Diary
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July 29

A message from Dave "THE SNAKE" Sabo,

I just read it. I can’t believe I lost 1st place to Jeff Keith!! I held that title for all of my adult years and to suddenly lose it makes me sad!!!!
Love ya’ buddy!!!!

July 28

Couldn't sleep, I was so overtired - I have too much on my mind. Raining with huge black clouds, I go across to the old town - the Spice Market then the Bazaar. The shopkeepers drive you crazy, 'My friend, you like football, you need carpet!' Every one of them hassles you. I love rug shops but I can't deal with this pleading and trying to corner you then scam you. Even the cabs scam you with tax and tip. At least London isn't like this, or maybe it is and being a Londoner I don't get to see it. Driving by the water there are loads of huge oil tankers and ships loaded with freight, it is a ship parking lot. I find it incredible that they don't sink. I don't stop the car to take photos which I later regret.

On the way to the airport stop at the huge Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia take a few photos but it's too packed. As I stand fiddling with my camera a man (I thought was a security guard) says hello. Then asks if I 'd like a good carpet at good price... Time to go home.

Sit on the flight and read the Observer Magazine. Jay Rayner has written a funny and not nice review of The Chicago Rib Shack which he hated. He did make me laugh out loud when he said "apparently it's back due to popular demand. Whose popular demand?" and "Don't let popularity be a good guide to quality. You should see the audience figures for The Jeremy Kyle Show". Pete Makowski, Jimmy Page and I had eaten there last week and liked it, so what do we know? Jay is a food critic. Jay also liked Bodean's for ribs, which I hated, but still a funny review. Thinking about it, isn't Jay Rayner jewish? Eating pork ribs, wonder if his mum knows?

Finished the magazine then shot some of the storm clouds heading out of Istanbul and a bit of the end of day sky.

July 27

After getting to bed at 2am (yep, my fault for Living After Midnight), I get up at 4am to catch the first flight to Istanbul for a bit of Metallica. Ugh... I feel sick and weak - all my own doing. Drive to Heathrow, watching the dawn on empty roads. It sort of reminds me of the film 28 Days Later, everybody gone.

I go through security and it bleeps - I have nothing in my pockets etc. I get a random search at 5.30am. I just let them get on with it. When did you buy your ticket etc...? On the plane I don't sleep I pass out, and wake up stiff and still tired landing in Istanbul. Queue up and find out I have to join another queue to buy a visa. Today is becoming loooooong.

Stay at the very nice Four Seasons right on the Bosphorus, watching huge tankers sailing by. The view is looking across the black water into Asia. I sit for a couple of hours just enjoying it.

Go to Ali Sami Yen Stadium at 5pm driving around twisting curving streets packed with fans all in de rigeur black. Going backstage I run straight into David Sabo aka Dave "The Snake" Sabo from Skid Row. David is a wonderful human being apart from being the second ugliest human I know (number one has to be Jeff Keith). Dave is looking after Down, as in "Getting down" or "Down the toilet". The next person I see is Phil Anselmo who I haven't seen since Pantera. I love Phil Anselmo, he is one of the realest people I know and he has manners - he always calls me "Sir". Got to tell you it is good to see them. We catch up. Osse Hoppe (German promoter) is promoting - he always tells the story of me being thrown out of a press launch by Mick Mars after I asked him to lift one of his six chins...

Our heroes in Metallica finally arrive. I get Lars (amazingly cooperative) to look at photos, James next, Rob then Kirk to do it while standing on one hand doing yoga.

Go and shoot Down. Phil means it on stage - they are "Heavy" - and he gets all the crowd headbanging along. He stops the show until the crowd join in.

Back to Metallica. Lars is feigning tiredness and weariness at having to look at photos of himself - life can be hard for a drummer. Down come in and Lars wants a photo of them all together. Pepper (Down guitarist) pulls faces as if he is having great difficulty going to the toilet (the last time I shot him was in Paris with James in 1996 and he was doing the same then). Lars leaps in the air (he really does) at seeing Dave "The Snake" Sabo. Never mind Bono/King Fred of Denmark/Sean Penn or Rob Flynn, Dave is in the room. Lars is misty-eyed with joy, he gushes to Dave that after ten bottles of champagne in Milan he made Steve Wiig (Lars' boyfriend and right-hand man) headbang with him to Skid Row on youtube doing Monkey Business. They stand in the dressing room singing along together ignoring Down and everyone else in the room.

Lars is in such a good mood he invites in a group of children. They stand around as if on a school trip. Lars is smiling, signing autographs, posing for photos. It turns out this is the opening band, Sword. I didn't realise you could get school kids to open the show, they must have got letters from their parents before this trip. Sword, just like Machine Head, will not leave. I look at Stevenstein Wiig with a "get rid of them" look. We finally get them out the room by giving them ice cream. I get Lars to kindly look at the rest of my photos - he can be a kind man.

