Diary
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February 26

Here are some emails that I've received in the last few days. The first is from Arch -

I love the Diary Ross very entertaining and all fab photos too but you do like some bands that are utter dogshit i mean Daft lepers and judas priest how come they dont call it a day neither would know a tune if it robbed their satin tights (and wigs) and fucked them in the eye ,keep up the good work.

You have just proved to me that you have no taste in music whatsoever...

Next is from John, apparently from Canada -

Do you have any travel shots of Canada? I mean it's not always cold and boring.... It can be pretty and green too.

It is BORING and BORINGLY green...

And finally from Scott, who's in Camp Bastion in Helmand, Afghanistan -

Thanks, thats the first things to say. Your Diary has kept me company whilst on my tour of Afghanistan (Royal Artillery) thought i had done some air miles in my 22yrs in the Forces!

Great Jeff Beck pictures, and all your live shots look great..long may you continue fab website i have passed on to as many like minded rockers in the Forces..

February 24

A picture of The Master and The Mighty Priest, sent by Sam

Hey Ross

Here is a pic of the Electric Eye in the Land of the Metal Gods

February 23

Shot Chris Cornell at the Scala. Got the train as I couldn't face driving then trying to figure out where to park. The Scala is in the Beverly Hills of London - Kings Cross, a charming olde world area full of junkies and prostitutes, and the venue is run by aggressive Eastern Europeans who I worked out were Poles. It is no wonder this was Peter Makowski's 'hood in the '80s....

Chris Cornell at The Scala

Saw Chris and the band, who'd only just arrived late, straight from the chart show. Did some photos of them all together then Chris took my camera and went out to shoot the crowd, so I went with him and got photos of him standing with them. They came on and played the whole of the new album, Scream, which I got a bit lost with half way through as I didn't know any of it. The girls in the crowd seemed to love it - I was wanting Slaves And Bulldozers. By the time they went into Ty Cobb they sounded like two different bands. And as my girlfriend pointed out the new stuff was much better.

The light show was old school Soundgarden, meaning it was non existent, just a few back lights - I had to really try to get photos. Left during Rusty Cage to get the train home.

February 22

Spoke to Joe Elliott today about work as there are deluxe editions of Pyromania and Adrenalize coming out and we needed to go through photos. Joe had no idea I'd shot several sessions with them as a four piece, A couple of shoots in the studio in Los Angeles - out in the desert and the Lets Get Rocked video, in the days when I used to shoot stills on videos (something I hated), plus with Vivian Campbell in Los Angeles and Australia. The record company lost all the colour when the PR threw it out by accident but I still have all the black and white. We ended up discussing the Mott The Hoople reunion and The Faces. And Joe was more interested in what DVDs I picked up in Japan and Australia than what photos I have of him...

Going to go through High And Dry era as well. While I was at it I found some Aerosmith from the early 80's and The Joe Perry Project at The Country Club in LA.

Scott Weiland CD "Happy". Cover photography by your hero...

 

 

February 21

A sunny day, so nice you could convince yourself it's summer. I was off to see Megadeth and the Mighty Judas Priest destroying Wembley Arena, so I thought I'd leave early and visit my metal chums to say hello. I left home at 4.30, to my horror the traffic was worse than a Friday afternoon. It took nearly three hours and I arrived five minutes before Megadeth were going on - said a quick hello and got on with it. I can't decide what's worse, getting to Wembley or to the 02 (the 02 is easier if you take the train). I need a nice south west London arena to go to for visiting the land of the metal gods.

The Mighty Priest

Megadeth were very tight and Dave Mustaine is quite subtle in the way he sings and moves, and quite hard to shoot. Dave takes command of the crowd in quite a friendly yet sinister way. The Mighty Priest were magnificent - great band, great lights and a great show. Looking at all the metal bands I do and have done I enjoy the Priest live probably the most. And I got good photos, with Rob screaming into the lens, KK in The Sinner, and Glen Tipton is woefully underrated as a guitarist (I will stop here as this is sounding like Dave Ling and I wasn't taping the show). The Priest are back, I mean really... Went and said hello to Glenn and KK after. Glenn and I talked about Rory Gallagher who Glenn said was his hero and he'd never met him. Dave Mustaine said goodbye as he was off to catch a ferry.

