Tom and Johnny

BIO THOMAS JAMES FRANKLIN
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  Thomas James Franklin was born in Glendale, Arizona 1950. He was the youngest boy out of a family of eight children. As his father died when he was young, he and his brothers worked the family business repairing and installing coolers, furnaces, and ductwork. This would provide Tom with metal working skills that would later become useful in his artistic career.
   In his younger years, Tom’s photographic talent for composition became apparent. He often accompanied his brother Johnny Franklin, a music promoter and renown country music photographer, to concerts and other photo sessions. Johnny’s photos are currently exhibited in museums such as the MIM and the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Patsy Cline Exhibit.
   Tom especially enjoyed visiting the set of The Wallace and Ladmo Show, a popular children’s television program that was on the air from the early 1950’s to the late 1980’s. Many popular performers who visited Arizona during this time such as Liberace, Walter Brennon and even contemporary rock groups. In the 1960’s when performers, such as the Doors and Jimi Hendrix came to town, the acts were often introduced by Wallace and Ladmo stars Bill Thompson and Pat McMahon.
   Before Tom began making money from his photos, he could not afford his own camera. Instead he would borrow a camera from his brother or the school. His camera of choice was a Mamiya C3 twin-lens reflex. Since film was so expensive Tom learned to take his photos in one shot framing the pictures in such a manner that they did not need to be cropped or manipulated.
A young Tom Franklin with his school camera that he used to take many of the pictures featured here on the website.

A young Tom Franklin with his school camera that he used to take many of the pictures featured here on the website.

   Not only was Tom a skilled photographer, he was also a talented graphic artist and a sculptor. While in high school he was apprenticed to commercial artist Gary “Lindy” Linderman and learned to work in medias such as fiberglass, styrofoam, and airbrushing.
   From 1964 to 1979 Tom worked with his brother and helped produce the southwestern rock and roll magazine “A Closer Look”. Because of his ties to country music Johnny originally wanted to produce the fanzine so that it featured country music stars. However at Tom’s suggestion the magazine was created to appeal to the rock and roll audience of the 1960’s. Indirectly it also became a vehicle to impress girls! The magazine was produced on a small budget and Tom remembers changing printing companies often when the bills became due! Ironically copies of  “A Closer Look” are now collectors’ items and can be viewed at the Arizona Historical Society Museum.
   Now that Tom had official press credentials, he was able to get backstage at many concerts. He also sold photos to fellow high school students for a princely sum of $1 per photo and was eventually able to purchase his own camera equipment. Tom remembers riding dirt bikes with Davy Jones and other members of the Monkees, smoking cigarettes with Jim Morrison of the Doors, and hitching a ride to a Phoenix concert in Led Zeppelin’s limousine. He also partied with rock stars, attended the Newport Pop Festival, and took photos of 60’s luminaries such as Robert Kennedy and Barry Goldwater. Tom fondly recalls taking photos of Janis Joplin, Elvis, and Eric Clapton, both with Cream and Blind Faith during a concert where he performed with George Harrison. Some of the artists captured by Tom’s camera include The Buffalo Springfield with Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, The Who and many more of Rock Music’s luminaries.
Tom Franklin his senior year of high school

Tom Franklin his senior year of high school

   Tom also freelanced photos to national publications including but not limited to “Tiger Beat”, “SPEC”, and “16 Magazine”. Some other photos have been published in numerous books such as, “Jim Morrison My Eyes Have Seen You” by Jerry Prokininsky.
   Soon after his high school graduation, Tom went to New York to work for Bobbi Ball modeling agency. He ended up marrying a model but eventually returned to Arizona and continued working as a freelance photographer. In addition to his artistic and photographic talents, Tom was an accomplished auto body man. To this day he also enjoys painting, upholstering, and performing mechanical work on classic automobiles and custom vans. Some of which he helped create were featured in traveling automotive exhibits such as “The World of Wheels” and earned special recognition.
Tom Franklin now

Tom Franklin now

   In 1979 Tom enrolled as an art major at Grand Canyon College, where he also taught photography and sculpture courses. It was at Grand Canyon that he married his second wife of 34 years, Cindy Franklin. Cindy was also an artist and an educator who encouraged Tom to become certified to teach. In 1996 Tom and his wife founded the Franklin Phonetic Primary School. This charter school has been one of the most successful charter schools in the state of Arizona. In 2011 Franklin Phonetic Primary School was awarded as one of only two charter schools in Arizona to receive the prestigious National Blue Ribbon award for outstanding academic achievement and has also been named a Title 1 School of Excellence. A new campus of the school is scheduled to open in the Sunnyslope area where Tom spent all of his early childhood. Although Tom officially retired in 2012, he continues to serve on the school’s governing board and still teaches art and technology workshops.His current photography show, “Lighting the Fire”  so named because it was the beginning of a musical era, will feature Tom and John’s photographs, mostly never viewed before and will surely become a treasure trove for music fans and experts alike.

