WHEN I was growing up Ross Halfin's name adorned the sleeves of most of my favourite albums.
So when, on one of my first major assignments from Kerrang! magazine, I was asked to work alongside Halfin covering the Smashing Pumpkins in Dublin in late 1995, I was both excited and nervous.
I had already checked into our hotel in Dublin when Halfin turned up, along with a photographer and journalist from Q magazine. The duo from Q introduced themselves, Halfin merely looked me up and down without saying a word. 'Good start', I thought. Conversation over the weekend remained on this level of Zen minimalism. Finally, photo-shoot time rolled around. The band were being shot near the docks in Dublin, not one of the city's more scenic areas, and somewhat concerned about the number of lawless 'urchins' in the vicinity, Halfin asked me to look after his cameras.
Fine. What I didn't appreciate was the fact that every time he required a different camera, he would whistle in my general direction, snap his fingers and tell 'Oi!' When I worked in bars such manners were a surefire way to ensure you didn't get served all night.
I went back to Kerrang! editor Phil Alexander and told him that I didn't ever want to work with Mr Halfin again as I considered him a very rude man.
Seven years on, and dozens of Kerrang! assignments down the line, the very things that first irritated me about Halfin now endear him to me. On countless occasions, Halfin's 'take no shit' attitude has ensured that I've been given far more access to superstar bands that I would have gained otherwise. His love of the fine things in life has ensured that I've stayed in some of the world's finest hotels, been upgraded on TransAtlantic flights and generally ponced around the globe at record companies expense doing my dream job. If he will insist upon using my nationality to erroneously introduce me to bands as 'Danny Boy' and 'Tom' (an abbreviated form of 'Top Of the Morning'...no really) then at least that little quirk initiates conversation. His 'war stories' of life on the road with bands during the '80s are endlessly entertaining on long haul flights and he's a very generous man on our frequent time-killing trips to American shopping malls. Besides he sold me his 'Led Zeppelin' photo book at a knock down price and ensured that I got to travel on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet in 1999....things I couldn't have dreamed of as a metal-loving youth. And his photographs are still pretty good and all...