No...It is NOT Neil and other trivia about the Basement Tapes Photograph
Famed designer and sometimes photographer Reid Miles took the photograph used for the Columbia official release of (10%) of the Basement Tapes. One thing the label got right...the photo, which reunited the fellows seven years after the songs were recorded, was taken in a basement. The basement of the Hollywood YMCA in Los Angeles, not Big Pink. The shrine back in upstate New York is still visited by fans and still pink. There are no actual photographs of Dylan and the Band recording in the original basement...though there is a famous photo around the same time showing Dylan churning lyrics out on a typewriter.
Miles designed many of the classic Blue Note Jazz album jackets, he was in-house designer for the label from 1955 - 1967. Robbie Robertson, who claims to have chosen him and likely did (the remastering was his chore) has said he chose him for the Basement Tapes shoot based on Reid's earlier work, in particular the cover of the "Underground" LP by Thelonious Monk which he had seen. Underground was released in 1967.(which has a quite similar feel. An appropriate selection, as the tracks had circulated underground already. Other legendary jackets designed by Miles are HERE.
Reid also took the beautiful shot of The Band arranged around an outdoor fire for their Northern Lights - Southern Cross album cover.
John Scheele reportedly has a few photographs he took of the shoot. He also describes the scene in an interview with Carol Caffin HERE and infers Reid would have destroyed all the outtakes except for few given to Columbia.
There is at least one different take, it was used as an inner liner on the release and as the cover of a bootleg from 1996 which has a hired little person, presumably "Tiny Montgomery" on Robbie Robertson's shoulders! The bootleg, which surprisingly contained the Tiny Tim songs The Band performed on (yes...tis true) The boot was titled "Bob Dylan Tiny Tim and The Band Down in the Basement" and likely contains the only take of "I Got You Babe" by Sonny Bono which The Band ever played. It was released on the bogus "Moonlight" label.
In the photo outtake, Levon appraises the ballerina and Dylan appraises the nun. The tracks had already been released earlier on a pair of vinyl albums titled Blind Boy Grunt and the Hawks. At the time, they included some titles which had not yet snuck out, and for the jacket covers the bootleggers recreated the "box and tape reels" section of the legitimate release but replaced the dog (maybe representing the dog Danko asks to be fed in "The Weight" with a cat for one volume, and erasing the cat for the other!
As for the participants, besides John Scheele, Bob Dylan's friend David Blue is seen, the "man in drag" giant at upper right is Ed Anderson (who is, I believe, a recording engineer) Bill Scheele is shown (a former road manager of The Band.) Rob Fabroni was also on the scene. Fabroni was a recording engineer working on the reissue, and he has said after the shoot, he, Dylan and David Blue went swimming at the YMCA pool.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find the names of the other carnival performers hired to represent Mrs. Henry, Tiny Montgomery, Quinn The Eskimo and such...but one interesting document about the tapes Is available online HERE. A contract signed by Dylan giving him rights to the material. It is for sale, but I presume so pricey I didn't take the time to ask.
By Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Book Catalog HERE
NOTE: writer, DJ and Performer, who writes the GOON TALK blog was kind enough to send the following:
Jim,I read your essay on The Basement Tapes cover photos and noticed that you wrote, "Unfortunately I have not been able to find the names of the other carnival performers hired to represent Mrs. Henry, Tiny Montgomery, Quinn The Eskimo and such."The little person is Angelo Rossitto, star of Tod Browning's Freaks. He also appears on the cover of the Tom Waits album Swordfishtrombones.Gooble gobble,Scott Warmuth
Also, J. Reith took the time to point out the second photo here was used as the inner sleeve photograph on some, if not all of the vinyl releases! Thanks!
And MORE information, this of "first person" nature from one who was there!
I received a email from William Scheele with considerable information!
My name is Bill Scheele, one of the people you identified correctly in your article on the photo shoot of the Basement Tapes album cover by Reid Miles.
You will also find some of my brother's photos used on the recent re-release of The Basement Tapes by SONY...due to the fact that apparently all of Reid's original work has been "lost" Also, for identification purposes I am the one in the hat while my brother has his hair pulled back & a moustache (next to Robbie & the dwarf)
Mr. Scheele goes on to report (and dispell) other things which have been reported over the years, First of all, DESPITE WHAT IS REPORTED IN THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE and sourced to Gray 2006...
"...that is me, not Neil Young (he was NOT at this photo session)"
Neil Young was not there... that is me in the hat next to Rick
neither was Rob Fraboni... and no one went swimming !
You should check out my brother's photos...!!
Pretty good, eh? Now I have read the swimming story and that this was Neil...So I'm not entering into the story any further...but at this point, I'm sure given Mr. Scheele is correct and deserves the credit...HE was THERE!
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION and PHOTOGRAPHS is HERE
by Carol Caffin from Band Bites, 2008.