Billy Leliveld


“These are pictures I took of the Tom Waits concert at ‘Exit’ in Rotterdam on April 19, 1979.

I was an art school student, very proud of my Nikon F2 camera. I had an 85mm 1.8 lens and pushed the B&W film to 1600 asa, so I didn’t have to use the flash. At one point I actually had my elbows at the far end of Tom’s piano!”



“For years I thought I had lost the negatives, but they popped up during the cleaning of my studio. I only printed a couple of photos back then, so most of the pictures where a nice surprise.”



“During the same period I worked as assistant photographer at the Rotterdam film festival, and my girlfriend did too, as assistant to the director. I heard at an early stage that Francis Ford Coppola’s film “One from the Heart” was programmed for the festival, but Coppola couldn’t come in person, so I suggested “why don’t you ask Tom Waits?” And that’s what happened…

I had the pleasure of picking him up from the airport. At the same festival there was this young independent American filmmaker with his first film, Jim Jarmusch with “Permanent Vacation“. The rest is film history…”



“We kept in contact for years, Kathleen would always invite us. I remember we where in the conductor’s room of the Amsterdam Concert building, Tom was playing a lullaby on the piano with one hand, and was holding the baby in his other arm…

Over the years we lost contact, Tom didn’t play in Holland for a long period, but I’m still a faithful Waits addict.”


More of Billy’s photos can be viewed on The Mule’s Facebook page:

(Photo credit: ©Billy Leliveld)


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8 responses to “Billy Leliveld”

  1. Marco says :

    Remember seeing these on the TWFForum posted by Billie. Great to see em in bigger resolution! Thanks again J!
    Could have been there, had a Nikon F2 with that 85 mm lense too at that time, why wasn’t I a TW aficionado back then? 😉

  2. Bitten blu says :

    Thank you Billy…..these are amazing. After decades of waiting I will finally see him this month …..

    • Harry Siers says :

      Yes, good friend Marco, why weren’t you? 😉 Eh?

      Raindog Harry

      PS: I wasn’t either, back then. Why? Tom played at The Buitensociëteit, 10 minutes walking from my elderly home. Thank you Billy for these stories and for the great pictures!!!

  3. Mike Durham says :

    I love the story behind this, thank you both Jeremy and Billy!

  4. Peter Venema says :

    Hi BIlly, greet to read all this nostalgia!

  5. Dre Hund says :

    Looks like the reverse vignetting on these pics came from the extended development times. The outside edges of the film were denser than the center.

  6. Matthew Lovell says :

    Those are some stunning shots. Thank you for sharing them.

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