PHOTOGRAPHER Harry Goodwin has pictured the world's biggest rock stars. Now he has a new exhibition in Blackpool, which tells the story of one of his favourite subjects, Mary Wilson and the Supremes HARRY Goodwin has photographed some of the world's most famous rock stars.
His list of iconic portraits is very impressive: Bob Dylan, David Bowie, the Beatles, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, the Supremes — and sporting legends too: George Best, Eric Cantona, Muhammad Ali, David Beckham.
Harry’s photos of the Supremes have recently been republished in the book The Story of the Supremes, which now accompanies an exhibition at Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery.
Mary Wilson teamed up again with Harry in Blackpool for the opening of the exhibition and said: “Harry’s shots were always great and to be honest are my all time favourite portraits. He just had a way of putting you at ease, having a laugh and getting the best out of people.”
Harry’s introduction to photography came when he was drafted in 1943 and ended up in the RAF, given the job loading the cameras on reconnaissance planes flying over Japanese territory in Burma.
He said: “It was great training. A lot of those planes never came back and you didn’t want blokes risking their lives for photographs that you’d cocked up by not developing or loading them correctly.”
Returning to Manchester after the war, Goodwin worked on the beauty pageant and boxing circuits in the 50s, getting his first front cover in the Daily Mirror. In the early 60s he worked as a scene shifter for the BBC in Manchester.
Now aged 84, the former official Tops of the Pops photographer says: “I used to get the odd photo I could sell to the Radio Times. There was a 12-week pilot of a series called Top of the Pops in 1964, and they needed someone to photograph the bands. The producer, the late Johnny Stewart thought I was streetwise and a hustler. So he gave me the job, 12 quid a week. I remember the first Top of the Pops, photographing the Rolling Stones and the first time I shot the Beatles was in 1963 at the Apollo, Manchester. They were good lads but John Lennon could be a right one. A lot of it was just banter, testing you out, but people would be intimidated by him.
“I once did a session in the dressing room at Top of the Pops of them in their new jackets that they’d next wear for the famous Shea Stadium gig. I’d sneaked past their minders and John was kicking up about who’d invited me in there. Paul said that when they were on tour they’d need my photos. After the Beatles split I was asked to take some solo shots of Lennon. I wondered why he’d asked for me and I was a bit nervous. Then he introduced me to Yoko as the greatest photographer in Britain.”
Goodwin’s relationship with Lennon means there is a series of iconic photos which are now on permanent exhibition at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool. Yoko Ono flew in by private jet for the unveiling a year ago.
Now more of Harry’s photographs are on show as part of The Story of the Supremes from the Mary Wilson Collection. The exhibition features more than 50 of Mary’s dazzling dresses as worn by the Supremes — the biggest girl band ever. It also looks at the American civil rights movement, the meteoric rise of the Motown record label during the 1950s and 60s and is a fascinating insight into an incredibly important era of American history.
The free exhibition is at the Grundy Art Gallery, Queen Street, Blackpool, until February 1.