Behind the Shot: Beastie Boys

Behind the Shot: Beastie Boys

Paul Natkin, Chicago’s foremost music photographer, shines a light on the stories behind some of his most famous shots for Trope’s Behind The Shot series.

When the Beastie Boys first got big, they had a sponsorship deal with Budweiser. Budweiser paid a lot of money and put their name on the tour. When they finally went out to see a show, Budweiser decided that they didn't want to have their name associated with the Beastie Boys after all and took back the sponsorship. You would think that somebody would have known what the Beastie Boys were gonna do on stage before they gave them a bunch of money!

Beastie Boys at Aragon Ballroom, Chicago

After they took away the sponsorship, I got a call from the Beastie Boys’ publicist saying, “I’ve got this great idea  why don't you go out and buy a whole bunch of different kinds of beer and we'll pretend like they're auditioning a new beer to be their new sponsor?” There was a liquor store down the street from the venue. I gave the backstage runner 50 bucks and said, “Just go down there and buy a six pack of every beer except for Budweiser.”

He came back with a bunch of beer, we set it up on a table and I told the guys to shake up the cans and spray them on each other, but not to spray it at me. Immediately, as soon as I started shooting, they opened up all the beers and and sprayed them all over me. It cost me 400 bucks just to get my equipment clean, but it was worth it.

Paul Natkin profile

Paul Natkin’s first book, Natkin: Moment of Truth, will arrive at bookstores this summer. This 288-page, casebound monograph, priced at $55 USD, contains work covering every music genre, from jazz and country to punk, blues, rock & hip hop.