When Steve met Stevie

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder at The Lanesborough Hotel, London, December 1994.


I noticed earlier this week that CBS aired a tribute to Stevie Wonder and it reminded me of the time I photographed him, so I thought that I would offer my own small tribute.

This year I will have been working in photography for 40 years. I decided that I might do the occasional look back over the years in my blog so I thought that I would start with one of the best moments.

It was December 1994 and I was sitting in the bar of the Lanesborough Hotel in London with a journalist, waiting to see Stevie Wonder. I had been around music photography since 1978 so had my fair share of photographing the famous. One of the first albums I bought was by Stevie Wonder, and his show at the Birmingham Odeon in 1968 was one of the first gigs I went to – so this was a bit more than just another job for me! It was a long wait in the bar,  a couple of hours – so no alcohol!  Eventually we were ushered in to the room and met Stevie – and what a great guy he was. One of the few stars that I have met that seemed genuinely interested in our conversation when we chatted before the interview – me mentioning the ’68 gig and him mimicking my English accent and making the atmosphere light and friendly. There were just the three of us in the room and I shot some photographs while the interview took place. We were there for maybe twenty minutes and then the interview was over.

They say never meet your heroes, but sometimes it’s worth taking the chance.

Abbey Road revisited

Tourists on the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

It’s been a long time since I have been to Abbey Road, work doesn’t seem to take me to that part of town these days and the last time I worked at the studios was sometime in the early 90’s. My first job there was in 1979 and I worked there quite a few times in the 80’s.

So there I was last week walking up towards the Abbey Road Studios to photograph a party and I saw these photographers taking pics of the tourists on the crossing. My first thoughts were – good little business idea ( I guess they were selling the photos) but surely dangerous! Then I thought, no, it’s actually far less dangerous than having lots of tourists jumping in  front of the traffic with their own cameras. At least these guys understand the traffic and which direction it’s coming from and in the short time I was there they only went out in the road when it was safe. Can’t imagine what it must be like in the summer – manic! This was 4pm on a grey, cold and rainy January day and there was a small queue forming! So I didn’t interrupt them and went on my way to the party, looking forward to working in Studio 1 and Studio 2 again.

Danson Festival: Leogun, Craig Charles.

Craig Charles, backstage at The Danson Festival 2013

Summer returned to the UK last week and last Sunday (7th July) I photographed the Danson Festival for Bexley. Very hot, unlike last year when it rained so much that my camera stopped working (Canon 5D mk11), fortunately last year I also had my 1Dmk111 which carried on regardless. Anyway back to this year. I followed and photographed the Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Sharon Massey,  around the site for a few hours while we both (and the tour group) slowly wilted in the heat. The Mayor meeting and greeting etc. We finished and I said goodbye to the Mayor and then spent the afternoon doing some general pics around the festival.

The day always ends with bands on the main stage and so there I found myself shooting the local London band Leogun, not the headline band but well worth a look in my opinion.

The heat of the day faded as I stood in the shade at front of the stage. This is where I switched into ‘gig’ mode: a history of shooting hundreds of gigs in the 70’s and 80’s (and a bit of the 90’s) came into play, it’s second nature, it’s like I am 25 again. After a hard day toting gear around in the heat this, for me, is a refreshing way to finish. The day ends with Craig Charles and The Fantasy Funk Band. After Leogun finish I catch a quick pic of Craig backstage before going out front to shoot the rest of the show.

Tommy Smith of Leogun at the Danson Festival 2013

The 80’s, Talk Talk, Wimbledon ?

Talk Talk, the New Forest , UK, 1983.

Recently I was photographing an 80’s themed event for a corporate client. The weather, unusually, remained acceptably warm so the event was held on the office rooftop overlooking London. After a while I started to take notice of the background music, and thought to myself:  photographed that band, and that one, and them, seen them, met him, etc.

A couple of days later I thought that maybe I should do the occasional retrospective in my blog. So here it is, 30 years ago this week I drove through Wimbledon in the early morning, passing the fans on their way to watch the tennis. I was on my way to shoot the band Talk Talk, one of the iconic bands of the eighties. I met them at their manager’s house and then we drove down to somewhere in the New Forest for the photos. One of the photographs from this shoot  was used last year in the unofficial biography ‘The Spirit of Talk Talk’.

Driving there and back through the Wimbledon tennis traffic has forever linked that shoot with  Wimbledon fortnight for me.