Front row seat

MILFORD – Bob Hug had a front-row seat to rock ‘n’ roll history and has the photos, and their contact sheets, to prove it.

In the mid-1970s, San Francisco was the place to be for music lovers and Hug wound up studying photography at the San Francisco Academy of Art.

He took his 35mm Olympus to the Winterland Ballroom, the Cow Palace and Bill Graham’s Days on the Green concerts at the Oakland Coliseum and shot The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Journey, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton and 10 Years After. And he was at a concert by the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyard a month before the 1977 plane crash that killed six band members.

Somehow or other he usually wound up in a good position to take great photos.

“My professor knew someone who knew someone,” he said. Sometimes, for smaller shows, he had stage passes. “For most, I would just get there early to get a good location.

“When I was given the opportunity to see and photograph these acts up close it was a real treat.”

At Paul McCartney’s Wings Over America tour at the Cow Palace in 1976, he was right in front of the stage.

Sometime there would be four or five concerts in a row, “and the beauty of it,” for a photographer, he said, was that many of the concerts were in daylight.

On a wall of his Milford home he has his framed photo of McCartney, with his face blurred by the smoke of torches, and when people see it, and other photos, they are bowled over.

Hug brought dozens of prints The Cabinet office, saying “they kinda just scratch the surface” of all he has.

The love for music started when he was a kid, growing up on Long Island where he was able to see future legends like Mountain and Billy Joel in the beginning stages of their careers. Neil Diamond performed at his high school. And of course New York City was right around the corner.

Hug, who worked in commercial photography for most of his life, is not sure what he will do with his photos, but his memories of a golden time are captured in full color – one way for one man to keep rock ‘n’ roll alive.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or