More from Beijing.
Pictures of Down. See more...
Dubai. See more...
Turkey. See more...
On my flight to Beijing was a flight attendant called Matt who told me he was one of Paul Brannigan's best chinas (best friends). Paul had even texted him to tell him to call me The Master. It was nice flying with Matt asking what would The Master like to eat and drink... Matt told me he avoids Paul when he flies. 'He drank the plane dry last time, threw up, then passed out, couldn't wake him - we had to get him off in a wheelchair. He keeps demanding upgrades so he can get to the real booze and not the cheap wine.' I know how Matt feels having seen Paul drinking and singing many times.
Arriving was like a school trip (Kerrang trip) with a student holding a sign on a stick for everyone to follow. First sight we see is some towers belching smoke. We drive in on deserted streets, it is 90F at 5.30am.
The Grand Hotel (where we are booked in) is something out of the comnunist era, dark, tacky and shabby. This is listed in the Leading Hotels of The World Book! It is also deserted, no one here except a few Olympic people with more security than a prison camp. Huge signs greet you as you come past police swat vans and wire fences. They say you cannot bring heroin, cocaine or amphetamines into the hotel (yes, I can just see someone running the 400 metres after a few lines). You get stopped outside the hotel and if you step across the fence you have to go through more security. It makes airport security look like a child's play.
You walk the streets and there are no Chinese, it's like Christmas Day, the streets are empty. You have to walk half a mile, cross more security and barricades, to see any locals. It is really is like being in a Gulag. Jimmy told me he hasn't stayed at a hotel this bad since the first Led Zeppelin tour of Denmark, when his room was a broom closet.
After a couple of days of this and being searched every ten minutes Jimmy puts his foot down and we're moved to The Grand Hyatt which is much more like it - you can even see Chinese people.
Managed to go to the Great Wall, two different bits of it. Badaling I thought was best, you get the view you see on postcards, except when I went it was raining and you could see about twenty feet.
The day of the Olympic handover the British Embassy had a morning reception at London House, an upmarket club with a garden. Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson, Tessa Jowell plus David Beckham and entourage of several million. Tessa Jowell was starstruck around JP, going on about the O2 show. I bet she didn't pay for her tickets. One of the guests cornered Jimmy and told him how much he loved Led Zeppelin and his all time Zeppelin song was Smoke On The Water (he was serious). I asked him what was the first Led Zep LP if he likes them so much, 'It's slipped my mind,' he says in a public schoolboy way. He comes back and announces that the theme from Top Of The Pops was his other favourite Zep song.I look at him and tell him it was by CCS - he spends the whole reception hovering with his mouth half open, staring.
David Beckham was very easy going, except for one of his security who acted like a thug. The other person was Princess Anne who was mingling while her bodyguard behaved like a stuck up wanker, talking down his nose. 'You have to move NOW!' I ignored him. A real old-school police bully, whereas Beckham's was a bouncer-type bully. I took over and got a group photo of them all, which I know pissed off all the various security. It was a pleasure doing it. At one point I did feel like... turning, if that's the best way to put it. Tony Dicioccio (from Jimmy's management) told me not to, 'You don't need to let them see your humanitarian side...'
Going to the Olympic Stadium on a coach was fun - stop/wait all the way. It was like being ten and told go here then there - comical.
Inside the stadium there was a vibe. Shot the Chinese performers hanging around. Walked on the pitch while Jimmy and Leona Lewis played Whole Lotta Love, the vibe was magical. A real bit of history, being there.
After the show there was a big party back at London House. It was really strange chatting to Gordon Brown who came over and said hello. Jackie Chan invited us into his private room. He seemed to have no personality and said hardly anything. Boris Johnson then came in and sort of took over - he was hysterically funny.He asked me if I was a Tory man. I told him I don't make enough money to vote conservative to which he replied 'BOLLOCKS!'. Told him I loved Taki and Debra Ross in the Spectator (William Nash had got me a subscription for a birthday present). 'I hired Debra and everyone wants me to fire Taki. I'm not having it!' Boris was fantastic, I'd vote for him anytime. He was going to the Great Wall - wish I'd gone with him.
Did Tianamen Square and The Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was mobbed - and Jimmy and I went at 7am (must watch The Last Emperor again ). Tried to shoot some travel but the city was a teeming madhouse full of foreigners like me. I'll put up my poor effort when I get home.
The only real disappointment was a Harpers Bazaar party which had Gong Li, Maggie Cheung and Zhang Ziyi - and we couldn't get an invite. I even considered standing outside, just to ogle...
