Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Blown-Away Man

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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.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 31, 2010 at 8:46 am

55 Responses

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  1. […] the critics.) Instead, for me, opera offers the experience of the man sitting in the armchair in that famous Maxell ad. It’s everything blasting at you: orchestra, powerful and un-amplified voices, sets, […]

  2. 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.

    priscilla croft

    February 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    • 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.

      Gary Hurewitz

      February 11, 2014 at 12:47 am

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. I always thought this pic was a LP-cover of a 80s Pop-group. Pink Floyd or Alain Parsons…

    Thor Hugo

    March 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm

  5. […] Selwyn-Holmes, A. (2010, May 31). Iconic Photos: Blown-away Man. [Web log]. Retrieved from https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/blown-away-man/ […]

  6. 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.

    sandy davids

    December 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    • 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.

      Gary Hurewitz

      December 10, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      • 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.

        raymond falbo

        January 19, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    • 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.

      raymond falbo

      January 12, 2016 at 6:49 am

  7. 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?.

    free porn

    December 29, 2015 at 12:59 am

  8. Amazing how the shot was done 37 years ago and is still talked about:

    Gary Hurewitz

    March 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

  9. 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.

    Mark Bigham

    April 4, 2016 at 10:02 pm

  10. 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!


    May 11, 2016 at 10:59 pm

  11. […] table because of the power of the Memorex recording coming through a single JBL L100 speaker. Click here for more about this iconic […]

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