Written by Tina Benitez, Photos by Patrick Eves
“I’m a rock ‘n’ roll photographer, which is a strange thing to be,” said Tony Mott. Mott’s shot of the Divinyl’s singer Chissie Amphlett taken during one of the band’s residency shows at Sydney’s Picadilly Hotel in the early ’80s was selected for their tour poster (with a $20 pay off) changing everything for the former hotel chef. Today, Mott has rock stories that could fill a book—and he has. Mott shared tales on the road and in the studio during an exhibit of photos in his new book, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Photography is the New Trainspotting,” Tuesday night at the Red Bull Space.
A photographic journey through 20 years, only a small portion of the Mott’s work was on display, including an “Express Yourself,” cone bra-clad Madonna (1990), Bjork in 1994, a younger Michael Hutchence portrait and David Bowie on stage, both circa 1988, Nick Cave and others flashed on a big screen.
Sponsored by Sounds Australia, the exhibit also included live performances by two Sydney-bred bands, including the aptly-named, Cameras, who just released their debut In Your Room, brought their atmospheric rock with vocalist and keyboardist Eleanor Dunlop evoking a brooding Florence Welch in Stevie Nicks garb. The band moved through a short, five-song set for their first New York show while Guineafowl, whose singer Sam Yeldham was recently shot by Mott on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the CMJ exhibit, closed the evening’s music with some indie pop during another five-song set.
A tour with the Rolling Stones, intimate shots of Janet Jackson, Metallica, Iggy Pop, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder and INXS (list goes on), Mott is still amazed by his career path even three decades later. “I never meant to be a rock photographer,” he said. The photographer’s stories throughout the years spilled out, including the time he opened Ozzy Osbourne’s Sydney hotel window for some light to the astonishment of the metal god, who hadn’t bothered to the look at his view for three days; reviewing photos for hours with the Stones, whose tour was described by Mott as “the rock royalty of rock photography”; Perry Farrell grabbing the photographer’s private parts in a sign of trust prior to a shoot; and Bjork’s strange request to be photographed when the sun was a half-inch from the horizon—something Mott says worked perfectly.
Concluding his trip down memory lane, Mott reminded the CMJ crowd of the insanity of rock photography: “Rock ‘n’ roll is a strange game with strange characters.”
Read more of Tina’s work at http://tinabenitez.wordpress.com/ and check out more of Patrick’s photos at HippieDeathBed.com
Tony Mott w/fans