Allan Tannenbaum

Allan Tannenbaum (b. 1945) is an American fine art photographer and photojournalist, famous for his coverage of the 1970s flourishing New York City punk and new wave rock scene.

Exterior of CBGB nightclub
Exterior of CBGB nightclub
Exterior of CBGB nightclub
Exterior of CBGB nightclub
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Selected Works

Blondie (Debbie Harry) in the Kitchen, 1981
The Damned backstage at CBGB, 1977
Stevie Wonder at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, 1976
Richard Hell performing with the Voidoids at CBGB, 1977
The Specials, 1980
Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) backstage at the Palladium, 1980
Sid Vicious Under Arrest for the Murder of Girlfriend Nancy Spungen outside the Chelsea Hotel, 1978
Paul Simonon of The Clash, 1979
John Lennon and Yoko Ono Outside The Dakota, 1980
Jim Carroll, 1980
Grace Jones performing at the Studio 54 New Years Eve Party, 1977
The Jam backstage at The Palladium, 1979
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Allan Tannenbaum is a photojournalist known for his work documenting 1970s celebrity culture in downtown Manhattan as chief photographer and photo editor of the SoHo Weekly News. Towards the end of his decade-long tenure at the newspaper, Tannenbaum took a series of poignant and intimate photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed a mere ten days before Lennon’s untimely death, the work culminating in the book John and Yoko: A Love Story, published in 2007.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey in 1945, Tannenbaum started his career in photojournalism while still a student at Rutgers University, where he began taking photographs for the campus newspaper. After receiving his BA in Art in 1967, Tannenbaum made a brief sojourn to San Francisco as a graduate student in film before ultimately heading to New York City, where he first worked as a taxi driver and bartender while searching for photography work.

When the alternative newspaper SoHo Weekly News debuted in 1973, Tannenbaum was appointed chief photographer, covering art, music, nightlife, and politics. He quickly became entrenched in the club scene, photographing rock icons at Studio 54 uptown, and punk and new wave acts at CBGB’s downtown, from Mick Jagger and Grace Jones to Richard Hell and Patti Smith. In 1978, Tannenbaum famously captured a handcuffed Sid Vicious being led out of the Chelsea Hotel by police following the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.  

After the Soho Weekly News folded in 1982, falling just short of a decade in print, Tannenbaum joined the renowned Sygma Photo News and shifted his focus to the political sphere. He travelled across the country covering Geraldine Ferraro’s vice presidential campaign in 1984, and from there, traveled around the world documenting the Philippine Revolution, rebellion in Burma, German reunification, Operation Desert Storm, and countless other historic events.

Heralded as one of his most important works in photojournalism, Tannenbaum captured the devastation of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in real time, photographing the explosion of the second plane and the subsequent collapse of the towers. In 2013, he received a proclamation from the Council of the City of New York recognizing his work and contributions to the city.

Tannenbaum’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Time, LIFE, and Paris Match. He has published four books: John and Yoko: A Love Story, New York, New York in the 70s, and Grit and Glamour: The Street Style, High Fashion, and Legendary Music of the 1970s. He lives and works in New York City.