Sunday, September 9, 2018



In the early 1970s I used to work in a camera shop, Jay's Cameras,  here in Minneapolis.  At that time we were the largest Leica dealer in town.  In addition to local customers we also sold a fair amount of Leica gear to visitors of the Twin Cities, mainly because the store was right in the middle of the downtown shopping district.

I remember the following quite well.  It was early morning; hardly any customers were in the store, when a young guy walked in asking if we sold Leica equipment.  He wanted to see a Leicaflex SL2.  He explained he was interested in updating his equipment.  Since it wasn’t busy at all I decided to spend extra time with him.  He looked familiar for one reason, but I couldn’t quite figure out who he was when one of my colleagues came up to me if I knew who he was.  I told him that I couldn’t quite place him. 

“That’s Keith Jarrett.”

Then I knew.  I had just recently obtained a recording of his famous “Köln Concert.”  He was in town for a couple of concerts over the weekend.  It quickly became obvious that Keith was quite knowledgeable about photography and Leica in particular, and he definitely knew what he was looking for.

I don’t quite remember what particular lenses he was interested in, but I am quite sure we discussed wide angle, normal and telephoto lenses.  When he had made a decision, and when I began to put his order together, my boss asked me if I could talk to him for a minute.

 Keith Jarrett.jpg
Keith Jarret c. 1980

Keith was definitely not your standard Leica customer.  At the time his hair was quite long and he also was wearing a beard.  His dress consisted of Jeans, a T-shirt and a military style jacket.  Needless to say, this hadn’t escaped my boss.

“Is he buying all that stuff?”

“Yes, he is.”

“Make sure he is paying cash!”

Of course there was no need to worry.  Keith paid with a credit card, but I would have gladly opened a charge account for him.

Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to meet him again.  It would have been interesting to know how the new Leicaflex outfit worked for him.  Especially some of the results would have been interesting to see.

I have followed his career over the years and I often think back to this particular time of a Saturday morning at Jay’s Cameras.  I still use this little story at times to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover or that not all Leica customers look the same.

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  1. Maybe this will help getting rid of the myth that all Leica owners are doctors and dentists