Can you identify these mystery musicians?


This image turned out to be one of the most difficult to understand. Top Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Rockers drive Cary O’Dell crazy. The sunglasses duo pout in an undated, unlabeled photograph the Library of Congress acquired seven years ago, part of a collection of 300,000 images donated by an antique dealer in New Jersey who had passed by years accumulating various pop culture photos – some of the frustratingly unidentified ones. O’Dell, an archivist and author who normally works on the National Film Records and National Library Recording, has tracked down more than 50 leads while trying to nail this photo, all to no avail. “I will be hunt them down, ”he said.

O’Dell’s quest began after he noticed a mislabeled photo of Bobby Darin and alerted the person working on the collection. In fact, his colleague said, there was a box of 800 mystery images. Would he like to attack them? So O’Dell started some sort of informal in-house detective agency. Some of the photos were “very easy for geeks like me and my colleagues to identify,” he says. Others were resolved after O’Dell put them online and asked for help. Reverse Google Images searches and facial recognition software helped. But a lot of it came down to legwork.

To keep track, O’Dell gave some of them nicknames, such as the world’s most mysterious woman (who turned out to be Wendy Phillips from Falcon crest, as she herself confirmed) and The Lady in the Hat (later identified as Cynthia Lynn, who had a short-lived role on Hogan’s heroes). Film critic Joe Bob Briggs and his fans have identified Jamaican actress and photographer Esther Anderson.

O’Dell’s Detective has been successful: the mysteries are only 17. Besides the musical duo, there is an image of what looks like a children’s movie and another apparent rock band featuring four men. tattooed and a woman. Still, it’s these two long-haired people who haunt him the most. “Whoever fixes this problem,” says O’Dell, “gets a free box of hairspray. “

This article appeared in the January 2022 issue of The Washingtonian.


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