Dalí and rockers

The Spanish photographer, Martín Frías, chats about his iconic work and Salvador Dalí
Martin Frias

Courtesy of Frias

In his native Barcelona, Martín Frías was an integral part of the arts and culture scene from the 1970s through the 1990s, mostly photographing rock musicians but also striking up a friendship with Salvador Dalí. Rock Iconic: Four Decades of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a showcase of Frías’s work, will be on display at the Living Room at the W Atlanta-Downtown.

Most of your portrait work captures rockers relaxing. How did you achieve that? I appreciated their art. That translates. They need to believe in you as the photographer, and I need to appreciate the art they create. I wouldn’t be able to photograph Madonna.

What was your connection to Queen’s late singer Freddie Mercury? He was an artist, not only a singer. He had studied art like me. When I was shooting him in concert, I knew I was capturing an artist for the ages. I’ve shot a lot of personalities, but no one like Freddie. Offstage, like David Bowie, he was a very polite man. Onstage, they became completely different people. Onstage was the personality, the attitude, and the sexuality.

You captured Dalí casually at home. How did you gain that intimacy? He liked rock ’n’ roll. He loved Alice Cooper. Because I knew these artists, he always wanted to hear my stories. When I went to his house, it was, “What happened with Bob Dylan? Tell me about Bowie.” Dalí was like a housewife with her programs!

Is it true the Grateful Dead almost played for Dalí? Jerry Garcia offered to play a free concert at the Dalí Museum in Figueres. The mayor asked, “This American band, what level of sound do they play with?” Dalí told him, “Loud.” And the mayor said, “Oh no, not for here.” So Figueres rejected the offer. Dalí was crazed!

This article originally appeared in our March 2013 issue.