Everywhere Jimmy went the locals recognised him, old people, young people, children, all coming up wanting to shake his hand and have a photo. We got lost one day coming out of a market and ended up down some narrow alleyways where the locals lived. He was followed like the Pied Piper, with people being super cool. Most girls thought he was half-Chinese.
As we checked in at the airport he was treated like a head of state - easiest customs and immigration I've ever done. They all wanted a photo with him.
Flew out of Beijing and shot some high cloud, end of day God's light. I'd love to go back to China without the Olympics. Off now to do a bit of travelling before going home...
Some pictures of The Last Shadow Puppets. See more...
Off to Beijing, China today, with my old chum Jimmy Page. I don't have any idea what to expect - never been. All I want to do is see the Great Wall. Flying from Heathrow Terminal 5 - it'll be liberating arriving in Bejing with no bags, courtesy of British Airways...
The latest cover of Guitar World featuring my definitely not gay pals from Dragonforce...
Home for a couple of days. In the mail is Recovery, the new cd by Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon has signed it and thanked me for the photos. It is Loudon re-recording his old songs with a band and it is fantastic, best cd I've heard in ages. Melancholic in a wonderful way.
Also Robin Hurley from Rhino sent me the first three Curved Air records, I used to like them when I was fourteen. Brian Wheat emailed the new Tesla cd cover with all my photos. Brian gave me a credit which most people will hate but fuck them - thank you Brian. In fact, I have photos on two Tesla cds coming out soon and both look good.
Another picture of Miles and Alex of The Last Shadow Puppets from my recent shoot with them.
Got home from Dubai for two hours and then back to the airport to Hasselt in Belgium for Pukkelpop to shoot Metallica for two magazine covers. It's a nice day and a holiday. Get in early evening after flying into Brussels and driving for an hour. The backstage is exactly the same as last year - very deja vu.
Lars arrives and mimics my diary, quoting bits of it. Nice to see the little Superstar reads it. I'm standing with Geoff Barton, Lars says (while shaking his hand and fawning) 'The man who helped us buy our houses - Is that going in the diary?'
I'm shooting two covers, solo, reportage, live etc - I have a lot to do...
Kaz Mercer, Metallica's elderly PR, says in her emotionless voice 'YOU HAVE THIRTY MINUTES AND I"M TIMING YOU.' 'That's so nice of you.' She then follows it up (in a shrill voice) with 'WHY SHOULD YOU GET ANYMORE THAN EVERYONE ELSE.' Kaz feels empowered because her office girl boss Sue Tropio is here to boss her around. I begin with James, who starts slow then warms up to the photos, with Lars kissing him on the cheek while writing tonight's set list. Next I get the four horsemen to line up. The door opens, in shuffles Kaz with Sue, they both shout in unison 'TEN MINUTES LEFT!' I turn round from shooting your heroes and say 'WHY DON'T YOU BOTH FUCK OFF,' and I mean it...
I get all the time I want as the band ignore them as well. The point being that all this 'YOU'VE GOT TO HURRY UP!!!!' does not mean you will do a good job. A real PR like say Barbara Charone will make sure you get the time you need and knows why you are doing it and wants it to be good for her artist. Kaz and Sue don't care, it is so small-minded and churlish. The pair of them should go and work as ambassadors for an African despot.
I tell Sue I've been writing about her for the new issue of So What (Metallica's fan magazine). 'Is it nice?' she smiles. 'Factual,' I tell her.
Shoot James in the tuning room with various guitars plus Kirk doing his best Michael Schenker. They all warm up playing what I think is a new Metallica song - James tells me it's a Mercyful Fate cover. It reminds me to say sorry if I ever see King Diamond, I was always fairly awful to him and he was always nice.
High stage to shoot live. I find it hard, then I think 'alright, time to show why it is I do what I do well', and go up onstage and work. I start to get great, and I mean GREAT, photos. This isn't showing off, this is me doing what I do well without the earlier hindrances. At one point Lars is determined to pull my shorts down. He nearly succeeds, then the little shit sprays my camera lens with water. I forgive him as I get good photos. Funny, when things are harder it makes you want to deliver more...
Here are some pictures from Dubai - more soon...
Been travelling for the last week, all over the East - Middle East and Far East including Bali which I wasn't expecting. First time I've been to Bali and bought nothing, wanted to then thought about the reality of carrying it around and why do I really want it and where am I going to put it. Dubai was so meltingly hot it made Bali seem cold (it was only 86F). Went to Pura Uluwatu (monkey temple on a high cliff face). I always enjoy watching people freak out when one of the horrible little monkeys jumps on them. I'd throw all the vermin off the cliff, tourists included.
