JB Letchinger loves music, music films, documentaries, videos; his father Irving was a conductor and music teacher, comparable with the mythical “Mr. Holland.” JB has played the piano all his life and is working on the bass. Filming music and musicians is a superb combination of interests, skills and fascinations. This is a partial list of artists worked with, lit, filmed, or taped over the years. Click on the names you’re interested in and check out JB’s anecdotes and links to the music videos, docs and project samples, many specially edited for this website.
Aaliyah * Ajaramu * Rasheed Akbar * Natasha Bedingfield * Beyoncé * Blues Traveler * Bone Thugs * Chris Botti * John Carpenter * George Clinton * Bobby Columby * Dada * Neil Diamond * Chuck D * Bob Dylan * John Fogerty * Steven Foster * Delta Goodrem * Grammys * EmmyLou Harris * House of Large Sizes * Ice Cube * Jawbox * John Jensen * Elton John * The Jonas Brothers * Keb Mo * R. Kelly * Kris Kristofferson * Joe Krown * K.D. Lang * Tommy Lee * Irving Letchinger * Jerry Lee Lewis * Linkin Park * MC Lyte * Maroon 5 * Material Issue * Johnny Mathis * Billy May * Mercury Rev * James Moody * Charles Moore * Ivan Neville * Pantera * Pavement * Itzhak Perlman * Michelle Phillips * Poe * Rebirth Brass Band * Little Richard * David Sanborn * Fred Schneider * Nancy Sinatra * Slash * Sister Machine Gun * Snoop Dogg * Sting * Irma Thomas * Urge Overkill * White Zombie * Wyclef Jean * Yoko Ono
Aaliyah, 1993, Music Video, credit: Gaffer
“At Your Best,” – with cameos by R. Kelly – shot in one day in and on top of a parking garage in Chicago. Working with the talented Romeo Tyrone behind the lens. We wrapped at sunrise and used many intense gels and a few big lights. See the clip here:
UPDATE: Rasheed is doing well! Contact JB for more information about the documentary project, which may be revived soon in light of new developments with Rasheed’s health.
After the band wanted a new story-line for their video, their label found a director to reshoot it, Marc Webb. He hired me to lens the new footage, featuring Denise Richards and Jeremy London. Yes, the Bond Girl met the Party of Five star in this video! A kind of love story ensued. Webb went on to direct Spider Man and Denise to marry and divorce Charlie Sheen. Go figure. We had a crane, remote head and a good time shooting this one – 35mm.
The Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony were doing some guest artist work on a “We are the World” style video I was working on. I spent an evening with them in the recording studio shooting their vocals and just hanging out. It was a blast. They really can party, lots of food and refreshments abounded.
I was hired to shoot a making of documentary, shooting at Capitol Records, Studio A. Stunning studio sessions left me amazed at the talent surrounding me. Billy Childs, Botti, Anthony Wilson, Christian McBride, Al Schmidt engineering, Bobby Columby producing, Renee Olstead doing guest vocals. We knew we had something special in this session, but the video was not showing off the true talent of the players. The producers commissioned a live shoot with 5 cameras, to take place in the studio, as an extra to the dual Disc. That was a great shoot, I DP’d, Matt Skerrit directed and we had a blast, brought in lots of light from ELS, focused leicos from all corners of the studio – dimmer board, etc. A few months later, when Chris played at the Wiltern, I was tapped to provide documentary services again in support of the PBS broadcast of the live show and the DVD released later. Watch some of the Chris Botti live session. The video below was edited quickly from a Standard Def DVD produced in 2005. Apologies for the image quality. Hopefully some of the magic and lighting still comes through.
Called in by the Recording Academy (N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) to work on their archival history collection (a project I used to be work on from time to time). I had the pleasure of shooting John Carpenter and hearing all about the evolution of the Carpenters. This was in-depth – over an hour and a half. More recently I had the honor of taping John at his home. Never seen so many platinum records in one spot.
I was lucky enough to work briefly with Bobby on the Chris Botti project. I went to his house and shot an interview with the pianist on the project: Billy Childs. I also shot him producing at Capitol Records on “To Love Again.”
