Back in the late fifties and into the sixties Manchester was a happening centre of popular music, rivalling Liverpool and London. Local lad Brian Smith saw it happen. In the mid-1950s Brian was introduced to skiffle, early rock and roll and the blues boom. A keen amateur photographer, Brian soon became known to door staff as 'the fan with the camera' and along with his friends went backstage to meet musicians, chat, and take photographs. Brian took a keen interest in the emerging blues scene after seeing Muddy Waters in 1958 and over the next decade Brian saw and photographed most of the big American blues musicians who played in Manchester. There is an acknowledged irony that black blues artists began to enjoy a cult following in Britain and Europe while they were still largely unknown or acknowledged back home. Brian began frequenting venues such as the famous Twisted Wheel Club and after the start of Roger Eagle's legendary r'n'b allnighters there in 1963 (which later led to the birth of Northern Soul), the ground-breaking music magazine R & B Scene was launched. Brian became their main photographic contributor until the magazine folded.
Brian produced images with a real presence and quality, and managed to capture a unique and relatively short lived scene in fascinating detail. Not only on-stage, but back in the dressing rooms, he photographed these giants of the blues relaxing with a beer and a pack of cards, or posing for souvenir pictures with British fans, male and female. A remarkable cultural melting pot considering that many of the musicians themselves could not even travel next to whites in some States back home at that time. Most of Brian's photographs were forgotten until recently when they began to be sought out by CD compilers. Yet until now nobody has published a full collection of his work. Easy On The Eye have had unique access to Brian's extensive archives, working directly from surviving negatives and prints which have been newly scanned for the book. The photographs are annotated and fully captioned. ARTISTS INCLUDE: Johnny Guitar Watson, Big Joe Turner, Chuck Berry, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Hubert Sumlin, Howlin Wolf, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, The Rolling Stones, Carl Perkins and many more. colour and black & white illustrations throughout