sort of usage for this technical photography,” said Williams, an assistant technical photography professor. “Who’d have thought architectural photos of the Auditorium Theater would make it into the Grateful Dead three-CD set?”

Williams, who has taught at Appalachian since fall 2011, was commissioned by the theater to take photos of its interior.

“The details of the architectural design are amazing, so I shot this sideways, backwards, forwards and every which way,” he said. “I was there for four to five days shooting.”

Williams’s shots of the interior and close-up shots of architectural details — including handmade light bulbs — made it into the three-disc set’s album artwork.

“[Dave Lemieux] is their official archivist for the vaults and all the digital recordings from their past performances,” Williams said. “He picks notable performances from the past that he pulls from the vault to digital remasters. And he picked this one, 1971 at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago.”

Williams doesn’t consider himself a true “Deadhead,” but he did attend one of their concerts in Chicago while he was in college.

“They’re great improvisational artists,” he said. “They’re known for live concerts. That’s why their live albums are so good.”

Williams brought up the Grateful Dead album with his students, but he didn’t brag, they said.

“He was obviously excited, but…he wasn’t making it a big deal,” junior technical photography major Sean McCalla said. “He used it as a learning experience.”

More of Williams’s work can be found at chipwilliams.com.

 

Story: MICHAEL BRAGG, Senior A&E Reporter

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