Known mostly for their song “I’m going to Dis-knee Land,” I gaffed that video way back when.Yes this looks like the ’90s!! We put dolly track in a circle and spun the D.P. around and around and around. Fun band!
I was allowed in the studio during the recording of “12 Songs,” with producer Rick Rubin in the house. This was an awesome experience. I literally got chills while listening live. Neil’s management wanted to know “what had happened” – he had only approved 10 minutes of behind the scenes shooting – but had allowed me to tape for almost an hour. Experience pays off.
Working with the intense Prince Akeem in Chicago. Chuck D. flew in and was featured. Powerful voice. See the video here. Loved seeing Chuck at the Grammys in 2013. Reminded him of this shoot and got some back slaps. Great moment.
We taped John offstage after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis “Last Man Standing” Show.
I shot a “making of” video on the set of Delta’s music video.
Credit: D.P./ Camera Operator
I have been part of the Grammy crew; working with N.A.R.A.S., covering events, rehearsals, and interviews over the entire week. They set me loose to work literally on the red carpet in ’06, through 2016. I’ve been shooting the Grammy Red Carpet for 10 YEARS. wow. Some of my past favorite moments were meeting Ringo Starr, Alain Touissant, Dr. John and watching U2 rehearse live. In 2016 the fire marshal finally booted us off our free-ranging style on the carpet, end of an era. In 2017 I figured, time to move on to other projects! Here’s what we used to do:
I came onboard to operate on an Emmylou live show at the Derby in Los Angeles. 9 HD cameras. That’s the way to shoot live! A BBC director/DP team came out for this. What a voice! I realized she recorded backups on one of my favorite Dylan albums: “Desire.”
I went to Iowa with Paul Andresen to shoot this cool band in the middle of winter. Almost ditched the van on the way back to Chicago. See the video below or here.
John was my second piano teacher and left an indelible impression on me. He is still going strong. Moved to Minnesota. I would not be playing blues and jazz today if not for John.
I flew to Las Vegas to shoot Elton John and his band recording music for an ABC television show. He was working on the “Red Piano” stage at Caesar’s Palace. I went up and back twice over a 3 day period. Elton Rocks!
I spent 3 days with the Bros. shooting them before they got known. The label and their management wanted a behind the scenes documentary – kind of a making the band project. We shot live performances, rehearsals, meals, meetings, driving around Los Angeles, lots of fun. Congrats to them on their recent success!
Cool band with an interesting sound. We used mirrors and other things. Cooling Card. Watch the video here.
Keb is a modern blues man. I’m convinced he’s tapped into the blues spirit and has spent time at the legendary crossroads. His presence and music were both wonderful. We interviewed him and shot video of a live performance. view a part of the project here.
The phenomenon that is R. Kelly. I was in Chicago, so got hired to gaff 2 videos for R. He turned out to be quite the creeper, but back then, some people loved him. Watch the video for Bump N Grind here If you can find “Summer Bunnies” – banned from MTV – I gaffed that also. He also appeared in Aaliyah’s “Let me Know,” another gaffer credit.
We taped Kris offstage after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis “Last Man Standing” Film.
Joe was helped by Musicares in New Orleans after Katrina. We taped some of his story at his house there. Joe is a great piano player and I have become a fan. His CDs “New Orleans Piano Rolls” and “Old Friends,” are in heavy rotation on my ipod. Check out his website here.
K.D. was close with Peggy Lee and for the PBS documentary project: “Fever -the Music of Peggy Lee,” we interviewed K.D. Lang at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.
Tommy and his “Rock Star Supernova” band came out to a green screen set I lit and I shot them for their Sony BMG website intro.
Live Performance/Life, Credit: Son
When my father got back into conducting after retiring for many years, it was a great opportunity for me to begin taping and filming his performances. He rallied after recovering from a heart attack at the age of 88 – and decided to go to Vegas – of all places. This struck a chord in me, and I felt it was a documentary opportunity I could not pass up. Watch some of the edited “My Life in Music” documentary – taken from the documentary film “Taking Chances with Irving.”
