Monday, 10 May 2010 (This is a continuation of the story immediately below).
Gradually over the next couple of years, I started leaping over barriers and clambering onto stages and shooting live bands wherever and whenever I could: Labelle, The Hammersmith Gorillas, Betty Davis, Maria Muldaur, The Rolling Stones, The Kursaal Flyers, Vinegar Joe, Eddie and The Hot Rods – I’ve still got boxes full of live photos of them all. Some are not very good and most of them have, rightly, never seen the light of day.
But all too soon, like virtually every proper job I’ve ever had, I was declared surplus to requirements at the ad agency with the Miranda account. So in order to continue my ersatz career as a music photographer, I went out and bought myself a second-hand Nikkormat.
But it was still the proximity to that live music that was the main attraction, not taking the photos.
Then something significant happened to me one night, in late 1976, at a Vibrators show at Kingston Poly. I was crouched on the side of the stage, about three feet to the side of the band’s speaker stack and, as soon as the band came on, the audience started to go crazy. It was my first live sighting of ‘punks’. Bedecked in all kinds of ludicrous apparel, they were leaping and writhing around in front of the stage, shouting and spitting and going absolutely barmy. And, more significantly, they were a darn sight more photogenic than the band. I didn’t quite have the gumption to start photographing them there and then, their manner took me aback slightly, but I knew that next time I encountered them I would make a bit more of an effort.
And I felt a frisson of something that night and I wasn’t quite sure why. Apprehension certainly. The punks were ostensibly fairly violent looking and some were none too careful where they aimed their globules of phlegm. But there was something else too. There was an excitement, a rawness and a vitality about them that was completely different to anything I’d encountered before.
Though I was drawn and repelled in almost equal measure that night (a feeling I’ve since become very familiar with) I felt a compulsion to try to record of what I saw. So, a few weeks later, in December of that year, when ‘The Roxy’ (the UK’s first punk club) opened its doors in Neal Street, Covent Garden, I was one of those standing in the queue.