Photographer Tom Sheehan has had a passion for both music and taking pictures since childhood. He married both together when he became the first in-house photographer at CBS Records in 1975. While working both as a freelancer and for Melody Maker (where he spent 20 years), Sheehan photographed Welsh rock band, Manic Street Preachers on many occasions. Here, the veteran music photographer shares some exclusive photos of the band from his archive – and the memories that go with them.
Highgate Cemetery, 1991
It was the band’s idea to go over to Highgate. While there, doing the session, we got caught by a warden who told us we couldn’t take shots. I told him that, as an art lecturer, I was helping out my students. “They are a new band, and I’m trying to perfect my photographic skills,” I said. We moved on, but with the shots in the bag.
House in the Woods Studio, circa 1992
The band were making their second album, Gold Against The Soul, here. They were tremendously hospitable when I arrived for the shoot, and offered me a beer. I had to remind them of the golden rule – WCF. Work Comes First! I later sank a beer.
Also House in the Woods Studio, circa 1992
You can see here that the band went to great trouble to dress for the session, a truly professional thing to do, considering they were in the midst of recording an album.
Journalist and friend of the band, Simon Price (who had been a student in Paris), took the band and me on a tour. We saw cemeteries, catacombs and so on – it was a great couple of hours. We spent two hours and 50 minutes waking, and 10 minutes shooting.
Also Paris, 1994
This was taken during a gig at the Bataclan. As you can see, the band finished their set in style .
Also Paris, 1994
Richey Edwards post-gig. Considering he had just finished an amazingly ballistic show, he was more than willing to throw a few shapes for me. Take a look at Nicky Wire in the background – knackered!
This was taken for the cover of Melody Maker. Although I had done many cover sessions with musicians before, this particular shoot was a first for me. Nicky had an injury, so was on painkillers, laid up in bed and unable to move too much. We did the session there and then, with Sean and James joining him on the bed for the session.
The band had played the Karl Marx Theatre, and had only been off stage for a short while when it was announced that Fidel Castro wanted to meet them. All were huddled in a relatively small room, swapping pleasantries for about 10 minutes. Castro stood up to shake their hands and thank them, and I couldn’t help but throw myself in amongst it and blast a few frames. Not my usual style, and it won’t hang on a gallery wall, but it’s a great grabbed snap documenting the meeting.