Otis celebrity photographer Ken Regan dies of cancer in New York
The photos that hang on the walls of The Dream Away Lodge in Becket showcase a legendary party held there in 1975, attended by the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
But the man at the party behind the camera lens, Otis photographer Ken Regan, is arguably just as legendary in his field.
Regan's photos are as iconic as their prominent subjects: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Muhammad Ali. A list of famous faces that don't appear in his online portfolio would probably be shorter than the list of ones that do. His snapshots have graced the front covers of "Entertainment Weekly," "Sports Illustrated" and "Time."
Regan died of cancer Sunday in New York City at the age of -- actually, nobody ever knew his age, even when he was alive.
"He was ‘The Ageless Photographer,' " said Tom Justino, who has worked at Regan's Camera 5 studio in New York City for about 15 years.
"I grew with him through the years, and as the industry changed, we changed," Justino said.
Though Regan often rubbed shoulders with musicians, actors and politicians at rowdy A-list functions, he always found himself back in the quaint Berkshire hills. There was, however, that less-quaint Nov. 7, 1975, party at The Dream Away Lodge.
The story, according to former Time magazine and Entertainment Weekly Editor Don Morrison, is that Regan was traveling on the Rolling Thunder Revue bus when Dylan and Baez asked him where to stop for a discrete bite to eat. The love affair between Baez and Dylan is legend unto itself.
Per Regan's request, Dylan and Baez, alongside beat poet Alan Ginsberg, stopped at the lodge at 1342 County Road in Becket. The quaint dinner turned into a party, and a photoshoot for Regan.
"Ken was a great friend of the house," said Daniel Osman, the lodge's current owner. "Shortly after I bought it [in 1997], he said he was so thrilled that someone was saving the joint. He loved the place."
The party is featured in the 1978 film "Renaldo and Clara." Dream Away Lodge hosts a party every Nov. 7 to honor the anniversary of the Rolling Thunder Revue party, Regan's photos from the 1975 bash hanging as a reminder.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards wrote the foreword for Regan's 2011 book, "The Rock & Roll Photography of Ken Regan: Dylan, The Stones, Hendrix and More."
"When I know a lot of photographers and they all have a personal style. When I see Ken in front of me, I know what he's waiting for... the moment," Richards' foreword reads.
Regan's career may have been made from his still photographs, but according to Berkshire International Film Festival Founder Kelley Vickery, "Ken was a real film guy. That was his medium."
Regan served alongside Vickery on the festival's founding board in 2006.
"He was a real supporter and champion of the festival," Vickery said. "He never missed a BIFF, except for one."
Morrison, who has retired from his editorial positions and now divides his time between Becket and Paris, recalled how accessible Regan was in the Berkshires, cruising the streets in his expensive cars but remaining "accessible, available and enormously sympathetic."
"His real secret was that he was enormously likable, the nicest guy you'd ever meet," Morrison said. "He made people, and I think especially the famous people he dealt with, very reassured. Ken was very discreet."
Morrison said that he was a "great photographer with a wonder eye," and one of the favorites at "Entertainment Weekly."
To reach Adam Poulisse:
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.