Company Freak Disco Collective

The Company Freak Disco Collective, led by Jason King, turned Central Park Summer Stage into a dance party today. Stars like Karl Dixon and Dawn Tallman (above), Ultra Nate, the ladies from Chic and many more brought back those Studio 54, Paradise Garage nights singing classic disco, soul and house – “dance dance dance dance ” – perfect start to the GayPride weekend.

Sir Cliff Richard

At the British Consulate in NYC to meet Sir Cliff Richard OBE and celebrate the start of Wimbledon. Sir Cliff was a fixture on the radio when I was a kid, his song Summer Holiday was a British ‘anthem’ in the sixties.

The Brothers Johnson

I shot this photo of  the Brothers Johnson chilling out  in Los Angeles in 1981 – love the number plate. George aka ‘Lightnin’ Licks’  and Louis aka ‘Thunder Thumbs’ recorded one of my favorite songs ‘Strawberry Letter 23′ which was originally recorded by the great Shuggie Otis .

José James

Singer Jose James has a new single out called  ’EveryLittleThing’ In true artist’s spirit of fearless experimentalism the new record shows his love for not only soul but rock and electronic based music. He grew up listening to bands like Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix and Radiohead and later spent many late nights in East London Clubs hearing electronic music. .

To celebrate this we decided to wander the streets of  Brooklyn to shoot the cover for the single (above) – it was a sunny day and we found this rusty painted flag wall – it seems just right.

José James’ new album ‘While You Were Sleeping’ comes out on June 10 – it is electrifying!

MCA Beastie Boys

One afternoon Dave Sussman rolled up to my place in his beautiful 1976 Cadillac. The ‘BKLYNWAY/BEASTIECADDY‘ is covered in photos of the Beastie Boys, as a fan described it  “ain’t enough o’s in smooooooth!” Dave created this art piece to honor the passing of MCA who sadly died in May 2012.

Coincidentally Ricky Powell, the man some call ‘the fourth Beastie’, just happened to be passing by – I think MCA would be be looking down smiling.

HVW8 Rebel Cultures: Punks Rap Gangs

My show at HVW8 Gallery for Art & Design in LA opened last Thursday, big thanks to Tyler, Nikolai, and Addison for throwing a great party, as well as my girl Jen from Art Duet for kicking it up and getting press from the likes of Jay ZComplexLA Weekly (Jake you rule) and Brent Rollins for the photo above. The show is called ‘Rebel Cultures.Punks, Rap, Gangs’ : images from British punk era, LA punk scene, Old School Hip Hop, and the East LA Hoyo Maravilla gang series.

HVW8 Gallery  is at 661 N Spaulding below Melrose Open Tues-Sun 1-6pm until May 18 2014

Corey Parks

Friday afternoon at the Sunset Marquis in LA. My friend Jen is showing me the ‘Hollywood Bubble’ pool scene – the hotel is known for celeb spotting, Kevin Costner etc ..  babes in bikinis with older Hollywood guys with large bank accounts, everyone is in the biz, music producers, writers, actors,
We are there to meet Corey Parks, the 6ft 3 bassist from Nashville Pussy, who can eat fire and  hangs with Hollywood rock royalty, sons and daughter of  the stars, Lemmy from MotorHead, Rod Stuart and the like. She is early, sitting on a yellow banquet by the pool – the first thing you see is her rock n rollness – tight  jeans, beat up silver ankle boots, black cowboy hat, ripped up T shirt, tattoos and a lot of jewelry. She stands up to shake our hands and she is very tall – like  a basketball player – her brother Cherokee Parks was in the NBA. She is bewitching and I am compelled to take her photo.

Tracy Chapman

I found this photo I shot of singer Tracy Chapman in 1988. The record company had been searching for the right photographer to shoot her press pictures. They had already done three photo shoots with some big name photographers but Tracy didn’t like the images and the record company knew she was going to be important. They needed someone who she would get along with and that turned out to be me. She arrived at my studio unaccompanied and we decided to take a stroll through the East Village – stopping at various spots to grab a couple of shots, talking about politics, music, racism in America – I was shooting Tri X film so there was no way to look at what we were getting but I think she felt at ease.We stopped for a coffee in the local diner before going back to the studio to shoot a few photos with her guitar one of which ended up on the 12″ sleeve ‘Talkin’ bout a Revolution’. Tracy grew up  poor in Cleveland, her lyrics on that first album touch on lazy, cops, race riots, wife beating and escaping poverty : “poor people gonna rise up and take what’s theirs” In spite of telling uncomfortable truths about the America she saw, her debut album beat out the likes of Def Leppard and Guns and Roses and rose to #1 in the charts that summer.

Absolut X Jose James

I’ve been working with jazz singer and musician Jose James for the past year.He’s been busy: playing with a 100 piece classical orchestra in Amsterdam, producing the trumpet player Takuya’s album, and writing and recording his new album – all while touring the world with his band.

We filmed a piece for Absolut Vodka last year – the theme was ‘Everyone expresses creativity differently but what happens when you apply your creativity to something completely new’ – Jose decided to apply his creativity to taking a photograph – I was to give him a nuts to bolts lesson on how to take a photo using black and white film, and make a print in the darkroom –  become, as he said, his ‘sensei’ for the day, José was an excellent student  Here it is:  Absolut X

Graffiti Artists

I first became aware of graffiti in London in 1982 – taking photos of the first hip hop tour to come to Europe for Melody Maker I met Futura and Dondi White who tagged the dumpster outside the hotel for my photo (see above), or maybe just because that was what they did. Earlier that month I had photographed American rapper J Walter Negro painting a mural of New York trains for the Christmas cover of the magazine. I loved this new art

Moving to New York later that year the art was everywhere. Commissioned by style magazine ‘The Face’ to photograph the Rock Steady Crew I went to Harlem to shoot them break dancing on a piece of cardboard in front of a huge mural of a tiger’s head. I photographed BDP aka Boogie Down Productions in the Bronx in front of a graffiti covered wall, Salt & Pepa on the Lower East Side, Bambaata and members of the Zulu Nation in the Bronx,Eric B and Rakim in NYC with graffiti behind them, Stetsasonic in Brooklyn posing with the Stetson sign covered in tags and stickers.I wondered who these unknown artists were that painted the backdrops for so many of my photographs.

In 1983 I was in Los Angeles documenting the East LA gang El Hoyo Maravilla – their turf was centered around the Hoyo Maravilla park and clearly marked by the local artists. East LA was covered in paintings too I shot punk band The Undertakers (below) at their rehearsal space in the barrio.

And today I am still thanking amazing artists like Cope2 for giving so much ‘Flava; to my photographs, and providing a time line for these images in the future.

GoHardBoyz The Bronx 2013