As NME’s chief photographer for much of the ’80s and ’90s, Kevin Cummins became synonymous with the ‘Madchester’ era. His work is collected in a new book, ‘Manchester: Looking For The Light Through The Pouring Rain’. This photo came from one of his early assignments: shooting Joy Division at Futurama, Queen’s Hall, Leeds, September 8, 1979.
Shaun Ryder and Tony Wilson outside the Factory Records office, Charles Street, Manchester, November 1989. Happy Mondays were recording ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches’ at the time.
Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder on “the biggest E of his life”. Cummins recalls: “We were in Barcelona. We went up to the roof of the hotel and I wanted to shoot Shaun in amongst the ‘hot’ of the ‘hotel’ sign. But then I spotted the letter next to it… It was such a good shot, it didn’t even need a coverline. It captured the zeitgeist perfectly.”
The now-iconic Stone Roses shoot. “I basically wanted to get Manchester City colours on the cover of NME,” says Cummins. “Afterwards they all went back to Ian’s flat to get cleaned up – it made me laugh to imagine them all in the bath together. I kept Rennie’s hat as a souvenir of the day.”
New Order in the studio, 58 Baring Street, Manchester, November 1 1985, around the time of their ‘Low-Life’ album.
Sly Street, East London, February 21, 1994, two months before the
release of their debut single, ‘Supersonic’. “Shooting Oasis always
involved an element of drama,” recalls Cummins. “The first time I went
away abroad with them for NME the writer, Simon Williams, had to take a
week off to recover. He was shell-shocked.”
Morrissey, Rochdale Canal, Manchester, September 5, 1989. “After The Smiths split, I was working with both Morrissey and Johnny Marr, which led to some awkwardness,” recalls Cummins. “Sometimes Morrissey would get possessive. If he got wind I was going off to work with Johnny, he’d then call me up and commission me for something.”
Electronic in LA: “A typical blag,” says Cummins. “Electronic were in the States supporting Depeche Mode. We were on Sunset Boulevard and saw a tattoo parlour. Johnny [Marr] was too scared to get a real tattoo, so he drew one on. Or rather I did, because Johnny couldn’t draw.”
The Buzzcocks. Kevin Cummins shot them for his first NME cover – and theirs.
Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder in Havana, Cuba. “Shaun disappeared for a haircut, which made the shots I’d already taken unusable – it made continuity all wrong. But I took the shot anyway, because it had a lovely period quality, almost like a film still.”
Oasis in New York. Er, except this photo was actually taken in Manchester. “It was supposed to be an on-the-road piece, but in time-honoured fashion I didn’t actually go to New York. We were winging it. That’s actually my shirt Noel’s wearing – I lent it to him so they’d both be wearing blue.”
Morrissey in Japan. “This was a memorable feature, because Morrissey wrote it himself, in the form of photo captions. And I thought it was a nice, bold cover. Just showing his back: magazines wouldn’t have the guts to do that these days.”