Just a few days on from bemoaning the death of Millie, a proper pop star, than another of the acts Brian Smith photographed in the Sixties passes away, this time a proper rock and roll trailblazer, Little Richard.Brian was lucky enough to catch a performance at one of Manchester’s most famous venues of the time, The Oasis Club, in 1964.Just seeing his pictures makes you jealous, as Richard seems in amazing form while the crowd are in awe judging by some of their expressions. Local group The Dakotas got to back him, all under the shadow of a huge Beatles mural decorating the back of the stage.Which is a tad ironic given how much they owed to Richard amongst others!Brian also caught the filming of Little Richard by Granada TV for one of their highly regarded pop specials of the time.
This great shot from the Oasis shows Little Richard working the crowd at the height of his set, and would have made the final selection for the book of Brian’s pics we’re wrapping up – except some of the others are even better!
Richard leaves a musical legacy only a few could equal even back in the Sixties, but his contributions to rock music’s development are unlikely ever to be surpassed in the future.
A real shame to hear today of Millie’s death at the age of 73. Our previous post on this site was to talk about working on photographs of her for Brian’s Blues photo book, and how it was so hard to pick the best. So here is another of the shots which didn’t make the final selection to remember her by; stood beaming for Brian’s camera at the Twisted Wheel Club in May 1964. The band are rocking away in the shadows on the left of the scene, but it’s her irrepressible grin which makes the shot. She would even leave the band to get on with it while she signed autographs mid-set… a proper star.
Our designer was working on the Millie Small photographs for the Boom Boom Blues Photo book the other day (and researching her backing group). As he has a home office anyway, the self isolating issue has not been too hard a chore so far. “I love little more than digging through old photographs, who needs the real world! These are some of my favourites from Brian Smith’s book. Millie was a real natural anyway but seems to have hit it off with Brian, who was taking the photos up in the legendary Twisted Wheel club offices. He and Roger Eagle, who was the resident DJ there, were given the rather nice job of looking after Millie for the afternoon. It was probably a bit risky trying to walk around Manchester given that her hit single was so massive, so they passed away the time until the show just taking a few pictures and chatting. I bet a few of us would love to rifle through all the paper ephemera on the shelves too, there looks to be piles of tickets for future gigs in one corner. During the show itself Brian tried to take a few more shots, but the teenage crowd were just going mad, you can hardly see Millie’s band and she was signing album covers during the set itself! All the photos have a certain amount of dust and marks on them after 56 years but they have cleaned up nicely for the book. As this one isn’t in, it has not had any treatment!”
We’ve got the best of the photos in the forthcoming book which we’re pushing on with, but thought we’d show this one which hasn’t made the final edit as it is so full of life. You can read more about the book on the site. There is a post about the book’s cover below.
Obviously the current health crisis has thrown all our plans in the air as it has everybody, so we aim to crack on with projects where we can do so safely and then hopefully pick up the pieces later.
There is an interesting feature on the design of our forthcoming book Boom Boom, Boom Boom, which brings together hundreds of archive photographs of visiting black blues artists playing in Manchester taken by a young teenage fan, Brain Smith, over on the designer’s website. It shows the way he has developed the cover and arrived at the final artwork.
There have been quite a few emails coming in this last week or so asking why, if another website is busy announcing a new release date for one of our next titles, do we not have that information here? The answer is simple, we did not know about this! The website did not bother to contact us to check. So rest assured, as soon as we have a reliable production date for each of our next three titles it will appear here BEFORE anywhere else! Likewise if you order direct from us (once pre-orders go live) you will get the book BEFORE anyone else (that includes you know who) has stock.
And just to prove things are happening, here’s a peek at a chunk of the Fire In The Sky page layouts (generated from within the layout software) which are being proofed and photo cleared at present. Our designer has added a colour coding to each section to make navigating what is becoming an increasingly complex document (there are over 700 images) a little easier!
Well 2019 didn’t pan out quite like we’d planned! With both Simon and Ann having had time in hospital, one after the other, current book projects had to be put on hold for some considerable time. However with the New Year, Easy On The Eye Books are starting to get moving once again and the titles which got held up are now being prepared for publication. We anticipate that the Fire In The Sky book will be first, this is now into the final photo clearing phase, with text proofed and the book laid out. This book has become much bigger than originally planned (around 700 images in total!) so will have around 260 pages now. This will be quickly followed by the Boom Boom Blues photo book, and then we’ll tackle the next two titles. Goodness knows how brexit will affect things this year but we’ll do our best (we print in mainland Europe, so have been dreading this). Anyhow, expect more page spreads and other updates in the coming weeks. Our thanks to everyone for their patience.
The illustration above is from the popular I Spy pocket books which were a publishing phenomena during the 1950s and 1960s. These are a big favourite with Simon and he has compiled a few pages devoted to them on his design site – check the link above.
Again our apologies for a rather quiet spell at Easy On The Eye Books, with yet more illness affecting senior staff. I guess the clue is in the word senior! As a result we’ve rejigged plans a little, and our next planned release now we’re running with the baton again will be the fabulous blues photograph book. This is not far from final proofing, but got held up again when photographer Brian Smith found yet more negatives while clearing out his garage a while ago. We have now scanned and cleaned this new batch of material and are sorting through, as some of the photographs deserve to go in the book. Brian had a few old prints of some of these but naturally we’ll be able to get much better reproduction from the negatives. Here is one of the new found frames (BEFORE being cleaned!), which was actually taken by one of Brian’s friends, and shows him with Bo Diddley backstage at (I think) the Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester. Bo is holding his trademark Gretsch ‘Jupiter Thunderbird’.
Here’s another great (albeit it pre-restoration) shot from the upcoming book of Brian Smith’s blue photographs: Big Mama Thornton, who he photographed backstage in Manchester on a Blues package tour in 1965. We’ve been able to scan this from the original negative. I assumed the others were lost but no; “I only took the one photo, film was expensive as a young lad!” You can read more about the book on the site, and the photo also appears on the book designer’s own site with a sideways look at the outfit!
Nice to see some of Brian Smith’s photographs used properly and with permission on a new Blues CD. The disc in question is a compilation put together by Wilko Johnson from the Chess label archives, and is designed to present his fans with the sort of material which inspired him as a young guitarist. Titled The First Time I Met The Blues, it is out now on Chess – SPECXX2114. Looking at the cover (below), I can see at least three of Brian’s photographs in there! If you’re not up to speed, the material is from our upcoming book “Boom Boom Boom Boom : The Photographs of Brian Smith. American Rhythm & Blues in England 1962-1966“. And there isn’t a time I type all that when I don’t wonder a] how we ended up with such a long title and b] how on earth I can fit it all on the spine…
Talking of “Boom Boom” I managed to screw up the newsletter subscription form for this title, so prior to the date of this posting, if you thought you had subscribed, the software did not capture your details. I have corrected this and retested it, so if you go the the main page about the book, and hit the new button, it will all function properly. That way we can keep you fully up to date on the project and any special editions, etc.
I am meeting up with Brian in a few days to sort out the last of the hi-res scans for the book and caption them up properly.