Credit: D.P./addl. D.P.
I jumped at the chance to shoot Jerry Lee Lewis playing in studio (Phillips Studio) in Memphis. This led to a second trip to Memphis – the Lewis Ranch and shooting a few more days in L.A. Jerry Lee is one of a kind, that is for sure. Soon to post a cleaner version of the JLL live session from that first trip and for now please view some of the Jerry Lee Lewis documentary here
I got a last minute call to come to Paramount and shoot a mulitcamera live performance with Linkin park. Rigged some HD lipstick cameras off the drum kit and DJ table. Dolly moves. Good show, great band.
I shot an EPK for broadcast release, we did an interview with the band and some B-roll.
I gaffed a couple videos for this band. RIP Jim Ellison.
Sony’s production company had me go to a studio in the valley where Johnny was recording and shoot behind the scenes. I got to tape a live vocal track, standing with him in the booth. Also got to shoot some of the full orchestra in the studio. Both were a treat. Getting paid to shoot music, getting in the middle of an orchestra and hearing great vocals live and unamplified, that’s a real treat. Also went to Johnny’s house for an HDNET/PBS/ Sony doc shoot. Nice indoor pool!
Billy had some great stories for us when he interviewed him for the PBS documentary: “Fever – the Music of Peggy Lee.” He passed away soon after our interview. RIP Mr. May.
Way out band with big European following. Wild concept. Watch youtube video here: Car Wash Hair
Called in by the Recording Academy (N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) to work on their archival history collection (a project I’ve done many days for). I had the pleasure of shooting James Moody and hearing all about his career in music. This was in-depth – over an hour and a half.
Shooting a live benefit performance in Memphis for N.A.R.A.S. and Musicares, I met Charles Moore, musician from New Orleans. He had relocated to Memphis after Katrina. I followed up by doing some interviews with Charles for my own project: “Survivors.” Watch Charles playing live, and check out a few minutes of his conversations with me from the “Survivors” project.
We taped Ivan in another studio, after he recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis for the Jerry Lee Lewis Live DVD. We provided a documentary crew to shoot simultaneous to the main performance crew on a nearby studio in the Jim Henson studios. (Formerly A and M records, formerly the Chaplin Studios in Hollywood.)
I had a blast working with Pavement and the Drag City directors. Kind of an “anti-MTV” aesthetic. With all the rock on my reel at the time, what they liked was a student film I had shot in a very naturalistic way. Go figure. Cameo by Veruca Salt. Watch youtube video here: Painted Soldiers
I gaffed 2 videos in a week for Poe. Only one was released, the still on the right is from the unreleased version of “Hello.” Watch video here: Trigger Happy Jack
Their music brought cheer and hope back to the locals and I was happy to be there to shoot it.
From the B-52’s to Chicago – Fred’s solo album with Steve Albini was a trip. I shot this video just outside of Chicago in Black and White. Paul Andresen directed. Watch the video here.
Shot in the wonderful (though closed) Uptown theater, this dilapidated old movie palace provided the perfect backdrop for this band. We had a skeleton crew of learning electricians but we lit this theater so many different ways in one day. Watch the youtube video here: Not My God
Musicares (a part of N.A.R.A.S. – the Grammys) produced a drug and alchohol awareness video which Slash and others were part of just last year.
I shot Sting backstage in support of the PBS/HDNET broadcast and Sony Music DVD of Chris Botti’s live show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Irma was helped by Musicares in the Gulf Coast after Katrina. We taped some of her story at her home.
This video rocked and launched the production company into the next league. We did lightning effects without lightning strikes, also great art direction on a shoestring budget.
Shot behind the scenes of his video with Sun for “Chinawine.”
Yoko Ono, 2010, Documentary/Grammy Museum Archives, credit: Lighting Director/D.P
I was called in to make sure Yoko looked great. The set was prelit by a talented DP friend of mine, but needed me to be there before Yoko arrived. I then tweaked the lighting to make her glow and her entourage happy. She now uses the diagram I did to show other crews what she likes.