bought my first camera, a Kodak Brownie 127, when I was seven. After
several amateur assignments and an early experience of developing and
printing my photographs at home, I was eager to venture into the professional
world of photography. My father commuted daily to London on a train with
several other businessmen that included Gerry Marks, the editor of a pop
periodical, Disc and Music Echo.
through exams, I hurriedly left school and joined Dezos studio on
December 4th 1967. I was sixteen.
shot my first magazine front cover a week later of the Manfred
Mann group (published, February 10th 1968); my second cover was the
Beatles (published, September 14th 1968) for the 'Yellow Submarine'
was 1968, Hoffmann was concentrating on European festivals being
an active member of F.I.D.O.F. and was delighted to enjoy the new found
success of his teenaged apprentice, me!
did not know that Dezo had lost his magazine retainer with the Record
Mirror due to the publisher's cut back. Needing to reduce costs and maintain
income, Dezo encouraged me to shoot as a freelance. So about six months
later, in 1969, he unemployed me and I became a self-employed "freelance
photographer" with a small weekly retainer (which covered my train
fare and lunch), plus commission for publication sales (which he never
paid). I was covering pop press features and BBC TV shows
and not getting paid. I was helped by some people who gave me credit for
film and cameras.
paid me and allowed me to set up a darkroom at his studio. For the
next year I made his presentation prints. Gered did not exploit me, but
instead encouraged me to freelance from his studio, until I became so
busy that I just had to leave (midway through my session with Steely Dan)
and opened my own London studio the following week. (Gered and I are still
continued to photograph the British rock and pop scene and visiting
touring US bands. I was tour photographer for Iggy Pop and Deep Purple,
and continued covering The Old Grey Whistle Test. I photographed
several country music musicians in my studio and at festivals, during
itchy feet, excited by America and it's commercial possibilities,
I moved to Nashville and opened a studio in 1978. An amazing opportunity
to photograph the country music scene unfolded.
the 80s I was often shooting a session a day, many of which were LP album
covers. The nights were spent printing in my darkroom. After a few years
of a pounding schedule, I was forced into a break when part of my home
and studio collapsed in a construction accident.
I lost the house, my car and my business assets, due to an unprecidented
sales tax audit by the Tennessee Department of Revenue, who swooped on
all Nashville photographers. I was hit the hardest being the highest profile
photographer (at the time) in Nashville. Simultaneously, I went through
a divorce, after a brief three year marriage.
may read like a traditional Country song, well at least I got my dog back!
And so with my two dogs, Duke and Damien, I moved to a warehouse space
in downtown Nashville, that became my studio and home for the next seven
this transitional period, I was introduced to silk-screen printing,
which became an immediate commercial success. My first photo-screen print
was of Merle Haggard, which I licensed to CBS Records for Merle Haggard;
Greatest Hits of the 80s.
next screen print was of Johnny Cash, which set the stage for a series
of ten albums for CBS Records (now Sony) called, American Originals.
have been fortunate during the past fifty years to have been involved
with hundreds of LP and CD covers, either as photographer, or as art director/designer,
which has offered me the opportunity to work with some of the classic
Country artists, the rebels, and the originators of a style.
has now grown from a small city into a metropolis that exports music worldwide.
Originally known for Bluegrass and Country, Nashville has a variety of
home grown music ranging from regional folk to classical to Jazz, to Blues,
to Pop, and Alternative. The city has expanded and matured far beyond
the conservatism and haybale, hillbilly stigma of the seventies. The horse
has been now been replaced by the fuel hungry SUV.
Nashville has some of the best studios, engineers and musicians on this planet. With shifting trends It is hard to find real country music anymore without delving into the vaults or browsing Ernest Tubb's Record Store, downtown. Fortunately, the new generation of bluegrass musicians are strong and creatively authentic, pushing boundaries and expanding musical horizons.
Nashville countryside is always a great place to go for a walk or a bike
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