Sunday, 14 August 2011

A story behind a photograph 3: James Hetfield from Metallica

James Hetfield, Metallica, during Master of Puppets European Tour photographed at the Zenith in Paris  1985. photo: Marc T, published in The Face magazine

In 1985, the in London based  The Face magazine commissioned me to photograph Metallica on tour in Europe, the  Metal band from Los Angeles  was on the way being a huge rock machine.  The deal was unlimited costs but they needed the pictures yesterday and this was a huge restriction, no time for seducing  pr girls and for catching someone who knows someone.  Took cameras and tens of 35mm rolls and jumped on a private jet to Paris.  At that period record companies were pretty greedy with photographers press passes and it was often a big story to snap some photographs. I went to Elektra records in Paris to get a  professional press photo pass. They refused because I was not accredited by a French  magazine or newspaper. I tried to explain and to convince, this time a guy, that The Face was a much more important magazine in rock business than whatever French shit paper. Wrong to do so, if you have to deal with record company pr guys. So I went alone and I bought a black market ticket, officials were sold-out and I was pushed away from the backstage area,  hermetically closed by a bunch of policemen and skinhead monkeys hired in by the concert producers . Went in and was hiding my camera from the security control by giving it to a punky but very good looking girl already inside, I told her that I was a photographer from London working for a big magazine and that she will never forget what is going to happen that evening... and she accepted...  Luckily, I sneaked in, gave her a big kiss, bought her a drink and  promised an original photograph. Went  straight to the front stage  and jumped the barriers. A British photographer that I knew  from New Musical Express saw me and gave me immediately  a  pass that he took out of his pocket. I put it on  and the  monkeys (security guards in front stage areas keeping public and fans away) left me alone, they never paid attention that the pass was from a previous concert date. Metallica printed the same press passes for the entire Master of the Puppets Tour, changing only the dates and venues written by hand by the tour management. The French monkey saw the badge but never read.
All. the lights went out and the whole venue was completely into dark. Thousands of fans started to whistle and to scream, lightning lighters, pushing forward to the fronts stage alerting the monkeys, the magic power of Metallica was filling  the Paris Zenith. I saw James Hetfield's silhouette on stage and started to focus, only one follow spot was on him and I started shooting. Hetfield all alone on stage with his terrific guitar sound, something  extremely dramatic, deep and dark was going on.
The same night I took the girl with me back to London in the private jet for delivering the pictures. Processing and printing and the whole story was just in time for printing the magazine two hours later. The picture was a full page in the Face and they even paid me back the far to expensive black market ticket  for getting inside the venue.  
That night I took the lovely French Punky girl  into the London New Wave scene and she had a original photograph from James Hetfield .
I never saw her again

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