Webb Wilder was one of the only country rock artists ever signed to Island Records. Tony Wright had seen some promotional material from Chip Simons. Chip was a friend of mine and we both liked to work in strong colors. Chip was making an art project out of photographing dogs in Central Park, with colored strobes on a bracket, flanking a very wide-angled lens, getting extremely close to the dogs.
When Tony suggested the concept for this photo, I said we have to get Chip to do it. I contacted Chip, told him the idea and asked him to get a dog for the picture.
I didn't hear from Chip for over a week and when I called him to see what was happening, Chip told me, "This is my art and I don't feel comfortable doing it as an assignment."
I told Chip I would be his assistant in the studio and he shouldn't be concerned.
I told him that if he didn't shoot it, I would have to.
During the shoot, besides having Ace, the Jack Russell terrier continually biting my hand as I held his "toy" right over the 30mm lens on the Hasselblad, the seamless caught on fire from the high-powered strobe that was lighting the smoke in the background.
In seconds, the whole set was in flames. I yelled to my assistant, to get a fire extinguisher, since he was from Belgium, it took him a few seconds to understand what I was saying.
The manager of the rental studio thought my assistant was joking because we had been using liquid nitrogen and smoke machines all day.
Meanwhile, Webb had reached the safety of the street and was not to return to the studio until the next day.
We assembled the shots by stripping the emulsions together, as this was pre-computers.
And I gave Chip Simonsa credit on the album, so everyone would know that I knew I was ripping off Chip's style.
- George DuBose