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THURSDAY MAY 26 2016
#TBT Flashback <<

This was MY FIRST MAGAZINE COVER / RECORD MIRROR - FEBRUARY 1968. (Published every Thursday)

I was sixteen and had been a professional since December 3rd 1967 working with Dezo Hoffmann as his assistant.
That lasted a few more months till Dezo's Record Mirror retainer ended and so did my employment. I went solo,
became a freelancer and have remained a self employed "freelance" photographer for forty eight years.
MANFRED MANN
were on the cover promoting their new single, MIGHTY QUINN (Bob Dylan song).
The illustration is by Lon Goddard. We are still friends. The Record Mirror editorial staff were fabulous, led by editor Peter Jones

(deceased), who guided a teenager to be a real photographer. We are scattered across the universe, but still communicate.


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MARCH 18 2015
FREE IN THE TELEGRAPH
My photograph of FREE from September 1970 was published by The Telegraph (UK) today.


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SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE, SEVEN (UK)
Published October 5th
2014




It’s common for would-be photographers to begin their careers helping established photographers. It’s known in the trade as “assisting”.
Not so common, perhaps, is a first gig assisting on a photo shoot with Jimi Hendrix dressed as Santa Claus. But that’s where Alan Messer found himself in December 1967. It’s common for would-be photographers to begin their careers helping established photographers.
It’s known in the trade as “assisting”. Not so common, perhaps, is a first gig assisting on a photo shoot with Jimi Hendrix dressed as Santa Claus.
But that’s where Alan Messer found himself in December 1967.

London was swinging and Messer, a starry-eyed 16-year old born in Kent, was working at the Gerrard Street studio of music photographer Dezo Hoffmann. Hoffmann had made a name for himself photographing such luminaries as the Beatles, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington.
Hoffmann had a contract with the now-defunct music newspaper Record Mirror and the paper had commissioned him to shoot a Christmas cover of Hendrix dressed as Father Christmas. “Jimi and the band came in,” Messer recalls, “but Jimi didn’t want to take off his hat so he put on the Father Christmas outfit on top.”

Fast-forward 47 years and Messer, who now calls Tennessee home, has spent his career photographing some of the biggest names in music on both sides of the pond, from John Lennon and The Who to Diana Ross, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. He’s working on a book of photographs of Cash, who he was close to until the musician’s death in 2003, some of which have never been seen before.

Messer who lives in Nashville still has an English accent, despite 30-plus years in the States. He shows me a couple of the many album covers he’s shot: Steve Earle’s Guitar Town; a gospel album for Al Green; Stevie Ray Vaughan’s In Step.
His first shoot as principal photographer was of the Small Faces. “I wasn’t nervous,” he tells me. “Because I knew I could do it. I had a few minutes up on the roof of a building with the boys and I got the shot.”

Messer recalls a brief cover shoot he had with Keith Richards for Ray Gun magazine. “I set up my background and lights and waited for Keith to come in. But he didn’t arrive till 9.25 pm and by 9.30 pm he was on stage with the Stones. He was in the room with me for three-and-a-half minutes and I had three minutes to shoot. I thought, if the Stones can sell their new single on Top of the Pops in three minutes, I can get the picture I want in three minutes too.”

He also took some of the first pictures of John Lennon when he was with Yoko Ono, but not until Lennon himself said
it was all right. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to photograph them together,” Messer says. “He was still married but John, I think, picked up on [my hesitation] and asked if I could take some pictures for him.”

Messer got the taste for North America in 1972 when he spent four days in Canada on a music junket. But a trip to Nashville four years later sold him on Tennessee. Soon, he’d made a niche for himself photographing stars of the country music scene. “The photography in Nashville at the time was terrible,” he says. “In England the UK press couldn’t use the American pictures that were being sent over, they were so predictable. Country music stars grinning against the backdrop of a tree.” Messer’s pictures stood out.

He first met Johnny Cash (who he called John) in 1976 but it wasn’t until a decade later that Messer was asked to accompany him on tour.
He says Cash and his wife June Carter were like his “American uncle and aunt”. In 1999 he spent a week in Jamaica with the couple.
“Professionally, John is the Man in Black, morose, dark, brooding, but the John I knew was a laugh-a-minute. He’d run practical jokes on his friends until they paid off,” Messer says. He tells the story of a shopping trip in New York in which Cash insisted he bought Messer a photographer’s jacket. Messer refused the gift, but months later, one afternoon at Cash’s house, Cash appeared wearing the same jacket, took it off,
and handed it to him. “I want you to have this,” he said. Messer couldn’t refuse.

Written by Alex Hannaford
© Photographs by Alan Messer (except 7 - Small Faces © Rex Features)

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Published October 13 2014

George asked me during the afternoon of September 23rd 1974 to shoot this concert for him.
I had met and photographed Ravi a few months earlier at The Savoy Hotel in London. This was a brilliant concert. Thank you George and Ravi.
Here's some YouTube video




Some of my photographs appear in the "Collaboration" box set, 2010. Unfortunately my concert pictures are credited to another photographer who was not there. George asked me personally to photograph the concert and I consequently printed him a set of 12x15 black and white prints which I hand delivered to Dark Horse Records.
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JULY 4 2014
My pictures of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN featured in
The BLUES Magazine (UK)


ALSO

SRV - "PRIDE & JOY"
BUDGET EDITION PRINTS ON SALE

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JULY 2014

Tennessean feature on Alan Messer

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+

ALAN MESSER INTERVIEW
for Greek Blues Hall of Fame.


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FEB 13 2014



Hyde Park 1968
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JULY 5 2013

THE ROLLING STONES - DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)


I was 18 when I took this picture. The concert is both memorable and historic.
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DECEMBER 2011
NASHVILLE ARTS MAGAZINE feature.

this was the biggest selling issue of Ray Gun
design by david Carson

Keith Richards - cover


TEACHER Austrailia Sept 2007

February 1968

September 1968

JUNE 2005 issue
 Johnny Cash UK Fanzine 
includes: Interview with Alan Messer



Bob Marley and The Wailers
Old Grey Whistle Test

Mojo Classic Oct 2005


david Carson design Beach Culture 1990


The London publication Q ran a 13 page feature on Alan Messer


   

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