Leaders, Storytellers, Dreamers: Jay Blakesberg

Leaders, Storytellers, Dreamers: Jay Blakesberg

  • Marks Realty Group

In my world, music has always played a huge part. It brings me joy when feeling down, it makes me get up and dance when feeling lazy, and it makes me smile and laugh and sing always. It fills a need that nothing else can. Eventually, though, the music stops. And that is where Jay Blakesberg comes into the picture (pun absolutely intended) as Jay has been and remains my very favorite and certainly world-renowned live music photographer and archivist. For 40+ years, Jay has been out there against all odds making his presence known through his masterful capture of seminal moments of musicians around the world leaving their mark on the music scene. Having met Jay in the mid-80s at a Grateful Dead show, I count Jay as a friend and more importantly as a memory maker since long after the music stops, the world can count on Jay to keep the spirit of the music alive and well in our hearts and souls. With that, please meet Jay Blakesberg. (https://www.blakesberg.com/) -Jonathan Marks


Who inspired you?

I’m not sure if there is a WHO at first, there were lot’s of things that initially inspired me…music, photography, film, fashion, art, shoes, dance, humanity! Once I “locked in”

To photography there were many…from Irving Penn, to Richard Avedon to Jim Marshall, Herb Greene and a gazillion others.


Who believed in or supported you? (Physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc)

ME! at first…Probably my friends, and of course my Parents…no matter how hard I made it for them to believe in me. Eventually my wife too.


Who was the first person you wanted to call when you succeeded?  

My Father.


What setbacks did you overcome? 

Lack of confidence…serious ADD that was never recognized when I was growing up…we were just “not smart people”.  I figured out how to make things work in my own way…my own methods to create a path to success as an artist, business person, father, husband, lover, traveler, human being...


What did you learn about yourself along the way? 

So much…still learning. The list is a mile long. But let’s go with this one…if you put yourself out there socially, and connect with other human beings (vs staying at home, watching tv, vortexed into a computer screen, or now our phones) YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER LIFE!!!! Human interaction creates the need for improvisation which is the is the core of our most memorable experiences and human existence.


What is your favorite memory?

Good thing I have photographs to document these memories (and prove they happened and that I was part of them)…Let’s look through the archives and choose a few thousand…or you can just look in my new book…RetroBlakesberg…that is a TOP 1000 favorite memories!


Where do you find your inspiration? 

Everywhere!  I try and live my life fueled with passion for the things I love to do, be involved with, the people I mingle with,  and always am looking for inspiration…keeps it from getting dull! And believe me inspiration is EVERYWHERE and easier to find, recognize and absorb than ever before!!  Without Passion and Inspiration what do we have? A grey existence? I prefer a Purple existence.


Where do you feel most at home? 

With my family, with my people, at Grateful Dead related events!


Where do you go from here? 



When did you experience the greatest challenge? 

When I was sentenced to 5 years in prison 40 years ago...


When was a time you had a major breakthrough? 

Personally ~ Swirling in the divine symmetry of a perfect LSD trip with the right people, in the right place, at the right time, many lifetimes ago.  

Professionally ~ individual successes that propelled me to the next level creatively which eventually got me HERE.


When did you feel confident you would succeed? 

When I stopped worrying I wouldn’t succeed.


Why did you choose this experience/field/career?

I am a photographer (among other things, but we will stick with that), and I chose that career because it was something I truly loved to do. When I created photographs it REALLY turned me on!  45 years later and it STILL really turns me on. I guess I chose wisely.


Why didn’t you give up when things got tough? 

Because the alternatives were not appealing…god forbid I would have to get a REAL Job! That wouldn’t work for me. I have never worked a day in my life (or at least it feels that way) as I type this on a saturday afternoon while working…(I am so lucky I love every minute of my “work existence”)…


Why are oranges called oranges but lemons are not called yellows?

They are not?


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