Chalkie Davies' stunning rock photographs: The Clash, Springsteen, Bowie and more

He snapped Sid and Nancy in his bathroom, and Debbie Harry with a hangover. The legendary punk and rock photographer, Chalkie Davies, recalls the surprising moments behind some of the defining images of the era

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The Independent Culture

One town along from Sully – the village near Cardiff where Chalkie Davies grew up – is Barry. "It was the place that steam trains went to die," explains Davies over the phone from New York, where he now lives.

It was in Barry, aged 14, that he took his very first photo and began a journey which saw him, through the Seventies and Eighties, shoot some of the most important figures in modern music.

At 16, Davies moved to London and landed a job at the NME. David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were among his first subjects.

"I used music to create the right environment and then worked as quickly as possible," says Davies of his success. "I'd probably have my camera hidden behind my back and I'd whip it out, take a few frames and put it back behind my back."

He took the intimate shot of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen in the bathroom of the house he shared with Phil Lynott, of Thin Lizzy. "They used to come around and watch black-and-white Elvis Presley movies." And, I ask, was this in London or New York? "It was in Cricklewood."


Chalkie Davies' images are at Snap Galleries, London SW1, to 26 April;