Megadeth

I had a Saturday night rocking in the land of the metal gods...

February 19

More of Chickenfoot. See more...

February 18

A few more pictures of Jeff Beck in Tokyo. See more...

 

February 17

The Bon Jovi Encyclopaedia by Neil Daniels came in the post today. I'd done an interview for Neil which I'd forgotten about. Now before you scoff while playing your Neil Young cds, it is a good book if you like JBJ (In A Blaze Of Glory). Lots of facts etc - good and bad and it beats a lot of the books on Led Zeppelin that always get it wrong. Neil's missed out a few people that should have been in it but that's a minor quibble. It's published by Chrome Dreams who are in New Malden, down the road from me, in a Blaze Of Glory of course...

The late John Martyn, the finest guitarist to emerge from New Malden...

 

More Jeff Beck pictures from Tokyo

 

Chickenfoot, shot at Chateau Hagar in Mill Valley, San Francisco

 

February 16

Jeff Beck in his hotel, and with John McLaughlin and Chick Corea at the Blue Note Club in Tokyo.

More recent travel, overseas... see more...

and the UK see more...

 

February 13

Jeff Beck in the lobby of the Conrad Hotel Tokyo and onstage at The International Forum. The photo of him with the guitar behind his head is at soundcheck.

The wing is the A380 airbus, the snow is driving to Heathrow, the little girl on the bike is waiting for her mother and ignoring me, the little girl in red was dressed up for the Chinese New Year in Bangkok.

 

February 12

Spoke to Lars again who surprised me by inviting me to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland in April. He wants people who were there in the beginning. 'Who else is going?' I asked. 'You and Linda Chauncey.' Linda ran Q-Prime before she got married and discovered ethnic rock. Also Linda was a BIG Who fan so I'll forgive her for liking Ben Harper and the one from Hawaii who surfs and is friends with Eddie Vedder and who is so boring I can't remember his name.

Played email tag with Paul Stanley, who has just become a dad again with a baby daughter.

Flew home at 4pm, just in time for God's light. Tried to shoot the clouds over Saint George - even if I don't get the photo it is a privilege to see the sky at this time. As Tennyson said "Sunset and evening cloud and one clear call for me".

Peter Makowski loves flying on Air New Zealand, the crew is always nice. He was watching films so I left him and went to watch the route map (they have a great 3D one) and read Guitar World with my Kirk And Adam cover. Lots of LEGENDS in this issue like Paul Gilbert, all cleaned up from his grunge look just in time for the Mr Big Are BACK!!!!!! Tour. I saw a cover of Burrn in Japan where Mr Big had so much makeup on trying to look young they all looked like Siegfried and Roy. Paul Gilbert looks like an older queen in the Ibanez ad in the issue. Not to be outdone is Criss Oliva, some rubbish hair metal wannabe - now before I hear boos from the gallery I photographed all the hair metal bands and I've never heard of him. I mean, fuck me, it must be quiet out there to do a feature on legendary Criss Oliva - who???? Come on, let's have a Machine Head cover with Robb Flynn pulling some faces and screaming "Motherfucker!"

The other thing is all the music mags are beside themselves with the death of Ron Ashton from the Stooges. Yes, it is sad he died on his mother's couch all alone. Ron is now bemoaned as a guitar God by everyone - Mojo, Rolling Stone, you name it - and did one of those magazines who rave about him now put him on the cover when he was alive? NO THEY DID NOT. Now Ron's up there with Hendrix... Please, he was a competent guitar player in a trendy re-discovered band, he is not a legendary guitarist.

Black Sabbath from a long while ago, shot in Los Angeles with the not very "Legendary" David Donato. He was going to be the new big thing then he was gone. I just found these in a box plus the Born Again stage set NEC Birmingham - no one noticed it was too big to put on a stage until after it was built.

