Wednesday, 13 June 2012 I was very pleased to see that Grace Jones' recent performance at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert was received so well. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
I photographed Grace several times in the '80s and '90s and, though she had a reputation of being difficult, one would be hard pushed to meet a more friendly, warm hearted person.
And she's far more down to earth than one would ever imagine if one only ever saw her fairly eccentric stage show.
I photographed her in Milan in 1989 and after the shoot she was determined that the journalist, David Quantick, and myself accompany her on a tour of some of Milan's wilder night clubs.
In one she whipped her t-shirt off and danced topless. Being Grace Jones, she attracts a lot of attention anyway and that certainly didn't hinder matters in that regard. En route to one of the other clubs we managed to pick up a rather drunk hanger on. At one point he was half in and half out of the door of Grace’s limo, rambling on and holding everyone up. Grace Jones said "Look, if you want to come with us get in, if not get out." This didn't do the trick and none of the men in the car took charge including, I'm afraid to say, me. Grace Jones got out of the other door, walked around in her six inch heels and manhandled the guy out of the car herself. We drove off with him sitting looking bemused on the pavement. She can be quite a formidable woman.
The photograph above was commissioned by the NME and taken in the Dorchester Hotel in 1985. Initially I was picked to shoot her because I'd gained an entirely undeserved reputation at the NME as being a good photographer of difficult women. Possibly this was due solely to a couple of successful shoots with Bananarama but I wasn’t going to argue.
I almost always found that women who were considered "difficult" were in fact successful, intelligent women who simply had a clear idea of how they wanted to present themselves and resisted being pushed around at the whim of a mostly male music industry. I never once had a problem with strong female performers like that. Several times I had problems with the delicate, shy type who go through life fluttering their eyelashes in order to achieve their objective, but that's another story.
Believe me, Grace Jones is certainly not that type.