Scotland

Photos of Harry Papadopoulos capture lost era of Scottish music

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Media captionPeter Capaldi sang in Glasgow School of Art band The Dream Boys

An exhibition of images taken by Glasgow photographer Harry Papadopoulos is on display in Paisley.

The former maths teacher captured the explosion of the post-punk rock scene in Scotland as well as the new wave of acts which rose to success in the early 1980s.

Papadopoulos was a staff photographer for the music weekly Sounds, where he became close friends with Scots bands such as Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and The Bluebells.

Ken McCluskey, who was the lead singer of the Bluebells, has co-curated the exhibition What Presence! The Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulos which is at Paisley Museum until 1 March, admission free.

It includes many of the big names from the Scottish music scene of the time and some who never quite made it as rock stars but had success in other fields.

One photo shows Peter Capaldi, now famous for his role in Doctor Who, as the lead singer of art school punk band the Dream Boys, with Scottish comedian turned US talk show host Craig Ferguson on drums.

Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption Clare Grogan of Altered Images photographed in 1981
Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption Scottish new wave band Aztec Camera, formed by Roddy Frame, were another of Harry Papadopoulos's subjects

McCluskey, whose band had a number of hits including Young at Heart, told BBC Scotland: "My first memory of Harry is seeing him outside the Apollo in Glasgow and he was selling 10in by 8in photographs.

"He would go to Edinburgh and take live shots of a show by David Bowie or someone, develop them overnight and then sell them outside the Glasgow gig. He was quite entrepreneurial."

McCluskey adds: "A year or so later he was taking my photograph when I was in the Bluebells."

A distinctly early 1980s shot of McCluskey's band in a car showroom on Glasgow's Woodland's Road is one of the photos in the exhibition.

Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption The Bluebells in 1980 at a car showroom on Glasgow's Woodlands Road

McCluskey says: "Harry got a job on Sounds magazine as a staff photographer and he got a flat in London that was a home-from-home for all the Glasgow and Edinburgh bands like the Fire Engines, Orange Juice, the Bluebells, Aztec Camera and Joseph K.

"There would be sleeping bags all over his floor."

According to McCluskey it was Harry's fearless attitude that made his photographs special.

"He was gung-ho and would be right up on stage," says McCluskey.

"He was a guerrilla photographer. In the live shots you get lots of the sweat and frenzy of the time.

"There was no airbrushing. That's why they have lasted the test of time."

Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption The success of Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice was a catalyst for other Scottish bands of the early 80s
Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption Gil Scott Heron was one of the many US stars Harry Papadopoulos photographed during his time at Sounds
Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption The Clash were one of the post-punk acts Harry Papadopoulos photographed
Image caption Harry Papadopoulos was a staff photographer for the music weekly Sounds in the early 80s

Harry suffered a brain aneurism in 2002 and returned to Glasgow in 2006.

He says he is proud of the shots he took.

"I never used lighting or anything like that, I just chanced my arm," he says.

McCluskey says the photos have a feeling of social history to them.

He says that the 1980/81 period was one where Scottish bands such as those on the small independent Postcard record label were taking the UK pop scene by storm.

"It was a time when there was a light shining on central Scotland," he says.

"It has been said that central Scotland invented Indie music."

Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption The Birthday Party were another band that featured in his work
Image copyright Harry Papadopoulos
Image caption US punk band The Ramones were snapped by Harry Papadopoulos

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