After landing a job on the staff at Apple Records in the late 1960s, the Irish singer, raconteur and man-about-town seemed to meet and greet and photograph everyone worth knowing in rock & roll. He walks PKM’s Amy Haben through some of his most eye-catching images.
BP Fallon has been deeply immersed in the music scene, ever since he was a teen in Dublin. He got his start at age 17 spinning records and picking the hits and the misses on RTE’s Pickin’ The Pops. This TV show led to an invite to another program called the Late Late Show, where he made everyone crack up. Sporting long hair in the mid-Sixties was considered offensively rebellious, so BP stood out from even among his peers, and it would be a few years before they would adopt his style.
BP pitched a story to Newsweek on the fashion trends of rockers which included old Crimean War-era Royal Hussars jackets which he witnessed Jimi Hendrix and others purchasing on Portobello Road (at that time they were illegal to wear if you weren’t actually a soldier).
On YouTube, you can witness him on the BBC’s Top Of The Pop playing alongside John Lennon and Yoko Ono as they sang “Instant Karma.”
“Beep,” as he is called by friends, started his life off in a Catholic school where neither the Benedictine nuns nor the other students took kindly to the young artist. Having a life-saving, ‘fuck them’ attitude motivated him to carry on and listen to his instincts.
As a young man, BP would take a boat to the Cavern Club in Liverpool to see the Beatles. And, after a big break, he landed an interview with John Lennon at John and Yoko’s ‘Bed In’ peace protest in Amsterdam, which impressed Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor. From there he was offered a job at the Beatles’ Apple Records as a general assistant. His duties ran from writing up bios on artists to inspecting the marijuana for quality (not too shabby!).
Fallon was lucky enough to socialize with Led Zeppelin on their private jet, indulging in rock excesses that don’t exist these days. Working with Marc Bolan of T. Rex added to his resume and he became close friends with another glam rock star, David Bowie. This is not surprising, given that BP is one of the easiest cats to talk to: as warm as he is cool.
In the early 1990s, BP joined U2’s Zoo album tour, opening up for them with a futuristic DJ set-up which now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. As the years went on, he DJ’d a party he named “Death Disco”, which drew Kate Moss and the Kills to jump in the booth beside him.
Today you would most likely run into BP standing on the side of the stage at the hippest of gigs. He is a lifer, always in the know about current bands. Jack White, while known for his band the White Stripes has an even larger reputation among artists for his fantastic taste in music, preserving old records, and producing. White reached out to BP and soon they recorded an album at his Third Man Records in Nashville.
BP sings in the band BP and the Bandits, as well as DJ’s, and now he has placed some of his memories on celluloid, suitable for framing and for purchase.
He was sweet enough to elaborate on the action happening behind his vintage photos. If you’re interested in owning one of these, hit the link below.
Was Courtney Love flirting with the chef during dinner in your photo from 2002? Tell me more about that evening.
Courtney Love and I were DJing at Death Disco in London. It seemed like tout le monde was there – Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine, Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream, Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Anita Pallenberg, Alan McGee DJing too, one of those nights, benignly crazy. Courtney’s behind me, we’re squashed into this tiny DJ cage and crouched at my feet she’s changing her clothes down to the skin – three times. Then she plays an unreleased Nirvana track and everyone goes bonkers. Afterward, these two DJs are hungry so we go round the corner from Oxford Street into Tottenham Court Road, to the kebab joint. Ah, yeah – the high life! Years later I worked with Courtney in LA on her fashion line –madness. I was living at The Standard Hotel and every day the limo would pick me up and I’d be whizzed to her mansion in Beverly Hills where the circus would commence.
Did Lemmy have mannequin parts all over his room? I’m curious to know whatother kinds of collectibles Lemmy had in 1978 in his house.
Lemmy was a collectable. He’s even more collectable now, God bless him! I first met him before he joined Hawkwind and a long time before he formed Motörhead, when he was in this hippy-dippy Notting Hill Gate group Sam Gopal, who were signed by my friend Simon Stable who had the hippest record shop in London. If you look carefully at the photograph, you can see a Philip K. Dick book. An original version of Lemmy’s Sex Pistol poster – given out free as promo by Virgin Records – would be worth a fortune today.