Walk up to the stage with the band, spend the first half of the show there. Good to shoot, in fact I get "Great Photos". But then I would say that wouldn't I (I know I sound like Kevin Shirley going on about his mixes and himself) but it's true, I am The Master. I get good stuff of all of your heroes bending the arrow out of line. Lars spends most of the time spitting water at me. In the old days he would spit it straight up, now it's at me or the video cameraman. Quite enjoyed tonight as I wasn't shooting for anything specific. They come off, get straight in the vans and head to the airport, flying Istanbul/Frankfurt/San Francisco.

I walk to the dressing room and Phil grabs me for a hug while THE SNAKE looks on with jealousy. Phil tells me he's writing a book about his time doing what he does and it'll inculde his time in Pantera. I'm looking forward to reading it. Sit in the production office and find out about the bomb attacks in the city tonight, which is sobering. I get a couple of texts checking I'm okay. The real world can be a bad place...

July 24

Got Guitar World in the post. As it's a nice English summer's day I sit in the garden to read it. The "hot news" is Sammy Hagar's new supergroup, Chickenfoot - great name, I mean, why didn't he just call it the Beatles? I like Sammy, but old Sam puts his foot straight in his mouth when he says it's Led Zeppelin. He has Joe Satriani whose guitar playing is fantastic... at putting you to sleep, and Chad Smith who's run away from Glenn Hughes to be the new John Bonham. Bet you all can't wait. Sounds fucking horrendous - Sam's drunk too much tequila. Montrose where are you? Best quote is from Sam who says "It's 10 times Van Halen - we all like each other."

There's even "Gasp" a REALLY boring feature, featuring Keith Nelson from that supergroup Buckcherry with a photo of him looking as threatening as a three year old flipping off the camera. Watch out, he means it!

Best of all are the ads. One has Stevie D (who??), Buckcherry's other guitarist ,who it claims has roots in the blues. And even better is a Dean ad for Michael Angelo Batio (I mean WHO???). It says "Michael Angelo Batio, one of the greatest guitarists on the face of the earth" Fucking priceless - can't wait for the next issue. Doug Aldrich, where are you - save us from this...

July 23

More of The Mars Volta at The Roundhouse in Camden Town, London. See more...

 

July 22

The Mars Volta plus Jimmy Page from the Roundhouse and a cloud from the weekend.

 

July 21

The first three cloud pictures are flying out of Venice. The other two are above my house over the weekend. The next row is from Venice.

Some more pictures from Slovenia. See more...

 

July 18

New Metallica special with my Classic cover. I suppose "Classic" is the new word for old...

 

 

 

July 17

Back to the Roundhouse to shoot more Mars Volta. Great venue, great band but oh the light show is a challenge. Shoot a group shot before they go on, and the band are cool to hang out with just like, say, the Black Crowes. Leave during the last song and take the train - Northern line to Embankment, District line to Victoria then wait thirty minutes for the slow train full of drunks on the way home.This never bothered me when I was young but now it's a chore.

Read the new issue of Classic Rock which has the worst cover design I have ever seen. It is sooooooooooo bad it couldn't even be a fanzine. And the photos are by me! It is DIRE. The inside is good - excellent feature on the Foo Fighters show by Peter Makowski (I hate to say), he calls me a "Lensman", a term I HATE - fucking lensman...
Max Bell's feature on Little Feat is excellent and I like my black white photos of Rush ( there were a load more they didn't use). Also Peter's feature on the Graspop festival is good. The Priest are back and so are Tesla and Whitesnake...

New issue of Classic Rock coming at you live...

 

July 16

Metallica started rehearsing at 2am - I went to bed. Got up at 5.15, flew via Stavanger to London. I didn't take one photo. And Bergen looked like Viking country which it is. Landed at Heathrow and sat on the runway for an hour as there was no gate. Got home and felt, well, just tired...

Drove to Chalk Farm early afternoon with my posse of slaves (Karen Sihota and General Noriega) to the Roundhouse for The Mars Volta. Me doing a photo shoot, Peter Makowski doing an interview. It was okay. Tried to do something different but Cedric refused. I thought it'd be Omar dragging his heels. Went well in the end, well-ish anyway...

Spoke to Thomas about who he likes as a drummer he told me he had drum lessons from Troy Luccketta from Tesla. We agreed Troy is a great solid drummer. Shot soundcheck, then sat shooting in the dressing room until Ike the keyboard player threw me out while having a tantrum. Still, the rest of them were nice. Jimmy Page called and came to see the show, did a quick photo with Credric and Jimmy's Rolling Stone cover co-star Omar.

