Don Lawver Live with WKNC
Don Lawver is a photographer and lifelong music aficionado with the world’s largest collection of live color concert photography. He sat down with WKNC 88.1 this past Monday evening in the lamplit studio to discuss his work, share stories, and tell of what’s upcoming. From AC/DC and Black Sabbath to Stevie Nicks and even Eminem, Don has photographed the biggest acts in vintage and modern music, covering over 230 genres.
WKNC: What was the first concert or artist that you photographed?
Don, with thoughtful consideration: The very first concert I photographed was Deep Purple.
WKNC: Do you remember it?
Don: I remember the stage, what they wore, not so much what they played. The larger artists I was really into I naturally remembered (Queen, Pink Floyd).
WKNC: Let’s talk about the variety and depth of your experiences. What stands out as some of your favorite memories or experiences? What has kept you going all this time? What keeps the passion burning for you?
Don: Well I have a lot of passion anyhow for a lot of things, not just music. It soaked in for me as it grew and got even larger… I just felt the need that since I had built it that big I should just keep going…
I liked Pink Floyd shows. I thought they were incredible just because of their stage presence and the visuals… the visuals were incredible… they put on some of the best shows you can ever see.
There are just so many great vocalists out there that you listen to on the radio but when you’re standing right in front of them the impact of it – the magnitude – is just incredible.
I think seeing them live is what kept me going actually. Live is just different. It’s just not the same on the radio or the TV, it’s just not. So that kept me going. I’ve never lost the passion.
WKNC: What has been your biggest struggle? Is there anything you’ve really had to deal with that’s stuck with you over time?
Don: I did so many shows I had no problem with the concerts. It was more just the anxiety of wanting to see the photos.
I’ve dealt with everything – riots, artists spitting on you when you use a flash. I've had all kinds of stuff happen. Ozzy, he was a big fan of water cannons and he would bring them out. He didn’t like photographers and I actually lost one of the cameras. Ozzy poured water on it.
Axl Rose does not like photographs and he’d jump in the crowd and take cameras. I got a lot of photos earlier in his career when he was a warmup act and he couldn’t as easily stop photographers in the audience.
There are a lot of factors that go into shows. When I saw shows they were general admission. A lot more mosh pits… things being thrown around. Things have changed a lot. Now you go to a concert and you sit in a chair.
WKNC: You are doing really, really well right now. You’ve got a massive collection… Where do you aim to go from here? What is the next step for you?
Don: What I’ve always wanted to do is to leave a legacy that will inspire other people that wanted to be in photography. My expression actually is that “music is the expression of all humanity." I think it’s bigger than movies or anything… people listen to it in their cars, in the morning, you name it.
This Friday I’m launching everything. We’ve already looked into some books… We’ve been filming for a documentary… We’re setting up some gallery tours in New York and LA. After we’re finished with that maybe we’ll sell the collection. Money’s great but I won’t be able to keep the money for long. I want people to be able to view my stuff for many years. I want to be in museums and galleries, I want to be there permanently to inspire people… that’s more soulful than money.
WKNC: On that note I think we’ll end it thank you very much for coming on the show.
Don: I appreciate it very much, thank you guys.
Join Don Lawver and Beaumonde on October 6th for his first Teaser Exhibition and the launch of his collection. Don will be in attendance to meet and greet guests. Prints of his work will be on exhibition throughout the Google Fiber space. This event is free to enter. There will be free food and alcohol for attendees who are 21+.