If you visit Skylight Books in Los Angeles on the 24th of February, you'll be able to meet a man who got close to Elton, Mick Jagger, and many other luminaries.
Alec Byrne will be at the store, located at 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, at 5 p.m., to discuss his work. He'll also be signing copies of his new book, London Rock. EJW will be publishing a review shortly, but meanwhile we got to ask the artist some questions.
EJW: The rest of your book's title is ''The Unseen Archive.'' So the images haven't been viewed previously by the public?
AB: Quite a few haven't. With others, it's been decades.
EJW: Weren't you a teenager when you began taking pictures of rock stars?
AB: 17. I was a fan taking photographs at concerts which I then sold to the music papers. I realise now it was a lot of work. But I was passionate about what I did, so it didn't feel like a job.
EJW: Your book contains five Elton John images. Where and when did you work with him?
AB: We did TV and radio shows as well as performances. One of my favourites was in 1971, at the Crystal Palace Bowl. Elton was doing his Jerry Lee Lewis jumps and really into it. Although it didn't make the book, I was there when he got a Gold record for one of his first releases. Actually, I have dozens more Elton John, not to mention pictures of David Essex and Dusty Springfield.
EJW: Sounds like another book!
AB: They'd like me to do that. . . .
EJW: How did this one come about?
AB: I'd left England for California and got involved with the Hollywood scene, working with Gregory Peck and other stars. I kept my file boxes in a garage and forgot about them for years. One of photo editor friends started talking about them and for the first time in years, all these memories--David Bowie's excitement about touring with Humble Pie; seeing Jimi Hendrix backstage and the Doors' connection onstage--came back.
We decided to do a one-night only exhibit and a thousand people showed up, both to see the photography and to find out what life was like back then (in the '60s and '70s).
EJW: What's the plan for your February 24th engagement at Skylight Books?
AB: I hope to do a slideshow of my work, talk about my career, and answer questions.
And during the afternoon of March 13, I'll be at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.