While still in high school he purchased his first camera and began documenting musicians and artists in San Francisco. After serving several years in the Air Force, he returned and moved to New York. Marshall was the only photographer allowed backstage at The Beatles last concert, and chief photographer at Woodstock. He photographed Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival. Marshall also was the photographer for Johnny Cash's album at San Quentin.
He was known for his forceful personality that became something of a celebrity of its own. He lived in California, but died in New York on a trip in which he was scheduled to speak in SoHo.
Not having any children, he used to say "I have no kids, my photographs are my children."
- 1970 - Festival! The Book of American Music Celebrations, with Jerry Hopkins & Baron Wolman
- 1992 - Monterey Pop, in collaboration with Joel Selvin
- 2000 - Not Fade Away: The Rock & Roll Photography of Jim Marshall
- 2004 - Proof - A book showing Marshall's photo proofs and the final images that he chose from each shoot
- 2005 - Jazz (Jim Marshall photo book)
- 2009 - Trust - Photographs of Jim Marshall
- 2010 - Match Prints, in collaboration with Timothy White