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Clay Perry

In the early 60s, I was a regular at the Crawdaddy Rhythm & Blues club at the Station Hotel Richmond. It was a big part of the music scene at the time and 'The Rolling Stones' played there every weekend. I knew their manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who also ran the club. I had recently left Guildford art school and was keen to establish myself as a freelance photographer. As I was into R&B music, it seemed a good idea to work with the bands who were up and coming at the time. Around this time, 'The Rolling Stones' and Giorgio had parted company, but he had taken on a new group called 'The Yardbirds', who he thought would be as big as the Stones.

Giorgio introduced me to the band and it was decided that I would go on the road with them covering their gigs in halls, pubs and venues around the country, mostly in the North. There wasn't much money around in those days, and I spent a good deal of time travelling around with 'The Yardbirds' in a beaten up old Ford Transit van, keeping musicians hours and sharing cheap digs in Northern cities. I got on really well with the band and had plenty of laughs with them, Eric Clapton was the humorist of the group and spent a lot of time mimicking Arthur Haynes, an outrageous comic who was popular at the time and had us all in stitches.

I took pictures of the band in my flat come studio in Fulham, it was there that Jeff got engaged to his girlfriend. I also did a trip to Granada TV studios with the group when they were doing a live show there. I was a big fan of the music and remember hearing a lot of 'I Wish You would' and 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl', along with lots of R&B favorites of the time. As I had been around the music scene for a while, I met Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager who always seemed to end up with groups that had first been spotted by Giorgio Gomelsky, e.g. 'The Stones' and also 'The Animals', who Andrew asked me to photograph for publicity and record sleeves etc.

My stint at photographing bands didn't last forever, I got sick of managers not paying me and became more involved with the visual art scene, taking photographs of the artists and their work at Signals Kinetic art gallery, where I met and photographed David Medalla, Gustaf Metzger, Takis, Camargo, Soto, Cruz Diez and Yoko Ono and many more artists. Later, I worked on a retainer for 'The Sunday Times' magazine and since have been sole photographer on some 22 books on horticulture and travel work that I am still engaged in.


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