Sometime during every shoot there’s an embarrassing moment when a photographer asks me to move closer to the famous person I’m lucky enough to be working with that day so they can grab a still. My first response is to pretend I’m really not interested (I’m lying) and my second response is to ham it up with said famous one in a desperate attempt to upstage them. Thus I morph from retiring wallflower to shameless camera-whore inside two seconds.
Here are some examples of this unfortunate personality flaw along with some other snaps I found in the garage. If I know who took the pic they get a credit. If you see a Dick copyright – I took it and you’ll need my permission to use it!
The Boomtown Rats
Chad Kroeger (Nickelback)
Fry & Co.
That’s Martin Fry from ABC in the deckchair. I think that’s Nic Knowland at the camera – he shot Lennon’s Imagine video – and my good friend Duncan Gibbins leaning over his shoulder whilst directing a video I commisioned when I was head of music video at Phonogram. Duncan, who taught me a great deal about directing, was sadly killed in the fires that swept through Malibu in 1993. © Dick
Within eight months of going freelance I found myself making a movie with Oscar winner Martin Balsam. I didn’t have a clue how to direct him and despite the smiles here it wasn’t all plain sailing. His daughter Talia was also in the film – I believe it was the only time they both appeared in the same movie. (pic by Atli)
Barson’s Flying Piano
I took this picture while Madness were making the Shut Up video. I was immensely proud of this pic and it was used all over the world. © Dick
Bedders & Me.
I used to be Madness’ Press Officer for a couple of years before I got into this crazy film business. This is me and Bedders when we both had some hair back in the early 80’s.
Sandra Bernhard had a cold but that didn’t stop her for coming in to work for free on “The Hard Rock Cafe presents the Save The Planet Special.” The concept of the show was wonderful – it was just the title that sucked.
It’s late ’84 and I’m making a video for the Boomtown Rats for what would be their last album together. (That’s Bob on the left and Gary on the right). Within a few weeks Bob was inspired to concoct Band Aid after seeing Michael Buerk’s moving broadcast from Ethiopia and he asked me to make the video. Check out the Band Aid diary by clicking the DICK DIARIES icon to your left. (Photo by Clare Muller I think).
Vince & Vance – Wild Men of Rock!
Alice Cooper (real name Vincent Furnier) and my good friend and frequent D.P. Vance Burberry pictured on SIR Stage 3 where it seemed we shot every video in the 80’s – of course it’s now been turned into a parking lot. Alice, by the way, is one of the nicest, most professional artists I’ve ever worked with. © Dick
In Pursuit Of Perfection
One of my first ever directing gigs was for a single off Julian Cope’s World Shut Your Mouth album. Here we are in the Great Hallway of London’s St. Pancras station watching some playback. (pic by Clare Muller)
When Irish eyes…
4 gorgeous Irish people and a Dick just outside Roundwood Ireland celebrating the completion of the Corrs “Angel” shoot.
I was summoned to NYC to do a reshoot for Taylor Dayne – she wanted to look more like Guns N’ Roses apparently. That’s Scott Spanjich on the right who was a regular client of mine and became a good friend. He now works with Dave Meyers.
All The Young Dudes
I’m the client and I’m in Dublin with director David Mallett and Def Leppard and, as the band and manager dealt directly with David and his producer, I felt as welcome as a condom in the Vatican so I took pictures. When I worked at Stiff I bought their first EP on their own Bludgeon Riffola label and tried to get Robbo to sign them. “We need to sign bands that make money!” he sniffed. © Dick
One day, when my film-making career is finally in the dumper, I shall write a book. A whole chapter will be devoted to what I learnt while making an embarrassing and thoroughly atrocious movie starring Lisa Eilbacher shortly after her role in An Officer & A Gentleman – that’s her on the left. I was doing a cameo as a bum and she dressed up like one too to try and cheer me up.
Sitting On The Dock
I can say I worked with The Jacksons…and as it happened there were five of them…but it wasn’t the Jackson 5. © Dick
Reg & Nigel
I’m a big fan of Elton’s early work and it was an honour to work with him on a video for Mona Lisa Smile. However only having him on set for a few hours hugely compromised the look of the video and to my eternal regret it’s filed in my “could-have-done-better” list. On the plus side he played most of Tumbleweed Connection between takes and allowed me to hum along. (pic from an outtake by Ross Richardson).
