On the occasion of Let’s Dance: a tribute to David Bowie, an exhibition of twenty-five photographs by Richard Young at his eponymous gallery in London, 4 Holland Street, I caught up with Richard himself about his friendship with my hero. If you haven’t seen the show, don’t wait.
When and how did you meet David Bowie?
In 1964 when I was 16 I used to hang out in the Bataclan Club on Princes Street near Oxford Circus – a very cool place to socialise in the day. Occasionally, a guy called David Jones would come and hang out. On several occasions through David’s mate Geoff MacCormack, we would all meet up at Geoff’s house in Black Heath to listen to Jazz and Soul, and David would often be there, just hanging and drinking and smoking. David was good pals with my old schoolmate Marc Bolan. Little did I know then who David would become…
What’s your fondest memory?
My fondest memory of David is when we saw each other at the Tribeca film festival in 2007. When he saw me, he came over and gave me a big hug, we started chatting and I was winding him up about the suit he was wearing, we were deep in conversation and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Graydon Carter, Editor of Vanity Fair, was looking a bit irrritated that we were chatting so long, I said “David, you’ve got to go, everyone’s waiting for you!”. Hunky Dory remains my favourite album!
Did you manage to stay in touch with him?
I stayed in touch with David throughout his career, I first shot him professionally in 1976 right up until the last time I saw him and Iman in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY in 2008.
One of your photographs was used on the cover of the Times – can you tell us about this photo please?
This iconic photo was taken at The Cannes Film Festival in 1983 for a photocall for a movie he made with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon called The Hunger.
Which one is your favourite photo?
My favourite photo I took of Bowie was him in Elephant Man taken on Broadway in NYC. I bought a matinee performance ticket and managed to get a seat in the second row, David came out on stage, I waited until he came out to centre stage, and took a few shots of him without flash on my Leica M4. After a short period of time I got a tap on my shoulder and was asked to leave the theatre!
Here’s a selection of Richard’s best shots of David Bowie, exclusively for Art is Alive: