Thursday, 29 November 2018

Iain (Stewart) Macmillan (1938 – 2006)




Iain Stewart Macmillan was born in 1938 in Dundee, Scotland. He attended the Dundee High School, graduated in 1954 before taking his first job as a trainee manager at a jute mill. In 1958 Ian moved to London to study photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). His first work was as a cruise photographer but he also went home to photograph street scenes, and tenement of old Dundee.



His moving portrayal of the disappearing sights of a city in regeneration are memorable and in the same spirit as Oscar Marzarolli’s Shades of Grey Glasgow 1956 -1987. Macmillan captured boys playing football in the back streets to a “scramble” (or scrammie) at a local church wedding where children scrabble for thrown coins.



He graduated in the early 1960s and his talent was soon recognised by magazines and publishers including the Sunday Times, the Illustrated London News, Tatler and Harpers & Queen. This brought the quiet Scotsman into the world of London’s Swinging 60s.



He took photographs for a book, The sculpture of David Wynne 1949-1967, and for Wynne's exhibition catalogue.



In 1966, The Book of London was published and Macmillan had been commissioned to take a series of photographs of life in the city. The photographer was introduced to Yoko Ono and photographed the avant-garde artist presenting a demonstration of "Handkerchief Piece". The photo shows Yoko and three others wearing handkerchiefs tied over their mouths. Yoko was sufficiently impressed by his work, she invited him to photograph her new exhibition at the Indica gallery, in St James’s. It was there that Yoko met John Lennon.



As his reputation grew the photographer was commissioned by many of the leading newspapers and magazines such as Tatler, the Sunday Times, Harpers & Queen to take portraits of celebrities from the worlds of sport, art, politics, acting and pop music. Examples include Pete Townshend of The Who, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Twiggy, Floyd Paterson, Bridget Riley, Maggie Smith and Donald Sutherland to name but a few. Some of these photographs were used to illustrate the 1967 book ‘The Young Meteors: An Inside Report on the Rising Stars of London in Fashion, Entertainment, Modeling, Art, Politics, Journalism’ by Jonathan Aitken. In 1970, he took the cover photograph of Kenny Rogers and The First Edition’s album Something’s burning.



In 1969 John Lennon invited Macmillan to be the photographer for the cover of the new album, Abbey Road. The Beatles decided to name their last album after the road where Abbey Road recording studio stood.



On 8th August 1969, around 11:30am, Iain Macmillan climbed a stepladder about 10 feet in the air in the middle of Abbey Road and took six pictures of the Beatles walking on a zebra crossing near the EMI Studios. Police were hired to control the traffic and any stray fans. In total the photoshoot took ten minutes and produced arguably the most iconic photograph of the Fab Four.



In the first photograph John leads the group from left to right followed by Ringo, Paul and George. They kept this order throughout all the photos. There is a Mercedes pulling out of the studio behind them. John is looking away from the camera and Paul and George are in mid step. Paul is wearing sandals. Inthw second photograph they walk back in the same order. Good spacing but only John has a full step. The third shot captures them left to right again, full steps but they are all too far left. The traffic is beginning to build up with a taxi, two vans and a double decker bus waiting to come forward. Paul is now barefoot. In the fourth shot they are walking right to left again with Paul Ringo and George all in mid step. The traffic has gone through but the bus has stopped to watch. The fifth shot became the cover of the album and is the only photo where Paul smoking and with their legs in perfect formation. In the sixth photograph Ringo is slightly too far behind John and the bus has turned around to leave.



After the Beatles broke up Iain continued to work for John and Yoko on several projects. Macmillan took the picture of the wedding cake which featured on John and Yoko's Wedding Album (1969). He also designed the cover for Give Peace a Chance.



He later photographed the clouds on Live Peace In Toronto (1969), by John and Yoko.



Yoko asked Iain to morph the faces of John and herself for the back cover of a cover of the exhibition catalogue for her career retrospective, This Is Not Here, in 1971. Apple Records used the same images on the 7"transparent green vinyl pressing of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and "Listen, the Snow Is Falling" released in December 1971.



