Brushes With Fame; Photo Tripping With Music Legends

Book review by Peter Neilly.

Fans of the Beatles and Rolling Stones in search of fresh, previously unpublished photos of the British bands will find a treasure trove in Brushes With Fame – Photo Tripping With Music Legends, a new book due in October.

The 230-page book by John Cosway, a former Wayback Times columnist, has been almost two years in the making, with John scanning 165 of his original black and white negatives of photos snapped from 1959 to the early 1970s.

In addition to his mostly unpublished Beatles and Stones photos from the mid-1960s, John’s photos include Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Buddy Rich, Ronnie Hawkins, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, Pete Seeger, Delaney & Bonnie, Petula Clark, Mandala and many more.


The former Toronto Sun columnist and rewrite guy also chronicles his interviews and interactions with many of the biggest names in rock, country, folk and jazz. It’s a peek behind the scenes highlighted by John’s personal collection of photographs.


His photos cover the heyday of rock and roll. He recalls the summer day in 1963 when he met and photographed Little Stevie Wonder at Chatham Memorial Community Centre and decides in 2018 to track the young fan sitting at his side with bittersweet results.


The Port Hope writer also recalls paying $1.25 to see Elvis Presley at Maple Leaf Gardens in April of 1957. He didn’t have a camera for the Elvis concert. His first celebrity photo (Frankie Avalon) was snapped as a 15-year-old attending Alan Freed’s Christmas Jubilee concert in a Times Square theatre in 1959.


The celebrity photos he would take in the next decade or so were varied, from Tiny Tim and his new bride, Miss Vicki, to Sammy Davis Jr.; from country legend Tex Ritter, father of actor John Ritter, to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead; from Crowbar’s Kelly Jay to Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins.


Throughout the 8 1/2 by 11-inch pages, John relives the music of the day in his own words, be it the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Festival Express at McMahon Stadium in Calgary or the exhilarating on-stage shoot with Buddy Rich at Isy’s Supper Club in Vancouver.


The stories are often amusing: His brief colourful conversation with blues legend Janis Joplin; the night he asked Johnny Cash the wrong question at the wrong time; the night he crashed a star-studded Festival Express party and bought bootleg beer when the party went dry; the reason why he owed Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page an apology.


Brushes With Fame – Photo Tripping With Music Legends will be $34.95 when released in October, but John is offering it to Wayback Times readers for $29.95, plus postage. He reminds readers with relatives who experienced the ‘60s and ‘70s that Christmas is coming.



John’s book, designed, printed and bound in Northumberland County, can be ordered for $29.95 plus $15 postage, using direct email deposits via Or you can mail a cheque or money order to:


John Cosway, 975A Elgin Street W., Suite 272, Cobourg, ON K9A 5J3
Wayback Times readers who live in the Port Hope/Cobourg/Brighton area, can request our free meet-the-author delivery service to save on postage.