Bob Bondurant, the photographer who photographed the late Jimi Hendrix and other rock stars as well as his pupils, died over the weekend. He was 88.
According to his memorial on memorial.imagesprod.com, Bondurant died in the Twin Cities on Saturday, May 25.
Bob Bondurant “sophisticated the photographic technique of the automobile racing world” – Ernest Harris.
Bondurant, a U.S. citizen, was born in South Africa in 1923. When he was just two years old, his parents fled Europe for Chile, where they settled for the rest of their lives.
His photographic career began at age nine, and included documented vintage car races on the coasts of Los Angeles and the Southwest in the 1950s and ’60s. In 1954, he traveled to Europe to shoot the Paris Motor Grand Prix, which became a source of inspiration for his later work. During that trip, he caught the eye of Peter Settelman, a German film director who was to become Bondurant’s partner in the 1960s.
Jimi Hendrix — who Bondurant photographed during the period in his career — reached out to the photographer. He wanted to learn to drive. So, once a week, back and forth across the Atlantic, Bondurant would help Hendrix conquer his fear, and together they trained as Top Speed Ford drivers. At one time, Bondurant would teach Hendrix how to drive at 45 mph on the racetrack. “It was therapeutic for him,” Bondurant told The Associated Press in 2012.
Henry David Thoreau, George H.W. Bush and Jimi Hendrix are just a few of the celebrities whom Bondurant has photographed. His photographs were often used in licensing and advertising campaigns and exhibited in galleries around the world.
Today, Bondurant’s photographs of Subaru are used on the covers of the Canadian and U.S. automotive magazines Motor Trend and Edmunds.
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Bob Bondurant’s Timeline of Success
1928: Retiring from the South African navy, Bondurant heads to England to work as a stunt double for Hollywood luminaries such as Clark Gable and Randolph Scott.
1932: Bondurant moves to Los Angeles and spends the next half-century photographing epic car races and celebrities alike.
1957: The Rolling Stones stage their first gig at a London nightclub. The first session Bondurant shoots includes a driving sequence filmed at high speed from the car’s cockpit.
1965: Bondurant meets Peter Settelman, an automotive photographer from Germany.
1968: Bondurant tells Settelman he plans to focus on feature-length Hollywood movie car sequences in his next series. Settelman convinces Bondurant that he must learn to drive before he can show his photographs to the car industry.
1978: Bondurant moves to New York to live with Settelman and his family.
1986: Bondurant records the car starts of hundreds of celebrities including Peter Sellers, Mia Farrow, and Neil Armstrong.
2005: “Cut!” (Image above courtesy of Car Pics Limited)
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