Friday, 18 June 2010 It’s jobs like this that make being a rock photographer actually seem like real work. Although Henry Rollins himself was perfectly charming and polite, my schedule meant I had to fly to Chicago, get a cab to the venue (an old theatre) take the photos, then get a cab back to the airport and jump straight on a plane home. I didn’t get to see the gig and my feet hardly even touched the Chicago sidewalk.
No matter how long or short my photo sessions are, they always seem to stay with me, in sharp focus, forever. One of my shortest ever sessions was a single frame in duration and the subject was Miles Davis. I think it was 1983. Together with the writer Robert Elms, I’d gone down to meet Miles at the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane. When we met his PR man in the lobby, he told us that Miles was far too ill to be photographed but he might, just, be able to do the interview.
We went up to Miles Davis’s suite to find him sitting on a sofa, happily doodling away in a sketch pad. He didn’t look up. But, by the same token, he didn’t look too ill either. Of course, it has to be said though, I’m not a doctor.
Miles was surrounded by about half a dozen people, tentatively standing around talking in whispers. I stood just inside the door and managed to click off one frame before I got a raised hand and an old-fashioned look from the PR guy.
I guess I could have put up more of a fight, but if we’d been chucked out, Robert would not have got his interview either, so I didn’t. I guess to have photographed the great man at all was something.
Nevertheless, that session lasted a whole lot longer than one I did with another jazzer, John Lurie. When I met him he was a picture of health. I was standing in front of him with the camera up to my eye about to start snapping, when someone walked over with a magazine article to show him. John Lurie stood there, silently reading the article in front of me for about a minute. Then he angrily threw the magazine across the room and stormed off. The magazine article had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me but it made no difference. I lost out on John Lurie completely that day.