Jul 31, 2014

On the Scene: The Leee Black Childers Memorial (NYC, 7.29.14) by Richard Boch

“Hello darling,” as only Leee could say it—so sad to see you go. Photographer Leee Black Childers passed away on April 6, 2014. On Tuesday July 29, his friends gathered at El Quijote, the restaurant adjacent to the Hotel Chelsea, sharing stories, memories, rumors and Paella. The crowd on hand, not to mention Leee himself, was part of a community and scene largely responsible for the radical shift in seventies sound and vision.

People began arriving at 3 P.M. and by 4:30 everyone settled into a seat. Tony Zanetta, Danny Fields and Pat Wadsley, stood up and spoke, remembering Leee from his days at Sixteen magazine and then Mainman, Bowie’s freewheeling management company. Roberta Bayley, a fellow photographer and the former door ‘minder’ at CBGB spoke of her friendship with Leee and his outpouring of love in return. Along with Linda Jean Meier, the afternoon’s organizer and host, both women were recognized as heroes of the day. Debbie Harry, Heartbreaker Walter Lure, Richard Hell, artist Duncan Hannah, Tom Wynbrandt, and photographer Bob Gruen all shared memories of Leee’s sweet, crazy and oddly innocent spirit. He was selfless but always searching, prone to both great excess and generosity. Roberta mentioned that Leee told her he loved her more than anyone. She was sure he said the same thing to every person in the room at one time or another—and each time he said it, he meant it.

From Max’s backroom to Middle America, London’s mid seventies heyday and New York City’s mayhem, Leee was there. All the beautiful faces he ever fell in love with—from the drag queens and rough trade to the Warhol stars like Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis—from superstars like David Bowie and Iggy Pop to Jayne County, The Heartbreakers and Levi and The Rockats — they became his life, his legacy and the subject of his photographs. That was and is Leee Black Childers. ‘Good-bye darling’ was never part of the story.

Richard Boch 2014

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