Rock'n'roll free spirits

A new exhibition charts the turbulent life and times of The Libertines. The photographer Roger Sargent tells Charlotte Cripps why the cult band are the real deal

A week ago, Roger Sargent took the latest in a series of photographs that over the past two years have documented the life and times of the cult band The Libertines, and more specifically the troubled Pete Doherty. "It was a bit upsetting, because he is not well in any shape or form," says Sargent, referring to Doherty's well-publicised and ongoing battle with drug addiction. In one of the photographs (a publicity shot for the band's forthcoming single and album), Doherty stands alone, looking painfully thin, under a railway arch near Brick Lane. It's a fitting image of isolation: the rest of the band have now resorted to tough love with the guitarist, who recently walked out on another attempt at rehab - this time in Thailand.

The Libertines' guitarist/vocalist Carl Barat has told Doherty that he must be drug free before he will be allowed to return to the fold. "It's unwise to have him in that sort of environment if he has any hope of getting clean," says Sargent. The photographer has been a personal friend of The Libertines ever since he started documenting the ups and downs of Britain's most turbulent band at their first gig, at Cherry Jam, a venue in Paddington, London. Before this, Sargent spent a decade taking pictures of Oasis, culminating in his first exhibition in 2002. "I was going to jack it all in," Sargent says. "I was disillusioned with the whole British music scene, but when a friend took me to see The Libertines, I was like, 'I have to do this band.'"

The Boys in the Band, at Proud Galleries in Camden, is an exhibition of some 150 photographs, many of which haven't been seen before, documenting The Libertines story. The word is that the band will perform at the opening. "Doherty may even turn up," says Sargent, who is to sell a number of prints relatively cheaply, at £90 each, believing that, "it is important that fans can afford to buy the pictures."

In 1997, Sargent lived in Holloway, coincidentally below a flat shared by Doherty, Barat, Scarborough Steve (the band's former singer) and a prostitute called Sacha - "they caused quite a racket". But it wasn't until he first shot the Libertines in 2002 that he connected the band with his former neighbours from hell. "This is the first frame of the first Libertines shoot," says Sargent of a photograph of the band sitting on Doherty's bed at the Albion Rooms, in Bethnal Green, where Doherty and Barat lived together. "The Libertines claim to believe in a bohemian lifestyle, but their flat looked like it was styled by Mötley Crüe. It was a tip," says Sargent. "I was even a little dubious about whether to drink my cup of coffee. There was not an inch of floor space that wasn't covered in drug paraphernalia and wine bottles, and when their water was cut off they filled the toilet cistern with Evian water," remembers Sargent.

"But it is amazing how every one of them has changed over the past two years. Carl has age in his eyes because he has been through so much," says the photographer, who characterises Barat and Doherty as being "as close as lovers". He pauses at the classic "red tunic" session taken in 2002. "It was a time when the band were filled with optimism, before the first album, Up the Bracket, came out. They stole the red jackets from a market in the East End - "They only cost a fiver," says Sargent. "You can't plan an iconic picture."

Then there's Doherty with a girl in the tour bus on the band's first big British tour. "Well, actually, he had smuggled six girls into his own little bedroom on the bus," says Sargent. "He is mischievous. They travelled from Wolverhampton to Scotland, locked in the room for eight hours, hidden from the tour manager because they would not have been insured to be on the bus. When the tour manager caught Pete sneaking them off, Pete said to him, 'Well, imagine my surprise...'" One picture depicts a group huddle, which the band do before every gig, "jumping up and down holding each other."

Another more troubling photograph is of Doherty kissing a girl, with the self- inflicted scars on his chest clearly visible. Then there's Doherty rubbing his eyes and looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, standing backstage at New York's Bowery Ballroom during the band's first visit to the US. "He had just played to a packed audience,"says Sargent. "Damon Albarn was there. He was trying to give them fatherly advice, telling them they loved their fans too much and should be nastier."

"I have been blessed," says Sargent of his photographs. "You could not have four better-looking guys in a band if you dreamt it up. Usually these exhibitions are a retrospective. I am glad to be doing this before they split-up - rather than when their greatest hits album comes out."

Roger Sargent's exhibition 'The Boys in the Band' is at Proud Galleries Camden, 10 Greenland Street, London NW1 (020-7839 4942), 24-25 July. The exhibition is supported by Sony Ericsson

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?