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.
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.
We have added a Flipbook preview of Boom Boom, The Blues Photographs of Brian Smith. This can be flicked through at :
It gives an idea of how the final book looks, although there may be text changes before this goes to press.
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.
Vintage Rock magazine is one of those fascinating niche music monthlies which make choosing at Smiths so hard these days. They cover the 50s and 60s in detail, with plenty of emphasis on the UK scene back then and so when they heard about Brian Smith’s Blues photo book were keen to interview him and show some of his photographs. The magazine is out now, Issue 25 (April / June) and well worth a look, although it tends to be stocked only by the bigger magazine outlets (though you can buy it direct from the publishers.) Thanks to Rik and Jack at Vintage Rock for permission to reproduce a couple of pages from the article. The shot here is one of a series Brian took from the side of the stage during a Rolling Stones concert… what an experience!