“Back then it was down to earth photographs taken in scruffy clubs or backstage changing rooms. Today everything is so ‘thought about’ image-concious, marketed and packaged. I know which I prefer. ” Sir Paul Smith Menswear Designer and British Style Icon

Three months ago the United Photo Industries crew Dave, Laura and Sam came by my studio – they asked me to curate a show for the opening night of Photoville: the best music photographs from the last 4 decades, we called it ‘Down & Dirty’. They were also drawn to the ‘MashUp’ project that I had hanging on the wall (legends from the graffiti world painting on my old school hip hop photos).

I’ve spent the last three months combing through rock n roll music images and the result is ‘Down & Dirty’ on display in a shipping container at Photoville, there is a free limited edition newspaper and of course the slide show which will be shown on Thursday during the opening night party. Plus extra bonus is a mega ‘MashUp’ created by artists Cey Adams and Queen Andrea on the side of our container (visible to the folk stuck in traffic on the BQE)


This show endeavors to highlight some of the great photographers that have documented music over the last four decades. These photographers followed bands capturing whatever they could, from intimate moments at home to fans crowd surfing at concerts, to gritty backstage scenes. The images were mostly created without the help of hair and makeup, stylists, no management in sight, just the photographer and the musician(s). Photographers, some you’ll have heard of and some not but you will know their images – such as Roberta Bayley, Godlis and Bob Gruen who captured the East Coast punk scene, Mick Rock who hung out with Bowie and Iggy and shot the glam rock scene, Chalkie Davis who shot the 2 Tone scene in the UK, David Corio and Adrian Boot who shot UK punk and reggae in Jamaica, Glen E Freidman who shot West coast punk, hip hop and skateboard culture, Danny Clinch ‘s photographs of so many genres from Tupac to Johnny Cash, Lawrence Watson’s post punk Brit pop, Jonathan Mannion, Michael Lavine’s 90’s hip hop, Michael Putland’s classic rock, Mel D Cole’s modern hip hop classics and the list goes on.

None of this would have been possible without the help of Julie Grahame (for those that don’t know Julie ran one of the world’s biggest music photo agencies), AmandaGorence fabulous photo editor and producer, and the Photoville posse who were crazy enough to ask me to do this.

And the beat goes on! Hope to see you at the opening this Thursday



Crazy Legs


Congratulations to breaking pioneer Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón of the legendary Rock Steady Crew who was honored at McDonalds B-Boy Royale today with a Lifetime Achievement Award. I took these photos of Crazy Legs in 1983 at the Roxy.


Straight Outta Compton



I shot this photo of NWA in 1990 in Torrance, The band were recording, we were out on the street outside the studio when I saw a cop car, flagged it down and asked if we could take a shot with the car. I don’t think the cop knew who the band were. After seeing the movie I am even more aware, why they may have seemed a little nervous. ‘Fuck Tha Police” seems all the more relevant today. The ‘Straight Outta Compton’ movie is great. Actors who play Eazy E and Ice Cube (Cube’s son in real life) are amazing. If you are an NWA fan go see it.


The Jam


Pete Townsend said; ‘The Jam were a very real manifestation of the kind of band I would have wanted to be in myself’.”

An exhibition ‘The Jam – About The Young Idea” just opened at Somerset House in London, the band symbolized life for Britain’s disenchanted youth during the late 70s and early 80s. I photographed them several times and documented their farewell concert in Brighton which ran in Melody Maker in 1982 (below).



Jose James Billie Holiday

Jose James’ new album is a tribute to the legendary singer  Billie Holiday We shot the cover photo in Amsterdam.

“My first clear musical memory is of Billie Holiday,” writes James in the album’s liner notes. “Billie’s voice floated through our house – grand, warm, intimate, and wholly unique…..Her work was mastery – of pain, of trauma, of faith in music and the power of transformation. I had found my teacher. Billie Holiday made me want to be a jazz singer and set me on the path that I’m walking today. “

Le Salon Paris Le MashUp

In Paris for an exhibition of ‘Le Mashup’ at Le Salon d’Atelier, a lovely gallery owned by Louise Gabet-Winter. Great crowd, most arrived on motor bikes, people stand outside the packed gallery smoking and drinking beer, we sold a bunch of art. Thanks to DJ Richie Reach for the hip hop tunes. Great review from the Paris daily newspaper Liberation .

Neneh Cherry

Last night Neneh Cherry played an amazing concert at the Highline in NYC – it was stronger, wilder, more soul than ever. I had not seen her perform since 1981 in Scotland when I photographed her post punk band Rip Rig and Panic (below) for Melody Maker.


The artist Liz Harris aka Grouper has a new album called ‘Ruins’ I shot this photo of her for the current Interview Magazine on a rainy afternoon below Canal Street.


The Wu-Tang Clan is back, their much-delayed LP will be released on December 2. The RZA (my archive photo above) is a vegan and featured in a PETA commercial. He told the NME “I think hip-hop has become more conscious about diet …My peers and people that are related to me appreciate the vegan lifestyle, it’s really spreading…. I don’t need a dead animal or dead piece of flesh to go into my live body. There’s nothing on this planet that doesn’t want to live. I had animals as friends, they were happy to see me in their own animal way. I’m quite sure they did not want to be on my plate.”

Don Was and Jose James

Jose James invited me to the studio to hear the mix for his new album due out next year. It is produced by the legendary Don Was who I have wanted to meet since 1981 when I first heard his album  Was (Not Was) a crazy mix of disco, rock, politics, jazz and everything else that said ‘America’ to me. So finally I got to make this portrait of the two of them standing in a jungle of vintage microphones at Sear Sound. Don is not wearing shoes – like another great producer Rick Rubin who I photographed in 2011 barefoot at the New York Library talk for the launch of the book Def Jam Records: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label. And btw Jose’s album sounds just amazing