Picking up his new book, Adventures of a Rock Photographer, will get you stories and pictures from one of rock musics most fertile periods: 1976-1986, with 165 of its 200 pages dedicated to 1977-1980.
To illustrate just how top-heavy the era was in good music, consider Gowdys first assignment as a photographer at the University of Oklahomas student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily: the Sex Pistols at Cains Ballroom in Tulsa. Talk about iconic.
I wanted to make a good impression, Gowdy said.
Consider it made, and not just at OU. One of his shots from that evening turned up in Oklahoma History Centers recent rock n roll exhibit, Another Hot Oklahoma Night.
But thats not the only exposure Gowdy received for his work.
His photos turned up in magazines Creem and Rolling Stone, as well as his own publication, JAM.
While pictures of oft-photographed rock heroes Fleetwood Mac and The Who make impressive additions to Adventures, incredibly rare photographs lie within the book as well. Cameras werent allowed at performances of Pink Floyds The Wall, but Gowdy got one in exactly how is a tale best left for the book. Pink Floyd werent the only rock stars at the show, however.
I saw David Lee Roth, holding his two tickets. Heres David Lee Roth, and hes looking for his seat, Gowdy said.
Dont worry, Van Halen fans: Although Gowdy didnt take his picture then, he snapped plenty of them a year earlier at the Civic Center. Theyre included, along with shots of Blondie, The Cars, Boston, Tom Petty, Commodores, Yes, Talking Heads, Muddy Waters and more.
The books cover features pre-Van Halen Sammy Hagar in what is Gowdys most famous picture. Caught outside of Gowdys Oklahoma stomping grounds at Texxas Jam II in the Cotton Bowl at Dallas, the photo captures Hagar in mid-leap, hair like a lion and rock grimace firmly in place.
The shot ended up in magazines and ads, adorning T-shirts and even gracing the cover of a Hagar single on 45 (Piece of My Heart from 1981s Standing Hampton album). A quote from Hagar about that cover graces the foreword of the book.
Adventures of a Rock Photographer is available at vernongowdy.com and Amazon.com.