Bali seems overrun with Russians, who seem to have no manners and walk around chain-smoking like the Japanese, French and Italians - dirty bastards. It was so bad it even made me like the Germans...
Flying over the Bay Of Bengal the sky is a sheet of grey at 40,000 feet, the plane is being thrown everywhere. I kind of don't mind it... Over Kuala Lumpur and Penang saw the huge anvil clouds which look inviting until you fly through them. Now heading back to Dubai to melt a bit more.
Here are some pictures from my recent visit to Turkey
A couple of pictures from my recent session with The Last Shadow Puppets.
Here's a correction, from Peter Makowski
The view from my hotel in Dubai. I quite like this - very futuristic...
Some new magazines.
Off across London this morning, joining the commuter hell to Liverpool Street Station to meet Miles and Alex Turner of The Last Shadow Puppets. I'm late as someone on the Central Line has jumped under a train. I'm told this is the most common line for suicides.
Shoot around old London, it goes well. They are both down to earth - I finish shooting them in a cafe. I was quite pleased with how it went.
Strange weather today, first hot, then sunny, rainy, sunny. Spending the rest of today looking for negs.
While in Dubai I read a feature about Tim Lott who wrote for Sounds. I was a Sounds photographer and don't remember him at all. I asked Peter Makowski who told me he loathed him. Peter and Giovanni Dadomo made his life a misery, but he deserved it, said Pete. He didn't like music and claimed to be the only properly trained journalist. 'He was a properly trained wanker,' said Peter contemptuously. 'A fake, sad to read he's still alive.'
Peter is now playing in a ukelele orchestra. Really, he is...
Got up at dawn(ish) and photographed the same view. I'm going to put the same shot up at different times of the day. Only 47C by noon which I now figure out to be about 120F. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun - quite true.
Fly home late afternoon. What a difference, nice people at check in, and at security there are even people with t-shirts on with "need help?" and they are helpful. Best part of Dubai Airport is The Cold Stones Creamery ice cream shop, the best in Los Angeles. Felt quite sick after a bucket of it. Airport was joy after Gatwick or Heathrow.
A sandstorm was blowing as we took off, so I didn't get the shot of Dubai from the air. Nice-looking cabin staff as well, quite happy to ogle them all day. They were mostly Korean called Sun and Yum - yum yum indeed.
Spent most of the journey marking photos of Metallica from Istanbul for the band to look at. I'll spend the next three months trying to get Lars to approve them...
An email from Steve Gorman. It must have been Kevin THE CAVEMAN Shirley's production that drove him to it...
Strange light today in Dubai - a weird hazy sun. A bit cooler, only 45 degrees (about 110F) in the shade. Went to the top of my hotel and took some photos. It was completely open. A strange feeling, like if you stepped off the edge you'd be okay. Took pictures of my favourite building, the tall one. I still don't know what it's called. It looks like Fritz Lang's Metropolis stuck in the desert...
Here's a picture of me with one of your heroes, in Istanbul. Nice photo, sent by Louis...
In Dubai for a couple of days to meet up with William Nash (book publisher/gambler/lover/adventurer). Haven't seen Will since New Years Day in Bangkok so looking forward to catching up.
Checked in at Gatwick Airport last night and made the mistake of asking if I could check on my little wheelie case with my cameras. The check in desk girl was Eastern European, 'You have to pay £380" she said, not smiling. 'Fine I'll carry it on.' 'No, I'm not letting you, it's dangerous!' Me, 'Don't be stupid!' Her, 'I'm reporting you to the police!' She calls the police, two come over. 'He said I was stupid.' The police come on heavy then I think, bollocks. 'Arrest me, go on, for what? Not agreeing with her telling me how my cameras are dangerous?' A supervisor arrives. 'What if you hit someone with one?' This is getting moronic now. 'Why would I do that?' She finally agrees I can carry my cameras on in a plastic bag as she is convinced my camera bag could hurt someone. People around me are carrying on bigger bags. 'What about them?' I say. 'That's it or you pay.' 'What about arresting me?' I say to the police. 'You're lucky this time,' they say. I've had enough of this by now. 'Lucky for WHAT? You have nothing to arrest me for!' So I had to carry two bodies and three lenses through security then go to duty free buy some body lotion so I could get a plastic bag to put my cameras in, having checked in an empty plastic case.
Airline staff are pathetic, they treat you like shit and use the "Terrorist card" as an excuse for all sorts of bullying. "You'll be arrested etc". And most of them can't speak English. Anyway, now in Dubai, reunited with my camera bag and it's a beautiful day - off to find William...
The new cover of Q with your heavy metal heroes plus Spanish magazine This Is Rock...