Blown-Away Man

Rarely has an advertising image been hailed as a pop culture icon. In that rarified company of Marlboro Man and Benetto Pieta belongs this 1978 photograph by Steven Steigman, which would later be known as the Blown-away Man. The ad for Hitachi Maxell, the Japanese manufacture of stereos has since been parodied from Family Guy to P.Diddy, and to this day, has been recycled and reused by Maxell is its ad campaigns.

The ads showed hair and tie of a man sitting in a Le Corbusier chair — along with the lampshade and martini glass next to him — being blown back by the tremendous sound from speakers in front of him. Who actually modeled for the ad is unclear. Steigman wanted a model with long hair (for obvious reasons), but when a model could not easily be found, Steigman used a makeup man working for his ad agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves. The model is identified only as Jack. To achieve the wind-blown position, Steigman put tonnes of hairspay on the model’s hair, and tied some hair strands to the ceiling with fishing lines. The lampshade, tie and martini glass were also likewise tied to fishing lines.

The photo was instantaneously a hit, a powerful statement that music has power and force to move the mind and the soul. It was so popular that it was expended into a TV ad campaign. In the television versions, either Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries or Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain was the music responsible for those powerful waves.

92 thoughts on “Blown-Away Man

  1. If I remember correctly, in the tv ad, the talent reaches down and rescues the martini glass (without looking and the bare minimal amount of motion) before it slides off the back edge of the table.

    Then again my memory might just be making this up.

    • actually the glass blows slowly into his hand for consumption. The message being that it’s been a hard day and this is his escape to decompress. The butler shows him the tape like a bottle of wine, he nods approval sits down and the music commences – as the volume increases the drink blows steadily into his hand and he sinks deeper in the chair – epic cool –

      • HI, I was there for the filming. I was one of Steigman’s Representatives. The Butler comes in and shows the Maxell tape to Jack and says “The usual, sir?” Jack agrees. The butler puts it into the player and the Martini Glass slides down the table and Jack grabs it. He never brings it to his mouth and it ends there. I think they did not want to show drinking liquor on TV. Gary

  2. […] Needless to say, this thing handily saturates a USB 2.0 connection at around 27 – 30 MB/sec but plug it into one of those blue USB 3.0 ports on newer Macs or PCs and prepare to feel like the “blown away” guy in the Maxell ad. […]

  3. […] Dig this: I was sitting in one of those camping chairs that happened to be in the hall after Thanksgiving. Every time my son walked past me, I laughed my head off — I’m sure he thought I was out of my mind, and he’d have been right. What was so funny? The idea that these chairs all had labels showing their fabric content, but not one word about how fast they were! Because as I was sitting there, I could feel myself moving through space at high speed, as an inhabitant of the planet Earth. I felt exactly like this. […]

  4. I was present when the photo was shot, the model was Jac Colello. He had also done hair and make-up for David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and frequently worked with Steve. The glass and olive were shot separately by Steve Bronstien and then retouched into the original. Both Bronstein and Steigman were represented by Charles E. Byrnes The one wall set was built by Chris Noonan and the Art Direction was by Lars Anderson. The chair came from Steve’s apartment also in the 5E19th St. building he owned,

  5. Just caught an intentional tribute to this photo while watching “Fringe” reruns — Walter sitting in a chair in front of a wall of speakers, same position…

  6. I was “blown away in the seventies” by this depiction “Ad”, as I am now. The power of music can put you in different moods on different days. Oldies/jazz/classical/country…as long it’s music.

  7. Where can I get a copy of this poster? Also, does anyone rememeber the t-shirt done with the skeleton sitting in the car? if so, any idea where I can find one of thoe?

  8. I was on set for this photo because I was representing Steve Steigman at the time. It was actually shot in 1979 and I know the Art Director who created the concept and the name of the man in the chair. If you are curious, email me.

    • Hi Gary. My hubby is Jak C.’s cousin… he has always been told that it is him in that chair. Is it? We would love to have confirmation! Thanks!

      • Hi Julie, Yes, that is Jac C. I was there, as the photographer’s set builder. Gary and I have spoken recently about the shoot and Jac. I’m sure that when he sees your post that he too will confirm Jac as the model. See my earlier post for more details.
        Chris N.

