PERSONAL: Male. Education: Studied journalism at Boston University.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—P.O. Box 1475, Oxford, MS 38555. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Founder of Avalon Productions (talent agency); has worked as a talent agent and promoter for blues musicians, and as a journalist. Exhibitions: Photography exhibited at A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, LA, and Govinda Gallery, Washington, DC.
AWARDS, HONORS: Inducted into Blues Hall of Fame, 2000.
(With B.B. King; and photographer) The B.B. King Treasures: Photos, Mementos, and Music from B.B. King's Collection (includes audio CD), additional photographs by B.B. King, introduction by Charles Sawyer, Bulfinch Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Dick Waterman is a journalist and photographer who became involved in representing blues musicians as an agent, manager, and promoter. In doing so, over several decades he has taken countless photographs, which he has included in a database on his Web site. The artists he has managed include such big names as Son House, Skip James, Booker White, Mance Lipscomb, Arthur Crudup, Robert Peter Williams, John Hurt, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Bonnie Raitt. His photographs include these musicians, as well as others such as Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Etta James, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and the Rolling Stones. Waterman has also promoted the concerts of such artists as Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens.
The defining event in Waterman's life was meeting Mississippi John Hurt at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, and Hurt asked Waterman to be his manager. He then traveled to Mississippi with Phil Spiro and Nick Perls and met Son House, a blues singer who had dropped out of the Delta music scene more than two decades earlier. Waterman formed Avalon Productions and began representing blues musicians, most of them older, black, and with families, men who had been victimized by hiring practices and low pay. His was the first agency dedicated entirely to blues performers. He helped musicians, including Son, revive their careers, and helped newcomers find their place in the business. Bonnie Raitt, who was managed by Waterman for fifteen years, wrote in the preface to Between Midnight and Day: The Last Unpublished Blues Archive that "Dick was able to collectively bargain to insure each artist got to play the best gigs and be paid what they deserved. He steadfastly guarded every aspect of his artists's professional life." Waterman is the only person ever named to the Blues Hall of Fame who is neither a musician nor a record company executive. Raitt was there to present him with this honor in 2000.
Waterman's book is filled with his best photographs from the huge archive in his Oxford, Mississippi, home; the accompanying text verifies the legendary people and events that were part of the blues revival. The book's uniqueness is derived from the fact that so many of the musicians were personal friends of Waterman, and the author shares their lives and insights into their personalities. Ted Drozdowski wrote in a review for the Portland Phoenix online that "the volume is a graceful and balanced blend of his photos and reminiscences. Both reveal their author's love for the music and, more important, the people who make it."
Waterman assisted King with his The B.B. King Treasures: Photos, Mementos, and Music from B.B. King's Collection, which was published in conjunction with King's eightieth birthday. The photo-filled volume comes with a one-hour audio CD of unreleased music and interviews. While there are pictures taken of King, there are others taken by him. Some are of King and such other celebrities as Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton, and the late Pope John Paul II. There are reproductions of King posters, and other paraphernalia, as well. Anthony C. Davis observed in Black Issues Book Review that "the text could stand easily on its own, even without the extras."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2005, Anthony C. Davis, review of The B.B. King Treasures: Photos, Mementos, and Music from B.B. King's Collection, p. 18.
Booklist, September 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of The B.B. King Treasures, p. 38.
Guitar Player, November, 2005, Andy Ellis, review of The B.B. King Treasures, p. 99.
Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Bill Walker, review of The B.B. King Treasures, p. 144.
Publishers Weekly, August 22, 2005, review of The B.B. King Treasures, p. 57.
Sing Out!, spring, 2004, Elijah Wald, review of Between Midnight and Day: The Last Unpublished Blues Archive, p. 104.
Bostonia, Alumni Quarterly of Boston University Online, http://www.bu.edu/alumni/bostonia/ (December 21, 2005), Jean Hennelly Keith, "Images in Blue."
Dick Waterman Home Page, http://www.dickwaterman.com (November 28, 2005).
Dick Waterman Web log, http://blog.dickwaterman.com (November 28, 2005).
Phoenix Online, http://www.portlandphoenix.com/ (February 13, 2004), Ted Drozdowski, review of Between Midnight and Day.