Thursday, 28 August 2008

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Originally uploaded by pixlink

A photo I found when cleaning out to decorate some rooms. Where I got it from I don't know. It's a publicity photo for the 1971 Joe Cocker film 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'.

It brings back memories though. I remember this album playing endlessly at Jackie MacKay's house when I was about nine or ten. She was married to the musician, photographer and all-round creative genius Ruan O'Lochlainn and their eldest son was the same age as my younger sister. They lived near us in Chiswick. There was always something happening at their house, it was quite a scene.

To me it was a strange and magical place. I had no idea until I was much older who all the people that came and went were but there was always lots of musicians jamming in the sitting room which I thought was fantastic. It felt like a family living in the midst of a rock 'n roll tour. Then one day, they sold their house and began touring the country in a converted moving van and we'd only see them when they dropped in our place for a cup of tea and a bath.

Some years later, when settled back in London, it was Jackie who encouraged my interest in photography. When I got my first camera, she let me use her darkroom to develop the film and make prints. And later I went with her to several Billy Bragg concerts, (actually they were Riff-Raff gigs back then ) as Jackie sort of managed the band and shot videos for them, including one she made in my house, 'Every Girl an English Rose' if I recall the title. Shortly after this Billy went off to the army and then had a solo career and I don't think the video has seen the light of day?

I think a few of the photos here are mine and were taken at the Red Cow in Hammersmith. Jackie gave me a couple of rolls of film to shoot with and I gave them to her to develop but I never saw the prints. That night Billy came off stage and said to me "what do you think then?" And I said, "they're great songs, but your sound is a bit rough." Upon which he exploded and said "it's supposed to sound that way!" I had to buy him a pint by way of apology. I don't think he appreciated my honest opinion and I suppose I had missed the point. My upbringing had instilled different expectations of musicianship. From then on I kept my mouth shut and stuck to taking pictures.

Looking back at the photo, I find it quite symbolic. It's the end of the sixties, the beginning of the seventies. If you look at the fashions, the clues are all there.

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