Legendary NME photographer Chalkie Davies contributed countless classic images for the magazine during his career. His ‘Chalkie Davies Goes Click’ exhibition is now running at London’s Snap Galleries until April 26. Click here for more information.
David Bowie, photographed for the front cover of his 1986 single ‘Absolute Beginners’. “David agreed that there was something special about this frame, and agreed for it to be used,” says Chalkie. “To this day it’s the only time he ever smiled on a cover.”
The Clash, 1977. Chalkie: “Looking at this photo you can see three distinct characters, each completely different from the other, and just like all the other great bands when you put them together the sum was much greater than the parts.”
John Lydon. Chalkie: This was Public Image time, he was complaining loudly and was uninterested in having his photograph taken. But in retrospect it’s a really good photograph, and it sums up the anger and frustration burning up inside him.”
Sid And Nancy. Chalkie: “When I shared a house with Phil Lynott, there were often musicians around. Sid and Nancy came over with them a couple of times, they did not behave like they did in public, they were well behaved and polite. One night I asked them to pose for pictures in our bathroom, they duly obliged and the photo appeared on the front page of the NME.”
The Ramones: “In early 1977 Mick Farren and I went to New York to check out the punk scene, where we went to all the usual clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s. But the main reason we were there was to do a cover story on the Ramones. They did what they did best and posed in leather jackets and ripped jeans, the archetypal punk look.”
Bruce Springsteen. Chalkie: “He signed a couple of autographs and then looked up at the big sign above the entrance [of the Hammersmith Odeon]. ‘Finally London is Ready for Bruce Springsteen’ it proclaimed. I took this photo exactly at the moment he was reading it. His mood changed immediately and he appeared agitated and upset.”
Debbie Harry, 1977. Chalkie: “I had met Debbie Harry a number of times, and when the NME decided to put her on the cover in 1977 I suggested that we shoot the photos in the studio instead of he normal reportage style. Debbie virtually defines the word photogenic and I knew that no matter how little experience I had in the studio we would produce great photos together. “