a tribute to Jasper Dailey
by Cam Mott
Jasper Thomas Dailey, Sr. was born November 22, 1912, in Springfield, Illinois. He came to California in 1933 and later attended UCLA from which he graduated in 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree. After college, Jasper worked for Douglas Aircraft as the Purveyor for President Franklin Delano Roosevelts version of what would later be called Air Force One. In 1944 at the Avalon Ballroom, Jasper met a Texan beauty by the name of Linda Dweck. On March 8, 1947, Miss Linda Dweck became Mrs. Jasper Dailey. After the war, Jasper worked in the restaurant supply industry as a salesman, buyer and eventual head of small wares until his retirement in 1977.
Jasper started his celebrity photography as a hobby in the mid 1960s. His first photos were of a young friend with Sonny and Cher and the then-unfamous Tom Jones who were performing at a club called Its Boss on Sunset Strip. Jasper asked Sonny if he could come to the studio and photograph Sonny and Cher at work and Sonny said yes.
"As I recall, the first time I saw Jasper was at a session at Western Recorders. He just wandered in and began taking snapshots, with what I believe, was an old Box Brownie camera. He later, of course, got into some better, more high tech camera equipment." Billy Strange
Jasper worked at his day job in restaurant supply and at night hed go out and take candid celebrity pictures. Jasper haunted Western Recorders, Goldstar, United and RCA studios mainly, photographing recording artists such as the Mamas and the Papas, the Turtles, the Association, the Doors and, of course, the Beach Boys among others. We Beach Boys fans know Jasper best as the man behind the camera which snapped the candid shots of the legendary 1966/67 SMiLE album sessions.
"He was solicitous, and always in good humour. I admit, I was mystified about his fascination with the major and minor players in pop music. He directed his lens at about anybody who was there. That included me, and consequently, there's one picture in my files of me with the famous Brian Wilson." Van Dyke Parks
"Jasper Dailey was as much a part of the studio scene sometimes as we were. We always looked forward to seeing the pictures he took of us -- he was very careful not to be in the way, was very considerate, kind, and very sensitive to all the work that was going on in the studios." Carol Kaye
"Jasper was a friend to every musician who ever recorded in the Hollywood and Los Angeles recording studios. He was well liked. Never in the way. Well, not necessarily NEVER. But, when he was in the way, or holding up a take, we would all yell at him, in a joking way to get out of the studio. We all had a great many laughs at, and with Jasper." Billy Strange
Jasper was a fun-loving guy. Brian was so fond of Jasper that he recorded him on an as-yet-unreleased tune, Teeter Totter Love, even though, as his wife Linda points out, Jasper had a very gravelly voice.
In the late 60s, Jasper was on the payroll of the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Jasper worked every single one of their shows during its three year run. Jasper also had a fondness for Country/Western music and was a photographer at the Palomino nightclub for almost 20 years. He was a member of the Academy of Country Music and photographed many of the ACM Awards ceremonies. Jasper had many friends in the Country music industry including Hank Williams Jr. and Jerry Lee Lewis, who invited Jasper and Linda to a couple of his parties in Memphis. Jasper was also a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, taking pictures of the celebrities who would come to address the club.
At the age of 80, Jasper still took a few gigs photographing the rich and famous until he suffered a stroke in 1993. Jasper passed away on May 2, 1998. A generous man even in death, Jasper donated his mortal remains to his alma mater, UCLA. Jasper is survived by his wife Linda, his son Tom Jr., three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
"We all loved and trusted Jasper. He was omnipresent, and faithful as a Magnavox. We'll miss him." Van Dyke Parks
"We shall all miss Jasper, he was very much a part of our 60s studio business, a part of our history, God rest him". Carol Kaye
"He was always a gentleman...moreover, he was a Gentle Man. Kind and caring. Jasper Dailey will be missed by a lot of fine musicians and singers in Hollywood. I count myself as one of his friends, and he, as one of mine. He left his mark, not just in his photos, but in all our hearts, as well." Billy Strange
Photo by permission of David Leaf.