Having lived in New York City in the early 1970s, Young became immersed in the music scene there. He recalls: “When I wasn’t filing master tapes at Jimmy Hendrix’s studio Electric Ladyland, I was hanging out at all the various music venues. I was living with the band Kiss (that’s another story), and we would go to The Mercer Street Arts Club in the East Village. I saw a band called The New York Dolls perform there. They had a large following, and their gigs were mayhem. Everyone was jumping up and down, dressed in grunge and there was lots of bad behaviour. It was gripping, new and very different. They were one of the very early, if not the first, punk bands.”
After he returned to London in 1973 and slowly began to make his mark as a photographer, musicians such as Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Brian Ferry were featuring prominently on the music scene. Then, very suddenly, The Sex Pistols came along. The Evening Standard gave Richard Young a tip off in 1976 that a new band was going to perform at The Notre Dame Hall just of Leicester Square. He remembers:
“The audience were wild, everyone was wearing tartan kilts and trousers, safety pins, ragged t-shirts and sporting Mohican hair cuts, all influenced by Vivienne Westwood. It was the embodiment of anti-establishment with loads of testosterone and raw energy in the room. When they got on stage the crowd went wild, jumping, pushing and pogoing, there was lots and lots of spitting. I was so happy I’d worn my beanie as I was covered in spit at the end of the gig! The Evening Standard used the shots and the rest is history.”
Following that concert, he went on tour with The Sex Pistols. On their return he set up a studio shoot with the band and their entourage. As far as Young is aware, this is the only studio session that The Sex Pistols ever did together as a band. A few months later, he was asked to shoot the signing of their contract with A and M outside Buckingham Palace, one of the most iconic shots in his archive.
Beyond The Sex Pistols, this exhibition features photographs from other punk and punk-influenced bands such as The Clash, The Jam, Siouxie and the Banshees, Blondie and Billy Idol alongside other lesser known artists like Gaye Advert, Jordan, even Adam and the Ants. These photographs capture a unique music scene in London in the 70s while also presenting the culture that emerged in reaction to punk – such as Steve Strange and the New Romantics.
“It was such an interesting period in rock and roll history, the fashion was part of the music and the music was defined by the fashion.”
ANARCHY IN THE UK: #PUNKLONDON will feature limited edition photographs in a wide range of sizes with prices starting at £60.
For further information, images or to request an interview, please contact Susan Young at the Richard Young Gallery.
Richard Young Gallery
4 Holland Street, London, W8 4LT
Tel: 0207 937 8911
Follow Richard Young on Instagram @RichardYoung110