 

Some old magazines from France

February 11

Had my best nights sleep in ages, gone in neverneverland - woken by Lars Ulrich (who I'd called yesterday). 'Why didn't you come over, I was around?' ' I did call, you're only just calling me back.' ' Oh, yeah, so I am. Where are you?' We arrange to reconvene in Nottingham... I mean San Francisco, Los Angeles. Nottingham, we can go for a day trip to Sherwood Forest.

Read Dave Ling's diary in which he converts to the Answer like the small cult following at Classic Rock. I've seen a few bands over the years and they will never live up to all the praise of being the "NEW FREE", they are just a pub rock rock band. An average pub rock band. Mr Big have reformed - so what, who cares? Dave wonders why they've done it? For the MONEY. Look out for a world tour - Mr Big + The Answer at a pub in the suburbs sometime soon.

Sunny in Los Angeles and warmish today.

Been speaking to Chris Cornell on email and arranged to go say hello where he was rehearsing. It was miles away in the valley. I started to go but the traffic was so heavy I gave up and went to Amoeba and Book Soup, my usual sort of shops.

Here are some new novels I aquired to open my mind,

White Stains by Aleister Crowley, an up and coming new novelist who seems to preach love with a slightly dark edge.
Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards by Al Kooper - great title and it was signed by Al.
Rebel Heart by Bebe Buell (on sale for $2.99) where Bebe tells us how much of the white stuff she's swallowed and who by. I will say I met her a couple of times years ago - always lovely.

Ended the evening going to Ago with slave number two who I took for a belated birthday dinner.

 

Kirk Hammet and Adam Jones, shot in Los Angeles.

 

 

February 10

Got up at 5am and flew up to San Francisco. I'm doing a shoot with Chickenfoot, the new group with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. It was so early after driving out to Mill Valley, an hour north, it was still only 10am - sunny and freezing. The band arrived eventually with Sammy last at 2pm and he only lives up the street. Shoot quite a lot with solos, group stuff, ads, you name it.

Heard three tracks which were quite rocking, inculding Avenida Revolution. It was nice seeing Sammy. I first shot him thirty years ago in the same area. Sammy has a Ferarri that is the fastest model made for the road. He took me for a terrifying drive at two hundred miles an hour around the local streets. Sammy can drive - I felt like I was on a mini scalectrix track in a remake of Death Race 2000. I do not like fast cars...

Finished up shooting Sam and his new toy. In his warehouse were several of them - a car pervert's delight. Said goodbye to Sammy and flew back to Los Angeles early evening.

Ran into a "Jovial" Billy Gibbons in my hotel lobby who invited Pete and I to his house for enchilladas to finish the evening. After an afternoon of tortillas with Sammy we declined, so Pete interviewed him for a bit then we finished off the night looking in the Hustler store.

February 9

Got up at 6am to go to Tsukiji fish market for a decent breakfast. Took Peter Mackay (Jeff's tour manager) with Peter Makowski and General Noriega. Peter MacKay took this photo of me photographing breakfast. It was a bit of a change having Uni, ikura, tamago and toro at 7am. Noriega seemed to be eating enough food to feed a small army which was proven to me when the bill came - and he took my money and paid for it. Both Peters looked on in disgust as Noriega and I gobbled down a plateful of Uni. I'm told it makes your Chinpoko extra hard.

Came back and did a portrait of David Sancious, Jeff's keyboard player, who was in the early E Street Band. In fact the name comes from the street David lived in when Bruce used to drop him off. David told me Bruce and he went to see The Mahavishnu Orchestra together. I can just see Bruce in Jersey singing "The Dance of the Maya". Last night's show was duller than dishwater. When someone had played a long, unintelligible solo the rest of the band would join in with mutual backslapping that ONLY a Jazz musican can do. It was the most self-serving show ever.

Left at 11am for Narita Airport to fly to Los Angeles only to find the flight is delayed five hours - the joys of travel. I like flying this direction, as you go over the date line and end up back at the beginning of the same day...

