Deja Vu Again For Graham Nash
Yes, after escaping Salford for Hawaii, then returning to pick up his Doctorate from Salford Uni and play a sell out gig with David Crosby, Graham Nash took the bus into Manchester, where on Wednesday he hosted the launch of his photo exhibition 5 Decades with a Camera at the Richard Goodall Gallery.
With a distinctive US/Salford accent, Graham still talks about his home city with love - after all, he says "I grew up here, it was the making of me". He also vowed to start reading the Salford Star, so watch this space for blogs from Hawaii!
The atmosphere at the gallery was really buzzing, with Graham talking to just about everyone. The ex Hollies and CSNY legend has clearly held onto lots of friends here and most are just ordinary folk, like Brian Demster:
"In the early 60s, me, Graham and Allan Clarke used to work for Washington's mail order shop on Deansgate" he recalled "Graham was in the menswear department and I was a general dogsbody. They were calling themselves Ricky and Dane Young and the Fourtones in those days and they had no equipment, so they used to borrow our stuff. I last saw Graham years ago at Mr Smith's club. Imagine that - Ladywell flats on Eccles New Road, to Hawaii! But I just remember him as a really good lad."
And at 69, Hawaii certainly suits Nash, who's taken on that 'rock star ageing very gracefully' look. It's said that his musical career took off when Alan Clarke joined his class at school. Salfordians know the history well - his time at Salford Lads Club and Ordsall School, but what's also true is that Nash has always retained the Salford attitude and sense of justice which led him to write such colossal protest songs as Chicago, We Can Change the World, about the barbaric treatment of black activist Bobby Seale - 'So your brother's bound and gagged and they've chained him to a chair'. Nash is still renowned for his anti-war sentiment and hugely important charity work.
But Nash isn't here for any of that. He's here to show some of the thousands of photos he's been taking over the last fifty years. The photos are 'class'. In the 80s he started to experiment with digital manipulation and is known in the photo world as a digital pioneer. He's produced some highly complex and original works including many self portraits from his days on tour with CSNY.
And although his treatment of simple subjects - a 'Peace' cig packet on the pavement, the big wheel in Manchester - is expert, original and technically brilliant, it's his old music photos which excite and delight an audience, many of whom were teenagers together with Nash.
The (£1,600) prints of Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are the ones sending that tingle down the spine. Of course Graham and Joni were an item, and it was in Joni's house that Crosby, Stills and Nash first sang together (You Don't Have to Cry).
The magic of photography has been in Nash's heart since he watched images appear through the water in his father's dark room… "I've always wanted to get to those moments that touch that flame", he told Jeff Spevak of the Democrat and Chronicle.
The magic for this audience isn't just in Nash's photographic talent, but his rock star status, his proximity to other iconic musicians and the feeling that he is still just a local lad. "Its great" said one audience member "but I wish he'd brought his guitar!"
5 Decades with a Camera
Until 12th Nov 2011
Richard Goodall Gallery
103 High Street
(open Wednesday - Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 12 – 4pm
Words by Suzi Hoffmann.
Photos by Suzi Hoffmann, Paul Mansfield and Tim Kerr