Incredible images from music’s most exciting decades to go on display at ‘Icons of Rock’ exhibition.

A rare retrospective of some of the most iconic photographs from renowned music photographer, Barrie Wentzell, will go on show at the Portsmouth Guildhall from 30th January 2023 (closed between 12:30pm to 3:30pm on Monday 30th January due to schools concert taking place.)

‘Icons of Rock: Portrait & Performance’ will be on display at the Portsmouth Music Experience, the Guildhall’s gallery dedicated to the history of music in Portsmouth and beyond. Running until 30th June 2023, the exhibition will bring together 14 of Barrie’s most iconic photographs from the 60s and 70s for the first time, offering a rare opportunity for music and photography fans to see some of Barrie’s works in the flesh. The exhibition has been arranged by a lifetime fan and follower of Barrie’s work, Nigel Grundy, Curator of the Portsmouth Music Experience, who was also a music photographer during the 1960s. As with all exhibitions at Portsmouth Guildhall, Icons of Rock will be free to attend with souvenir programmes available to purchase.

Barrie Wentzell is a celebrated figure in the world of music photography. He spent music’s most important decades as exclusive chief photographer for renowned British music weekly, Melody Maker, following a chance encounter in 1965 with a young Diana Ross which caught the attention of Bob Houston, Melody Maker’s assistant editor.

From 1965 until 1975, Barrie photographed many musicians who would later become music legends and household names, including celebrated artists such as Elton John, David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and rock and roll icons such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and many more. In 1975, Barrie gave up music photography and moved to the Isle of Wight in search of his version of ‘The Good Life’.

Barrie commented, “Before I moved to Toronto, I spent seven years living on the Isle of Wight, so this area of the country holds special memories for me. When Nigel approached me about exhibiting at the Portsmouth Music Experience, it felt like the right time to display some of the most widely recognised images from my time at Melody Maker on their home turf. I hope that people enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.”

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Barrie on creating this exhibition and we’re both very excited to see these images go on display,” commented Nigel. “Before Barrie joined Melody Maker, music papers used stock photography supplied by record labels, meaning they tended to carry the same photographs. Barrie undoubtedly changed the face of music photography, and his congenial personality gave him unrestricted access to artists and bands, allowing him to capture some of music’s most famous images.”

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