Electra Glide in Blue

The first rule at the University of Missouri School of Journalism: Great photos don't need captions. This is the first time I can remember wanting to do a caption. While on assignment in LA. I'd stay at Gary's studio. About 5:30 in the morning all I could hear were fire engines, alarms, and a TV reporter commenting about a fire. I walk past Gary's bedroom and he was reading the LA Times. I asked him what was going on. He said "Nothing, It's just the crack house on fire again next-door." We both went through his bedroom window to the roof and this is a portrait I did of Gary. 35mm Nikon F2. His camera. Now you know why I don't write captions... They're too damn long!

To all the ships at sea.  I’ve never gone to Websters unabashed dictionary to look up the definition of nostalgia.  I was shooting some B roll for my documentary “In this Corner” and all of a sudden, something grabbed me.  To be brutally honest, I don’t know what brought it on, but I thought about one of my all time great friends, and a true great artist, Gary Nichamin.  Gary and I were friends from 1972 until the day he passed away very close to his sixtieth birthday.  Gary did all of the photography for Chicago, The Beach Boys, and Blood Sweat and Tears.  He was not only a great photographer, but a fantastic art director.  Truly an amazing human being.  Gary was not a teacher, he was a doer.  Thinking back on all the times we spent together, Gary was always teaching me to push the envelope photographically.  As a photographer, he had two Nikon F’s, one with a 35mm and the other with an 85.  That’s it!  Simple, straightforward, and always generated some great stuff.  Netflix delivered Electra Glide in Blue last night.  Gary would tell me a story about him and my best friend Mitch Phillips discovering Nick Nolte as an extra in Electra Glide in Blue.  Gary absolutely stole one of the scenes in a mental institution.  It ripped my heart out.  We miss you Gary.  JoeD

Copyright Joe DiMaggio

Copyright Joe DiMaggio

Copyright Joe DiMaggio

7 responses to “Electra Glide in Blue

  1. Hi Joe – I found your blog post about your friend Gary Nichamin as I’ve been researching a music club he owned in the late 60s called Itchy Foot Mose – located near Cal State close to the 10 & 710 freeway intersection. I played guitar with the band Chicago – recording and touring for a decade and have been researching their early history. There are recordings of them playing Itchy Foot Mose in 1968 and I’ve been told that Gary owned the club at that time. My questions are basically do you know any of that history – when the club opened and closed – Gary’s history with it – any photos of the place would also be a big treat and any info you can share. Thank you so much for your help and I’m enjoying discovering more about you and your incredible photos on this blog. All the best and take care!!

    • Hi Dawayne, your post is almost 3 years old but I hope you get this reply. I worked at the Itchy Foot during the time you and Chicago rehearsed and played there. I remember how Chicago practiced ALL the time, creating that really tight sound. The Tardino’s (Jon, Sam, Frank) were the main owners and ran the warehouse sized “bar & music venue” along with the separate Italian sandwich shop and deli across the parking lot, along with with the big Italian bakery in the back (run by the patriarch Dominck Tardino). Gary Nichamin (RIP) was a true creative tour-de-force. I think it was Gary who had the idea to re-create an “updated version” of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. I was in that photo. Needless to say it had a huge 10′ foot Italian sub sandwich across the table, big gallon jugs of Gallo wine, and all of us assuming the original positions. That picture became a classic and was prominently hung in the restaurant. In the 70’s, The Foot moved from the Valley Blvd location in/near Alhambra, to the downtown Temple St at Figueroa Blvd – location across the street from the upscale Dorothy Chandler Music Pavillon. I believe it closed shop in the 90’s. If you have published any of your history and photos from that time, please post a link. I’d be glad to share more info and stories from those days. It’s been a few years since I spoke with Sam Tardino. I miss those guys and the crazy times we had.

  2. This is crazy! I met Gary Nichamin in 1967. He was the best man at my wedding in Las Vegas in 1971. We were friends for quite a long time. I had been to Itchy Foot Mose (went there n the back of Gary’s motorcycle) I still have one of his checks (with his crazy logo) made out for 5 cents. I was with him when Chicago recorded their Album at Carnegie Hall. We lost touch and then I found out he passed away. I was so sad to hear the news. I would love to hear stories of his later years.

    • I’d love to go to an ItchyFoot reunion. I’ll bet Bonnie Schatz would love to go as well. How you doing Bob? I’m great..nice and slim like I was when I was 18. I dug dancing there 4 notes a week!

  3. Joe,
    Does anyone know what happened to all Gary’s negatives? I was one of the fortunate ones to have been photographed by Gary and am wondering was wondering.

  4. I’d love to go. Bet Bonnie would too. I’d love to see Royce. Harry played keyboards. I can’t remember the drummer but can see his face. How are you Bob? I’m as thin as as I was at 18. We won lots of dance contests. Loved your silver Bette!. We could have the reunion at my apt in Montclair Upland boarder. Let me know what you think. Judy

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