Finally got on the plane to find out it's an empty 747. I was excited - questioning what I was excited about I think probably nothing, I just liked the vibe of flying on a big empty plane. I considered watching a film then decided on watching the route map (at that very moment over the dark bit of the sea on the map somewhere in the Pacific Ocean). The meal was Japanese, a change from chicken, salmon, or filet mignon. On every flight I've been on in First or Business they serve filet mignon as if it's a rare treat and it always tastes the same, bland.

I have no idea what I am happy about. I've been reading The Week - Briefing has a feature called Inside Broadmoor, showing records from the mental hospital that have been made public for the first time (lots of good stuff on the loonies). Also finishing Bedlam: London And It's Mad, about the other mental hospital, Bethlem. I'm from London and like looking at route maps for hours for no reason and get excited by them so watch out.

Pete was reading Rolling Stone on the plane. It had Bruce Springsteen on the cover, covered in make up with the photos retouched, very styled, even his writing room was styled - objects placed for the shoot and a vomit-inducing interview by David Fricke. Talk about crawling. David must have had a long shower when he got home to get the brown stuff off. Springsteen is probably a decent bloke surrounded by a horrible controlling PR machine...

Arrived into Los Angeles at 10am. A day of catching up - laundry, cameras need cleaning etc - and after the flight I need a sleep. The weird thing about today is I feel disconected, not jetlagged in the true sense, not tired - my body feels out of synch.

Saw The Kings Of Leon at my hotel, on their way to Europe. They signed a big print I'd done for the Sunset Marquis Hotel. If you stay there you can see a large gallery of my prints on the walls.

February 8

Staying at the Conrad Hotel I noticed how in Japan they never get the concept of breakfast right. It's a minimalist affair, each piece of fruit a work of art. No black pudding, baked beans, HP sauce etc. The food looks unappetizing and boring. The bacon is pressed flat and Pete's scrambled eggs looked like baby food. It wasn't until this morning I saw as you go in a big photo of Gordon Ramsey and his signature embossed on the door. It's Cerise Gordon's signature restaurant in Japan and for all Gordon's skill in swearing and shouting, he still needs a lesson in how to cook a breakfast. In stars I'd give it a one out of ten - the Holiday Inn in Sutton wipes the floor with it!

Spent Sunday afternoon shooting Jeff Beck. It went very well apart from the cold - bloody freezing. Did pictures in a park by Tokyo harbour. Had a break, then went to see Chick Corea and John McLaughlin at the Blue Note, an upmarket Jazz club. Now Jazz, believe it or not, is not my favourite music although I do love the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It had to be one of the most boring shows I've ever seen. Maybe I just like rock, I didn't get it at all. Went backstage with Jeff and his band and got some nice pictures of Jeff, John and Chick.

Then took Jeff out for a night shoot in Roppongi. He stood for ages doing what I asked, freezing his bollocks off staring longingly at the Starbucks across the road - where we eventually spent the rest of the evening sharing unprintable stories. Jeff did tell me he and his mate recorded a drum track in the pedestrian tunnel at Wimbledon Chase Station - where I grew up. Jeff was very entertaining and pleasure to work with...

February 7

I asked Pete what the date was. 'A week before Valentine, you'd better start ordering flowers...'

Had a productive day shooting Jeff Beck in the hotel, backstage, during soundcheck, and the show was good to shoot as well. Jeff was warming up playing old Elvis and a note perfect Stairway To Heaven, he even played Superstitious, BBA style (as in heavy) for Pete. Jeff couldn't have been more accomodating...

February 6

Landed at 6am to a COLD crisp sunny Japan. we were the first plane to land in Tokyo, it was strangely empty after the madness of Bangkok. Took a bus in, arriving before rush hour started. I felt FUBB or fucked up beyond belief because I'd taken a temazepan for no other reason than I was bored on the flight. It started to kick as we arrived at the hotel - no, I didn't start speaking with a Glaswegian accent and trying to start fights with people, I just wanted to melt and not move. And when spoken to was just smiling with nothing coming out...

And I was working today so The Master was not at tip top photographic form, all I could think about was feeling slow and sick.I did perk up a bit to go cd shopping with my slave, General Noriega, who'd arrived to carry The Master's bags and bring me fruit on a platter. Peter Makowski was now put out as he didn't get any and wanted to steal it in his thieving Polish gypsy way. Pete even said 'As I'm getting clean and serene and you're turning into a drug addict...' Drug addict? Cheek, how dare he?

