Musclebound, Snowbound with Spandau Ballet

Musclebound, Snowbound with Spandau Ballet

I did not get off to such a great start with Spandau. In November 1979 I was asked by Chrysalis Records to take some production stills during the shooting of the first promotional video for one of their new bands. They were called Spandau Ballet and it was for their first single, To Cut A Long Story Short. The shoot was to be in the arches below London Bridge Station in the London Dungeon, which is a tourist attraction that recreates various gory and macabre historical events from the city of London.

I liked to get to jobs early and so it was that I was sat waiting in the attraction’s dark dingy cellars where my clothes were starting to absorb the musty smell of synthetic gore. Just after the band arrived I overheard one of them ask ‘Who’s that old geezer over there”. This was referring to me and it came as a bit of a shock as I was 33 at the time and only 10 or so years older than the band. I figured they would rather have had one of their trendy New Romantic mates do the photography, so I kept a pretty low profile during the shoot. Thankfully, my pictures turned out very well and I got a front cover for Melody Maker from the shoot, which might explain why the old geezer did quite a lot of photography with Spandau after that.

As it turned out, there is an irony in the name of their second single, The Freeze, but the job in question was to take production stills on another promotional film, this time for their third single, Musclebound. The plan was to join the band and film crew on the evening of Saturday March 21, 1981 at 11.30pm and travel north by coach to The Lake District for a full day’s shoot, returning overnight Sunday. In the event, I did not get home until 6.00am on the following Wednesday!

After a long and fretful night with little sleep on the bus we eventually reached The Lake District and took a road north out of Windermere to head for the hills above the lake of the same name. As we started to climb it unexpectedly started to snow and by the time we reached the location for the shoot, The Kirkstone Pass, the road was only just about passable. On arrival we all crammed into ‘base camp’ for the shoot, The Kirkstone Pass Inn, to wait out the blizzard. At first it was rather exhilarating with people in high spirits engaging in snowball fights and the like but this soon started to wear a bit thin as there was a job to be done and thankfully later in the day the wind dropped and the sun came out. While not what I had expected, the extreme weather produced some really interesting pictures.

To see a large view of the pictures above click on the X in the top right hand corner. To see all my pictures of the band at the shoot, please go to either of theses sites:  spandauballetpicturearchive.co.uk or briancooke.com

However, by the time the weather had settled down and the crew got organised not much filming could be done on the Sunday, so we all made the best of it and settled down where we could in the pub for a second night of deprived sleep. Filming re-started early on Monday morning but the weather was not good and progress soon came to a grinding halt with snow and rain getting into the cameras, which stopped them from working altogether. A disaster plan was hatched to send them back to London for repair or replacement and thankfully the production company persuaded a small holiday camp at the bottom of the valley to open up and accommodate us for a further night’s stopover in The Lakes.

With the two film cameras going back to London I sent the films that I had already exposed back with them and Visualeyes quickly processed these for me and sent a set of proof sheets over to the press office at Chrysalis Records. They chose some pictures to have printed up and sent them out to the press. From these we got this picture of three of the band pushing a van in the snow printed in The London Evening Standard, along with a small story about our predicament. It was rare to get articles printed about bands in the news sections of newspapers, rather than the entertainment section, so this was a success for me.

I have to admit that I was  inappropriately dressed for this shoot wearing only jeans and a leather bomber jacket. Coming from the North I should have known better and been prepared for all weather eventualities. However, I took advantage of the Monday afternoon lay-off to buy a waterproof anorak but not wanting to spend too much money, I continued with black plastic bags over my boots rather than spending even more on some waterproof footwear that would have been more appropriate.

With new cameras arriving from London and a dried out and rested crew, filming was completed on the Tuesday, which thankfully remained clear. On the cry of “It’s a wrap” from Director Russell Mulcahy, everyone rushed back to the bus for yet another fretful night with very little sleep during the long haul back home to London.

All my Spandau Ballet pictures can be seen here. My music business pictures are available at Getty Images and on my own website briancooke.com.

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