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
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments