David Thorpe Photography

Professional Pix

Pictures for Money

Michael Jackson, what can you say. This was a live shot at Wembley. I don't like stadium rock events in general, too distant and impersonal, the music too processed. But covering a live concert in a stadium, that's different. You're up and close to the band and it's more like being at a gig than an 'event' with all the pomp and glamour that implies.

I've photographed most of the best bands and rock artists in the world. In the early days it was much more fun, the bands less precious, the publicity less overwrought. You'd have your pass to go to the orchestra pit and you'd be able to stay there for the entire gig, the chance to get some really good pix. Today, the guys sign all kinds of waivers and get a maximum of 3 songs in which to take their pictures.

Sometimes, at the front of the stage, the PA was so loud, you'd have to wear ear plugs. To AC/DC I have to say thank you for 3 days of deafness. Ditto Status Quo and The Beach Boys. And as for The Who...

Having said that, and from behind the shrill whistle of my luckily not overwhelming tinnitus, I have to say that whatever aural sacrifices I have made, it was worth to see all those people, from Neil Young and Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, from Led Zeppelin to The Stones and John Mayall to so many jazz, rock and blues artists.

Sometimes, I got to sit in at rehearsals with them. That was the best bit, to see these great musicians at work, making mistakes, trying things out, cracking jokes and getting annoyed with one another at a missed cue or a bum note. For what it's worth, I was talking with a friend the other day about the best rock picture ever taken. You might as well argue what's the best car or camera, really. It's a question that has no one answer. But for my money, it's Chalkie White's shot of Thin Lizzy, used as their album cover for Live and Dangerous I believe that Chalkie was the photographer but if anyone knows differently, let me know and I'll change it. Google doesn't seem to come up with a name.