The same sequence of five images showing Lennon's face transforming into Ono's was used on the pressing of the album Sometime in New York City (1972). Macmillan was also involved in taking pictures for the cover, after living with them for a month the previous September.


(Video Courtesy: Music Ever by Youtube Channel)


Iain also collaborated on the film Erection, an animation of shots of a London hotel under construction with a soundtrack by John and Yoko.


(Video Courtesy: MrDominus75 by Youtube Channel)


In New York, he photographed much of Yoko’s avant-garde work, including the promotional film for her second album, Flies (1971). It proved a technical nightmare.


(Video Courtesy: xprmntlmkp by Youtube Channel)


He also took the cover photo on Yoko's later editions of Grapefruit.



By the mid - 70s, Macmillan had returned to England and was teaching part-time photography at a college in Stoke-on-Trent. Then in 1980, Iain took the cover photo for the album Hinge and Bracket at Abbey Road which was a parody of the Beatles photo.



An exhibition of his works toured the US, Britain and Europe and the BBC used some of his photos in the series The Rock 'n' Roll Years. He moved back to Carnoustie, after his parents died in the 80s and with his beloved collie dog, Mac by his side took photographs of Scottish landscapes, his friends and families.


(Video Courtesy: only1eebo by Youtube Channel)


In 1993, Paul McCartney invited Macmillan to take another picture on the famous zebra crossing near the EMI studios in St John’s Wood for the album cover of Paul is Live. This time McCartney had for company an Old English sheepdog. Macmillan contrasted the simplicity of the earlier picture by including a team of policemen, press photographers and a lively crowd.



Iain sadly died in 2006 from lung cancer. Macmillan was always modest about his own achievements and retained a lasting affection for Paul and Linda McCartney.

Further reading
Abbey Road Crossing Cam Live Feed
From Dundee to Abbey Road
Paul is Dead

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

John 'Patrick' Byrne : Album artwork





John Byrne was born in 1940 in Paisley. He grew up in Ferguslie Park housing scheme and went to St Mirin's Academy. After he left school his first job was mixing powdercolour for the designers at A F Stoddard, carpet manufacturers, in Elderslie. The slab boy left after a couple of years to study at the Glasgow Art School specialising in drawing & painting. In his final year he won the Bellahousten Award for painting and travelled to Italy for six months. Despite his undoubted talent John found breaking into the art world difficult and decided to send a small picture of a man in a panama hat in the faux-naïf style (affectedly naïve) to the Portal Gallery in Mayfair. A perpetual joker he claimed this was the work of Patrick, his father, an untrained painter. To Byrne’s surprise the gallery asked to see more of 'Patrick's' work. He sat down and painted another half-dozen in the 'naive' style and the result, was a one-man show at the Portal Gallery, London in 1967.







A year later Byrne was commission to paint the cover for the Beatles new album entitled Dolls House. For inspiration he took the artwork from Alan Aldridge’s book The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics. The album was retitled Double White and issued with the famous all white cover. Byrne’s artwork was later used on the Ballads compilation released in 1980. The Beatles: "De Mooiste Songs" (The most beautiful songs) was also released on Dutch Parlophone in the same year with a similar cover.







The Humblebums was a Glasgow based folk duo of Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey. Later Gerry Rafferty joined them to make a trio but Harvey left soon after. Gerry was a fellow Paisley Buddy and good friend of John Byrne who he asked to produce artwork for the cover for their new album, The New Humblebums in 1969. Gerry and Billy included a track written by Rafferty entitled Patrick on the album dedicated to Patrick. The lyrics begin.

"Patrick my primitive painter of art/You will always and ever be near to my heart")




(Video Courtesy: SittingDownWith by Youtube Channel)


This would cement the beginning of a long working relationship between Byrne and Rafferty who later completed several of the singer’s solo albums covers and together they co-wrote several songs.











