“Best photography rock & roll of history ”. With this forcefulness crowned the Q Magazine in 2002 to our protagonist of today. However, it must be clarified that from the first moment the iconic image has been marked by chance and the rejection of its main protagonists.
The photographer Pennie Smith He had been a benchmark in the photographic world of the music industry for a few years, putting the best of the time in rigorous black and white. His great work came to the eyes of the prestigious magazine New Musical Express, who hired her to cover one of the most important musical events of the time; the tour of Led Zeppelin for the United States. After successfully exiting said event, he went from jet of the Goliats of Rock to ride on the back of one of the flag bearers of the punk: The Clash.
In the late 1970s the arsonist punk It was losing steam and many of the bands that created it began to self-immolate, yes, but not before turning the music scene upside down. Joe Strummer and his people were not going to throw themselves overboard at the first change and they knew how to adapt to continue fighting for a few more years.
On September 21, 1979, some 3,000 people gathered at the Palladium from New York to see the English band. PennieHe was, of course, there too, though for a moment he thought about staying at the hotel. At night, and for the second time that day, he changed his mind by deciding to stand on the stage on the opposite side to the one he used to do. These small and seemingly insignificant decisions made the big shot possible.
Not one, not two, but three (the harsh reality of the analog world), were the attempts that the photographer made to capture the unusual that was happening. For no apparent reason Paul Simonon, bassist of the band, started popping his bass fender precision before the stunned gaze of the staff. Many attendees would think with comfort that this is the attitude punk that they expected to see at a concert of such caliber. Nothing is further from reality. Own Paul He confessed to having regretted having destroyed the best of the instruments he had on tour. Moreover, it is the only time that he or another member did the Pete Townshend on the stage.
Most of those involved that night have stated that the concert was proceeding normally. Pennie, with a few concerts of the band already behind him, he did not detect any problem that could alter the bassist. Strummer He went on to say that it was one of the most memorable bowling. Even Paul, he thought the group was doing well, but he was feeling a bit unhappy with their personal performance. That is why, frustrated, he stamped his anger on the ground.
All this happened three months after the release of the following legendary British album: London Calling. After the tour, they began to look for a possible cover for the album among the vast material of the photographer. Hard work, which was interrupted by the final That one!, that came out of the mouth of the leader of the Clash, who stated that it faithfully reflected the musical power of the group. Had to convince the reluctant Simonon and even the author herself, who considered that the image was technically poor, blurred and out of focus.
The image has an obvious visual force, a bressoniano decisive moment and, although it is not to the liking of the photographer, the blurred movement along Robert Hood It gives it a lot of dynamism.
Finally everyone convinced, it was the turn of another of the crew members, the illustrator and designer. Ray Lowry.
On the tour itself, he was told to get down to work on the design of the new cover and the artist turned to a record he had bought days ago in Chicago; the first album of Elvis.
There is a lot of speculation about the reason for the choice of that album. That if it was a tribute to the singer, provocation, plagiarism, blah, blah, blah. It seems that the reality is much simpler, since Lowry wanted to pay tribute to the designer who created the iconic cover King. It is still a paradox that their own Clash have a cover identical to that of one of the figures most criticized by the punk. Without going any further, one of his lyrics reads: “No Elvis, Beatles, or Stones.”
Controversy aside, it is considered one of the most iconic snapshots in history, which was even selected in 2010, along with 10 other albums, to appear on LA stamps. Royal mail british.
The race of Pennie Smith continued to be a success and I can continue to portray bands of the stature of Oasis, Morrisey, Radiohead, Blur, Strokes, etc.
Few images possess such visual force and opportunism as to define, not only a band, but an entire cultural movement.