Stock Footage agency Reelin’ in the Years RITY announced last year they were expanding the business to include stills – their latest signing is photographer Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal.
Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal began his career as a rock and roll photographer in 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival. There he was able to capture candid backstage moments of many of the artists as well as some of the electrifying performances. Based on the positive feedback from those early photos, Tom moved to Los Angeles and was hired immediately by the manager of the Byrds and began taking remarkable images of the band right before David Crosby was fired from the group and through the short-lived return of Gene Clark.
Over the next eight years Tom photographed and built friendships with many of the artists that performed at Monterey. Tom’’s photos appeared on numerous album covers such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Deja Vu and Four Way Street, Steppenwolf’’s debut album, as well as covers for Neil Young, BB King, John Phillips, Mama Cass, Spanky and Our Gang, Poco, Crazy Horse and Jim Croce.
Tom’’s work was in such high demand that he was hired by other major artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Cream & The Monkees and his work is so highly respected that an image of Joni Mitchell from 1969 and an outtake of the photo session for CSN&Y’s Deju Vu album cover are hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
When asked why he chose Reelin’ In The Years to represent his work Tom replied, “For years I had been looking for representation of my music photography. Almost immediately after I signed with Reelin’ In The Years, David Peck started sending examples of my work to various projects in production. While photography is my specialty, back in the late 1960s I would sometimes bring my super 8mm camera and shoot footage as well as photos. I remember being at Peter Tork’’s house on August 7th, 1969 as I was there to capture images of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as they were rehearsing for their upcoming appearance at Woodstock. On this date I not only took many photos but captured extraordinary footage of Joni Mitchell painting outside as well as CSN&Y in the pool and later rehearsing in the studio. The super 8 footage I shot had been sitting in a box for fifty years and I had never shown it to anyone. Were it not for David Peck’’s persistence to get the material properly transferred, the footage would’ve remained unseen. As soon as David saw what I had filmed he called to tell me that he’d “lost his mind”” and he then immediately contacted the producers of an upcoming documentary about Laurel Canyon and even though they told him the film was officially finished he insisted they see the footage and as a direct result they fell in love with it and licensed some of it for the film. A few weeks later I had my first check from Reelin’’ In The Years.
When it came to my photos, David was tenacious and one of the best sleuths I’’ve seen in identifying dates and locations of where these photos were taken. I honestly have never seen anyone like him before. His attention to detail is insane and because of this my archive is catalogued in a way I could never have dreamed of. David created a very unique cloud-driven database of my work which is private but yet so easy to use. When I saw a friend recently in a supermarket he asked about seeing some of my photos of the Monkees. I pulled out my phone and “voila”, there we were in the produce aisle looking at photos of Davy Jones in a cowboy outfit on the Columbia movie lot taken over 50 years ago.
Now that’’s cool. Thank you, David – You Rock!”