I shot the show. Jimmy watched with his bodyguard, Peter, and Peter's bride-to-be, Karen. General Noriega was protecting me. I left my slaves to take the train home, Noriega dropping Karen off in Brixton (she wanted to see the sights) while Peter, Jimmy and I headed for a belated birthday meal. Peter even wore a bib while eating, but he was still covered in food - must be old age.

July 15

So, off to Bergen in Norway, via Oslo. Sit on the runway at Heathrow for two hours and so miss my connection to Bergen. Travel is fun, fun, fun. Finally get there early evening. Bergen is picturesque, lots of fjords and that sort of thing - wish I'd shot it from the air. Bergen starts out sunny-ish, then is freezing...

Go through photos with Kirk, James, and Rob. Herr Ulrich, when he arrives, looks at one. I was going to shoot them rehearsing - by midnight they hadn't started...

July 14

Lemmy shows smoking's good for you...

 

 

The cover of my Travel book - coming soon...

 

 

 

What Kazuyo saw...

 

July 13

Peter is recovering in my garden after revisting his youth yesterday. We even went to Asda for supplies, ice cream etc - I mean revisiting his childhood not his bad old days...

Sit in my sunny back garden with Noriega waiting on us and cooking lunch. Peter even tried get me to tell people he's 52 - he's turning into Dave Ling, lying about his age. He's 57 and that's a fact.

Looked at the NME which I haven't looked at since about 1978. It is crap, no style to the photos or layout - indie rubbish. Pete and I agree on one thing, we both hate Radiohead - fuck me, talk about overrated. It would be nice to see Thom Yorke crucified.

Read Bill Nighy at the G8 Summit in the Observer. I find him a fraud. He's boring, boring. Bill forgets to write about flying First Class and staying in a five-star hotel all expenses paid, all on behalf of Oxfam of course. They feature a picture of boring Bill playing air guitar, probably to his boring favorite band, The Rolling Stones.

Back to enjoying the garden...

July 12

Peter Makowski's birthday today, he's 57 years old - looks good, doesn't he girls... or boys? Dave Ling (Peter's hero) was 56 last week and looks twice Pete's age. Peter and I are having a rock'n'roll party this weekend to celebrate, even Nori has flown in from Japan. All friends of Bill W welcome...

 

 

Also just finished my travel book, it's at the printers now. It will be available through my website soon.

July 8

Iced Earth. See more...

 

Some pictures from Slovenia last weekend. See more...

July 7

I've messed up my right arm to the point where it hurts to lift a pillow let alone a camera. Saw a speciaist today. I think he sorted me out - fucking hurts though. I suppose you breakdown like a car with old age.

Had to shoot Lemmy at the Royal Garden Hotel while Pete Makowski interviews him. He was running late so Jimmy Page met Pete and I for a coffee. It's Pete's birthday next Saturday and he's still single, so come on girls, someone make him happy.

We go up to see Lemmy. He was playing Dave Ling his new cd while mumbling along (let's face it, Lemmy doesn't sing) and playing a bit of drums and air guitar (or bass). Lemmy does the photos for a whole five minutes then starts moaning and moaning and moaning like a grumpy old man. I tell him about Jack Bruce being a miserable old man. 'He is,' says Lemmy, then carries on moaning. I leave Pete and him to discuss the Third Reich or whatever it is makes him happy.

Jimmy is across the road so we have something to eat in Wholefoods then go to Christies to look at the Rock And Pop sale. It has a nice real Pete Townshend SG Special if you fancy remortgaging your home.

Read an interview with photographer Trevor Leighton who made a good point about people who buy digital cameras and think they are now photographers - here's a bit of what he said...

"I saw a picture of Jack Nicholson on a sofa in a hotel. There was nothing wrong with the shot but it was neither good nor bad. I suppose the image was well exposed - but then again with digital it's almost impossible to get that wrong. I just don't see any individualism anymore - and it worries me. It's all too instant and disposable. I just don't remember seeing an image where I've thought it has taken photography to that next level".

Some Rush shot with film - in fact all my black and white is shot with film, See more...

And here's a photo of me at work with Kiss, sent in by Patrice...

Hi Ross
It's allways a pleasure to look at your diary. I've just found a picture ( well in fact i've got several ) of you working at the Paris Bercy show for Kiss so enjoy !
Take care
Patrice

July 6

After shooting Iced Earth headlining Metal Camp in the early hours of the morning, Jon, Ulf, Kazuyo and I make our escape by driving as 'Fast as possible' to Italy. Jon had told me Steve Harris is his hero and I hear it and see it in his playing, he even plays with a foot on his monitor. As we drive across the mountains I tell tales of Iron Maiden. I was going to tell Jon that Steve's gay, but he might kill me and throw me into a ravine.

