E.L.O. & MARC ...
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
The Electric Light Orchestra concert at Watford Town Hall on Tuesday, 10 April 1973 was "just another gig" I'd assumed beforehand. From memory, I had probably arranged it that little bit out of London because it was easier to secure a photopass - fewer London-based photographers were seemingly interested in leaving the capital. London gigs would always have many photographers applying for passes and it would be a crowded affair to shoot at, whereas out in the home-counties and provinces you could often have the gig to yourself picture-wise.
When I arrived at the venue, everything seemed "normal". Once the lights went down though and the band was on stage, I kept hearing screams from what certainly sounded like young girls in the crowd. My work had seen me cover rock and pop artists and only the latter usually attracted the young female "screamers" - ELO didn't really fit that bill! That had me puzzled for a bit, but it was obvious some members of the audience were tensed up for something going on and knew in advance what was a complete surprise to me. I asked an audience member and was informed Marc Bolan was there. Frankly, I found that hard to believe at the time, as I felt there was no link or connection between the artists or their music - the things I've learnt in later years!
I was now prepared for the "guest" on stage when he appeared, also accompanied by further screams from the audience! In those days, there were no restrictions on official photographers and I was able to shoot in front of the stage AND from the sides and back, getting the audience in the background and all using flash - a big "No-no!" these days. Normally when photographing ELO, Jeff Lynne was the main person I would concentrate on, but now, during Roll Over Beethoven, I was confronted with two lead personalities. I wanted to make sure my photos clearly showed both Jeff and Marc Bolan but also who they were playing with.
The following day I ensured my prints of the event were promptly sent to the major music magazines I supplied in London at the time and the following week Record Mirror ran a picture with a small story and the caption of: "ELO! ELO! ELO! Who's this on stage then?" There were other people with cameras that night but I've never seen any other photos appear elsewhere, so I've assumed I was the only major pro there. Only now, almost 30 years later, have I learnt the photos have become legendary in certain circles and still generate huge interest.
Gary Merrin - Australia, 2003