He spent magical days and nights in the company of rock legends, photographing them for the album covers and posters that proclaimed their faces and their music to the young people of the world. As a friend, he caught the performers in their private moments of play and doubt. He also immortalized their very public triumphs; those electrifying nights when they were carried away on the roar of thousands of fans.
It all started with a bizarre interview. A 22-year-old recent graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Southern California, Raffaelli was summoned to a Beverly Hills estate to interview for a photography job with a musician he had never heard of. The photographer was ushered into a darkened bedroom, where through the smoky light he saw a figure seated on the floor. The form, washed in crimson light by a dim red light bulb draped with iridescent scarves, was Jimi Hendrix. He motioned for Raffaelli’s portfolio. Without a word, he paged for a scant few seconds through Raffaelli’s work, then handed back the book.
Driving back to the studio, Raffaelli dismissed the experience as a waste of time. But a couple of weeks later, Hendrix’s tour manager called and told him to catch the next flight to Hawaii. Jimi had chosen Raffaelli as his personal photographer, and the star would begin his first American tour in Honolulu.
As the musician and the photographer became close, one night Hendrix told Raffaelli that they had also been friends in past lives. Jimi advised his friend to use his camera lens as a brush, painting the world around him the way he saw it.
Raffaelli has had six books published in addition to hundreds of magazine layouts and covers. He is still an active professional artist and photographer.