THEY inspired some of the most iconic album artwork in rock and roll history – but nothing quite prepares you for the sight of sunrise over the Joshua Tree.
Popularised by the U2 album of the same name, the twisted trees spikily stretching in the wilderness of the Joshua Tree National Park in southern California seem surreal.
Captured here in gorgeous images by my good friend, award-winning photographer Adam Fradgley, during an American RV road trip, they appear otherworldly.
Adam set out at some ungodly hour in the morning to make sure he was in position as a starry night gradually warmed to a golden glow to shoot the photographs here.
The national park, sculpted by strong winds and extremes, is a dark sky haven, as majestic at night as it is spectacular during the daytime.
And then there are those trees…
The Joshua tree – its botanical name is Yucca brevifolia – is a member of the Agave family, although it was long believed instead to be a giant member of the Lily family.
It took extensive DNA studies to make the correct identification.
Years ago, the tree was used by native people for all manner of things. Its tough leaves were worked into baskets and sandals, and flower buds and seeds were a staple in their diet.
The tallest trees in the park can be more than 40ft high, and it’s believed that some of the oldest have been around for at least 150 years, and maybe much longer even than that.
Rock supergroup U2 were introduced to the Joshua tree by photographer Anton Corbijn, who suggested they would make eye-catching album artwork.
Frontman Bono was pleased by their religious significance, too. Mormon legend has it that early settlers named it after the Old Testament prophet because the stretching branches reminded them of Joshua raising his hands in prayer.
While driving on Route 190 near Darwin, the band spotted a lone-standing tree in the desert. They stopped the bus and shot band pictures with the tree for just 20 minutes.
Rock and roll history was made.
I have known, and worked with, Adam Fradgley for many years on a range of newspaper titles and am grateful for his permission to use the images in this post.
If you want to see more of his work find him on Instagram and Twitter as @AdamFradgley, and he can be contacted by email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images, apart from the U2 album cover, copyright Adam Fradgley.