Phil Lynott - Tokyo 1979
After working with him a few times for the NME Phil Lynott and I became best friends and I became their Tour Photographer. In fact we got on so well that we shared a house for a few years, we went everywhere together and I went all over the World with them including numerous Tours of America, the UK, Europe and Australia. The highlight however was a trip to Japan for their first tour there in 1979. I had always wanted to go to Japan and found the place fascinating despite being unable to speak a word of Japanese. After spending a few days in Tokyo we moved on to Osaka and Nagoya which meant taking the high speed Bullet Train between towns. We were standing on the platform at the Tokyo Railway Station when a bunch of schoolboys recognized Philip and came over to ask for autographs, seeing them in the traditional school uniforms of the time I asked them to pose with Philip as there was a great contrast in the way they and Philip were dressed. Looking at this photo now their uniforms seem so formal, but back then this is how all Japanese Schoolboys dressed. I took many great photos of Philip but there is something about this photo that makes it my favourite. The clash of cultures makes it distinctive but the look on his face also captures this spirit of this great musician who left us way too soon.
Thin Lizzy - Sydney Opera House 1978
I travelled the world with Thin Lizzy, I did numerous American, British and European Tours, but I also went to Japan and Australia with the band.
The concert in Sydney was going to be televised live, a stage had been built on the steps of the Sydney Opera House and it was a free concert. This meant that more than a hundred thousand people showed up to see the performance.
This gave me the chance of one of the best backgrounds to a live photograph you could ever get. I positioned myself between the amps onstage and waited for the band to go on.
The first number was Jailbreak and the crew had built three ramps for the guitarists to use to get closer to the audience. Philip, Scott and Gary immediately used these ramps for the first chorus, Philip machine gunned the crowd in true Wilco Johnson style and the audience erupted in applause.
I rattled off about a dozen frames before the band came back onto the regular stage, I realized that my job was probably done, nothing could beat this photo for atmosphere, it really summed up the dynamic stage presence the band had.
Of course I shot more film, but this one frame, in black and white and shot in daylight is almost as good as the color image of Philip on his knees that graced the cover of Live and Dangerous.
Philip in the Diner - Philadelphia 1978
Taking photographs of your friends means that you can often get a truly relaxed photo, they trust you and it's all in the eyes, if the eyes are true and real then the photo looks so much natural.
I went all over the world with Thin Lizzy, including numerous American Tours, this photo was taken in Philadelphia one Sunday afternoon, we had a day off and Philip and I went for looking for a place to have breakfast.
This diner sums up that era of Americana for me, breakfast were always good in these places, a long way from a traditional English Breakfast but still delicious with bacon, eggs, home fries and toast made from any kind of bread you wanted.
With a juke box control on the counter these diners were the perfect place to hang out for a while, feed the juke box with a bunch of quarters and you could listen to all your favourite singles.
Sadly there are only a few of these diners left now, but William's Famous Bar B Q in Philadelphia is one I will always remember.
Phil Lynott and Graham Parker - Phoenix Arizona 1977
In 1977 the NME sent me off to LA cover the US Tour featuring Thin Lizzy and Graham Parker and the Rumour. Both bands were at the peak of their powers and the two bands produced some of the best live shows I have ever seen. But although I managed to get time with GP and the Rumour at the famed Hyatt House Hotel, Thin Lizzy proved more elusive and their manager suggested that I come with them on the road for a few more dates in Texas and Arizona and do the photos there when there were less distractions, whilst my job was to take photos of Lizzy, which I did out in the desert near Phoenix, I also wanted to get some photos of the two frontmen together, just for myself. The three of us went driving around Phoenix looking for locations. Being Brits we loved the Stop Don't Stop road signs and decided that this was just right for the photos, I was shooting close ups of the two guys when I saw that around the corner were a couple of Mexicans sitting quietly in the blistering heat. I told Philip and Graham to stay where they were and quickly ran across the street to take a photo that included the Mexicans. Back then it was unusual to do photos like this, where the Rock Stars are small in the frame, but it made for a very special photo, one of my very finest I think.