We're in Tokyo to shoot and interview Jeff Beck, who looked tanned and healthy as he'd come from New Zealand - we even compared tans. Shot the show at The International Forum (a venue I'd never been to). Jeff was quite hard to shoot as he tends to play looking inwards, vibing off his band. But The Master's photographic genius came to the fore and conquered the situation - in plain English the temazepan wore off. Noticed Jeff played the whole night without a pick. Nice seeing my first show of 2009.

I always think of Japan as the land of Jeff Beck and Deep Purple in the '70s so here's some Ritchie Blackmore from Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont, tanned and healthy, at home in Connecticut with his cello, and enjoying the mud of Knebworth. See more...

 

A special treat for you older boys - Ritchie in his underpants somewhere in England (Over the Rainbow ), in Peter Makowski's hotel room...

 

 

And here's some pictures of Blondie, shot at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1979

The Great Wall of China, photographed on my recent visit.

Friday night so it's time go gonzo in the Ginza...

February 5

In Bangkok and the weather is 90F, the pool is lovely - a bit like England at the moment... I saw a baby that the locals called Sumo at a market last night. It was the biggest baby I've ever seen. Took some photos on my little Leica. It's Chinese New Year here - saw a strange opera by a side street market at 10am, it was quite odd. A few old people watching some ladyboys in garish make-up screaming...

I went out late afternoon and photographed the locals during rush hour. It was okay,I felt I got some good photos done. Off to Tokyo late tonight - back to a land of ice and snow.

The new issue of Classic Rock has a work of art on the cover - a photo of Axl, one of Rock's great portraits and it's by me, of course. The story has my first session with GNR in Los Angeles.

Jerry Bloom the editor of www.moreblackthanpurple.co.uk and www.bloomsbagels.com (more Purple than Black Bagels) has written a very good letter making some valid points on Deep Purple and how the story could have been, well, better. It wasn't that bad a story, it was just a bit matter of fact. At Wembley in the late 80's or early 90's (I don't remember the date) I was watching Deep Purple with Peter Makowski from behind Ritchie's amps. He was not happy with the show and kept making W signs with his hands at Ian Gillan. This meant that he might as well have been playing to a brick wall. As they finished the show Ritchie said 'Lets do one encore and go.' Ian, who had been drinking thoughout the show, poked Blackmore in the chest and said, 'You're not embarassing me in front of my family, we're doing three encores.' Blackmore looked at him straight-faced and said, 'You're absolutely right,' then walked on and started the riff to Smoke On The Water. As the band joined in Ritchie walked back behind his amp, took off his guitar handed it to his guitar tech, Cookie, looked at Peter and I and said 'Come on, we're going.'. We followed him off the stage into his car and went to the bar at the Sheraton Hotel in Kensington. Not very funny in hindsight but at the time we were pissing ourselves laughing. An indignant Ritchie said while drinking a scotch and coke 'He's not poking me!'

There's a good Steve Clark feature from Lorelei Shellist's book, and also Thin Lizzy. The photographic treat is a photo of The Answer where they all mysteriously have defined cleft chins, all looking like a Tom Cruise photo shoot - so that's what Hollywood does for you. But the highlight of the issue is Peter Makowski's feature on the late great legendary Stray Dog...

And here are some other recent magazines.

 

February 3

Flew to Singapore on the A380, the double-decker airbus. We sat on the runway at Heathrow for three hours yesterday, watching nothing taking off in the snow. It was quite eerie in a strange way, as if the modern world had shut down. In fact, it had - I only got to the airport because I have a four-wheel drive and a friend drove me. It was odd at 7am, nothing on the road, people struggling through the snow, cars abandoned at odd angles. It was at least two feet deep in places. England had closed down - no trains, no buses, nothing, and the weather forecast knew it was coming. But not this bad, it is grim. Typical - if it was Russia or China they just deal with it or shoot you if you don't turn up for work.

