Lovers of Bowie, Bolan or indeed anything to do with the rich pantheon of rock and roll and the equally rich photographic imagery that accompanies it will be veritably salivating at the prospect of London Rocks.
The show at London’s Proud Central presents the unseen archive of photographer Alex Byrne, who came to prominence in the 1960s and 70s, celebrating the passion and grit of the musicians in his impressively starry sphere. He began his career under contract to shoot live acts for NME at just 17 years-old, and rather sickeningly described his then-scheduled as “The Who on Thursday, The Rolling Stones on Saturday, Led Zeppelin on Monday — just incredible’.”
Alongside celebrating Byrne’s clear photographic prowess, the exhibition looks to simultaneously explore the cultural significance of rock ’n’ roll in the 60s and 70s “swinging” London, including Bowie, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Mostly shot in moody black and white – with a notable exception for the gorgeous curls and brilliant pink and yellow smiley t-shirt of Marc Bolan, the images brim with personality; each one really does appear to speak a thousand words about an unprecedentedly exciting cultural moment. “His intuitive approach was of a rock n’ roll mindset,” says the gallery, “favouring candid photography over a studio setting. Byrne’s desire to capture the most powerful imagery saw him battling to the front of crowds and racing home from performances to develop his work through the night.”
The exhibition features many previously unseen photographs, and coincides with the UK launch of Byrne’s book London Rock: The Unseen Archive, distributed by Ebury Publishing.
London Rock: The Unseen Archive by Alec Byrne runs until 28 January at Proud Central London.