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Un-Rock 'N' Roll Photos of Some of the World’s Biggest Rock Stars

Murray Cammick photographed Bob Marley, Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry on their rare visits to New Zealand in the 70s and 80s.

Murray Cammick says it wasn't until art school, when he discovered certain failings in himself, that he started taking photography seriously. "I got really bad marks in painting, so I decided photography was my future."

It was photography's gain. He started taking pictures for Auckland University's student magazine, Craccum, before founding Rip It Up magazine in 1977. It was always his goal, Cammick says, to try and record the "expanded rock 'n' roll scene", noting that much live music photography tended toward the generic. "Whether taken by me or somebody else, they can often end up being much the same photo."

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Instead, we have Iggy Pop in his hotel room, perusing the newspaper in clunky reading glasses, Hello Sailor's Graham Brazier pissing into a backstage basin, a tired-looking Debbie Harry when she was in the country for just a day during a promotional tour.

It also documents what Cammick calls a "strange time" in New Zealand history. The years covered in the exhibition coincide almost exactly with Robert Muldoon's reign as Prime Minister, a time characterised by big government, the Dawn Raids, social conservatism, the Springboks tour, and financial mismanagement. It was, Cammick says, a very "government-controlled era".

Counter cultures found room for expression in Auckland's inner-city music venues—Main Street, Zwines, the Gluepot—as punk, new wave, and reggae replaced the "bullshit rock of the big bands of the 70s". Cammick was there to capture all the chaos and colour. Could he do the same now? "There's almost more reason to be angry now, but I don't exactly hear much exciting music from New Zealand, in the rock area anyway."

An exhibition of Murray Cammick's work, AK 75-85, Music Photos opens at Black Asterisk gallery in Ponsonby, Auckland on August 1.

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