      • HI, I am Gary and I was Steve Steigman’s assistant representative at the time. I was at that shoot with Chris Noonan. I think the shoot took place in 1979. I had just started working with Steve. The model was definitely Jack Collello. How that happened is that they wanted a model with long light hair and the hair styles were short then. Steigman hired Jack to be the Hair Stylist on the shoot. Jack was a top commercial hair stylist and Steigman used him for most of his jobs. When they had trouble finding a model Steigman turned to Jack and said ” Jack, you would be perfect”. And Jack was hired as the model in the chair. He was also hired on the subsequent ad with the Porche’s Roof being blown away. It is positively Jack. The image was behind the dancer’s bed in the movie “Flashdance” Jack was also in the TV commercial.

      • Hi Julie, I never respond to these, but I can guarantee the guy is Jac Colello as I am his niece 🙂 and I have the pictures of him doing David Bowie’s hair. Can I assume your husband is Ramond, or Tony?

      • It was Jack all right. I’m also a cousin of Jack. I think maybe a second cousin. His Mom was my great Aunt Lena I believe.

      • Hey, I was there. I knew Jack very well. I was at his New Years Eve party that year. What an event. Unfortunately, Jack was an early victim of AIDS, before they knew what it was or had any treatments. He was also in the Porsche with the roof blowing off. Amazing how that image is talked about 35 years later.

  9. The “Blow Away” shot had become iconic. It is hard to believe that it was taken 35 years ago. Steve Steigman was considered a Top commercial photographer at the time but this shot catapulted him into the top level. There was a point when he was considered one of the Premiere photographers in the country. He would have assignments almost every day and some days have double bookings. Steigman would say, “Just book em in and I will find a way to shoot them”. The Agency that created the add was Scali McCabe Sloves, which was one of the hottest agencies on Madison Avenue. It was actually on Third Ave. The creative director was Lars Anderson who was the stereotype, cool, good looking “Madmen” type of creatives in the 70″s. There was a subsequent Ad with the roof of a Porsche blowing up in the air. There was also another ad that was never produced. It was the same style and visual as original ad but instead of the stereo there was a window with an atomic bomb going off in the distance and the figure in the chair turning into an Xray. Maxell, the client, thought the ad was too radical and killed it. Steigman played with the idea of doing it as a sample but never did it. The original ad was put together by hand by the top retouchers of the day, Spano Rocanova. This was obviously before Photoshop. Steigman would go on to shoot many memorable ads including the first NIke Poster of John McEnroe in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.
    Steigman created the company “Big City” and at it’s height it had 6 print photographers and many TV directors. Steigman was a brilliant self made man who mentored many people including myself. I have been a successful commercial photographers representative for 35 years and I owe much of my knowledge and success to Steve Steigman.

    • Thank you for the information on “Blown Away”, I remember this art concept growing up. I am doing a essay of this picture, so thank you again for the interesting information.

      • Is this for school? If you need any additional information feel free to ask. I was present at the shoot and was Steigman’s representative (agent).

  10. Gary Hurewitz! Priscilla Croft here. How sad I am to learn on this forum that Steve passed away 9 years ago.
    I had a dream last night in which Steve and I were having a conversation, hence the search for him today.
    –To others reading this, I worked with Steve A LOT in the late 70s (I was an art director at Needham, Harper & Steers working on the Xerox account). Steve Steigman was one of the good guys in advertising. He worked his tail off and it showed in his work. Always a pleasure to work with, always a gentleman. Open, kind hearted, and as live a wire as ever was.
    The model in the shot looked exactly like Lars (long hair, lanky, sunglasses, leather jacket), and we (other art directors) used to laugh about that. Not only was it cool looking, but Lars kinda pulled one over.
    I knew Lars and was greatly inspired that this was shot exactly according to his vision, without compromise, with Steve’s crew making it all come together.
    I think this shot blew away other art directors at the time, raised the bar, expectations and hopes of what one could “get away with” (which was how creative people saw this kind of ad without product placement, huge logos, bla copy droning away about the virtues of the product, etc).
    In fact, after that I would go into meetings with creative directors who would command, “Give me another Maxel.” no matter what the product was. Thanks a lot Lars and Steve!
    I ramble. So, hi Gary, thanks for the sad news.

