Art & Culture / Photography

The photographer capturing David Bowie at his most intimate

There's an intimacy in Geoff MacCormack's photography that only comes from the closest of friendships: having spent the mid seventies together, travelling side-by-side, David Bowie and MacCormack shared a lot, and now they're being shared with the world.

Dating from 1973 to 1976, MacCormack’s photos follow Bowie across the world, from filming The Man Who Fell To Earth to riding across Russia in the Trans-Siberian express. An aspiring singer and certified mod, Geoff MacCormack received a phone call in January 1973 from an old school pal, none other than Ziggy Stardust himself. Offering his old friend a job with him as a singer, percussionist and dancer in Bowie’s band The Spiders from Mars, within weeks MacCormack was setting sail to New York with flight-phobic Bowie.

Describing the opportunity MacCormack emphasises the astonishing nature of it all:

Just suppose your Brilliant Pal said…”would you mind awfully if we travelled first class by sea to New York, and then sailed from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Canada, Hawaii and on to Japan? And then, from Japan to Siberia, through Russia [Trans-Siberian Express] to Moscow [for May Day Parade], Poland, East and West Germany, just in time for tea at the George V Hotel in Paris? Followed by a relaxing holiday in Rome, just to chill out?”

And then, just suppose, when you thought all the fun had finished, your Brilliant Pal said: “Would you mind being a
dog [Diamond], coming back to New York on an even better ship, eating caviar every day and joining another band, then another band, helping out on a few albums [six], and generally hanging out and having the time of your life for a couple more years?

Supposing all that happened…Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have kept a photo or two?

The three-year party was documented through MacCormack’s intimate photography, we see Bowie unposed, natural, and joyful: “the feeling here is of an unguarded Bowie – almost as though these are shots from a family photo album”. Now a writer, producer and of course photographer, Geoff MacCormack and the Francesca Maffeo Gallery presented the first solo show of the incredible 70s photography last year. All the images were on sale at the gallery, including two unique editions signed by David Bowie himself. The gallery also will presented The Long Way Home, a cine film shot by Bowie himself which explored the process of their trip from the docks in Japan through Siberia/Russia on ‘The Tran Siberian Express’ to Moscow for the ‘May Day Parade’.

This article was originally published on 13th Feburary 2018 for the David Bowie: The Geoff MacCormack Collection exhibition, which ran from 24th March until 14th April 2018 at the Francesca Maffeo Gallery at 284 Leigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 1BW. Check out their website here for more information and follow the gallery on Instagram here.

Click through the gallery below for a look at Geoff MacCormack’s powerful photography of an icon ever missed.

8 January 2019