In April of 1981, I received a call from a record company publicist asking me if I wanted to photograph a new band that was coming to Chicago the following week. She told me they were really great, and that it would be worth my while to photograph them. So I trooped off to the Park West Theater to see this new band called U2. They were pretty good!!
I shot a good number of photos (all photographers had access to the whole show) and met up with the publicist after the show. She brought me backstage to meet the guys, who were very shy and quiet, especially the singer with one name. YIKES!! How that has changed. Soon they were getting a lot of press and I was getting many requests for photos. Every time the band came back to town, I would shoot more. I was there at their breakthrough concert (The US Festival, in California in 1983). That is where the worlds press first saw them on a large stage (and sometimes in the audience). The bigger they got, the tougher the access was, until I finally just gave up. Recently I reconnected with Bono, spending 10 days in 2003 riding around the Midwest in a tour bus photographing him on a speaking tour promoting his initiatives in Africa. Last month the band started their North American Tour in Chicago, but I stayed home and watched football that weekend, as three songs from somewhere in a football stadium was not very appealing.
On a similar note, in December of 1987, a Los Angeles record company publicist called me and asked me if I would like to do a photo shoot with her new band. She promised me that they would soon be world famous. They were opening for Alice Cooper, who I was scheduled to do a photo shoot with after his set. Her band, a bunch of total unknowns called Guns and Roses were supposed to leave after their set, but I persuaded her to make the band stick around until after Alice’s set, as I didn’t want to set up all my equipment twice. They wandered in after the show and I did a quick shoot with them, including individuals with all the band members, never thinking that the photos would ever be worth anything. Guess I was wrong
In a small bit of irony, G&R’s publicist is now U2’s publicist, and I can’t get access to either band anymore! Guess that is how the world turns.
One final thought- do publicists even call photographers anymore and offer access to their bands, big or small??