Photographer to the stars Alan Mayor dies
Cindy Watts, email@example.com
Prolific and beloved country music and celebrity photographer Alan L. Mayor died early Monday in a Clarksville nursing home. Mr. Mayor, who received a liver transplant in 2007, suffered a stroke in the summer of 2013 and his health started deteriorating over the summer of 2014. His cause of death was stroke-related dementia.
Mr. Mayor's sister Teresa Smith said he thought about work until the very end of his life, even asking her to bring him his laptop when she visited him Sunday. When she told Mr. Mayor she didn't have it, he got angry and told her to go away. She refused.
"All he ever asked for was his phone, his computer and his laptop," Smith said. "You knew what that meant: work."
Mr. Mayor has an extensive archive that includes photos of nearly every country music singer to enter the scene in the past 30 years. He photographed legends and up-and-comers and delighted in introducing them to each other. He captured Paul and Linda McCartney on stage with Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. He photographed Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's wedding. He worked music industry news outlet Music Row, shot independently and contributed photos to multiple books. Mr. Mayor took great pride and pleasure in the trusted relationships he had built in the music community over the years.
Smith said one of Mr. Mayor's most-treasured relationships was with Country Music Hall of Famer Garth Brooks. Publicist Scott Stem recalled taking Mr. Mayor on a tour with Brooks and how easy the photographer was to be around.
"There were several great things about working with Alan," Stem said. "He was a great photographer. He knew how to get the shot, and he was always making sure he got the shot that was going to be usable. He would be telling a story, stop to get his shot and then come back and finish what he was talking about. He was an honest guy, and the artists knew they could trust him. It was important to him that the country music traditions got passed on from one generation to the next. He was a great guy."
Mayor was a cat lover, and Smith said that like the felines he adored, her brother had cheated death several times in his life. His career spans five decades in Nashville's country music industry. Following his transplant, Mayor told The Tennessean in 2008 that the music industry's alcohol-soaked social scene factored into the cirrhosis that nearly claimed his life on several occasions.
"In the music business, with the social circuit, it's so easy to get a free drink," he said. "It's encouraged in some ways. It's terrible to say, but part of Country Radio Seminar is the alcohol."
However, it was also the music industry that saved him. When Mayor couldn't afford the life-saving liver transplant, members of the community held fundraisers before an anonymous donor covered the costs. Two days after being placed on the transplant list, Mayor received a new liver. He swore off drinking and started promoting organ donation.
Mr. Mayor left his photographs to his sister's children, and they are working to figure out the best way to continue his legacy.
"It's surreal that he's gone," Smith said. "Maybe we'll do a coffee table book. He just has so many wonderful photos."
Smith said the family was having a private service for Mr. Mayor but are working to organize a public memorial at a later time.
Reach Cindy Watts at 615-664-2227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.