Brian Eno

Brian Eno - Virgin Records 1978

The Clash - NME Cover 1976

The NME put the Clash on the cover for the first time in April 1977. I wanted to make sure it was something special, a photo people would remember.

The Clash has their clothes made by Sebastian Conran, he had a sewing machine set up in a room next to Bernie Rhodes office at Rehearsal Rehearsals in Camden. Bernie felt the clothes were an important part of the Clash's image and they always had group shots done full length for maximum effect.

But that fact bothered me, and it made me want to do something else, to shoot their heads, close up, and put that on the cover instead. I negotiated carefully with Bernie for this, placating him with lots of full length pictures shot outside first, and then I shot this photo against a white wall in his office.

It was the first photo I had ever shot against white, it was what I had always wanted to do, ever since I saw the inside sleeve of Meddle back in 1971, it allowed you to isolate the subject against white, makes for nice and clean cover too. I had bought an inflatable soft box that attached to my flash gun, Tony Parsons held it above my head while I shot the variations.

Yes, variations, the Clash were democratic, right, so I did a version with each band member facing the camera. This kept everyone happy although I knew all along it would look best with Paul in the centre, he was the handsome one, in fact I only showed the paper that version. 

All three variations were done on fourteen frames of film, mainly because the flash took so long to recharge, also because film was expensive. The result is one of my best covers, and the first one on white.