Tom and Cindy Franklin

Tom and Cindy Franklin

A young Johnny Franklin with Wanda Jackson

A young Johnny Franklin with Wanda Jackson

Johnny Franklin was born August 1st 1941. He was the second oldest boy in a family of 8 children.  Although Johnny spent his early years working in his family’s heating and cooling business in Sunnyslope Arizona, he had far different aspirations for his lifetime career. From his early years, Johnny wanted to be a music promoter. Even while he was in high school he began forming fan clubs for popular artists of the day such as Fabian and Johnny Cash. The Franklin Family had a working Juke box on the front porch of their home. Local teenagers could often  be seen dancing in the street to the music.

During high school Johnny worked as a photographer for local radio stations KRIZ and KRUX. He also promoted dances around the Phoenix Area. Johnny loved to discover  new artists. Many of these performers, such as Johnny Cash, would visit Johnny when they were in town. Johnny was the president of the Al Marion fan club and discovered acts such as Dick and Dedee.  Many performers developed friendships with Johnny. Fabian almost missed a Phoenix performance when Johnny distracted him by taking him out to a night club down the street from his performance venue.

Johnny travelled all over the country to photograph performers. Because he and his brother Tom became known to the security guards, they would often be able to get backstage at major events. John had no trouble photographing such rock and roll greats as Elvis and the Beatles. He had the reputation of being almost everywhere  and was even immortalized in a Frank Zappa Song.

Johnny loved to visit the set of the popular television show Wallace and Ladmo. This show began in 1954 and was on the air continuously until the late 1980’s. Johnny was known as the show’s unofficial photographer and his pictures were used for publicity shots, coloring books, and other promotional merchandise. Johnny’s younger brother Tom got his interest in photography by accompanying his older sibling to the KPHO studios.

Today Johnny’s Wallace and Ladmo photos appear in publications such as “Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha” and “Thanks for Tuning In”. Johnny has fond memories of travelling around the state with the shows stars. One of the best things about the show is that the performers loved meeting with the public. Not only did the Wallace crew perform at the Arizona State Fair, Fox Chris town theater and other performance venues, they also travelled to towns around the state raising money for charitable causes.  Sometimes they did this by forming sports teams including baseball, basketball, football and even boxing matches. Johnny capitalized on their efforts by followed the crew filming anything possible.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s Johnny and his younger brother Tom would often attend multiple major musical events on the same day . They would often sell the photos to fan magazine and ended up publishing their own fan magazine “A Closer Look”. In addition to photographing live performances Johnny also photographed artists when they appeared on television. Often this would provide music historians  with the only record of a  performer playing a particular instrument. Today the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) features many Johnny Franklin Photos.

While Johnny tolerated Rock and Roll music his true love was Country and Western. . He would often visit the Riverside Ballroom to photograph such famous artists such as George Jones, Wanda Jackson , and Patsy Cline. Many of Johnny’s photos can be found at the Grand Old Opry Museum in Nashville Tennessee. When he would photograph performers he often sent them copies free of charge. Some of these artists, such as George Jones, continued to display these photos well into the later stages of their careers.

Johnny has become known as an authority on Patsy Kline. He is credited with taking photos of Patsy when she first donned a western outfit purchased at a local Phoenix store instead of her black cocktail dress and photographed  Patsy at her final performance shortly before the tragic plane crash.

John also enjoyed  custom cars and was one of the founders of the Arizona Truckers Custom Van club.  Working with his brother Tom, who was accomplished at auto painting and bodywork, he created a show van that toured the country in exhibits such  the World of Wheels.

Johnny Franklin

Johnny Franklin

In addition to photography John loved merchandizing in general ,and visited state fairs, and country music events across the country. Even in his later years Johnny made a habit of attending  and photographing musical concerts, accurately predicting which performers would eventually achieve stardom. Johnny died in Sunnyslope Arizona at the age of 70.

Johnny Franklin with Marty Stuart

Johnny Franklin with Marty Stuart

12/21/2013 Addition! Up above in the biography we talk about how John took photos of country music greats such as Patsy Cline. You may have also noticed that there are not a lot of Johnny Franklin photos on this website. That is due to the fact that later on in life John sold many of his photos and then his negatives. He started selling off his negatives from the 60’s first since he was always more interested in the country western bands. When he knew buyers were interested in a band that he didn’t have the negatives of he would ask Tom Franklin for his, which Tom gave him to help him out. Later on though he ended up selling off many of his prized photos and negatives. We only post and watermark the ones that are in our possession. However, I found a collection of some of Johnny’s best pictures online and have gained permission to share them here. Thank you so much to Owen Bradley’s “Quonset Hut” for letting us use these. You can find them on his facebook Here. Thank you.

 

 

40% off all prints! 11/17/2014-12/25/2014!!! All proceeds will go to the Franklin Phonetic Primary School 8th graders as part of their fundraiser!