The Hills of Hanna
I’ve just completed a pick-up shot for Nickelback’s Photograph video which was mostly shot in Chad’s flat prairie hometown of Hanna Alberta. The California location I’ve chosen for the pick-up is notable for the large brown hill in the background and we’re joking about how everyone’s going to know it’s bogus. In the end no-one noticed. (pic by Russ Swanson)
When I started my career in showbiz as a motorcycle messenger and Huey Lewis was just a harp player in a band called Clover he once made me a cup of coffee on a cold winters day as I shivered in my measly leather jacket (see pic with Slash). Years later I repaid him the favour by making a video and telling him how to sing. Interestingly his career took a bit of a tumble after that. Hmm. (Pic by Henry Diltz)
Wolves in non-sheepish clothing
Los Lobos were the perfect spokesmen for the English / Spanish freebie I was shooting for Aids Awareness as they’d just released their Spanish language album. And then we discovered that only one of them actually speaks Spanish! Much to my delight between takes they played versions of Led Zeppelin tunes on acoustic guitars in their distinctive Barrio style. Who the mystery girl on the right is I have no clue.
Lene Lovich, Ruth Polsky and Les Chappell somewhere in NYC. I think this was on my first ever visit to the US in ’78. Ruth, a big friend of all of us at Stiff, loved punk and new wave and was to die tragically on the street outside the club where she worked. I will be forever grateful to Lene and Les for hiring me to sell T-shirts for them on a subsequent US tour after I got fired from Stiff and it was with them I visited LA for the first time.© Dick
I always felt a certain affinity with Nick Lowe, Jesus Of Cool and the dude who wrote “What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding” because both our Dads had been in the airforce. Though I never met the guy I once stood behind him in line at a grocery store in Chiswick and spent hours modelling my bass-playing stance on him in this pic. Though I got quite good at the stance he’s taller, had a lot more hair and was way more successful so I guess he did better with the chicks than I did. Here he is at the Hammersmith Palais one night. © Dick
Our House – Madness
Before I directed I produced videos for Stiff Records. I also found all the clothes, the locations, got the cups of tea, provided the guitars and was the runner too – I didn’t know any better. Dave Robinson, the man behind the famous Brinsley Schwarz story, was my boss and the Director. That’s him in the white shoes standing behind Chris Morphet, the cameraman. Please Note: 1 big crane, no lights, no video tap…no safety net. © Dick
In another still from the Our House shoot Lee & Carl relax outside Victor Lownes’ house in character. Did any other band ever dress up so convincingly as Madness did in all their videos? © Dick
Macca in London
The only time I get to work with Paul (as he then was) and I couldn’t get the focus right! Both he and Linda were very friendly though – can’t complain.
Me and McNee
Patrick McNee from the Avengers seems totally unfazed by my disastrous choice of shirt whilst on the set of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” In the cab – Bonehead, Liam and Noel’s feet. (pic by Johnny Buzzerio)
Clare Muller is an extraordinary photographer who worked constantly with Madness and, when I moved to Phonogram in the early 80’s, I hired her whenever possible to shoot video stills. Here she is in wardrobe ready to do a cameo in a Big Country video Mike Brady shot in Glasgow. Claire’s sister, Sophie Muller, is well known for her No Doubt and Gwen Stefani videos. © Dick
See what I mean about trying to upstage the artist? Oasis Mk2 and Patrick McNee on the set of “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” When I next saw Noel months later and I asked how he was he replied: “Older, richer!” (pic by Johnny Buzzerio)
I did it Otway
John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett were the funniest rock n’ roll act I ever saw – great songs and records too. Otway (that’s him on the right) famously admitted he screwed up his career by having a second hit – thereby wrecking his chances of describing himself as a one-hit wonder. Be careful of the flowers because I’m sure they’re gonna get you…yeah! © Dick
50 foot woman
Tatiana Petitz, enormously successful covergirl of the 80’s appeared as the 50 Foot Woman in a Nick Kamen video I shot called “Tell Me.” She later made her big screen debut as a naked murder victim in “Rising Sun.” © Dick
I was producing Robert Plant’s first ever solo video which Robbo directed. His guitar player didn’t show up so I got to be his stand-in. For a moment I thought: “If that’s Robert Plant over there – then I must be Jimmy Page!” I’d always dreamed of somehow being Jimmy Page which is why I had that cheesy Les Paul copy. Moral: Be careful what you wish for – it often comes true but not in the way you’d imagined. © Dick
Iggy Goes Down
We were doing a version of “Give Peace A Chance” to try and stop the first Gulf War. We failed. But I got to meet James Osterberg which was cool. © Dick
3 Nations Under a Groove
I’m shooting a duet with Tina Turner and Italian megastar Eros Ramazotti in a small village in the South of France and getting ready for a mad dash to Prague to shoot Ozzy 2 days later. I’m eternally grateful for opportunities such as these – hard work but a lot of fun.
I’m working in a power station with Savage Garden on their “I Want You” video which is why I’m wearing that stupid yellow hat. As for the daft expression…
Brighton Beach Memoir
At the start of my directing career I did three videos for disco diva Shannon. I shot two in one day in NYC and a third on a windy afternoon in Brighton. God knows what they must have looked like.
