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Dee Lippingwell, concert-photography trailblazer who lived in Surrey, has died of cancer

She photographed an estimated 3,500 concerts dating back to Pink Floyd in 1973
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Concert photographer Dee Lippingwell in 2013. (File photo: Evan Seal)

Musicians and music fans from across Canada are paying tribute to Dee Lippingwell, a trailblazer in the world of concert photography over the past 50-plus years.

A Surrey resident, Lippingwell died Thursday (May 9) after a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis earlier this year. Family members say she’d been in hospital and then moved to hospice at Laurel Place Care Centre in April.

Lippingwell was 78, according to Peggy Sulivan, friend and business partner.

“She deserves tributes because she was wonderful, and always had a great story to tell,” Sulivan said Friday.

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Rock stars photographed by Dee Lippingwell over the years, from a page in her book.

In recent years Lippingwell worked to catalogue images of the estimated 3,500 concerts she’d photographed since her very first, a Pink Floyd gig in Vancouver back in 1973.

The Rolling Stones, Queen, Aerosmith, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, KISS, Van Halen – Lippingwell photographed them all over the past five decades, for publications around the world.

“When I started, it was really difficult for me to get in because everybody thought I was a groupie,” she said in 2012. “I kept saying, ‘No, I’m a mom and I want to do this for my career.’”

Three years ago, at age 75, with no concerts to photograph during the COVID pandemic, Lippingwell began sorting thousands of images for a third book chronicling the glory days of Merritt Mountain Music Festival, which she photographed with the help of husband Paul Shaw.

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Lippingwell’s 1987 book, “The Best Seat in the House,” was followed in 2012 by the self-published “First Three Songs… No Flash,” a title that referenced the instructions typically given to concert photographers before a show begins.

“I shot the Rollings Stones seven times, right, and all the times I shot Loverboy and Trooper and all the local bands, it’s thousands of concerts,” Lippingwell said in 2021. “I have a storage locker and it’s full of filing cabinets, negatives and prints, all that. It’s all pretty much organized for when I die – it’ll all be donated somewhere,” she added with a laugh. “Maybe somebody will start a museum.”

Early on, Bob Geldof was an admirer of her work, but didn’t have a chance to hire her at Vancouver’s Georgia Straight before the then-editor/writer bolted back to England to pursue a career on concert stages and, eventually, plan the Live Aid concert. “When he came back with the Boomtown Rats to play the Commodore,” she recalled, “he saw me in the crowd and (mouthed), ‘Ah, you got the job!’”

On the job, she’d been bruised and even suffered broken ribs. Overzealous fans of the Stones in Buffalo nearly prevented her from getting a decent shot of Mick Jagger in 1981. “I turned around to face this belt buckle of a biker. He was a real angel because he lifted me on his shoulders to get that shot. Those were the fastest shots I ever got — I wanted down from there as soon as possible.”

On Facebook, Lippingwell made a weekly habit of posting concert photos from years gone by, and sold photo-filled books, T-shirts, scarves and other merchandise on the website deelippingwell.ca.

In a 2021 interview, Lippingwell said her bedtime is a lot earlier than it was years ago, but kept active and felt good for a septuagenarian.

“I’m 75 years young,” she boasted. “I’m good, I go to the gym, I bowl when the leagues are back on. Sometimes my husband and I go bowling now on our own, so we stay active. But this book, it’s a pretty massive job I’ve been doing, so that’s taking up a lot of my time. Some of it’s film and some of it’s digital, so going through all that is a job. There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week, never is.”

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Facebook post by Shauna Lippingwell, granddaughter of concert photographer Dee Lippingwell.

Lippingwell is survived by husband Paul, sons Marc and Chris, grandchildren Shauna and Tyler Lippingwell, and brother David. She died peacefully with Paul at her side, Shauna posted on Facebook.

“We would like to thank all of her friends for the messages over the last few months, we made sure she got each one,” Shauna posted. “In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in memory of Dee to the Happy Liver Society or Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue. Celebration of life at a later date. Tributes and stories about Dee can be sent to noflashpublishing@gmail.com and will be passed onto the family.”



Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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