In 2016, I will be in my 10th year of ‘being’ a photographer. Needless to say before then I was taking pictures on a social level, always seen with a camera of some sort. There are many bands I have photographed, some of which have been an incredible honour – bands I grew up listening to through good times and bad. Music soothes the soul as they say.
I’ve had many a conversation with fellow photographers about bucket list bands and artists, along the lines of “if you could go back in time, who would you have loved to photograph live?” Mine would be (in no particular order) Elvis, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Queen (with Freddy Mercury), Alice in Chains (with Layne Staley), Jimi Hendrix, and THE Guns ‘n’ Roses lineup.
After watching ‘Montage of Heck‘ and then the ‘Soaked in Bleach‘ documentary, I was speaking to a friend about how much those productions made me angry and conflicted as they told such different stories about Kurt Cobain’s life and the events surrounding his death. They pointed me to the book ‘Heavier than Heaven‘ by Seattle based writer and journalist Charles R. Cross, and said ‘…in those pages is all anyone needs to know’.
I read the book in 3 weeks, which is good going for me as a person with little spare time.
A beautifully written and well researched book. And my friend was right.
A couple of days passed, with the book still fresh in my mind. My art editor friend dropped me an email asking for my help on retouching a photograph for a possible cover image. We usually work on a Heavy Metal magazine together, so I said ‘cool! sure thing’ and opened the attachment to take a look.
I was stunned. An image of Kurt Cobain was on my screen. Holy shit!
The original image was shot by Charles Peterson for Sub Pop Records when Nirvana came to the UK in 1989 to promote the album ‘Bleach’. You can barely see Kurt’s face, but you know it’s him. I got to work on the quite low quality scanned-in film print. This was the first time I would work on an image of someone that is no longer with us. Someone that I wished I could have taken a photograph of; and while that image was not my own, it was the closest I would ever get to that moment. Surreal and exciting! Literally a dream come true, and my art editor had no idea.
Louder than War is a new indie magazine. This is only the 2nd issue with a poignant world exclusive lost interview. Kurt talks of his hopes for Nirvana, on their very first trip to the UK.
Grab yourself a copy! I also highly recommend the book ‘Heaver than Heaven’ if you haven’t read it already.