World-renowned rock art photographer holds emotional homecoming to Peterborough as part of new documentary
World-renowned rock art photographer Nick Elliott experienced an emotional homecoming in Peterborough this month as part of a new fly-on-the-wall documentary about his life.
Name almost any legend of the rock music industry and you can be almost certain that Nick Elliott has photographed them.
Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Roy Wood and Status Quo are just a few of the artists that have been captured by Nick’s lens over the years.
For the last 37 years, he has dedicated his life to touring and following some of the music’s industry’s biggest names and capturing both the highs and lows that come with that.
Little wonder then that Andy Blithe at ATurn Film Productions was so keen to get an access all areas look into Nick’s life.
Entitled ‘Nick Elliott: The Story So Far,’ the documentary will follow Nick over the course of the next 12-18 months as he goes about his life on tour, at gigs, creating TV and radio shows and even hosting his own UK to USA tour.
Kicking off in October 2021 in the States, Nick has already provisionally booked dates in Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma to not only show off his work but to host his own stage show/Q&A to give fans a chance to see his work but then get a deeper insight, have a few laughs and learn why Nick does what he does.
His family hailed from London’s East End originally but lived in Oakdale Avenue in Stanground throughout Nick’s childhood.
It was there where Nick found his love of photography, through his father.
He said: “My father was a hero of mine and photography was a big gig in my family. He documented pretty much all of our family life, particularly the big East End parties, Christmas and the annual summer beach holidays.
“I always knew I wanted to do something in a creation and it really could have been anything, photography is my medium but I could have easily been a painter or a sculptor etc but my dad very much pointed me in that direction.
“He brought me my first camera and even as an eight-year-old boy I knew what I wanted to do. I owe a lot of where I am today to him.
“Like my dad, who in taking all of these photos was recording history, I believe that you should never lose sight of your roots. That is why my 7th and latest book (Ice Cream and Sun Cream) is dedicated to him. It features 240 photos, shot in Norfolk, with each in the style of a holiday postcard and shot at the level of an 8-year-old boy.”
Captured on camera for the documentary was an emotional homecoming for Nick. Earlier this month (July 7) he revisited a number of important locations to him in the city.
Among these were Stanground Academy (Stanground Comprehensive at the time) and Peterborough Lido, where he spent many hours as a teenager training. He had an aptitude for the sport and missed the trial time for the Munich 1972 Olympics by only three seconds. His training partner, Brian Brinkley would go on to represent Team GB at the games and won a bronze medal in Montreal four years later.
He also paid a visit to the Evening Telegraph’s old offices in Woodston, off Bakers Lane, as well as Peterborough Regional College (formerly Peterborough Technical College); the place where he photographed his first professional band, Trapeze.
The crowning glory of the trip though was when he was given the opportunity to go inside his old house at number 51 Oakdale Avenue.
He said: “It was such an emotional day I was drained by the end of it.
“I wasn’t a fan of school, I already knew I wanted to be somebody, to go out there and make a mark but this one teacher, Jim Raynor, had a big influence on me.
“In the 4th year, he set up a school paper and got me involved in that, which I really enjoyed. That set me on the path to joining the Evening Telegraph in 1971. I stayed there for five years learning the job from the floorboards up from some of the best people in the business.
“It was a really big deal to get a job like that and I covered so many important stories. A lot of the building has changed but we got to go in and the reception area is still the same.
“The biggest part for me was getting to see 51 for the first time over 50 years. One of the neighbours we were speaking to knows the current owners and asked if we’d be able to go inside and they agreed and I felt really, really lucky. I stood in the garden and was just floored.” After leaving the Evening Telegraph in 1975, Nick spent time working at the East Midland Allied Press (EMAP) for several of its motorcycle magazines; motorcycle racing being another passion of Nick’s.
In 1979, he made the decision to to freelance and forged a successful career in advertising, working on some of the biggest campaigns in the world at the time for brands such as Marlboro, Coca-Cola, BT and high-end fashion brands such as Cosmopolitan and Elle. He also photographed the billboard campaign for the Libertal Democrats in the 1992 general election.
Music was always his passion though and, inspired by his heroes, the likes of Rory Gallagher and Robert Plant, he always knew he not only wanted to work in the industry but be the best and make change. Setting up on his own gave him the perfect opportunity to do that after previously holding playing in bands and working with record labels.
His work is fuelled by passion and emotion and he also credits Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) for changing his life.
He added: “I’ve always wanted to be the best, to leave a mark and to change things and I’ve dedicated my life to that. When the advertising business started to change from analogue to digital, I knew I wanted to move more into the creative arts, which is something the industry was losing, and set out my stool to work with some of my heroes. I’m driven by emotion, it is the only fuel in my fire.
“Listening to Dark Side Of The Moon changed my life. I still remember riding the bus from Stanground to go and buy it and listening to it on my turntable. It was an album that made it possible to listen to it multiple times but never go to the same place twice. It spoke so much to me about living on passion and emotion and that is what you need to be a true artist.
“I believe in having very strong ethics and morals and having the time for everybody that wants to give you their time and the majority of the people I have worked with have shown that too. I’ve been that person who has gone backstage to get album signed and been ignored and I said I would never ever do that.”
The Story So Far is still in production but to find out more about Nick and his work, visit: https://nickelliott.info/ and http://www.nickelliott.photography/.