Rare Photos by King – Van Halen Rocks The US Festival in May, 1983


My name is Richard King and I shoot pictures at concerts.

I started back in 1980. The first concert I shot was Blue Oyster Cult in August of 1980 and the most recent was Judas Priest last April. I have shot hundreds of concerts.

“So what?” you may ask. Lots of people get photo passes and shoot shows.

True, but I never got a photo pass, I bought a ticket and smuggled a camera into shows that were clearly posted No Cameras Allowed.

Richard King back in the day - Courtesy photo
Richard King back in the day – Courtesy photo

Analog Images of The 1980s

I didn’t smuggle booze or drugs into shows, I lugged a camera, a lens and a couple rolls of film. Nowadays hundreds, if not thousands, of people are shooting pictures with their phones but back then, there were no smart phones or digital cameras. You had to use film and wait until it was developed to see if any of the pictures were good.

Most of the time something would happen to ruin a picture, whether it was getting jostled at the exact moment the shutter was snapped or the perfect lighting went away. The odds of getting something good were pretty slim.

I shot these pictures because I liked the bands, the music, the show, the atmosphere of a concert and wanted to remember it. Now some of the artists are no longer with us and some have changed as they aged but it was a time when giants walked the earth and I am happy to have been there to experience it.

Richard King, El Photo Sneako - Courtesy photo
Richard King has an amazing photo collection, amassed with no photo passes – Courtesy photo

Van Halen at US Festival

I hope you enjoy what I was able to shoot. They may not be perfect, it’s really hard to stay still when 10,000 or so of your best friends are jumping around during a show but they are real and honest shots.

I wanted to start this series with Van Halen. I first saw Van Halen at the US Fest in May of ’83. I was a huge fan from the moment their first album came out but hadn’t been able to see them until then. Then I saw them twice on the 1984 tour. I then saw them with Sammy Hagar once (and I saw David Lee Roth’s band) but for me at least the magic was gone. The Van Halen of now is not the juggernaut it once was so here are a few shots from those 83-84 shows to remind us all of what it was like.

Frame 35: King Collection, Van Halen @ US Festival, May 29, 1983

This would have been a nice shot if not for the silhouette of the girl right in the middle of it. This was taken at the US Festival. I couldn’t maneuver for a better angle because I was shoulder to shoulder with 350,000 fans.

Frame E36: King Collection, Van Halen @ Pocatello, Idaho

I really like this shot because it shows the fans and where I was in the audience. This type of shot is hard to get (and I have countless examples of bad ones) because it is easy to get pushed right as you are shooting the frame. This was in Pocatello, Idaho.


Van Halen - Photo © Richard King
Van Halen – Photo © Richard King

This shot was from Salt lake City, Utah about a month after the Pocatello show. I really like the composition of this one, I just wish Alex were visible in it. Nice Jack Daniels bass guitar as well.