The Fickle Finger
Whilst shooting the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” vid Slash delivers his opinion on my decision to wear my denim on the INSIDE of my leather jacket. (pic by Robert John)
On the set of “Baby One More Time.” When I asked Britney what her ambitions were she told me she wanted to be married and pregnant by the time she was 23.
The first big video I ever did was this one for Status Quo. I was a huge fan of The Quo and their enormously simple rockin’ sound and when Francis (in the back out of focus) said, “Ere, Nige can we blow some amps up?” I was most happy to oblige.
We were called The Stiff All Stars. Hugh Attwooll, (drums, on the left) worked at CBS; Andy Murray (guitars, vocals, in the middle) worked at Stiff along with me (bass, on the right). We surprised everyone (ourselves included) by getting loads of airplay with our first single. Noel Gallagher once told me he thought it was the worst record ever made – but I know for a fact he’d never heard it… (pic by George Bodnar)
Just Not Cricket
It’s another hot Sunday afternoon in London and the Stiff Records Cricket team are causing terror on Hampstead Heath. l-r: Gary Long (Tenpole Tudor), Jona Lewie (#1 selling recording artist), Mike Turner (Stiff Transport Manager), Dick, Johnny Whyton (Royalties executive) and Bob Andrews (Graham Parker & The Rumour). There were other guys in the picture but I have no idea who they were so they’ve been axed! © Dick
It’s the summer of ’78 and Rachel Sweet wanted to go to Paris with her sister. As I had spent the previous summer in Paris playing guitar on the Metro Stiff sent me along to look after them both. I didn’t do a terribly good job – we missed the train on the way back and had to sleep overnight on the platform at the Gare Du Nord. In some backstreet we found this wall painting to other Stiff artists of the day – Devo. After singing the theme song for Hairspray Rachel went on to become a successful TV writer. © Dick
Brusque, 4 letters
Curt Smith from Tears For Fears watches while I do the Evening Standard quick crossword. We were on the set of a very expensive video I’d commisioned which, when it was complete, they hated. With no money left in the pot Roland suggested I did a cheapo video for them which they were much happier with and I went on to do all the other vids from the album. Unwittingly, by failing to do my job properly, I had created an amazing job opportunity for myself.
I was shooting “Mother’s Talk” for Tears For Fears in Bath, Wiltshire and hung around with them in Ian Stanley’s house while they were working on this song with eleven choruses that went on for about six minutes. “No chance of that being a hit,” I thought. © Dick
That’s Roland behind the little slate I had. This was before Smart Slates hit England and I would mark the slate with the lines of the song I intended to cover in each set-up. (pic by Clare Muller)
The Head Over Heels String Section
Sean Ryerson (producer), Steven Surjick (art director) and myself dressed up to be the string section in Tears For Fears “Head Over Heels” video. Steve Surjick went on to become a director in his own right (Wayne’s World 2).
I was shooting the Tears For Fears Head Over Heels video during the day and a live show at Massey Hall in Toronto at night. Curt (on right) & Roland had found out they’d just scored their first #1 in the US with Everybody Wants To Rule The World and I was also supposed to be looking after a Dexys video being shot in NYC that day and a Vitamin Z shoot in Turkey that night. What’s more Zippy The Chimp (that’s him on the left) was making more money than any of us.
Name ten famous Belgians
Coming in at Number 1 – Jean-Claude Van Damme. I was shooting the video for the Timecop movie with The Smithereens and we had JCVD for just 45 minutes…and suddenly all the girls from the office showed up in high heels, short skirts and make-up. When Jean – Claude left so did they.
Kosmo Vinyl had what I didn’t: ‘the vibe.’ He did press (p.r.) for Ian Dury and I did the press for everyone else on Stiff. I was certainly more organised but Kos had the blag – no question. He was a massive Clash fan and went on to become their manager and is seen with them in Scorsese’s King Of Comedy – I bet he blagged it. © Dick
Wreckless is Faultless
Wreckless Eric (that’s him at the mic) hates me (“Nigel Dick is a jumped-up messenger boy”). But back in the days when we were still talking he let me sit in for a few numbers at the Be Stiff end-of-tour party. My solo was so appalling that it was mistaken for a moment of jazz brilliance by a young lady in the front row (not pictured) who then asked me to drive her home. That head in the middle belongs to Paul Conroy who later signed Howard Jones and the Spice Girls.
I bumped into Warren Zevon at a party some years after we’d worked together and we spent a happy hour talking in the kitchen. Next day, as I was boarding a plane to go shoot a movie in Spain for 3 months, he sent me an e-mail suggesting we meet up for tea. Within two weeks of this picture he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I never saw him alive again. He was an awesome songwriter and, as you can see, had amazing thumbs. (pic by Brian Linse).