The Sounds issue of June 18th 1988 carried a cover exclusive on Morrissey entitled “Confessions Of A Big Mouth”. The interview was by Shaun Phillips with photographs by Mary Scanlon. Here Mary tells us her thoughts on an unpublished photo from that session.
“Shaun, like me, and everyone on the paper wanted this photo to be the cover shot for that interview.
However, after a meeting between our editor and Morrissey’s PR at EMI, a colour photo from the session was chosen.
In order that Sounds got an exclusive on this interview ahead of our two rival publications, NME and Melody Maker, Morrissey’s PR insisted that Morrissey had final say on the images. Not that unusual now with big names – when different publications are fighting for an exclusive – but at the time I was disappointed. The images they chose didn’t say anything to me about Morrissey that I hadn’t seen before.
NME had a bigger readership than Sounds, so there was some rivalry. Tony (Stewart) used to be deputy editor at NME before he was made editor of Sounds so he was keen on getting exclusives.
Sounds was a great, totally balanced environment to work in. By that, I mean it was not male-dominated like most of the music press at the time. There was a great camaraderie between photographers and writers: Neil Perry, Cathi Unsworth, Ann Scanlon, Shaun Phillips, Mary-Anne Hobbs, Mr Spencer, John Robb, Robin Gibson, Paul Elliot, Leo Regan, to name only a few.
Peter Anderson was the chief photographer when I joined. He was such a nice guy and really helpful. He took/takes some great images. I remember him saying to me how hard it must be to be starting out in the music press as a photographer with so much competition, compared with when he started. Imagine the competition now!
When I first went to meet Tony to show him my portfolio I remember him saying that he liked my photographs because they reminded him of Penny Smith’s work. That was such a great compliment to me because I loved her photos of The Clash and her style of working. It was her images that inspired me to be a music photographer.
Tony gave me a chance and passed me on to the picture editor. The “apprenticeship” to prove your worth was a stint of live gigs before you were let near a feature. I was introduced to Robbi Millar the reviews editor. She terrified me ( and a few others). You could never work out if she was going to publish your work or what she thought of it.
Live work was badly paid. It usually meant going straight from jostling at the front of a gig to the darkroom to develop the film and produce prints for the following morning. The alternative was trailing into Wardour Street to Joe’s Basement at midnight to drop off film and then coming back in again first thing in the morning to pick up before going to the Sounds office in Mornington Crescent. After a few gigs I got my first feature commission.
The session, in a tiny studio in Paddington, was one of my first Sounds covers, so it’s great to show this unguarded moment of Morrissey 30 years on!”
Photograph of Morrissey copyright Mary Scanlon