Raeburn Flerlage

Raeburn Flerlage (1915-2002) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked in the music industry for most of his life. He held jobs in publicity for radio stations, writing concert reviews and music columns for various newspapers, and even served as a director of industrial music at an industrial war plant during World War II.  After the war, Flerlage was offered a job as the Midwest Executive Secretary for a folk music organization, People’s Songs, founded in New York in 1945 by Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, Lee Hays and others. This brought him to Chicago for the first time. Though he didn’t stay in the city at that time, he returned once again in 1955 when he took a job with Moe Asch’s Folkways Records. By this time, Flerlage had started to experiment with photography and once back in Chicago, he took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Institute of Design, under Harry Callahan. In 1959, Moe Asch gave Flerlage his first professional photography job, photographing Memphis Slim for a Folkways album cover. This launched his photography career and Flerlage continued to photograph prominent blues and folk artists throughout the 1960s. He documented musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Odetta, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, and many others at the pinnacles of their careers.  His photographs have appeared internationally in countless magazines and books and have been featured on hundreds of albums, CDs, and videos.  He was a senior member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers.  Flerlage lived in Hyde Park, Chicago, working on radio shows until the mid-1980s. His work has been published in the books Chicago Blues: As Seen from the Inside (2000) and Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene (2009). Flerlage died in Chicago in 2002.

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