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Remembering Bill Reynolds

1945 – 1992

Friend Remembers Bill--Provides Photos

I’m ashamed that it has taken me so long to write about our relationship with Bill Reynolds. The process of digitizing our extensive library of photos has driven home the huge impact he had on our lives. Without Bill many of you would not be reading this article. The bodybuilding world certainly would not know me as Mr. Ripped.

Bill was a dear friend of the Bass family. Our son Matt adored him. On his visits to Albuquerque, he would get down on the floor and play with Matt—something other visitors rarely did.

Bill and I became acquainted before I entered my first physique contest and before he began his 9-year stint as Editor-In-Chief at Muscle & Fitness magazine. Bill published his own Bodybuilding World newsletter and we corresponded from time to time. He knew of me from my involvement in the AAU National Physique Committee and an occasional photo which appeared in the original Ironman magazine. After two decades in Olympic weightlifting competition, I was preparing to enter the 1978 Mr. New Mexico and then the Past 40 Mr. America. Bill came to Albuquerque to photograph me. He taught me the intricacies of outdoor physique photography and photographed me numerous times in Albuquerque and in California. Bill also photographed my second aerobic capacity stress test and an underwater weighing at the Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque.

He took our famous “Fab Ab” photo in the Santa Monica Gold’s Gym with Mike Mentzer, Casey Viator, Lou Ferrigno, and others bodybuilding legends looking on; see our Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Bass

But that’s getting ahead of our story.

Most importantly, Bill was instrumental in Joe Weider giving me the opportunity to write a monthly column in Muscle & Fitness magazine. Thanks to Bill, that made me known around the world.

Carol and I will never forget how that happened.

Bill was a superb wordsmith and we sent him the manuscript of our first book, RIPPED: The Sensible Way to Achieve Ultimate Muscularity. He had already written about 20 successful bodybuilding books and was the ideal person to evaluate our manuscript.

We were thrilled to get an excited call from Bill a few days later. He had stayed up all night reading the manuscript and said it was the best bodybuilding book he had ever read. Joe Weider wanted me to come out to see him. I don't think Joe read anything but the table of contents--he said it included everything bodybuilders wanted to know--but he trusted Bill's judgment. A few weeks later, Bill picked Carol and I up at LAX. We were soon having lunch with Bill and Joe. The meeting went well and Joe invited me to write a column to be called the “Ripped Department.” Joe could’ve canceled the column at any time. Instead he wrote frequently to tell me how much he liked the column. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I kept turning out columns—and new photos—for the next 16 years. It became the longest running column in the history of the world’s most widely read bodybuilding magazine.

Bill took almost all of the photos in Ripped, including the photos on the front and back cover. He also took many of the photos in Ripped 2—including this one taken in our living room the night before a day-long shoot.

I made several more trips to California to be photographed by Bill. A memorable session on what he called “Reynolds' Rock” produced what he said was his best-ever day of photography. Joe misplaced the negatives, but Bill sent us prints of the best photos. Joe later sent us prints he had made from the original Fab Ab shot, along with the negative used to made the up the print. He had more dark put into one of the prints "to bring out a little more definition." We never used that print; it's still in the file.

 This ripped-to-the-bone photo was taken during that magic shoot; Joe Weider loved the muscularity but always wanted me to be bigger.

Finally, Bill and I recorded an interview tape which became a best seller; even the laid back guy at the recording studio dug it.

After that Bill and I slowly drifted apart. He went on to become Editor-In-Chief of Joe Weider’s hard-core muscle mag Flex. He continued writing books, over 40 the last we heard, along with over 2,000 magazine articles. He was a writing machine with an encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of bodybuilding. Sadly, he left us prematurely, passing away at 47. The coroner ruled his death a suicide.

We loved and respected you Bill and wish you were here to talk old-times—and new times. Matthew would like to talk to you about this photo with Lou Ferrigno; he says his underpants are showing. Bill pulled Lou out of Gold’s Gym for this priceless picture.

Special Note: We looked high and wide for a photo of Bill; he apparently didn’t like having his picture taken. If anyone knows of one we’d like to add it to this remembrance.

Old Friend Remembers Bill--Provides Photos

Jim Schmidt, who met Bill at the University of Washington and remained close until his untimely passing, saw our plea for photos and has come forward with some images of Bill as few knew him--and behind the camera where he excelled.

"Bill...always treated me right and never hesitated to include me in things around the L.A. bodybuilding scene even though I was just a guy from a small hick town in Washington state," Jim wrote. "Looking at the pictures has really brought back a lot of fond memories of my exploits with Bill."

"We quickly became good friends because of our common interest in bodybuilding and weightlifting," Jim continued. "He and my ex-wife went to high school together in Port Angeles, Washington. I used to go to Los Angeles to visit Bill and went on many of his photography jobs. I got to meet many famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Pearl, the Mentzer brothers, Ken Waller, the Barbarian brothers, Pat Neve, Robbie Robinson, Lou Ferrigno, etc., etc. because of Bill."

Jim shared some little known background information.

His wife divorced him and ran off and joined some religious cult while he was working on his PhD at Cal-Berkeley... [He was interested in other women after that] but I don't think that he ever had any really successful relationships.

Because of Bill, I actually got to spend time at Arnold Schwarzenegger's house in Santa Monica. This was shortly after he made the movie Stay Hungry and before he married Maria Shriver. Arnold was very friendly and welcomed me into his home like I was an old friend. His house was decorated with some massive furniture that had been made by Dave Draper.

By ghostwriting many, many articles [and books], Bill made a large number of bodybuilders appear to be much smarter and more articulate than the really were. Bill was a huge contributor to the bodybuilding scene and I think that you're right in that he's never gotten the credit that he deserved.

The first photo, taken in 1976 at Christmas, shows the two of them sitting on the couch at the home of Jim's then in-laws. We believe Bill would like it. They both look powerful. His beard adds a little mystery. Hints at his sensitive nature. Not many knew that side of Bill. (It may have been his downfall.)

The second photo shows Bill making friends with Jim's baby daughter. Our son Matt experienced that side of Bill.

The last photo, taken by Jim, shows Bill photographing 1977 Mr. USA Rod Koontz doing the triceps push down. Bill's eye for capturing the best possible angle was always right on the money. He would have you go through the full range of motion and find the most favorable position every time.

Thank you, Jim, for taking the time to dig out the photos of Bill and tell us about your long friendship. Good to know that you have fond memories, as we do. We'll never see his like again.

July 1, 2016

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Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236
or street address: 528 Chama, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108,
Phone or FAX (505) 266-5858, e-mail: cncbass@aol.com ,
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8-5, Mountain time.

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