Andy Willsher’s been one of our top photographers for years, and now there’s an exhibition devoted to his work. The Black And White Collection runs from November 4 until Decembe 31 at London’s The Book Club. Pictured: Marina at Reading 2010.
U2. “This was taken in Dublin inbetween filming a video to promote the upcoming 360 Tour,” recalls Andy, “and was used in the program for that tour. I’d shot them all separately during the day and finally they all came together at the end. It was pretty quick but amazing to shoot.”
Ian Brown. “Ian had just played a gig at Claremont Gardens and surprised everyone by playing nearly all Stone Roses songs. This was taken a week later and he was still on a massive high from that and an absolute pleasure to work with.” Video interview – Andy on his best ever shots.
Richard Hawley. “This was taken at Somerset House and for about an hour beforehand it had been raining really hard and there were lots of panicked phone calls asking if there was a back-up plan. Richard turned up just as the rain stopped, lit a cigarette and the whole of Somerset House was deserted behind him.”
Paul Weller. “This was taken at The Social in the West End for Uncut and I must admit to feeling quite nervous as I’d grown up with The Jam. He turned up, had a cup of tea, and uttered the words, ‘Where do you want me young man?’ What a gent.” Pick up the new issue of NME, which features free posters of Andy’s best shots.
Mumford And Sons. “This was really early on in the band’s career. They’d just done a radio session in the West End and they’d walked all the way to Regent’s Park to meet me with a massive double bass and all their instruments. They then happily rowed out into the lake and actually wrote a new song.”
Biffy Clyro. “The best live band around and probably the loudest on stage as well. This was a massive homecoming festival appearance at T In The Park this year and probably the highlight of most people’s weekends. It’s so refreshing when a band loves you crawling inbetween amps and drums trying to get the most interesting shots.”
Courtney Love. “Myself and [writer] Dan Martin were in LA and we decided to try and track down Courtney. We headed out to the studio where she was recording with Linda Perry, not sure if she’d do any photos. She literally dragged me into the main room and I shot her for three minutes strumming an acoustic and then she was off.”
Radiohead, 1995. “The band had just come off-stage at Milton Keynes Bowl after supporting R.E.M. and we decided to go for a walk. Firstly the police stopped some traffic so they could pose in the middle of the road. Later on, they all lay down in the road.”
Foo Fighters. “The band were doing promo for their new album in a hotel in Covent Garden and thankfully there was this little room with amazing paintings on the wall. It wouldn’t be Dave Grohl though without a cigarette on the go.”
Damon Albarn. “For the Gorillaz NME cover this year the idea was for Jamie Hewlett to illustrate his cartoon characters around Damon. Basically, Jamie shouted out words over my shoulder while Damon pulled some amazing faces.”
The White Stripes. “I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot the White Stripes from the side-of-the-stage many times and this felt like a really important gig – the middle of the afternoon on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stag. They were mesmerising. The next time, they came back as headliners.”
Glasvegas. “We’d arranged for James to interview his musical hero Ian McCulloch from Echo & The Bunneymen and James was pretty nervous about it. As soon as Ian turned up, the Sambucas started to flow and the nerves evaporated. So many people have looked at the shot once and thought it’s Joe Strummer.”
Carl Barat and Morrissey. “At Reading Festival we used to get different bands together for the cover. This was Morrissey’s first ever gig at Reading and The Libertines were on the same day. We’d just woken up from Carl from his tour bus and for some reason he’d picked up a banana along the way.”
Shirley Manson, Garbage. “This was taken in the dressing rooms of The Razzmatazz Club in Barcelona, and I was slightly nervous asking her to apply some make-up in the name of art.”
Ryan Adams. “Another hero of mine (my dog is named after him), and all I wanted to do was talk about his next album. Thankfully he humoured me and stared out of his hotel room overlooking Hyde Park. He never stays anywhere else.”
Coldplay, 2006. “This was taken at Isle of Wight festival and I remember them having to build the extra stage to take them close to the crowd. It’ll always be dated by that England inflatable football on the stage” (the World Cup had just kicked off).
Andy Burrows. “While Andy recorded his debut album at East Cote studios with Eliott James I popped in a couple of times and documented the process. I’ve been working with Andy since he joined Razorlight back in 2004 and one of the few people I’ve met who’s so enthusiastic about doing photo-shoots and so good to work with.”
Arcade Fire. “This was taken at the Hackney Empire in July of this year, just before ‘The Suburbs’ was released. Probably my favourite gig of the year in an amazing venue and he reminds me of Joe Strummer in this shot. The proceeds from the sale of this print are going to the Haiti Charity that Regine is involved with.”