    • Hi there Priscilla. Yes it is true that Steve is not with us anymore. I had lunch with him on a Thursday and that Saturday I got the call. I would like to tell you about the details so please send me your personal email or contact me by phone.
      When It happened I got a call from Alan Kaye and Neil Leinwohl. It has been many years since I spoke to them. Those were the great agency days. It has all changed. So please contact me and we can catch up.

    • Why is he listening to a Mozart Requiem (or Ride of the Valkyries a la Maxell) in MONO? Was it just inconvenient/unattractive to place both JBL 100’s? Am I the only one who feels disturbed by this lol? Maybe he’s doing it for the wind effect and only needs a single speaker directly in line with him for the effect and so he’s willing to sacrifice stereo? Maybe this is just the way ad photography works and it really wasn’t that thought out? I just want the universe to make sense please.

      • You are being too literal. It was not an oversight. It would be too cluttered with a second speaker and wires. It is just perfect the way it is.

  11. […] Rarely has an advertising image been hailed as a pop culture icon. In that rarified company of Marlboro Man and Benetto Pieta belongs this 1978 photograph by Steven Steigman, which would later be known as the Blown-away Man. The ad for Hitachi Maxell, the Japanese manufacture of stereos has since been parodied from Family Guy to P.Diddy, and to this day, has been recycled and reused by Maxell is its ad campaigns — via Iconic Photos […]

  12. That is Jac (not Jack) Colello in the chair. I was his best friend for many years. We also lived together for a time. I miss him everyday. He was gorgeous! The most beautiful big blue eyes! He had a heart of gold. We had such fun together. We went to all the discos & other clubs famous in the 70’s. He introduced me to Bette Midler before she was famous, when singing at the baths. Studio 54, Xenon, Tamberlane etc. we were there! He had a lot of confidence & drive to make it and he did make it. I met Jac around 1966 or 67. He was from Sharon, Pa. & I was from Youngstown, Ohio (very close to Pa. line). He was a lover of one of my best friends then. As soon as he moved to NY, he called me & we met & the rest is history. We lived together on E. 58th St. When I heard he passed, I was devastated. He was sick for many years. They had no treatment then. Aids was in its infancy. We would often get together in Ohio when home for the holidays. The last time I saw him was in Ohio around Xmas, 1987 or 88, in a club. The last thing he said to me was, “I’m goin across the street (another club) to find a husband! That was Jac. I loved him very much. He was very thin & didn’t look well. Shortly after this shoot, he started showing symptoms. They thought it was mono at first. He died in 1990. I believe in March. I’ve been to his tomb. He has a twin sister & younger brother who passed in late 60’s. He’s buried in pa. He was so funny & loving. Rest in peace my friend.

    • Hi Jac, I remember you. This is Gary Hurewitz Steve Steigman’s rep then. I repped Steigman from 1979 to 1990 and was on that shoot. Jack was a great guy and Steve used him on most of his shots. Jack was in the chair and also in the Porsche for Maxell. I was at one of Jack’s new years parties and I think I was the only straight guy there! Luckily I brought a date, Kim Kelling, our studio manager. Do you remember her. I was crushed over Jack’s passing and still remember his great smile and laugh. Steve passed about 11 years ago and that haunts me still. This image and all that were involved with it seems to keep on coming back. See this article below.

      • Hey Gary , Jac was my 1st cousin. I still remember all the times that jac came to all the family gathering and he was really close to my mom. we got back stage to the Bowie concert in Pittsburgh 1974 when jac toured with him. he was such a cool guy and I remember going to Las Vegas with him and my family . I was 14 at the time and I always liked his style and the way he handled himself. It was pretty hush hush about his death and im sure that was for a reason. great guy and im sure you knew him as a person. if you can share some stories about him it would be really cool.

    • Hey Sandy, Jac was my first cousin . we went to see him at the diamond dog tour with david bowie in 1974 he would take my mom everywhere in N.Y. when she would visit him (studio 54 and many other places). he was at our home for holidays all the time. he was the best. I only remember the good times and know he lived a great life and the way he wanted to.

