2020 – Collections: Licenses to Shoot……..Concerts

(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on April 30, 2020)


OK – “photo passes”:


I’ve been somewhat hesitant to feature this collection, but a few people (very few) have asked about it and – as it turns out – my arm is highly-susceptible to being twisted when it comes to my career. Plus, I got to create something approximating art with regard to the containers of my work (plus one VERY dusty old door).


Speaking of that door, here are some closeups of some of the more-interesting passes:

No one ever believes me when I tell them that I once shot the mighty U2 as an opening act. Here’s the proof from almost 40 years ago in Florida (and with my barely-readable name misspelled):


These two passes sort of go together:


These two definitely do not:

(Manilow, not White…………..or Goldwater, who gets a mention later)


These were two 1982 shows I shot in Queens, NY. Musicourt was an interesting mashup of rock and tennis (look up “Musicourt ‘82” on http://bobleafe.com/) and the Clash opened for the Who in a powerful show at Shea:


Speaking of the Who:


Meat Hall & Oates!


……….and Blondie!


An interesting foursome at the bottom of the door:

BTW, the Springsteen pass – despite what it says on it – was not from a show in Europe. This show was one of the 6 nights when Bruce opened up the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, NJ in July, 1981 – the first stop on the Homecoming leg of “The River” tour, which followed the European leg of that tour, so these were leftover passes from 16 shows in England in May and June and 18 prior shows in 10 other European countries in April and May.


This is the pass from the final night of Bruce’s legendary 3-night stand that I shot at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ in 1978 on the “Darkness on the Edge of Town” tour:


I have a site that’s dedicated to that event here:


NEWSFLASH: This just came to my attention as I’m writing this post the day before posting (and hours after I entered the above link). Someone has put out a Springsteen bootleg picture disc album – supposedly recorded at a 1973 show at a club called My Father’s Place on Long Island – and the picture on the disc is one you just saw on the main page in the above link and I shot that on the same night as the previously-shown pass: September 21, 1978! I have not posted this picture anywhere larger than what you just saw in that link, so it had to have been stolen from there (and it looks like a bad blow-up).

This is not uncommon (I’ve been “blessed” with a few other similar rip-offs), but it’s nearly impossible to find out who did it.


Meanwhile, back to the door………there are also about 40 Capitol Theatre (Passaic) and Boardwalk (Asbury Park) passes – John Scher venues – on this door.

Additionally, I have dozens of heavy-paper Capitol photo passes that don’t display well. Here’s one from 10-13-78:

If the name in the authorizing signature rings a bell, she was shown singing in the “Sounds of Asbury Park” show I featured in the “Collections: Asbury Park, NJ” post of March 25, 2020. She’s also the woman who handed me more photo passes than anyone else in my career – a woman of many talents.


Back to the file cabinets…………

Here are some interesting passes and groupings of passes from the near and far sides of the cabinets:


NO LONGER WITH US (as of April 30, 2020)


ONE OF TWO REMAINING (also as of April 30, 2020)



Poor Luther Vandross…………surrounded by all that hard rock and metal:


You may notice in some of these images that I fill up some empty spaces with tiny, unsolicited stickers I got in mailed offers from magazines and elsewhere:

(Geez – 18 years into my career, you’d think KISS could spell my name correctly)


Here are various other passes I got, mostly from John Scher’s Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ:


This is a Giants Stadium pass for a Boston/Todd Rundgren and Utopia show in 1979:


At some shows, I had to wear multiple passes. Here are 3 of the ones on my file cabinets that I had to wear one day in 1988 to shoot the Monsters of Rock show at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia (backstage: is that my case I’m pointing to next to the Van Halen trailer?).  😉



Since I didn’t tour with bands, I don’t have as many laminates as you might think and a few of these aren’t even from concerts, so here’s what I have in order of importance (in my opinion):


My photo passes for the first two MTV Video Music Awards ceremonies in 1984 and 1985:


My photo pass as MTV’s official stage photographer for the 1984-into-1985 New Year’s Eve Ball:

The pictures and stories for the 2 VMAs and NYE can be found on http://bobleafe.com/ under “MTV”.


This is my pass for the 3-day Us Festival in 1983 in Devore, CA. This was a MASSIVE event and all the pix and stories are on my site in the “U” section:


This shows both sides of my pass for another 3-day event in California……..the Foundations Forum 1990 metal convention in LA. If you were considered cool by a certain Epic Records metal guy, you got a “DUDE” sticker on your pass. I don’t recall what – if anything – I got out of that, but I humorously immortalized that metal guy on my site in the “Foundations Forum” listing:


This is my photo pass for the 30th Annual Grammy Awards – the only Grammys I ever shot. Bet you can’t guess where to see those pix:


This is my 1982 NYPD-issued pass for the Nuclear Disarmament Rally in NYC’s Central Park. I spent most of my time there backstage shooting a WIDE assortment of people. Here’s who I shot (as sequentially-listed on my B&W contact sheets):

Abbie Hoffman, Bella Abzug, Orson Welles, Mayor Ed Koch, musician John Hall (from the band Orleans), Alan Hunter (MTV VJ), Peter, Paul & Mary, Jill Clayburgh, Native American activist Russell Means, Susan Sarandon, famous pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock (who wrote the book that told Baby Boomers’ mothers how to raise us), Roy Scheider, Yoko Ono, Coretta Scott King, Dick Gregory, NYC Comptroller Harrison Goldin, Jackson Browne, Gary U.S. Bonds, Stiller & Meara, Linda Ronstadt, Bianca Jagger, Allen Ginsberg, Barry Commoner, and probably a bunch of other people I didn’t recognize.

Busy day……………


A couple of other gatherings:


Six shows:


Two parties:


One Deep Purple press conference:


This last one isn’t really mine, but it’s in the family. Consider it a shout-out to Mom – her 1964 one-and-only (as far as I know) “laminate” photo pass as staff photographer for the local Barry Goldwater For President HQ in Teaneck, NJ. Though she never photographed Barry, she DID photograph Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George Romney (Mitt’s dad)…………and a Pope at the Vatican.


And thank you for not taking a pass on this post.




  1. carol ross April 30, 2020

    omg, bob this collection is just awesome – i am sure you will have many collectors wanting to purchase – what a remembrance of times past in music…..you were one of the great rock photographers always invited to take pics – carol ross

  2. Lisa Lake May 14, 2020

    LOVE THIS! Amazingly-cool collection!!
    Thanks so much for sharing Bob 🙂

  3. Laura Kaye July 23, 2021

    That is some incredible collection! And the way you’re displaying all those passes definitely makes them into high art!! Fabulous!

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