Topic: Kevin Cummins, rock and roll photographer and Man City fan
OMJ: who are you?
That's like the first question in the Catechism...
Kevin Cummins: Manchester City and London
OMJ:How did you start out in photography?
My father and grandfather were keen amateurs and both had cupboards converted to darkrooms t home. I started taking photos when I was 5 (a holiday to London) then I'd process and print them myself. I then studied photography. I wanted to work for either the NME or The Observer Colour magazine. I'd shoot live gigs mainly in order to get in free - then I suppose it seemed like a good way of earning a living ...
OMJ:Who were the first band you ever photographed?
Live: David Bowie
Posed: The Drones when they were Rockslide.
OMJ:What was the first picture you had printed in a music paper?
It was a dps about Manchester featuring Buzzcocks, Howard Devoto, The Drones et al. July 77.
OMJ:How much were you paid?
I think it was £6 a photo.
OMJ:What are your first memories of Joy Division, The Smiths and Happy Mondays?
Phew: first impression of Joy Division: they weren't very good. They also looked really uncool. They looked even more uncool the next time I saw them on stage. They were wearing vinyl caps and trousers and had wrapped gaffa tape around their arms - or was that just Hooky ...
The Smiths: I loved them. I still do. The first time I photographed them they were slightly nervous. They still hadn't worked out all their poses. Morrissey knew what he wanted to do - which was often at odds with the rest of the band. That session was a metaphor for the rest of his career - er maybe.
Happy Mondays: The first time I met them was at the Haçienda - with a view to shooting a photo session with them. They looked like the sort of feral youths who ask you if they can mind your car on match days for a quid. Tony Wilson introduced me by telling them that I'd photographed Ian Curtis, and the Pistols. Shaun said, "So fucking what. They're dead." I liked him. I asked him if they had any idea what they'd like their first session to be? Shaun said he wanted to be photographed with Rambo. I was sure it was Rambo too and not Rimbaud. Wilson was wondering where this was going. He started muttering something about trying to get hold of Sly Stallone when Shaun said, "No you daft cunt. There's a fucking big poster of him outside. We want our picture taking with that."
OMJ:Did Ian Curtis have a lighter side?
Yep. Contrary to popular myth, he didn't just sit on the back of the bus reading Sartre. He was enthusiastic about Manchester City FC and Iggy Pop. He laughed a lot. I couldn't afford to take pictures of those moments though. I didn't want to shatter your illusions.
OMJ:What was the most pretentious thing Factory ever did?
Their very existence
OMJ:Who were your fave Manc band that never really made it?
My money was on The Distractions.
OMJ:What was the best name you ever heard Tony Wilson drop or quote?
He never quoted himself. As Brendan Behan once said: 'always attribute a quote to someone else to lend it more credence.' This was Tony's gospel.
He delighted in speaking in epigrams. No wonder he found Morrissey such hard work; both of them quoting other sources without revealing anything about themselves.
I once pointed out to him that someone had 'keyed' the side of his black Merc. He took one look at it and sighing, said. "As Jimmy Saville once said, 'His majesty the general public paid for it, his majesty the general public can do what the fuck they like to it.' "
OMJ:Which was your favourite band you photographed from a personality point of view?
I've enjoyed the company of most of the bands I've worked with - apart from Duran Duran and that twat Justin - the singer of New Model Army.
OMJ:And from a photographic point of view?
Do you know the story about Morrissey and Norman Whiteside?
No. Will it upset me?
OMJ:Did you know the late NME illustrator/Clash friend Ray Lowry?
Yes. I photographed Ray once for the NME. I also went to a massive retrospective of his just a couple of weeks before he died. It was packed and he sold loads of pictures ...
OMJ:Did you ever shoot the Clash, Strummer or BAD? Where and when, tell us about it.
Yep. Photographed the Clash quite a few times. We always got on - although I was slightly intimidated by their London airs. I went in their minbus from Notting Hill to Leicester De Montford Hall once to shoot an on the road piece with them. Living The Dream™.
OMJ:Who takes a better picture Liam or Noel?
I've not had the privilege to see either of their photo albums but I guess Noel can hold the camera steadier than Liam.
OMJ:List your five fave footballers met and musicians met?
the nicest people I've met in each category.
1. Marc Vivien Foe
2. Nico Anelka
3. Joey Barton
4. Shaun Goater
5. Niall Quinn
favourite players I've met (without incl any of the above)
1. Colin Bell
2. Franco Baresi
3. Bobby Robson
4. Malcolm Allison
5. Mike Summerbee
Nicest musicians I've met - from outside Manchester - all the Mancs are great obviously.
2. Lisa Minnelli
3. The Manics en masse
4. John Lydon
5. Michael Hutchence
Favourite musicians - from outside Manchester
1. Miles Davis
2. Terry Callier
3. Neil Young
4. Tom Waits
OMJ:Any memories of City playing Leeds?
Being asked the time on the way back to our car by little Yorkies who were too tight to buy a watch ...
OMJ:Do you prefer hot or cold lamb?