      • Hi…just came across your post. Jac loved his family. Do u have any pics of him? All my pics I lost in storage. Wish I well

  13. Actually, I?m a blog starter. I just want more people to visit my blog to make me a popular blog. I?m capable of writing, and I know writing skill is a must. But is there any other way to make my blog more popular?.

  14. One item that appears to have been missed and is fairly important to the photo are the speakers. They are JBL-100’s which were the commercial version of the the Studio JBL-4310, the speaker that most rock albums were mixed on during the 70’s and 80’s. There are still clubs throughout the world using 4310’s and 100’s as house speakers.

  15. I was watching episode 2, One Night in October, of the fourth season of the popular sci-fi series Fringe and I was immediately blown away by seeing Walter sitting on a Le Corbusier chair in front of a tower of loudspeakers (and some nice amps) listening to the first bars of Mozart’s Requiem. I knew I had seen the same image in an ad for Magnavox or Maxell back in the 80s. Too funny!

  16. The guy in the poster is Jack Colello. He was born near Warren Ohio area; He was my father’s first cousin. As a little girl, I remember the excitement of watching Jackie’s success; David Bowie, Elizabeth Taylor, Flame Glo ads, Johnson and Johnson ads. Hope this helps solve the mystery of who the dude was. Kerry Jo (Furillo) Bauer
    P.s. I wish I had a poster of my cousin.

    • Kerry Jo,

          You can get a copy from All  I was the set-builder for that shot and rigged some of the special effects. Jack was a great guy and always fun to work with.


      kerry Jo

    • Are you sure he spelled him name Jack? I was told it was Jac. There was a showing of the image at the National Academy Museum. Steve Steigman’s daughter and Wife were there.
      NA 2015 Gala - Willy Steigman and Peggy Flaum

  17. Lars Anderson, the brilliant young art director at Scali, McCabe, Sloves who came up with Blown Away Guy, was my brother. Sadly, he passed away a couple of months ago.

    • Hi Dean,
      I’m very sorry to hear of Lars passing. I was very lucky, to both work with him and to share some very good times with he and Charlie Byrnes, both in NYC and at Charlies house in Charlemont, MA. My condolences to you and the rest of his family.
      Chris Noonan

    • I’m sorry for your loss Dean. I knew Lars way back when (back in the blown away days). What a loss.

  18. Thank you for your kind expressions of sympathy. Lars is missed by everyone who knew him.

  19. Jac Colello was my neighbor…quite an experience! As I recall he and his partner Vincent had 2 cocker spaniels. I remember their wild New Years Eve party. They had a large version of the photo in the small office. Sadly I also remember when it was apparent that he was sick. I wonder if anyone knows Vincent.

    • HI Kathy, I do remember Vincent and his great sense of humor. I was actually at one of their New Years Eve parties with Kim as my date, who was the Production coordinator at “Big City”. Wild party! But unfortunately I have not contact information on him and I can’t remember his last name.

  20. Clothing retailer Paul Stuart has a flying-tie homage to the poster on the cover of its fall 2020 catalog. The sport coat lists for $1,195. Tie, $185.

      • Hi Priscilla, Hope you are doing well in these crazy times. I do too! I go out to Long Island often and pass Quogue all the time where Steve had his beach house and spent his last day there. I always think about him when I see the sign. He was my mentor and he is always in my mind, even though it has been about 16 Years since his passing. I miss him so much. Gary

  21. Anyone know what camera Steve shot this image with? I’m writing a piece on composition and I know it’s a trivial detail, but relatively important in the piece I’m writing.

    • I checked with my brother Jerome, who was a photo assistant for Steve, and he said it was Hasselblad 120.

    • Hi, I was one of Steigman’s reps and was at the shoot and it was shot with a Hasselblad. That was Steve’s favorite camera. Gary

      • Hi Gary, every time one of these comments pop up in my mailbox, i relive all the times i shot with Steve, travelled with Steve, and shot the breeze with Steve. it was always a pleasure working with him. keeping the memory alive. xo

  22. They were giving away a copy of this add in the late seventies when I bought my pair of JBL L100’s and I always loved it. To me it’s always been more about the speaker than the cassette tape and it’s indicative of the character of these speakers when you turn it up to 11. My copy is somewhere in the attic, now I want to go dig it out and get it framed!!!

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