Mick Gold may be best known for his EMMY winning documentary work but he started his career as a photo-journalist with a passion for rock music. In his own words "He was filled with a crazed ambition to photograph and write about rock music". From 1968 to 1978 his work was published in the leading music magazines and he went on to publish Rock On The Road, a book of photo-essays about live music in 1976.
We are delighted to present, for the first time, a fantastic selection of limited edition Mick Gold prints. Below Mick shares his memories and anecdotes to accompany these celebrated images.
Mick Gold recalls "In this shot, Neil is belting out his anthem 'Don't Be Denied' in front of 72,000 fans in Wembley. For one day the Stadium built for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 became a venue for Malibu superstars: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band. For me, Neil is the only sensitive singer-songwriter who can earn a living as a heavy metal guitarist. He can switch from introspective ballads to nine minute solos on one guitar string filled with frenzied feedback. 'Don't Be Denied' is his autobiography; starting with "Your daddy's leaving home today/I think he's gone to stay", it recounts his first band in Winnipeg and ends "Now I'm a pauper in a naked disguise/A millionaire through a businessman's eyes."
"I went to interview Patti Smith in the bohemian Portobello Hotel in Notting Hill. Horses had just been released and she was about to do her first London gig at the Roundhouse - where the Rolling Stones had bid farewell to England and Jim Morrison had pouted at the cameras. In a corner of the hotel room she looked into my lens and something about the bare light bulb, the Mona Lisa smile and the look in her eyes, made the picture work. She couldn't stop talking about how her record company had f***ed up the B side of her single by bleeping out the words 'f**king shit'".
Patti Smith said "Brancusi was censored by the US government! They said his sculpture Bird In Space was junk. Brancusi was re-defining art and I'm re-defining rock'n'roll." She then started ranting about how Rimbaud became the first Rastafarian when he left Paris for a trading post in Ethiopia. I queried in my best pedantic English voice "I thought he got into gun running and dealing in slaves?". 'Naah,' she corrected me. 'He was a Rastafarian. He was a great horseman! And he had several native wives so he could learn their different languages.' She rattled away about rock'n'roll, art, politics and Bob Dylan for several hours. I thought she was fantastic. Recently a US website turned my interview into an animated film" - which can be viewed below
Mick Gold's next images capture Led Zeppelin performing onstage at their legendary Earls Court Arena gigs in 1975.
"Rock journalist Lisa Robinson summed up the 1970s when she wrote, 'The Beatles fought the Stones in a parking lot and Led Zeppelin won.' Manager Peter Grant cultivated their mystique by employing no PR, releasing no singles and avoiding TV appearances. There are different ways to calculate who was 'the biggest band in the world'. Record sales, audience figures, touring profits - and according to any of these methods, Led Zeppelin was the winner. By 1975, propelled by the triumph of double album Physical Graffiti, they sold out five nights at Earl's Court and blasted 85,000 fans. Led Zepp were at the peak of their daemonic power."
"I followed Dr Feelgood around for three months in 1975 when they played at the Marquee Club and embarked on the 'Naughty Rhythms Tour'. They had just gone pro and were getting a huge reaction from the audience. No-one could call them pretty. Lead singer Lee Brilleaux had started to play with himself compulsively on stage. Sweating heavily inside his hideous brown suit, jerking his microphone, lurching around in an unseemly manner. Lead guitarist Wilko Johnson had a boyish appearance but his glazed eyeballs and habit of ricocheting back and forth across the stage like an epileptic yo-yo testified to an unnerving streak of violence. Pure anthropoid energy is what they exuded: Lee worked himself into a sordid frenzy and sometimes assaulted the bass drum while Wilko whirled up and down with clockwork irregularity. Occasionally, Wilko whirled over to the microphone, his head rotated through 360 degrees, he opened his mouth and singing came out. Their energy was so direct, it was unreal."
Mick remembers thinking at the time "How can anyone be so basic in 1975? Are they four zombies who fell asleep in the early 60s and snored happily through the progressive rock era? After ten years of remorseless evolution from psychedelia to sophistication, to decadence to degeneracy, until every other band is carting around its own rock oratorio about the downfall of civilization, Dr Feelgood turn up looking like hoodlums from some long forgotten B movie and sounding as if the idea of musical progress had simply never occurred to them. Could this lack of style be cultivated?"
Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer all Mick Gold images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.