Rock Photog Mark Weiss
 and Boogie Nights

By David J. Spatz

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Mar. 28, 2012

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On photographer Mark Weiss’ very short bucket list of music icons who avoided his lens over the past 35 years, one name stands out like a silvery, sequin-gloved hand. 

Weiss never had a chance to shoot candid images of Michael Jackson. 

“I shot his concerts,” Weiss says, “but somehow I never could get to him [backstage}.”

Weiss recently came about as close as he’ll ever come to capturing the Prince of Pop, who died in 2009, in an unguarded moment. Weiss, whose credits include some of the music world’s most memorable magazine (Ozzy Osbourne in a pink tutu) and album covers (Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet) was recently in Atlantic City to shoot images for the marketing and advertising campaign for Boogie Nights, the new retro 1970s and ’80s dance club opening at the Tropicana in early May.

Among the assorted characters and celebrity look-alikes who are part of the Boogie Nights crew is Pete Carter, a Michael Jackson impersonator from Toms River.

“It was pretty cool,” Weiss admits. “He looked and moved so much like Michael that I just kind of blocked out that it wasn’t really [Jackson] and started shooting. For a few minutes, I actually felt like I was [photographing Jackson].”

During a career that began when he was 14 and started sneaking cameras into shows, Weiss has captured concert, backstage and studio images of a veritable Who’s Who of modern music. Acts ranging from Aerosmith and KISS to Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé — and just about everyone in between — have been frozen in time for all eternity by Weiss.

Weiss can trace his interest is music photography to a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert in Jersey City on Aug. 9, 1974. 

“I’ll never forget the date because that was the night that David Crosby announced that [President] Richard Nixon had resigned, Weiss, 51, recalled. 

He also remembered that was the night he saw a photographer without a photo pass sneak his way into the photo pit near the stage with a beautiful young woman on each arm.

Weiss, a New Jersey native who continues to call the Garden State his home, met the photographer and went to his house the next day to look at his collection of concert photos. Then he found out the photographer was making money by selling the pictures after the concerts.

So Weiss bought some cameras, hid them in his baggy pants and developed the chutzpah to con his way into the photo pits. A defining moment came in 1977 when he was arrested outside a KISS concert at Madison Square Garden for selling concert pictures for $1 each.

“I was in the back of a paddy wagon with a bunch of [illegal] T-shirt sellers thinking, ‘What am I doing here? I’m a kid from Jersey, I’m not one of them,’” he says, laughing at the memory.

Weiss decided to go legit. He approached Circus, the leading rock ‘n roll magazine of the era, and later offered them pictures he captured during an Aerosmith concert.

“It was during their real dark drug days and they weren’t letting anyone photograph them,” he says. He offered the pictures to Circus, and two months later the magazine used them in a centerfold spread of the band and its lead singer, Steven Tyler.

Aerosmith liked the pictures so much that its management company made Weiss its official photographer to shoot the band and other acts it managed, like AC/DC, Ted Nugent and The Scorpions.

He was among the first photographers to capture Van Halen during a concert in Asbury Park, “and everything just sort of snowballed from there.”

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Comments 1 - 2 of 2
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1. Anonymous said... on Mar 28, 2012 at 07:15PM

“prince of pop?? LOL you're so lame”

Report Violation

2. Wendy Mack said... on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:40AM

“Grateful Dead also played with CSNY that day. Best crowd spirit that day!!!! Who else played in that concert? I remember fireworks. Sure would love to see pics of that one!”


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