RIP: Photographer Andrew Youssef

Written by
Jim James by Andrew Youssef

True music geeks recognize each other from a mile away. I remember meeting photographer Andrew Youssef at a housewarming for another fantastic local photog, Timothy Norris.

We hit it off right away and I started inviting him to KCRW events. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer? He’s just a few years older than me.

Andrew stared cancer right in the face and kept on fighting until the very end. He passed away this weekend after weeks of “publicity” he never could have expected in his final days – with his favorite artist Trent Reznor telling his story to NIN fans and the wider public.

His friends were happy to see him get the attention he so deserved. He definitely didn’t want to go quietly.

But the Andrew everyone really needs to know is the photographer – that is what he loved most and he did it until the very end.

I remember the monumental effort it took for him to get to KCRW’s show with My Morning Jacket at the Village. He was absolutely determined, despite his physical state. I remember sitting with him on a couch downstairs and watching part of the show with him on a TV because he was too weak to stand – but that was AFTER he hit the pit and got his photos, which you can see here.

He brought photos for many of the bands who came through the station to sign and they all did so happily, many reflecting on how great the photos were.

Seeing their faces light up at the photos, and then being able to tell them Andrew’s story was my small way of keeping his legacy going. I wanted them to KNOW who he was. He became a hero to a lot of us and you can read more about his story here.

Here are a couple more photo highlights: Queens of the Stone Age, Band of HorsesSt. Vincent, Spoon, Bloc Party, and Ben Gibbard and JayFarrar (# 15 is a great shot of our rather messy music library before it’s recent renovation, probably one of my favorites).

Also, here’s a tribute from another local photographer Paul R. Giunta, which shows how respected he was by his peers.

By Paul R. Giunta

On April 14, 2010 I entered the photo pit at a Vampire Weekend show in Pomona. It was the first time I had the chance to do so as a credentialed photographer. Needless to say that there was a mix of nerves and excitement flowing through me as I was getting ready for them to take the stage.

As I waited I chatted up the guy standing next to me to distract myself a little so I could try to act like I fit in and that it wasn’t my first time down there. I had heard that concert photographers were very competitive and not very friendly but that wasn’t the case with Andrew. We chatted about the typical camera stuff as we waited which was a great distraction for me. Since that night it has always been a privilege to see Andrew a few times a week at the different venues in and around Los Angeles.

Seeing Andrew go though what he did over the last few years has left a lasting impression on me. He worked harder than anyone that I know getting out to shoot as much (and more) than I have since his diagnosis. He absolutely made the best of is situation and never let his sickness get the better of him or did it keep him from doing what he loved the most.

I am very sad to hear that Andrew lost his battle with cancer last night. Knowing that I won’t be seeing him in the pit anymore is really saddening.