V Legends: The Hedi Diaries

V Legends: The Hedi Diaries

FOR OUR 100TH ISSUE, V PAYS HOMMAGE TO THE EDITORS, IMAGE-MAKERS, AND RULE-BREAKERS WHO HAVE SHAPED THE MAGAZINE. YOU CAN CALL THEM LEGENDS. HERE, ALEX NEEDHAM PAYS TRIBUTE TO HEDI SLIMANE, WHOSE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY HAS BROUGHT MANY AN ICON TO THE PAGES OF V—SPECIFICALLY VIA HIS "ROCK DIARY" SERIES

FOR OUR 100TH ISSUE, V PAYS HOMMAGE TO THE EDITORS, IMAGE-MAKERS, AND RULE-BREAKERS WHO HAVE SHAPED THE MAGAZINE. YOU CAN CALL THEM LEGENDS. HERE, ALEX NEEDHAM PAYS TRIBUTE TO HEDI SLIMANE, WHOSE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY HAS BROUGHT MANY AN ICON TO THE PAGES OF V—SPECIFICALLY VIA HIS "ROCK DIARY" SERIES

Like any diary, flipping through the pages of “Rock Diary” reveals a world that simultaneously feels recent and very distant. The project started in September 2004 when I was working for the British music magazine NME. Hedi Slimane had sent his new book into the office, Stage, which featured glorious black-and-white photographs of many of NME’s favourite bands—the White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, the Strokes. It seemed as though we might enjoy the same kinds of things, so I invited him out to a gig.  In fact, we did two shows in one Friday night. The first was the Others, the Rakes and the Paddingtons, all playing at the George Tavern in Whitechapel, London. The second was Babyshambles, celebrating the acquittal of their frontman Pete Doherty on a weapons charge. Both shows were a sweaty and thrilling communion between band and fans, the line between the two having been completely blurred: the audience was on the stage, the musicians were in the crowd, and everyone was urging each other to have the best time. The shows were also under the radar—the first three bands were unsigned, and no-one in the media was remotely interested in them besides a very small section of the music press. The tabloid attention came later.

That night was the genesis of “Rock Diary” as it ran in V. Over the course of three years, Hedi and I documented an emerging generation of bands and their fans in their natural environments—the grimy pubs, clubs and concert halls of London. Like the bands, many of these venues are no more—some have been lost to gentrification, while, in the West End, a handful were flattened at a stroke by London’s infuriating Crossrail project.

“Rock Diary” shows a remarkably fertile time in London’s indie culture. New bands were springing up all the time, most inspired by Doherty, then the scene’s guiding star. Some have become very famous and have had long, illustrious careers, most obviously Arctic Monkeys, who we saw very early on at a small venue in a shopping centre in North London. It’s touching to compare the wired, nervous young Alex Turner of the photograph to the confident rock god we know today.

However, speaking for myself, the intention of the “Rock Diary” wasn’t really to spot tomorrow’s stars, but to document the chaotically vibrant atmosphere of the time, fuelled by the talent and massive enthusiasm of a group of kids. The general public might not have showered the likes of Blondelle, Adventure Playground, and Vincent Vincent and the Villains with the plaudits they deserved, but more fool them. Hedi and I were there; we saw those bands, we loved them, and hopefully we transmitted some of that passionate fandom from Whitechapel to the world.

This is an excerpt from V Legends: a special supplement to V100. To read the full compendium, order your copy of V100 here, or pick up your copy of the issue on stands March 8th.

NANCY SINATRA FOR V88

AMY WINEHOUSE FOR V50

JONI MITCHELL FOR V83

PETE DOHERTY FOR V33

XEROX TEENS FOR V47

LOU REED FOR V85

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The Roundup: February 10