I suppose I was lucky- and stroppy. At Newcastle University I had a confident girlfriend. She lent me a stylish Rollieflex camera and I learned how to develop & print in her (Fine Art Department) darkroom. Professor Rowntree, (“The Queen’s favourite painter”!) saw some of my prints and commissioned me to illustrate the Department catalogue.
Then one day mate told me that The Who were playing at The Bay Hotel Sunderland that night- would I like a lift? I had one roll of film & the Rollei- no flash- ended up behind the speakers leaning over their roadie, Bob Pridden.
Luckily again- we’d met John Peel at Newcastle City Hall. He already knew a poetry-writing flatmate of ours & opted for a bed in Osborne Road rather than anther cold night in his Dormobile. And so began a supportive friendship….which ended up with my picture of himself and his wife-to-be Sheila Gilhooly being used as the cover for his part- posthumous autobiography.
I became a regular at the City Hall- security was run by off-duty ambulance workers at the time – I sort-of remember. Almost all the acts I asked for ‘permission to capture’ were agreeable – many very friendly, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Captain Beefheart- other less so- David Bowie’s management and Van Morrison.
We spent the summer of 1969 camping out & acting as secretaries to Mr Peel in Upper Harley Street. A host of STARS would drop by…..I went back to finish my degree and my partner stayed in London to do her Masters.
I carried on with the camera for a while- maybe 2 years- snapping Brethren before they became Lindisfarne and accompanying Tyneside favourites The Junco Partners to Paris- as their (ha ha) French translator. Back to London- the relationship had ended- much sleeping on friends’ floors and eventually playleadership….