Ian Wright’s 50-year-old photography archive provides a factual awakening to what we thought we only dreamt about the ‘60s – days of hazy revolution, Beatlemania and the British invasion of music. The quality of the work and Wright’s recollections so charmingly written, unfold in this first-person narrative of how we used to be in the springtime of adolescence, how we loved pop stars obsessively, and how they loved their fans. What pubescent girl didn’t love teenage Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Gene Pitney as captured by Wright’s camera? How many testosterone-pumping boys wouldn’t want to take home to mum Marianne Faithfull, Cilla Black or LULU?
Despite his lack of experience, teenaged Wright managed to burn onto film the intimate moments of rock stars on the rise. His classic photo of Bill Wyman echoes the early moments of Wyman’s later “Stone Alone” persona. The fresh faces of Peter and Gordon, the cracked fingernails of young Jimi Hendrix, and the approachable quality of “the man in black,” Johnny Cash, are all sharply defined. Yet somehow they still manage to show the vulnerability of music icons on the brink of fame.
Memories abound in this book for all age groups, overlapping and mingling into recollections of days of youth, when the world became a bit smaller as teenagers everywhere mouthed the words to songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Ella Fitzgerald and Ike and Tine Turner. Throughout the illustrated story we discover how a single recollection can bring a flood of other memories that merge, slide, and meet in this fabulous album of once forgotten, mostly unpublished photos from The Swinging Sixties.
As much as we might try to disentangle one memory from another, we can’t help but turn the pages, humming and singing as each image reveals itself, falling into a pool of remembrances. We remember that once we were participants in one of the most important decades of the century, and thank goodness Ian Wright had the forbearance to archive, catalogue and keep notes on this important photographic collection.
This loving narrative by Ian Wright shows that even 50 years later, we still want to know how the world appeared during The Swinging Sixties, and now with Wright’s historic archive, we have a better chance of understanding how it all fit.