In 1971 the artist was also commissioned to paint an album cover for Donovan entitled HMS Donovan. He also animated a cartoon movie called Old Fashioned Picture Book, inspired by HMS Donovan and including three songs from the album. The movie was scripted by Alan Bennett but only a short length pilot was ever made and the full film never was finished.


(Video Courtesy: Magicgeorgeify by Youtube Channel)








When Gerry Rafferty left the Humblebums to pursue a solo career he released his debut album, Can I have my money back” with sleeve artwork designed by John Byrne. John also helped co-write the track "One Drink Down" with Gerry Rafferty which features on the album.


(Video Courtesy: budcritchlow by Youtube Channel)






John Byrne was commissioned to do the artwork for Billy Connolly’s first solo album in 1972, entitled Billy Connolly Live! The singer,comedian had then only a small cult audience in Glasgow.





In the same year Gerry Rafferty teamed up with school friend Joe Egan to form Stealers Wheel with Roger Brown, Rab Noakes and Ian Campbell. They signed for A&M Records and before they started to record their first album Brown, Noakes and Campbell were replaced by Paul Pilnick, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes respectively. The cover for the new album was a John Byrne original. Closer examination reveal the name 'Stealers Wheel' carefully embedded eight times in the design, in addition to the large lettering in the bottom left-hand corner. The album was a critical and commercial success with the hit single "Stuck in the Middle with You", on the album. By the time the first album was released Rafferty had left the band to be replaced by Luther Grosvenor.


(Video Courtesy: Elconquistador69too by Youtube Channel)








Gerry was persuaded to return to Stealer’s Wheel and continued with Joe Eagan as a duo with backing musicians as needed on tour and in the studio. The second album Ferguslie Park was released in 1974 and once again the artwork was by John Byrne .


(Video Courtesy: DescentOfMadness by Youtube Channel)










The band released their final album Right or Wrong (1975) which prominently featured sleeve designs by John Byrne. It also included an inner sleeve.






(Video Courtesy: lozkopij by Youtube Channel)










The collaboration between artist and singer continued and when Rafferty released his City to City solo album in 1979 it had a portrait of himself, painted by John Byrne on the cover. The album included Baker Street which featured the distinctive saxophone solo played by Raphael Ravenscroft. The success of Baker Street and other tracks as singles established Gerry Rafferty as an International success. The exposure further enhanced John Byrne’s bludgeoning career as artist, and playwright. When the single was released it had a sleeve (cover) with Byrne's artwork.






(Video Courtesy: dkrisek by Youtube Channel)










The Night Owl album was also released in 1979 and again had the sleeve emblazoned with a John Byrne original. By now Rafferty’s albums were instantly recognised by the distinctive artwork of his friend, John Byrne.


(Video Courtesy: Gerry Rafferty by Youtube Channel)










The last Gerry Rafferty album to feature the artworks of John Byrne before there was a reprise came in the 1980 release of Snakes and Ladders. The album was less commercially successful than the previous releases and Rafferty was beginning to musically change his direction. His next release was the introverted Sleepwalking (1982) which instead of a cover painting and hand-lettering by John 'Patrick' Byrne, featured a simple, stark photograph of an empty road stretching to the sky. The single from the album Royal Mile was released in a sleeve by John Byrne artwork.










(Video Courtesy: ulladubullab by Youtube Channel)










It was Another World, the ninth and final studio album by Gerry Rafferty that again featured the artwork of John Byrne. The front cover is entitled Dark Victory and rear booklet back cover Pensive Angel. The album was released in 2000 on the Icon Music label to good reviews. The single All Souls was released in a sleeve designed by John Byrne.











Byrne's artwork featured on the compilation albums One More Dream: The Very Best of Gerry Rafferty which was released in 1995: the Days Gone Down: The Anthology: 1970–1982 (2006): and Gerry Rafferty & Stealers Wheel: Collected (2011). This would come as no real surprise as by this time Byrne and Rafferty's collaboration was inseparable.











To commemorate the works of Gerry Rafferty, Barbara Dickson, his friend and admirer, recorded some of his songs in 2013. The front cover was painted by John Byrne.