“This shoot was taken in Bob Dylan’s small NY apartment by veteran Colombia records photographer, Don Huntstein in 1963,” Jill explains. “Shortly afterwards, Bob and his girlfriend Suze Rotola stepped out into a snowy street followed by Don who then shot the seminal cover for Freewheelin’. These portraits are a wonderful collaboration between photographer and subject.”
Jill loves this shot of Chuck Berry, taken by Bob Gruen in 1971. She explains, “Bob was being removed by a security man (not sure why as we were allowed to shoot the whole show in those days) but he kept shooting as the guy lifted him into the air and shot this last perfect frame. Bob is still shooting gigs and loving it.”
Fernando Aceves took this portrait of David Bowie in Mexico City in 1997, he explains, “Bowie stopped to study this mural by Diego Rivera. Suddenly his figure seemed to merge into the painting and I was able to confirm why he is also known as ’The Chameleon.’” Jill praises Aceves as “a master of colour portraiture as well as an expert live photographer”.
This Jimi Hendrix piece was taken by Barrie Wentzell in 1967. Jill picks it as one of her favourites: “What I love about Wentzell’s work is the compassion in all his portraits. You can really feel the people in the pictures. It is partly that those were innocent times and partly Barrie’s vibe. He is one of the most generous, lovable people I have ever met in the business.”
This portrait of Morrissey was taken in 1991 by Kevin Cummins who explains, “The package in bubble wrap next to Morrissey is a portrait of him from a fan – I love to think he has a room dedicated to pictures of himself from adoring fans.” “This picture continues to fascinate me,” Jill comments. “It looks as though Santa had visited during the night and left presents for a sleeping child!”
“Lex van Rossen worked for the Dutch music press before his untimely death in 2007,” Jill speaks about the man who took this photo of Debbie Harry. “When we went to select work from his immense archive, we were startled to find that Lex’s filing system consisted of uncut negatives coiled up in boxes without contact sheets. He maintained that he was always too busy shooting to bother with filing.”
Jill says, “That The Clash look stylish and attentive in this wonderful 1980s portrait is not only because they were naturally charismatic, but also because of the woman behind the lens. Naturally modest and self-effacing, Sheila Rock has the ability to make even the scruffiest individual look elegant. Her work with Debbie Harry, Paul Weller and John Lydon is poetic in its stylish simplicity.”
“Janette Beckman worked extensively for the British music press in the late 70s,” explains Jill. “This classic portrait, shot with her much loved Hasselblad in 1980, was a cover shot for Melody Maker. The headline was ‘The Punk and the Godfather’, Paul Weller the epitome of mod boy elegance and Pete Townsend the old rocker outside the Marquee Club on Wardour Street.”
“We have a policy to publish work that is important to the history of rock even if it has little commercial appeal,” says Jill. “We were as repulsed by this image as the person looking at him on the left of the picture, but it says everything about Richey Edwards. A man who dappled at the edge of danger with his music and his life.” It was taken by Ed Sirrs in 1991.
“Ray Stevenson has one of the most fascinating archives in rock history – Hendrix, Marc Bolan, David Bowie before he became Ziggy Stardust,” explains Jill. “Ray was at the birth of many important rock eras before they became commercial. His Sex Pistols archive is unique as he was on the scene with his brother Nils, their manager before Malcolm McLaren, at the beginning.” This was taken in 1977.
Jill took this portrait of Marley in 1978. She says, “The only light in the room came from a lamp on the ceiling. I had a flash-gun but I prefer available light whenever possible. I decided to ask Bob to tilt his head back to catch the light. After a few minutes of posing this way smoking a relaxing spliff he threw his head back all the way and his knitted hat fell to the floor making him smile.”
“Tremendous gig, incendiary atmosphere,” Jill reminisces about taking this shot of The Clash in 1977. “This was the gig where fans ripped up the seats and there was nearly a riot. It is hard to believe that in essence the punk era only lasted from mid-1976 to the end of 1977; its effects were so strong they are still with us now.”
Jill took this photo of Japan’s David Sylvian in 1982. She explains, “It was hard for me to relate to the MTV/fashion era. One small compensation was Nick Logan’s ground-breaking magazine, The Face. Untrained in studio photography, I decided to learn how to use lighting and large format cameras so I could work for them. My first success was this image of David painting his face in a mirror.”
Jill says, “I was returning from maternity leave when I began work with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders in 1988 on a book project called ‘Living Without Cruelty’. I began my research by looking at horrible photos of battery farming and chained up laboratory animals. These thoughts combined to produce the cage idea. This shot with my baby Leah means the most to me.”
“This picture of Watts from The Rolling Stones in 1991 was part of a series taken for Q Magazine,” says Jill. “It was taken in a hotel room in Holland Park using a Hasselblad and a portable studio flash. The picture was only used small on the contents page. Feeling it worthy of more, I entered it into the Observer Portrait competition and won first prize in 1992.”
“I flew out to meet Oasis on their second America tour at the beginning of 1995,” Jill tells NME. “They were playing small venues and living on a tour bus with hotels booked every two days or so. This was taken after a night on the bus, so they were tired and a little dishevelled. I love the double, disrespectful Gallagher yawns! It reminds me of the punk era.”
Jill explains, “I met Richard Ashcroft in Milan in 2009. The record company had arranged a car and guide to show him around Milan. He invited me along and I gratefully accepted. This image was taken on Richard’s Leica M6 (he had a camera, I had a roll of Tri-X in my bag) in the Duermo Cathederal in Milan. The spots of light in his glasses are from hundreds of lit candles, the only light source.”
“I still get the shudders when I look at this picture,” says Jill about this shot of Oasis in 2009. “This is the moment when the generator failed for the second time at Heaton Park, leaving Oasis without sound in front of a huge drink-fuelled crowd. The band left the stage while the promoters battled to find a replacement. It would have turned ugly in the crowd if the sound hadn’t been restored.”
Jill took this shot of Devendra Barnhart at Glastonbury 2010. She says, “Before I had heard any of his music I saw an article on Devendra and thought he looked and sounded intriguing. So I made a point of finding him at Glastonbury. Meetings with remarkable people, that’s what it’s all about. This is a very simple portrait taken backstage but I like the vibe.”
“I met Blondie guitarist Chris Stein backstage at the Hop Festival this year,” explains Jill. “He kindly invited me onto the stage to shoot the whole of Blondie’s show instead of the usual 3-songs-and-out. This gave me time to create one of my ‘joiner’ images – in essence a mini-movie of the event. Blondie are still a great band and it was a joy to see them put on a brilliant show.”