Thursday, May 23, 2024

Celebrity Photographer George Livingston: Always in the Right Place!

george livingston
George Livingston

*Every now and then, someone comes along with a light that shines so brightly that you cannot help but acknowledge it.  Their personality draws you in because it is endearing and genuine and their achievements and accolades are very deserving.  Celebrity photographer George Livingston is such a person.

Previously, I wrote an article mentioning George was being inducted into the Bay Area R&B Hall of Fame.  In preparation for the article, George and I had a two-hour telephone interview, in which he regaled me with stories of his career as a celebrity photographer.  I learned how and why it all began.

Although we decided to end the conversation after two hours, we could have gone on for quite some time, as George and I both like to talk and I was very interested in listening to his stories.  We hung up the phone saying we would talk again.  Although we did not have Part II of our conversation, I never forgot the first segment and was reminded of it recently when I saw an article George wrote on his storied career.  I was so fascinated by his career that I have decided to share some of the highlights with the EURweb readers.

George grew up in Richmond, California (near Oakland), where his dad was the Mayor.  He received a Kodak Instamatic camera as a high school graduation present in 1971 and after that, him and his camera were inseparable.  He took pictures at family events and of course took the camera with him when he went off to Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas.  While at Jarvis, he further honed his photography skills by taking pictures of anything he found interesting.  He graduated from Jarvis in 1975, with a degree in Business Administration and Economics and got a job at Gene’s Business Machines.

What George refers to as his “life-changing job” was his nights and weekend job as an usher at the Oakland Coliseum.  His camera was in full effect at the Coliseum, as he would go into the back area and take candid shots of sports figures and others, like baseball’s Ricky Henderson, musician Stevie Nicks and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  He eventually graduated from his Instamatic to a Canon AE-1 35 mm, took a class on developing prints and set up his own lab and darkroom.

george livingston celeb pics
Celebs snapped by George Livingston

An event in Beverly Hills honoring Quincy Jones is what can be considered the true beginning of George’s career as a celebrity photographer.  Although he was there to help promote a friend, Robin, who was performing with the Ice Capades, he hit the motherlode when it came to finding subjects to photograph.  He did not have any press credentials, so he and his now-wife Linda hung out in the lobby, “acting like they belonged there and watching for celebrities.”  The first celebrity they saw was the late James Ingram, followed by high profile entertainers such as Steven Spielberg, Jane Fonda, Gladys Knight and the gloved one, Michael Jackson.  He got pictures of them all, including one of his wife Linda and Michael together.  He took his pictures to the Post Newspaper, who published an article on the event and used four of George’s pictures.  A few months later, Soul Teen Magazine used his pictures of Quincy Jones and Johnny Mathis, which was what he called a “feather in my cap.”

For the next three decades, while continuing to usher at the Oakland Coliseum, he was also a regular contributor to the Entertainment section of the Oakland Post Newspaper.  Thanks to George, the Post landed pictures of Janet Jackson, Cab Calloway, Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Dee Williams, Huey Lewis, Henry Mancini, Billy Crystal and other celebrities, as he photographed both the Grammy and Academy Awards, to name two major events.  George likes to tell the story of his hulkish friend who people mistook for a bodyguard when he and his friend attended a charity marathon.  People were afraid to approach them, so they missed out on autographs and photos, but not George. He took pictures of the hosts, actors Robert Wagner and Jimmy Stewart as well other celebrities, such as Joan Van Ark, Val Ewing of “Knot’s Landing” and Barbara Eden, Jeannie from “I Dream of Jeannie.”

george livingston & family
George Livingston with of 35 years, Linda Livingston and their 3 daughters

George was fortunate enough to photograph the Academy Awards in 1988, the year Cher won Best Actress for Moonstruck, Michael Douglass won Best Actor for Wall Street, Sean Connery and Olympia Dukakis won Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Untouchables and Moonstruck, respectively.   How about photographing the American Music Awards for 20 years!  Yep, George was front and center.

George does not take many pictures these days; however, he is paying it forward by using his network to help others.  Congratulations on your great career George Livingston, PHOTOGRAPHER TO THE STARS!  Thank you for so many photographic memories.  Continue to enjoy your wife of over 35 years and your three daughters.  EURweb has nothing but love for you.

Wait. Wait. There more! And it’s good news, too. George’s better half, Linda Livingston, just experienced a “moment” she won’t soon forget: playing percussion for the one and only Carlos Santana! And we’ve got the video (below).

But first, we’ve got the backstory to Linda’s good fortune via Facebooker Wayne Barros who posted this:

“Linda was working Security for this event…prior to the show she met Carlos Santana and spoke about herself and musical experience which includes the origins of African drum sounds..also including performing at the Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco …. it must of Impressed him so much he too where during his performance he called her onstage from her post to sit in with his band and perform on a few of his hits ‘ It was an experience she will never forget To see various performances by Linda Livingston which include Lenny Willaims, and the Escovito family on YouTube search Percussionist Linda Livingston A WORLD MEDIA

marilyn smith

Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer.  Contact her via [email protected].

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