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Stay Beautiful - Louder Than War Magazine, June/July 2017

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Title: Stay Beautiful
Publication: Louder Than War Magazine
Date: June/July 2017
Writer: Tom Sheehan
Photos: Tom Sheehan

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Photographic legend Tom Sheehan gives Louder Than War an inside look into his time with the Manic Street Preachers ahead of the release of historical document 'You Love Us: Manic Street Preachers In Photographs 1991-2001'.

"The Manics arrived fully formed, with a mission, older than their years and more knowledgeable than most," remembers Tom Sheehan: "Who does a double album as their first release?! The Manics... brave stuff indeed and continuing to be brave to this day." A photographer whose images haw graced the pages of the NME, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and the Observer. Sheehan's work has also featured on album covers and artwork by the likes of Radiohead, The Smiths, Oasis and The Charlatans. Having released collected photos of Paul Weller (Aim High') and The Cure (In Between Days'), You Love Us' is the third in a series from Tom's archive. Here. he talks us through the stories behind the iconic images of the Manics.

Click Studios Clerkenwell 1991

This was my first encounter with the chaps... All very young, but boasting a maturity beyond their years. As I recall it took a short time to settle into the flow of taking the pictures. This was before the first album was out - that first album that according to them was the only album they were going to make."

Video Shoot for 'You Love Us' 1991

This was over west London somewhere on the way out of town on the A4. I spent most a day there. As with all video shoots they can become tedious if one isn't totally involved. It was a good day all in all. I hung out there for about five hours and left holding a little piece of rock history."

Highgate Cemetery 1991

I think it was their idea to go over there when I went over to Askew Road to shoot them. We bundled into a cab and headed off. Once there we set about doing some shots around the Karl Marx tomb. Halfway through we got captured by a warden telling us you can't do this". I tried to explain that I was a lecturer and these were my students and I was helping them out as they had just started a band, and that I was polishing up my photographic skills..."

House In The Woods Studio

I turned up on a winter's afternoon to find the band pensive and preoccupied. Mind you, they were doing their second album. All of the session took place in this room and they were as hospitable as ever, asking if I'd like a beer. I pointed out the golden rule that I don't take ale while working."

Hall Or Nothing Offices 1993

The series of images taken of Richie was done in a kind of walk in cupboard which was the Hall or Nothing Press Office kitchen. Richie was wearing a great jacket and hat and, being the charming professional he was, we just steamed into a short session that yielded some great casual portraits."

Holborn Studios 1994

"Just James and Nick were doing press for their up and coming album 'The Holy Bible: The cross James is holding I bought in New Mexico knowing it would come in handy one day. In another series of shots I have James holding what looks like a Bible. I'd bought a couple of large books in a local charity shop and sprayed them black then glued a cross I'd bought in NYC. I also made a small cup out of tin foil that I was going to fill with lighter fluid and set it alight with them holding a flaming Bible. You guessed it, they wouldn't do it. You win some..."

Holborn Studios 1996

"This was a Sunday evening and they'd just been at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party at Wembley. They arrived tired, bemused and pissed off. James needed a certain shirt but I can't remember if someone went for it or not. I was just concerned about the cost of the hire of the studio on a Sunday."

Karl Marx Theatre, Cuba 2001

"One of their most outlandish japes: play Cuba. meet Castro... It was great but odd! After the show there was talk that the band were going to meet Fidel. Finally it happened. After a few words Castro got up to go and started shaking the band's hands. I couldn't miss this opportunity so I dashed over and just let loose on the motor drive, shooting off a dozen frames in two seconds. I took James by surprise - "Bloody hell Tommy! What are you doing?!" I said that I couldn't miss that shot. They're not great shots - just grabbed frames - but it's rock history."