This was one of my first photographic jobs when I was still an Art Director. I had known Paul McCartney and John Lennon from my art school days and Paul asked me to shoot the cover of his new Wings album Band On The Run. With only enthusiasm and not much experience I went for a meeting with Paul and his art director the late great Storm Thorgerson from Hipgnosis. Paul and Storm talked through the basic concept that surprisingly the ‘band was on the run’ and we all agreed that the best way put this across was like an old fashioned ‘Hollywood prison break movie’ with the convicts in a spotlight against the prison wall (with additional celebrities as convicts).
On the day I hired a spotlight from the lighting company which, unfortunately, was not powerful enough for the job. This meant that everyone had to be very still for over 2 seconds for the picture to be sharp. Two seconds may not sound like a long time, however, they did have a party before the shoot and everyone was very much the worse for wear, but still enjoying each others company to say the least. Trying to get everyone to stay still and play the part of escaping prisoners was proving extremely difficult, amid the laughter, jokes and substance haze; I arranged them all together so they could lean against each other and the wall. Now, because they had all become a little unsteady on their feet, Denny Lane fell over a couple of times laughing hysterically – everyone was having a great time. I had to have a megaphone to get their attention, I had even positioned myself up to the top of a ladder, next to the spotlight and barked instructions persistently, which the most part everyone ignored, until I finally snapped and screamed ‘Stay Still!’.
I only managed to shoot 2 rolls of film, which is only 24 exposures in total. The group couldn’t hold the pose for long, some would be still in one frame and others would be moving in another, the real worry was that there wouldn’t be a shot where everyone was still and sharp. My woes did not end there, once the film came back it had a strong warm yellow cast but thankfully there were four frames where everyone was sharp. I showed them to Paul and he loved them, I never mentioned the golden hue to him until a few years later when I was photographing the back cover for Wings At The Speed of Sound.
After the shoot, over coffee, I said ” Paul, there is something I’ve meant to tell you for years, that yellow light on the Band on the Run Cover? That was a mistake. I used daylight film instead of tungsten ” Paul laughed and said “That’s fine, I thought it looked great and that you meant to do it.”
Above is a letter I received from Paul along with the with the 25th Anniversary CD of Band on The Run which he kindly sent me. The great thing about Paul I have found over the years, is that when you ask him to dress up or do funny things, he is always up for it – and is magic in front of the camera. Working with him over the years has been a lot of fun, and a genuine pleasure. Below is a picture that has just been used by Random House in NYC for the cover of his forthcoming biography Man on The Run.
Below is the original shot.
- Clive Arrowsmith is still shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here