BRIAN SMITH was born in June 1943 and raised in Manchester, England. His musical interests were awakened by rock’n’roll in the mid-fifties – Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins (see photo below) and Duane Eddy – and through them he came to blues and folk music, mostly heard through Radio Luxembourg and AFN from Germany.
Brian started taking photos at live shows in 1962 with an old Ilford Sportsman camera, and gradually he gained access most areas to the big venues and small clubs in Manchester. Never going ‘professional’ nevertheless some of his first photos appearing in “R n B Scene” magazine in 1964 and he remained their official photographer throughout the magazine’s life – and even made it to the front cover on one occasion (see below).
Towards the end of the decade Brian eased off on photography and concentrated on his day job at the tax offices in Manchester, but he still photographed many of the original blues artists as they visited the North West and has got to know some of them well. During the 1980s as the audio reissue market grew, labels began seeking his work out for album and CD sleeves. From then on his pictures appeared in just about every major blues mag in Britain, Europe, USA and Japan, as well as countless records and biographies, and even feature in The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Martin Scorsese’s “The Blues”.
Despite this, Brian still prefers to be known as he was to club managers back in the sixties as “the fan with a camera”. He officially retired in July 2007, but found himself as busy as ever curating his archive, and the idea for a book of his work began to surface. Through talks with RPM Records A&R man Mark Stratford, Easy On The Eye became involved and the result is a fascinating collection of his most immediate material from the monochrome days of the early sixties.
Brain was married in 1968 to his “long suffering wife” (his description!) Shirley, and they live in Cheshire. They have four children.