I prefer Alan Lamb
Tough question. Depends on the day and if I'm at home or not. I like a Carr's Water biscuit and I like these weird biscuits that you can buy in Waitrose: biscuits for wine. They are around £2 a box and you can get them to accompany Red, White, Rose and Champagne. It's a bit rebellious to eat the biscuits for red wine if you are drinking a nice Sancerre - but hey! I worked for the NME. I don't conform.
OMJ:What is the correct name for a bread roll?[/b]
OMJ:As a kid what did you call a small alleyway between houses?
OMJ:Hedge Hopper or Allotment Runner?
Hedge Hopper. I hope i don't live to regret this answer.
OMJ:Would a great looking waitress over-ride terrible food in a restaurant?
In Nando's yes.
In Nobo er no.
OMJ:What’s the best complaint you’ve ever made?
When we were being flown around the world several times a week for the NME, I once complained that I wouldn't fly on United Airlines. It wasn't because I didn't like them - it was because I didn't want to tempt fate and have my possible obituary in the NME under the headline: Kevin Cummins dies in United Air Disaster.
It quickly became a fact that people believe to this day. At that time there was a series running in the (now sadly defunct) football mag 90 Minutes entitled 'My Sad Mate'. On a quiet afternoon at NME Towers, two of my colleagues sent a list of my anti-Man United foibles. My refusing to fly on United Airlines was one of many erm tasteless gags.
The following weekend, I was enjoying a quiet pre-match drink in The Gardener's Arms near Maine Road when a City fan came over to me and said, ' Saw you in that magazine this week mate. Fucking brilliant. Didn't even know those cunts had their own airline.'
That was my epiphany. I now just look at Man U with a sense of pity.
OMJ:Have you ever nicked anything from a woman’s house after getting off with her? (The best we’ve had is a toaster)
No. But it's been done to me ...
OMJ:Favourite item of clothing?
My Raf Simons Fred Perry and all my vintage adidas trainers ...
OMJ:Have you ever ice-docked with Lisa Stansfield?
OMJ:Where are the best fish and chips from?
East Dulwich. Yes, really
OMJ:Which is better North or South?
OMJ:Beatles or Bowie?
OMJ:How do you get on with Man U supporting musicians like Terry Hall, Ryder, Mani and so on?
Generally I don't talk football with people who don't go to watch their team. The first time I had to photograph Terry for the NME, he insisted on me doing it at OT - the wag. I took him into the scoreboard end (as was) and just before I took the shot I told him that he was standing exactly where I stood when I watched Denis Law back-heel them into the second division.
We worked together for many years after that. I also had to photograph Ron Atkinson, Bryan Robson and Brian (choccie) McClair at OT. I shot them all in the same place and told them all the same story.
OMJ:How hard was your grandad?[/b]
My dad's dad was from a small village outside Limerick. I imagine he was slightly harder than Roy Keane.
OMJ:Kirk or Picard?
Never seen a single second of star trek, Just had to google that question to see what it meant.
OMJ:Is Rugby Union shit?
It's not shit. It's just really boring. Although this new rule about eating blood capsules makes it a bit more interesting. What next? Exploding cigarettes and fart cushions in the scrum?
OMJ:Scousers..miserablists who enjoy victimhood or the life and soul of the working class in this country?
Unusually for a Manc I really like Scousers. They have a great sense of humour you know.
OMJ:The most you’ve ever won or lost in a bet?
Won twelve hundred quid on an eight game accumulator on the first round of the UEFA Cup a couple of years ago.
Lost £200 on a Huddersfield v City FA Cup tie a few weeks after we'd beaten them 10-1. I should have been but I wasn't expecting it to finish 0-0.
OMJ:Have you ever had a shit outside?
Yes, We had an outside toilet when we first moved to Salford.
OMJ:Billy or Icky?
Scousers are all the same. Loveable rogues (only kidding lads).
OMJ:Would you drink bottled cider with ice, in a pub, because some twat on a TV ad had suggested it was a good idea?
Cider is something you drink outdoors if you are underage or a tramp. It isn't posh just because a barmaid fills a glass with ice and charges you a fiver for it. Go to Lidl. It's 20p for two litres ...
OMJ:cheryl,kimberly,the Irish one,the blonde one or the red haired one?
None of them unless forced to at gunpoint.
OMJ:Yorkshire or Lancashire?
South Yorkshire and Gtr Manchester.
OMJ:Mushy Peas, Gravy or Curry Sauce?
OMJ:Dogs, Cats or Budgies?
OMJ:Golf - A good walk spoilt?
I like golf but I don't like walking.
OMJ:Top Gear, best thing on telly. Discuss.
Cunts - every single person involved with it
OMJ:Manchester United 'supporters' - spreading quicker than Swine Flu and with no cure in sight?
They're on the wane. I feel sorry for them.
OMJ:Fave Clash song?
White Riot er Janie Jones - the whole first album. It was so fucking exciting when it came out.
OMJ:If you could have had one Leeds player at City?
We did. Alfie Haaland.
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