Two hours later we see signs for Italy and a figure flags us down. We are stopped by about six unsmiling Italian border police, all plain clothes and heavily armed. They study my passport and call it in to check it. 'Fuck them,' I think, it's the EU. Kazuyo is next, all six are truly baffled as to why she has an Irish passport. All of them examine it as if she could be "The Fugitive". She grins at them and says 'What are you doing? I'M CATHOLIC! I'm one of you! My husband's catholic so I must be a bit - at least a little bit.' Still no smiles. 'Fuck them stinking Italians!' she finishes with...

After much radioing back and forth we are allowed to drive on at 4am. Italian cunts, Kaz is right, fuck them...

Checked into the airport motel, in which I had a room smaller than in Slovenia. At least it had AC, but it still felt like a cell. We all reconvene at 9am. Ulf sorts out going into Venice for the day to look around and take photos. The last time I was here was so long ago I think I was still young, with Metallica on The Master Of Puppets Tour. It was empty then, now it is packed. I take Jon into a church and shoot him in the pews and under a crucified Christ. Ulf does a deal for a speed boat and we cruise along shooting photos. I see a huge skull made out of shiny buckets of some kind - looks kind of cool. A nice day out until I start to feel seasick...

We are all flying at 3pm. The airport check in is pandemonium, hundreds of people with no kind of order (a bit like Gatwick). There is an airport handlers strike and no one seems to have a clue as to how to form a queue. Kaz pushes her way to the front and checks us in. I start to like her a little bit, and consider not kicking her for about five minutes. But you can't be too nice to the yellow peril - she'd miss her kicks. We are delayed an hour, finally move from the gate then sit on the runway for two hours and forty minutes. The plane is packed and hot and awful - travelling isn't always fun.

Get back to London at 8pm - it's been a long day. In fact, a long weekend...

July 5

It was so hot I couldn't sleep - started to fall asleep as I had to get up at 3am. We drove in the dawn light to Cadrj, nearly to the top of the mountains, on single-tracked dirt roads. I was scared shitless. It was now cold, wet and muddy.

Had to walk through mud up hills for thirty minutes, to a clearing overlooking the mountains with an eerie mist below. Looked fantastic, in a cold, dangerous kind of way. Did photos in the forest as well, finished at 9am by a railway with a first world war bunker. It was now baking hot. Kaz and I went to have a coffee in town and sat and watched white-skinned humans all dressed in black getting burnt bright red, walking around like zombies.

The whole town was invaded by the Metal Kids of Slovenia, all drinking and chain-smoking. Kazuyo thought she was in Heaven, wonderful smell...

Couldn't face going back to my room for the day, fell asleep in a field, woke up next to a cow - really...

July 4

Been in Lisbon the last few days trying to be cultural. Went to museums, saw the new Oriente Museum, showing the extent of Portuguese influence on Asia. It has some stunning Japanese armour, beautiful and quite evil... I even ended up, quite by accident, at a restaurant (recommended by the hotel) that I went to with Lars last year, same table and everything.

Off to Venice today, then driving to Slovenia...

Fly to Venice then drive to Slovenia. See signs for Udine and Trieste, hot and sunny - must be in the high 90s. As we get into Slovenia the landscape is mountainous, with turquoise lakes and rivers. We climb higher and higher for two hours. I'd been reading about this area in End Game 1945. Quite breathtaking. We arrive in Tolmin, a village high in the mountains. I thought we were going to a resort by the sea - we are staying at the local youth hostel. Kazuyo is over the moon, she thinks it is so funny she takes a photo of me in my luxurious suite. It is like something out of Eli Roth's Hostel, we just need to be butchered by the locals. The Four Seasons, where are you...?

The festival is called Metal Camp. The production offices are in a casino with circa 1970 black carpet, lurid colours and lurid wallpaper in dayglo. All that is missing are the local whores. I meet up with Ulf Zick and Jon from Iced Earth who I'm shooting a session for. We eat "Dinner" with the local catering. I had visions of fish by a harbour, this it is not. I've spent July 4th in LA/New York/Bali/Japan/Miami but never in sunny Tolmin. I ring Peter Makowski. He was excited, 'Go back later, the hookers have to be there.' Peter then tells me all about going to Belgrade with Deep Purple in the '70s and all the Slovenian hookers going to Italy to work. Peter remembers all the best things in life. I walk back to my youth hostel watching the sky and mountains alive with sheet lightning.

Off to bed - we are getting up tomorrow at 3am to take photos....

July 2

 

Here's a photo of me photographing Sir David Coverdale at Wembley, sent by Chris...

I was quite humbled to be in the same photo pit with you at the Whitesnake and Def Leppard show at Wembley Arena last Thursday.

Firstly my apologies for getting in your way, the frown you gave me said many words (I'm quite new to this big show stuff), and secondly here are some shots of you in action by way of an apology.

July 1

As of today Idols are no longer my agents. Anyone wanting to use my pictures should get in touch with me directly click here...

Some portraits from the recent Mojo Awards.See more...