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E I K L A CH DAVIES heard of e v a h t o n y a m u o Y t recognise o n t h ig m u o y , im h hances c t u b t, e e tr s e th him on e work of th n e e s e ’v u o y re a ts have o h s is H . s ie v a D Chalkie s of NME e g a p e th d e rn o d a l point of a c fo e th n e e b d n a rs. He e v o c rd o c re ic n o many ic ld about o n r A r e th a e H talks to nt return to his work’s immine Wales. How do you feel about your retu rn to Wales? I am starting by talking to my dear frien d Chris Difford [from Squeeze] at the Laugharne Weekend. It's my first ever gig and at the Millennium Hall. We’re speak ing after Alexei Sayle, which seems the wron g way around. I have no idea why I'm on after him, perhaps he has to get home early . The honour bestowed by National Muse um Wales is very humbling. To have a retrospective at the National Museum in Cardiff means the world to me. They have been incredibly supportive of this project. It has taken three years to restore and print these images, but worth every minu te. Can you remember the first pho tographs you ever took? I used to go to Barry Scrapyard, where all the steam trains were sent to die. I took pictures of the engines, often in close up, which foreshadowed my second career, 1988-2011, when I moved to New York and opened a still life studio, working for clients as diverse as the New York Time s, Clinique and Apple. My first live show was Led Zeppelin in 1972 at Alexandra Palace. That was a breakthrough moment. What drew you to photograph y? I loved looking at LP sleeves and there were three records that really stuck out. When Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother came out, the cover was a photo of a cow; visually it was stunning, such a powerful image and it championed the idea that you didn’t have to feature the group. Then the next one was Concerto For Group And Orchestra by Deep Purple and the London Philharmo nic Orchestra. It was a picture of the insid e of the Albert Hall but the group were just in a box – meaning they seemed tiny. That made me think ‘you can do this more often , you can make sleeves that don’t have to be a picture of the group’. When Meddle, by Pink Floyd, came out the inside cover was a photo of the BUZZ 14

group on a white background. I loved the stark look, the intimacy of just the four members sittin g in a row. There was something about that picture that grabbed me. I'd say that was when I knew I wanted to be like Hipg nosis, the design company that did the artwork for Meddle. Many years later I worked on a David Gilmour LP sleeve with Storm Thor gerson, from Hipgnosis, and discovered that it’s actually four individual pictures put together. One of the ways Hipgnosis worked was to creat e an unreality within a reality by taking a picture, moving the camera, taking another picture and stitching them together. So Meddle alway s stuck in my mind. Working with Storm was a childhood dream achieved. Rock'n'roll gave me the chance to meet, and work with, pretty much every one I admired. I was very lucky to have the opportunities that I did. I went all over the world. I had the best job. Working on the NME at such a crucial and pivotal time was an incredible experience. You left your career as an airc raft engineer to go into photography –what mad e you decide to take the leap? I came home after Bowie's final gig as Ziggy Stardust and looked at the film. There were a lot of good images. I felt it was my destiny to do this. Being an aircraft engineer and fixing computers on jumbo jets was cool, but the lure of joining the rock'n'roll circus was too great to resist.

Why did you decided pursue rock photography? At the NME as well as live work we also photographed the musicians during inter views, this meant pictures of people talking. This wasn’t always that great because you’d end up with pictures of their hand in their face. So I think in early ‘76 I sugge sted there was another way to do this and could we get five minutes separ ately to photoraph the people. The Debbie Harr y picture might be one of the first studio thing I did. Once I did that I thought ‘this is much bette r, I really like this’ so I would drag lights everywhere and start setting up. The Clash cover in ‘77 is the first white back ground NME cover, although it was done in a tiny space at [Clash mana ger] Bernie Rhodes' office, but you can see the development from there. It was slightly going against type because a picture in a studio was normally consi dered to be a press picture – a handout picture from the PR. But I thought you could do more than just line these people up. I also think it’s a much purer form of photography because you just have the person against a plain background. You zero in on the face or the person and there’s nothing to distract you. I moved into the studio in 1979 and never came back out.

Buzz April 2015 - Music Issue  

Buzz brings some music nostalgia with the photographs of NME staff photographer Chalkie Davies, we interview indie band Belle And Sebastian,...

Buzz April 2015 - Music Issue  

Buzz brings some music nostalgia with the photographs of NME staff photographer Chalkie Davies, we interview indie band Belle And Sebastian,...

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