Tent-dwelling hippie family reading bedtime stories. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Tent-dwelling hippie family reading bedtime stories. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

“From the age of 10, I wanted to be a photographer. My father was a farmer, and when he passed away, he was still mystified that you took this little box out and pushed a button and a week later, from the drugstore, these images came back.” LIFE learned of the precocious  John Olson (born 1947) through photos he took for Stars and Stripes while serving two years in Vietnam, where he was wounded twice. He became the magazine’s youngest staff photographer ever at age 21, and his youth was no doubt central to the success of a completely different sort of feature he shot for LIFE: on rock stars and their families. 

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Rock musician Eric Clapton w. his grandmother Rose in the house he bought her in Surrey. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Rock musician Eric Clapton w. his grandmother Rose in the house he bought her in Surrey. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Women marching in New York at the Women's Strike for Equality, a march in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Women marching in New York at the Women’s Strike for Equality, a march in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. (Photo by John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

Students from Chiao Tung University during an Anti-American demonstration. (Photo by Jack Birns/ The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation). Photographer

Jack Birns

Painter Henri Matisse using a bamboo pole tipped with charcoal to draw a half-scale figure of St. Dominic. (Photo by Robert Capa/The LIFE Images Collection) Photographer

Robert Capa

Balinese farmer herding his flock of ducks through a field. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Co Rentmeester

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe, 80 yr. old pioneer of modern American Art.(Photo by Michael Mauney/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Loengard

An elderly Chinese man ice skating. (Photo by Jack Wilkes/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Jack Wilkes

A rhesus monkey sitting in water up to his chest. (Photo by Hansel Meith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Hansel Mieth