Photographer Richard Young wonders where the good times went

Backstage: 'Everybody now is a celebrity, or so they think'

Luke Blackall
Friday 24 January 2014 14:16 GMT

Since 1974, Richard Young has been at the forefront of celebrity photography. But as he celebrates his 40 years in the business, he says that the chances of someone following in his footsteps and having a career like his are slim.

“Everybody now is a celebrity, or so they think,” he told me this week. “And everybody wants to be famous, for whatever reason – I cannot understand it,” he said.

“Mobile phones are now the new tool... So basically everybody can take their own photographs and be called ‘a photographer’, ‘a paparazzo’ or whatever they want to call themselves. It’s the way of the world. What can you do? This is the technology age.”

Celebrity is now a huge industry; brands and stars are keen to control their own images and rates for photographers are going down. This is all in stark contrast to when Young started out, by gatecrashing Richard Burton’s 50th birthday party, thrown by Elizabeth Taylor (they had just remarried) at the Dorchester.

Unlike the pack of paparazzi you might see camped outside London restaurants these days, Young is one of the very few photographers who is actually invited inside.

“When I was first starting out as a photographer, for the first six or seven years it was very romantic,” he said. “It was a very romantic world up until 1997, when Princess Diana died – then the word become a word that I didn’t want to be associated with.

“We changed it immediately, we changed our attitude to the way we worked and the way that we were seen as doing the job, and we had to change it drastically otherwise it would have been a disaster.”

For a reminder of the romance of the past, his work can be seen at his gallery in west London (

Noel looks back in anger – and goes viral

In this media-trained age, it’s rare to hear performers really tell you what they actually think of their past work, which is why Noel Gallagher (right) is to be applauded. A video of the singer providing his thoughts on the videos he starred in when a member of Britpop behemoth Oasis has, to use the parlance of the day, gone viral. And he is less than complimentary. A clue to how the film will go comes early on, when he says “I f**king hate videos, I hate everything about them…”, and attacks their cost and pointlessness and complains that “the people… making them think they’re making Apocalypse Now”.

The criticism extends to the songs too, which such gems as “we shouldn’t have really made this album, if I’m being honest”, “I f**king hate this next tune, I really hate it”, and, “Why didn’t somebody f**king stop me at that point and say, ‘Look, you need to go on holiday.’?”

If only there were more people in the music business asking those questions…

Emin’s all excited about neon

Never let it be said that Tracey Emin (right) lacks confidence in her ability. Backstage notes that the artist saves the critics and art world gasping at her brilliance by doing it for them in a new interview.

“Works like My Bed and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With are seminal,” she tells Time Out London. “People forget that I have gone through quite a lot since then, and so has my work. My show that’s just opened in Miami is seminal, too. That will be noted as something spectacular.”

When asked what exactly makes it spectacular, she says, “There are 67 neons.

It isn’t just like going to an art gallery and looking at art: you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. And that to me is the crux of what being an artist is: to change our perception of the world.” Through neon, apparently.

Wilko Johnson back with Daltrey album

No one can accuse Wilko Johnson of hanging around. A year after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given months to live, the former Dr Feelgood singer is releasing an album with The Who’s Roger Daltrey. Together the pair have recorded Going Back Home, ten songs by Johnson (and one by Bob Dylan).

“I’ve had a brilliant year,” he says. “I was meant to die in October and now I’ve recorded this with Roger. I saw The Who in 1969 when I was at university. He’s a star to me.” All being well, the pair are planning a one-off performance on February 25 at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

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