“You never told us” has long been the grumble from our grown up children when, from time to time, stories come to light about our connections with photography and the music business. While they knew about my managing Robert Palmer’s first band, The Mandrakes from Scarborough in North Yorkshire, the cry first came when I mentioned our sharing a dressing room with Jimi Hendrix. The trouble is there are so many stories, from so long ago, that it has been difficult to remember, let alone know where to start. However, there are now two web sites where I am regularly uploading my photography and preparing these images is helping to trigger the memories.
It all started a few years ago when Island Records contacted me about acquiring some of my pictures from the period 1971 to 1976. During this period my wife, Marylin who is a graphic designer and I were effectively Island’s in house design department and we were fortunate enough to work with many of their iconic artists, some of which are shown below. For example, pictured from the top:
Roxy Music, with Bryan Ferry second from the right, in the video studio at The Royal College Of Art during the shooting of their first ever music video, which I produced, in July 1972. I also took some of their first studio press pictures two months later in September 1972 at my studio just of the Portobello Road in West London.
Island were looking for pictures for a documentary film, a book and an exhibition to celebrate their 50th anniversary, so I started digging into my archive for the very first time. I ended up scanning and retouching about 150 images for submission to Island, only about 30 of which were used. Looking at what to do with the rest of the pictures I had scanned and retouched I got in touch with Redferns Music Picture Library to see if my material was of interest to them and whether there was any value in them. This was quite a reversal, as I had given Redferns a very wide berth during most of my time in London, more of which later.
While I was in negotiations with Redferns they were swallowed up by Getty Images, who were very interested in all my music business material from the 1970’s and 1980’s when I regularly worked for Island, Chrysalis and Virgin Records. I am now slowly uploading images, as and when I can find the time to scan and retouch my old negatives and transparencies. My pictures are available at Getty Images and on my own website briancooke.com
However, it is not just about a revenue stream, as this process gives me the opportunity to get our old material ‘out there’ rather than being buried in boxes in my loft and it provides the basis for telling the stories, hence this blog. And there are stories to be told from how I got started, The Mandrakes sharing a dressing room with Jimi Hendrix, through photo sessions with both nice and not so nice artists, events such as The Sex Pistols Silver Jubilee Boat Trip, to the real story behind the design of the Virgin ‘scrawl’ logo. Pictured is me on the left with my Cooke Key Associates partner Trevor Key on the Sex Pistols Silver Jubilee Boat Trip and the iconic Virgin Logo.
Fortunately, I have kept everything in my archive such as diaries, negatives, some colour transparencies and the final printed products. Unfortunately, in most cases the record companies kept the colour, and where is all that material now one may ask? However, now that I have got going it is turning into a bit of a memoir, so I had better start at the beginning.