May 26, 2019

Guy Webster, Master of the Album Cover Photograph, Dies at 79

Guy Webster, Master of the Album Cover Photograph, Dies at 79

Columbia asked Mr. Webster to work with Simon & Garfunkel on their album “Sounds of Silence” (1966). He brought them to the shady grasslands of Franklin Canyon in Los Angeles, where he posed them on a dirt road looking as if they were walking into an unknown future. He also brought them to meet his father, a shy and professorial man who had collaborated with Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael and others.

“Paul Simon said, ‘Hey, you want to hear our new song?’ ” Mr. Webster recalled in “Big Shots.” “And he pulled out his guitar in the living room in Beverly Hills, and my dad was sitting there, who is not a rock and roller, and he listened to ‘Sounds of Silence’ for the first time. ‘Oh, my God, you guys, what a brilliant song.’ ”

By the early 1970s, Mr. Webster, burned out by the pace and the travel that were part of his rock work, moved to Europe for several years. In Italy, he studied art history at the University of Florence and started building a large collection of vintage Italian motorcycles.

Returning to the United States, he began photographing Hollywood stars like Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Candice Bergen and Jane Fonda. Some of his pictures appeared in well-known publications like The Los Angeles Times and lesser-known ones like Wet: The Magazine for Gourmet Bathing; he also photographed movies on location and provided publicity shots for actors.

“He had an ability to make celebrities feel very safe,” Leone Webster said in a telephone interview. “He also had these adorable pictures of the Kardashian girls growing up — he was like their family photographer.”

Mr. Webster also managed his father’s music archive and licensed his photographs for reissues over the years.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Webster is survived by his daughters, Sarah, Merry, Jessie and Erin Webster; a son, Michael; two grandchildren; and a brother, Roger, also known as Mona. His marriage to Bettie Beal ended in divorce.

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