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Nick Cave, U2, Neil Young... I've shot them all; ROCK PHOTOGRAPHER RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS TO SHOWCASE WORK Photographer Steve Gullick has worked with rock greats such as Nirvana and U2. RICHARD ASHMORE caught up with him during his visit to his home city of Coventry where his work will be exhibited this week.


POSING as a scientist to sneak past police and take pictures of erupting volcanoes is all in a day's work for top music photographer Steve Gullick.

The 40-year-old dad-of-three has shot some of the world's biggest rock stars throughout his career.

His portfolio includes photographs of the likes of Nirvana, one of his first assignments, U2, The Happy Mondays, Neil Young and Bjork.

But he has never forgotten his Midland routes.

And one of his fondest memories is shooting an album cover for Midland band Spiritualized in front of an erupting Mount Etna in Italy - while their frontman Jason Pierce disguised himself as a scientist.

But today he is meeting me.

Sitting in The Tin Angel, Spon Street, Coventry - a trendy bar at the heart of a Midland city not usually associated with style - I await his arrival eagerly.

His work will be on display here later this week while simultaneously being on show in LA.

He arrives a little late and begins our chat by telling me how he's been busy trying to buy some lights for his bicycle.

A modest opening line.

But as we begin to chat it becomes clear that Steve has not let his success go to his head and has fond memories of his Midland routes.

"I'm proud to be from Coventry," explains the former Binley Park School pupil.

"I was born in Willenhall and grew up in Stoke. The reason I got into photography was because of a good teacher at my school.

"I used to spend my lunchtimes and after school using the dark room.

"I actually did some work experience at the old Evening Telegraph in the early 80s but I got my first job as a lithographic printer in Earlsdon."

Steve added that after making his early break into the world of photography - of a sort - he decided that the best place to further his career was London.

"I was taking pictures of bands at gigs while I was in Coventry and I started doing the same when I was in London," he said.

"I got a job taking pictures for the Sounds weekly music paper.

"Sadly, they went out of business but it was then that Melody Maker took me on."

By the time Steve started working for Melody Maker it was the early 90s and he recalls being sent on one of his first assignments - to photograph the upand- coming US 'grunge' act, Nirvana.

"They were a really nice bunch of guys - Kurt was lovely, he was always making a nuisance of himself," he laughed.

"I think, like many creative people, he had quite a manic personality, sometimes up and sometimes low, just because of the energy he put into his art.

"David Grohl (ex-Nirvana drummer, now leader of the Foo Fighters) was a very funny man."

Throughout the next decade the easy-going Coventry photographer went on to rub shoulders with the great and good of the musical world.

"I was the tour photographer for the Prodigy and I have done shots for U2 and Neil Young." he added.

"One of the more unusual shoots I did was just a few years ago.

"Jason Pierce, who's from Rugby, wanted to do something for his band Spiritualized and we were wondering what to do for it.

"He wanted something that was happening now. We happened to be watching the news at the time and saw that Mount Etna was erupting in Italy - so we thought 'Why not do it there?' "So we went to Italy, drove halfway across Sicily, and managed to get past the police - I used an old Press pass I had and Jason was dressed up like a scientist so they let us in.

"We were probably the only people on the mountain, the ground was actually hot like an oven, it was amazing."

Steve now lives in London with his wife and children since finishing working for the NME and Melody Maker.

He has published a series of music magazines of his own in the last few years - namely Careless Talk Costs Lives and Loose Lips Sink Ships. He also plays in his own band.

TENEBROUS - the photography of Steve Gullick opens at The Tin Angel, in Spon Street, Coventry on January 24, running until March 26.

His band - also named Tenebrous - will be playing on the same date at Taylor John's House, advance tickets pounds 5. For more information call 024 7655 9958 or 024 7655 9010, or visit


ROCK'N'ROLL LIFESTYLE: Steve Gullick is returning to his home town of Coventry to showcase his work picturing some of the all-time rock greats; MUSICAL GREATS: Some of Steve's shots which are being displayed in his exhibition, from left, Neil Young, Nick Cave and Bjork; ICON: Steve photographed Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain on one of his first assignments for music paper Melody Maker in the early 1990s
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2008
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