Cliff Malloy: Photographer, Music History Treasure Trove and My Friend
Above: Cliff Malloy: The Spirit of 76
The unretouched profile pic to your right and above is the best picture I've ever taken and most likely ever will take. It was shot more than a few years ago on a very warm spring day in Santa Rosa, California in the older part of town right off of Santa Rosa Avenue in what's known as the Doyle Park area where you will find The Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum across from the gardens of renowned horticulturist and atheist Luther Burbank and his white blackberry bushes. Further up the road you'll find 4th street/Courthouse square, center street of Santa Rosa's downtown hub and towards the end of fourth street one day, I found Cliff Malloy behind the counter of The Last Record Store's now closed "all vinyl shop."
He would later go on to open "Just Records" near Doyle park, take pics with me (including one shoot where two meth dealer types stole my bike tire from the JC bike racks while we watched helplessly from three stories above-got the tire back though LONG story!) and become one of my dearest friends.
There are so many things (ALL of them good) that I could tell you about Cliff Malloy but the thing that stands out the most for me is his all encompassing knowledge and understanding of rock n roll history combined with a riotous no bullshit (but very kindly) sense of humor. He knows all the bands, all the discs, all the puppet masters and all the stories you want to know.
He actually knows most of pop culture and 20th century history as well but it's the history of rock, jazz, blues, soul, funk, pop etc etc that he knows unlike anyone else I've ever met and the snappy rejoinders that always accompany his opinions along with the utmost respect for the greats.
(Like me he feels that The Who perhaps rule over all the Olympian rock giants so how could we not hit it off?)
Back in the day, he would ALWAYS take me out Round Table pizza or Chevy's when I was waiting for the next paycheck.
And I saw, yes, my first Russ Meyer film at his house!
Look at him in the 4th grade! Growing up to go out into the world and hear all the music there is!
Above: Cliff With Grace Slick and friend in Las Vegas
It was Cliff who was there to show me how to log on to the internet which I did for for the very first time that day (oh the crazy stuff I downloaded!) and later on we shot the photos including the one that ironically has become easily my most well known online image. The two outtakes are below. I had been along for another shoot that day with this generic would be model girl who's make up I had done and who neglected to pay either of us. I can still see her walking away with both us too wimpy to ask to get paid-times have changed! So following the "free face painting" and my first foray in cyber space I suggested we should just take some pics for fun.
I reclined on an old couch and Cliff stood directly over me. They remain to this day my most favourite pictures anyone has ever taken of me.
So it was only natural that Cliff should become involved for the better part of the past decade with the legacy of Popsie Randolph. who shot hundreds of photos of the golden era of New York music from the 40's until the 60's. Cliff has been the estate go to curator and webmaster. And a retropsective book of Popsie's work was just published.
Here is own take on his talents: "I'm the Urban Spaceman, Baby... In a whirlwind life, I've already accomplished most of my personal goals which included business ownership (3 record stores and a photo distribution service), Radio DJ, Taxi Driver, An Associates Degree in Computer Science/Accounting, Photography, Computer Tech Support, Banking and I finally got around to editing/co-writing the "Great American Novel", Popular Music through the Camera Lens of William "PoPsie" Randolph (now available on Amazon.com)... Not bad for a little ghetto boy. "