The purser on the plane, who Peter Makowski (in the back where he belongs) has made friends with, has told him I'm a photographer. Pete's newest friend is a camera buff. Which means he bores us to death telling me what's wrong with my camera what I really need, what exposures I should be shooting at, what are the best lenses and on and on. I nod, bored out of my fucking mind - why does every amateur tell you how to take fucking pictures? I would NEVER tell someone what or how to do it. I think if we're nice he might move the Pole up to Business or me to First. He asks if we know Madonna. 'One of our best friends,' we both say. We tell him we just had dinner with her in New York last week. 'She's soooooooooo sexy and beautiful,' he exclaims. 'Absolutely gorgeous, the best, we love her so much, she's so kind and thoughtful and adopts children from the third world,' we smile. 'As it's empty in the front could you see if my friend and I could sit together?' 'I'll see what I can do.' He smiles and comes back five minutes later and says 'Sorry we don't upgrade on the A380.' I have to listen to more top tips on how to be a good photographer. I give up and leave Pete in the galley drinking coffee and telling him Madonna's make up tips for looking fab at fifty. On a flight I just like to be left alone really, I don't want to make friends.

The A380 is not good for taking photos, the windows are sloped so you're shooting out at an odd angle. Shot the dawn over Rangoon. I had hoped to get the huge dawn clouds over Singapore but as we left three hours late I've missed them and I'm quite disappointed. Do my usual and watch the route map most of the way. The new seats are so large I found them too big,really. I know this sounds weird but I felt like an kid sitting in them...

Arrived into Singapore. It was pandemonium as all the connections had gone. Managed to get on a Thai flight to Bangkok. Have you ever noticed that all your connection gates are always miles away? it doesn't matter where I am in the world, for some reason the gate is at the other end of the terminal...

February 2

Spent last week trying to decide if I was going to go to New Zealand on Saturday. I would only have been there for three days then would have had to go to Tokyo. It would be a lot of flying and sometimes I get weird on long flights - start to feel claustrophobic. So I decided on the slightly quicker route, going to Bangkok, having a few days there, then on to Japan. Thought it was the right decision until last night when it started to snow - I mean real snow. I was driving and skidding into the curb, I HATE snow. Fuck it, who wants to go skiing? Give me a pool any day - should have gone to Auckland.

Anyway, off to Singapore today then Bangkok, Tokyo, Los Angeles, shooting various things - human and concrete. Looking forward to flying into Singapore at dawn, hopefully through big clouds. While in Japan I'm going to make an effort to go to Mount Fuji. Every time I try to go it's summer and too hazy...

Saw RockNRolla, the Guy Ritchie film. It was entertaining, a bit "Be lucky", still, I loved it and it was slated by the press in England. Much more fun than The Wrestler or Gran Torino. I even know people who speak and act like the actors in the film - real RockNRollas.

Met up with Aubrey Powell, or Po, as he's known. I collect Hipgnosis Books and art prints - I have quite a few prints. Po signed my copy of For The Love Of Vinyl and a Japanese edition I have of Walk Away Rene. I told him my favourite cover is Phenomenon by UFO which Po told me was shot in Cheam a couple of streets from where I live - thirty eight years ago. I have Atom Heart Mother on my kitchen wall and the red balls in the desert - Elegy - in the front room.

Got The Heavy Metal Kids and Anvil Chorus via the kind CPFC supporter, Dave Ling, and spent the weekend playing them. I used to see the Heavy Metal Kids all over London when I was in my late teens, even photographed them at the Music Machine (now the Koko). Gary Holton was a good front man, he had the X factor. Thinking about it I saw them at the Croydon Greyhound, Twickenham Winning Post, The Roundhouse, The Rainbow, and even opening up for Alice Cooper at Wembley in '75. Funny how they never made it ,luck was never on their side. Also had emails about Thunder finally breaking up, another good band - their bad luck was the arrival of Kirk Cobain. The odd thing is no matter what's new or trendy you still go back to listening to a good rock band. The only band from down Seattle way that still stands up is Soundgarden.

A small selection of pictures of your heroes...