How We Met: Jill Furmanovsky & Storm Thorgerson
'To my shame, I was initially more interested in her chest than her portfolio'
Jill Furmanovsky, 58
An award-winning rock photographer, Furmanovsky has shot the biggest names in music, including Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Oasis. She lives in London
My first memory of Storm was of a wiry, smallish, speedy person with a fast intellect. I was a Pink Floyd fan before I was a photographer, and as a teenager I would spend hours staring at these wonderfully surreal album covers. So for me it was always a dream to meet the people behind these beautiful works of art. And in 1972 I visited the offices of [his then design group] Hipgnosis, in Denmark Street in central London [the British Tin Pan Alley] and met Storm.
He wasn't terribly interested in my work at first, but I was a nubile young lady. At that time, it helped get me noticed and I started hanging out in their peculiar, grotty studio. I was also working at the Rainbow Theatre [in Finsbury Park, north London], and when Pink Floyd did rehearsals there, they didn't seem to mind when I started taking some pictures of them.
Then, in 1974, Storm called and offered me, a trainee photographer, a job documenting Pink Floyd on their Dark Side of the Moon tour, which was hugely exciting for me. He was terrible to work with, though, rushing round constantly barking orders: "I want a shot of them in the hotel, I want them doing sport, I want pictures of the road crew moving equipment, I want travel pictures..." He provided me with huge lists of stuff to do; I was completely overwhelmed.
We didn't work with each other for a while after that, but we kept in touch, and while he's an appalling slave driver, he couldn't be a more considerate friend.
After he and his wife split up, in the late 1970s, Storm brought up his son, and I started going round to baby-sit and after that we started hanging out a lot.
He's still just as committed to his art. I love his recent stuff, such as a beautiful record sleeve for Steve Miller, as well as some reinterpretations for new versions of The Dark Side of the Moon.
We might have become a couple at some point, but one of us always seemed to be seeing someone when the other was single. We've had a laugh about it, and now, almost 40 years since we first met, we've come a tremendous distance, and Pink Floyd has been the soundtrack.
Storm Thorgerson, 67
As a key member of graphic-art group Hipgnosis, Thorgerson became famous in the 1970s for his surreal album art work for bands including Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. His design for 'The Dark Side of the Moon' has been labelled by critics as one of the greatest album covers of all time. He now produces prints and album work for bands such as Muse. He lives in London.
Jill came to our ramshackle studio in 1972 when I ran Hipgnosis, which specialised in album covers. She was establishing herself as a photographer and as a keen Pink Floyd fan, she came to our studio. She was very attractive and, to my shame, I was more interested in her chest than I was in her portfolio.
A couple of years later there was a Dark Side of the Moon tour and I asked Jill to take some ancillary shots for a book project. So she was running around taking shots of Dave [Gilmour] playing squash, Roger [Waters] playing golf and all of us playing a lot of backgammon to while away the hours between gigs. Over the years after that we worked with each other intermittently, most recently with a new band called the Plea from Donegal.
Was I a slave driver? I didn't think so; I might have been a bit demanding , but I wouldn't demand anything of anybody that I wouldn't do myself. I thought she was very capable, drifting in and out of the background, being non-intrusive – a key skill in documentary photography. I thought she was quite sexy and I fancied her – I still do. But it was always a bit lukewarm from her side, though I know she has become fond of me. And when my son's mother ran off with her lover, Jill was supportive: she come round to cook, take me out for dinner and even baby-sat.
One of the keys to our friendship now is not being too competitive with each other; my [design] stuff is so different to her photography and actually they're complementary, which has led us to further collaborations over the years.
What I really like about her is how young she is for her age. She's spirited and wayward in a very attractive way, and she has a palpable empathy that makes her a good portrait photographer.
Over 40 years we've both experienced the iniquities of life: we've both had bad marriages and rock'n'roll managers we hated; we've shared tales of our children and their itinerant behaviour and failed loves. She's had worse luck than I on marital terms, and though I've often been critical [of those relationships] I've always been there for her and love her dearly.
'The Raging Storm: The Album Graphics of Storm Studios' is published by De Milo and Storm Studios, priced £35. Thorgerson prints are available to buy from the Idea Generation gallery (ideageneration.co.uk)
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