Meet Danny Clifford, the ‘most famous music photographer you’ve never heard of’
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Meet Danny Clifford, the ‘most famous music photographer you’ve never heard of’

Bob Dylan's official photographer, who is opening an exhibition of his work, has rubbed shoulders with Elton John, Leonard Cohen, The Who, Oasis, George Michael and many others

  • Danny Clifford. Credit: Bob Dylan
    Danny Clifford. Credit: Bob Dylan
  • Bob Dylan, 1978. Credit: Danny Clifford.
    Bob Dylan, 1978. Credit: Danny Clifford.
  • Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, 2008. Credit: Danny Clifford
    Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, 2008. Credit: Danny Clifford
  • Amy Winehouse, 2004. Credit: Danny Clifford
    Amy Winehouse, 2004. Credit: Danny Clifford
  • Beyonce, 2006. Credit: Danny Clifford
    Beyonce, 2006. Credit: Danny Clifford
  • Liam Gallagher, 2006. Credit: Danny Clifford
    Liam Gallagher, 2006. Credit: Danny Clifford

He may have worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry over the last 40 years, from Bob Dylan and Freddie Mercury to Amy Winehouse and The Rolling Stones – but Danny Clifford still quips he’s “the most famous photographer no-one has ever heard of.”

Clifford, 60, who grew up in London and today lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, is now exhibiting a collection of more than 70 never-before-seen photographs taken throughout his celebrity-filled career at Heath Street Baptist Church in Hampstead.

Having been interested in photography since a youngster, Clifford was just 13 when he began sneaking into live shows and taking pictures.

On one such occasion, when he sneaked a camera into the Earl’s Court, Clifford captured American-Jewish singer Bob Dylan on stage, with the resulting pictures being published by the Evening Standard in 1978.

Thereafter he worked for press agency, Fox Photos, before freelancing for Melody Maker, Sounds and NME and within a short while was asked by Dylan to become his official photographer.

Over the last four decades, the keen Jewish photographer has rubbed shoulders with the giants of music, including Elton John, Leonard Cohen, The Who, Oasis, George Michael, Frank Sinatra, and Pink Floyd, among many others.

But despite an impressive portfolio of some four million shots, Clifford has tended to avoid the limelight.

It’s not been due to a lack of interest. “About 10 or 15 years ago a big publisher approached me about doing a book,” he explains. “But I blew them off and refused the deal.”

“I’ve got pictures of people looking bloody awful with needles hanging out,” he says, adding that that he is more interested in exhibiting “nice pictures for people”.

Clifford has an endless array of anecdotes about the rock stars he spent his life photographing, many of which are revealed at the exhibition.

He was also happy to divulge more about his first encounter with Amy Winehouse during a studio shoot in 2003, where singer Katie Melua was waiting to be photographed.

“I was standing talking to Katie, and Amy walked over,” he says. “I said ‘Hi, it’s lovely to meet you. Why don’t we do the two of you together.”

“Amy said: ‘I don’t want my picture taken with her. She is s*** and doesn’t write her own stuff.’

“She wasn’t nasty, she was lovely – but she said it like it is..”

Rock Stars Don’t Smile runs at Heath Street Baptist Church from 15 March to 11 April. Details: www.dannyclifford.com

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