Mississippi Fred McDowell (Tom Pomposello in the background) at the Village Gaslight, NY, 1971.
Photography by Val Wilmer
Photographer/writer Valerie Wilmer was one of the British citizens of her generation who explained a philosphy of life through American musicians and their music. It was no accident that one of her best known books, about avant garde jazz, was entitled As Serious As Your Life. In the one lengthy conversation I had with her in 1970, at drummer Rashied Ali's Soho loft, she conveyed to me the depth of her feelings about understanding humanity through the musicians she loved, like Fred McDowell.
Tom befriended her during his friendship with Fred, and unknown to me, she’d been at the week of Village Gaslight gigs where we recorded Live in New York. So when it quickly became clear that we were going to release a 2nd edition of the album Tom asked Val for some of her shots of the gig. They captured the mood perfectly (you can see Tom’s massive shape over on the upper left) and we liked both shots she sent so much that in my Warholian zeal for multiples we used them both.