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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Nov-18 > DENNIS MORRIS

DENNIS MORRIS

Dennis Morris was still at school when he first photographed Bob Marley, and those iconic shots propelled him on a journey from Sex Pistols chronicler to full-time art director at Island Records, as Gary Tipp discovers

During the mid-to-late 70s, the fiercely anti-authoritarian genres of punk and reggae were thrown together by way of their outsider status and rebel stance. The mutual love-in manifested itself in many ways. John Peel championed both movements and would typically play the latest punk 45 scorcher followed by a heavy dub cut. Don Letts turned the punks onto reggae via his DJ set at the Roxy, while Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry produced The Clash’s third single, the explosive Complete Control. To seal the deal, Bob Marley would release the totemic Punky Reggae Party as a 12” single in 1977 as a follow-up to Jammin’.

With a foot in both the Sex Pistols’ and Marley’s camps, photographer, sleeve designer, A&R man and recording artist all wrapped up in one, Dennis Morris was the right man in the right place at the right time.

As he confirms when Long Live Vinyl catches up with him at PIAS HQ in Bermondsey: “Bob represented the new youth of Jamaica and the Pistols represented the new youth of England. I was fortunate enough to bridge both grounds. At the time, the only music that was saying anything politically or socially about the world around them was reggae and punk. It was a perfect fusion of both cultures.”

MARLEY & ME

In love with photography from an early age, Morris first sold a shot to Fleet Street at the tender age of 11, but an encounter with Marley is when it all kicked off for him. “I knew he was coming over for his first tour of England [1973] and I decided I wanted to take some pictures. I bunked off school and went down to The Speakeasy Club on Margaret Street and waited.

“He eventually turned up with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. I walked up to Bob and asked to take his picture, and he invited me in to the soundcheck. During breaks, he asked me what it was like to be a young black kid in England and I asked him questions about Jamaica. We got on well. He told me about the tour and asked if I wanted to come along. Next morning, I packed my sports bag and I was ready to go.”

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About Long Live Vinyl

As the exhaustive new 15-disc David Bowie boxset, Loving The Alien, hits the streets, Long Live Vinyl lifts the lid on the period between 1983-88 when Bowie became a global pop megastar. Through exclusive interviews with Nile Rodgers, Carlos Alomar, Reeves Gabrels and Hugh Padgham, we bring you the inside story behind Bowie’s biggest decade, as well as an in-depth look at the reimagined Never Let Me Down 2018 album that’s the highlight of the new boxset. Elsewhere in this packed issue, we speak to Mark Lanegan about making his most spontaneous album to date with Duke Garwood; Hookworms reveal how they’ve become one of the UK’s most exciting live acts – while holding down day jobs; Cornershop look forward to their long-awaited new album; and Matt Berry kicks off the countdown to National Album Day. Dennis Morris tells us about his career photographing bona fide music legends including Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols; our Classic Album is Primal Scream’s 1991 collision of garage rock and dance music, Screamadelica; we round up 40 Essential Queen albums; and The Trip heads to Bordeaux on a French cratedigging adventure. If all that’s not enough, we bring you the widest range of new album, reissue, turntable and accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand.