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EARLS COURT WEEK ON TBLWEB – THE PHOTOGRAPHERS EARLS COURT

19 May 2010 5,855 views No Comment

Photo Copyright Barry Plummer

THE PHOTGRAPHERS EARLS COURT : AN INTERVIEW WITH BARRY PLUMMER

 

Barry Plummer was a freelance photographer – his work was extensively featured in Melody Maker during the Seventies. Barry’s photos from Earls Court are still much in demand by agencies and magazines throughout the world. In this interview with Dave Lewis conduced in 2000, he looks back on his experiences of shooting Zeppelin at Earls Court in May 1975.

DL: Had you photographed Zeppelin on many occasions before Earls Court?

BP: Yes a few times. I was at that reception when they received an award by the board of trade and I also shot them at the Bath festival which was really good. In fact one of my photos of them backstage was used in Mojo recently. I also did those shots at Southampton in 1971 when they performed on that stage with a carpet. Another occasion from that era was at Manchester University for the music paper. Unfortunately hardly any of the live stuff from then was used as it got sent to an agency and seemingly lost. There are shots backstage from that gig which have been used in various books. I remember knocking on the dressing room door to ask if I could take some photos – Peter Grant said “What do you think boys?” and Plant said Ok as long as I didn’t use a flash. Luckily I had some police surveillance film which was a bit grainy but got me the shots I was looking for.

DL: How many nights did you shoot at Earls Court?

BP: I did two nights and I think it was the first weekend of shows but to be honest I can’t be sure.  I was only down for one but Rob Lynton the PR had another spare press ticket for the next night so we went again.

DL: How many numbers were you allowed to photograph?

BP: This was before the stipulations of doing only the first three numbers so luckily it was virtually the whole show. There were about four or five of us – Rob Ellis, Michael Putland and I think Pennie Smith and each of us was given twenty minutes at a time throughout the show. I seem to remember there were video cameras scooting about so we had to go on a gang plank each time to shoot up at the stage

DL: What camera equipment did you use?

BP: A Nikon F2 camera with a 20 mill lens. It wasn’t quite a fish eye but it enabled me to get the whole stage covered, particularly on the shots of the encore with the neon sign ablaze.

DL: How many rolls of film did you use?

BP: At least six x 36 exposures on black and white and then four x 36 in colour. The colour shots were a little over exposed when the neon Led Zeppelin sign was lit during the encores. I actually discarded quite a lot of them when I was printing them up – I also sent about 30  negs to a Japanese publication which I never saw again. It’s funny looking back but the colour shots were never in much demand. It was mainly the German and French magazines who dealt in those. I used to do really well out of the colour stuff I did on The Osmonds and David Cassidy which were used by the teen mags. Of course nowadays Zeppelin photos are always being asked for so I wish I’d photographed more of their gigs than I did!

DL: What do you remember of the performance?

BP: Fantastic – definitely one of the best gigs I ever saw. You tended to concentrate on getting the photos right rather than the performance you were witnessing but at Earls Court there was this great wave of power that just washed over me. The lasers were also really impressive – that sort of effect was pretty new back then and it was a stunning moment when Page emerged with the violin bow. You could feel it was really gelling on stage. I still play their stuff in the car – things like ‘Kashmir’ remind you of that power that was so evident at Earls Court.

DL: Which of your Earls Court photos do you think stand out?

BP: I really like the one that was coloured for the Ross Halfin Photographers Led Zeppelin book (see page 232). The shot of Page that Classic Rock used in their Greatest Guitarists feature – and the group shot that was on the cover of their Zeppelin special last year. Earls Court was definitely the best set of pictures I got of the group. I did both Knebworths but I was disappointed with the results. I didn’t really have a good position for those. There was a real good feeling about Earls Court and I think that was captured in the shots I got.

Originally published in Tight But Loose 15

Copyright Dave Lewis 2010 – Not to be re produced without prior permission

LED ZEPPELIN AT EARLS COURT: WHAT THE PAPERS SAID:

“In six and a half years Led Zeppelin have grown to be the biggest band in the land and judging by the excellence of their performance at Earls Court, one of if not THE most exiting live act in the world. I guess I came on the right night. It’s difficult to describe the magic or atmosphere of that Sunday – it was one of those gigs that will remain scarred on my brain forever.” – PETE MAKOWSKI/SOUNDS

“It’s not very often that the opportunity of experiencing the very best of something presents itself, and when it does come along it’s inevitably only appreciated in retrospect. Yet before Led Zeppelin had got too far into their set at London’s Earls Court on Sunday it became obvious this was the ultimate definitive rock performance. So much so that it’s inconceivable that another band could do so well. In the space of three and a half hours they covered virtually every variation in rock, and left no doubt they could triumph with any style they omitted.” – MICHAEL OLDFIELD/MELODY MAKER

To be continued…

Tomorrow -The Journalists  Earls Court

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