The fifty-year career of one of the UK’s most important music photographers Gered Mankowitz is also featured in a new exhibition of key images from his archives. The exhibition, titled ‘Fifty Years of Rock and Roll Photography’, runs from 14 September 2013 to 2 November 2013 at the Snap Gallery.
The exhibition showcases the very best of Gered’s archives, and includes classic images of The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Marianne Faithfull, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Yardbirds, Small Faces, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Kim Wilde, The Eurythmics, The Jam, Oasis and more, alongside previously unpublished images including Francoise Hardy and Sparks.
Many of the most famous photographs taken by Gered in the mid-to-late 1960s were taken in Mason’s Yard, just round the corner from the gallery’s location in Piccadilly Arcade. Gered’s original studio at No. 9 Mason’s Yard was built around 1667, and is probably the oldest surviving building in the Yard. Of those early years, Gered recalls:
“From Chad & Jeremy in 1963, my career rock and rolled via the delicious Marianne Faithfull through the exciting and dangerous Rolling Stones to the sublime Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Then everything got darker as we all became aware of another harder, crueller world that slid from the innocence of Swinging London to drug-infused confusion.”
By 1969 Gered had moved out of Mason’s Yard, and had tried a move away from music, with the chance to work as a photographer in the film business. Gered found the film business madder, badder and sicker than even the music business. On his return to London, Chas Chandler asked him to continue working with Slade, whom Gered had first photographed in 1969. He was back in the music business, where he belonged. He established a studio in Great Windmill Street in Soho and would stay there enduring three-day weeks and the heady, glittery, glamorous 70s working with the pioneering, unzipped Suzi Quatro, the terrifying Sweet and the infamous Gary Glitter amongst many others.
The start of the punk era saw Gered searching for another avenue of photographic income. He recalls: “It was time to try my hand at advertising. I put together what I thought was a terrific portfolio of my record sleeves and associated “ground-breaking” images and began to go around the advertising agencies. Everybody seemed to like the work but nobody wanted to employ me! But, before I knew it, I was in demand again, working with post-punk acts like the Jam and Generation X, who felt the need for the experience and technical skills I could bring to their table.”
The latter part of the 70s turned out to be an exciting time, with Gered working with artists of the calibre and beauty of Kate Bush and Annie Lennox. When the 80s arrived, he was determined to combine his music photography with commercial advertising. This time, with a completely new portfolio, he was lucky enough to continue to be sought out by several wonderful musicians and their record companies, including Elton John, Duran Duran, the Eurythmics and the greatly missed George Harrison.
The economic recession in the 90s was dramatic and uncomfortable, but somehow, Gered managed to keep it all going, juggling madly and finding different ways of making it fun working with some great Brit Pop talent, including Catatonia, Suede, Ride and Oasis.
In 1992 Gered had an important one-man exhibition in a gallery in Soho, which signalled the start of a growing interest in his archive, which until that point had been virtually unseen. Gered comments: “It triggered an amazing change for me: while my career in advertising began to wind down and my career as a photographer in the music business remained steady, a completely new growth area was emerging which involved my archive and the evolving technical changes. This has continued to the present day.”