During the last four decades, Raymond Boyd has taken some of the most significant images of the Chicago music scene. Boyd began photographing musicians and concerts after his mother gave him a Kodak pocket camera when he was in high school.
A local newspaper editor hired Boyd to cover concerts and entertainment in the city after becoming friends with him. Whitney Houston, Prince, Michael Jackson, LL Cool J, Geto Boys, Biggie, Eazy-E, and many others have been photographed. His images are an essential part of the American pop culture canon since he documented hip-hop and R&B between 1983 and 1997.
Photographs taken by him are unfiltered, raw, sometimes sweaty – and beautiful. Besides capturing history, they also convey the power, energy, and talent of the artists. In the following images, we see Chicago music in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as venues and locations that no longer exist, such as George’s Music Room, a legendary record store on the city’s West Side.
Boyd still lives and works in Chicago, but he no longer does concerts due to changing access and restrictions at venues. He photographed these artists two or three times a year, so a friendship developed.