Iggy Pop’s massive pubic hair is very impressive in that stage photo you took. What else do you remember from that evening?
I call this Public Enemy #1. Dublin 1996. As a singer, songwriter and performer, Iggy is one of the greats, up there with Little Richard, Dylan, Prince and whatever you’re having yourself. David Bowie learnt a lot from Iggy, probably wanted to be (‘be’ in italics, please) Iggy at one point. Hah – Iggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars… This night, Bono came backstage to pay his respect to The Big Ig. It was kinda touching, Bono the pupil for once almost lost for words, mumbling his praises to the master.
Shane MacGowan has the thinnest front teeth and makes the best faces. Tell me about your craziest times together.
He’s had his gnashers fixed, got new choppers. It was such a big deal that a documentary was made on it. “Do you like you new teeth, Shane?” It is generally hilarious around Shane but he does this thing Keith Richards used to do, which is when someone comes into the room that he can’t be bothered to deal with, he suddenly acts more stoned and out of it that he really is. It’s a form of protection. Meanwhile, Shane is taking it all in. We watched a TV documentary about Journey – we both hate them but we watched it – and Shane’s sitting there as if he’s in a stupor. Next day somehow it came up in conversation and Shane was able to describe every scene. Journey? My God.
I love that many of these shots are pre-camera phone. What kind of camera did you use for them?
All of them are pre-camera phone. I use Canon and Fuji cameras, put them on automatic and then go ‘Click!’ As Bob Gruen says, one of the ways to be a good photographer is always to carry a camera.
Phil Lynott’s heart necklace is an unusual piece of jewelry for a hard rock god. He seemed like a warm soul. Were you two good friends?
When I look at this picture it brings it home to me how much I miss Phil. This is 1982, at a festival in the west of Ireland. Out in the ozone somewhere is a clip of Skid Row – the Irish group – from around 1967, doing “Strawberry Fields Forever” with Phil singing, 15-year-old Gary Moore on guitar and me on bongos. I recorded with Phil, did you know that, he and Johnny Thunders? It was for the Johnny Thunders So Alone album in 1978 when I was Johnny’s manager and Phil played bass and I played harmonica – Johnny’s idea – on the Marc Bolan song “The Wizard”. Johnny & I did vocals and Chris Wood from Traffic played sax and Mike Kellie from Spooky Tooth/The Only Ones was on drums. All of them – Phil, Johnny, Chris, Mike, dear friends and great musicians… they’ve all gone to hang out with Elvis. Frightening. And sad. I’m blessed to be here. I’m blessed to be anywhere.
The Debbie Harry shot is interesting since she has her hand on her head as if worried about something. What was happening that night?
This is Debbie Harry at Joey Ramone’s Birthday Bash in New York in Joey had died a short while before – cancer – but he’d planned his party knowing he wouldn’t be there, had his friends like Blondie playing at it. Debbie sang the Ramones song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, just perfect. Here she is in her Ramones leather jacket before going on stage.
Gorgeous Sinead and lovable Shane make an adorable pair in your photo from 1988. You were all in Holland during that time. What was happening?
This is Sinead and Shane at Pink Pop Festival in Holland in 1988. They were supporting Joe Cocker, who was God-like, such a talent. Soul. Shane was there singing with The Pogues, a wonderful sloppy-yet-perfect band and Shane’s extraordinary songs. Sinead’s band was fantastic – the Smiths rhythm section of Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums and Marco Pirroni from Adam & The Ants/Siouxsie & The Banshees on lead guitar. Flea from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers was at the side of the stage, jumping up and down, going “I want to join her band! I want to play bass with Sinead O’Connor!” Some years later, the record Shane made with he and Sinead singing his song Haunted is beautiful, enormously moving, the two voices so different yet embracing each other gorgeously.
I know you are close to both Sinead and Shane. If you had to describe each in three words only. What would they be?
I know you are still hanging on the side of the stage for many fantastic concerts. Are you still taking photos?
Yes. See it, take it, click. But it’s all down to music. Right now I’ve got a song I wrote with David Holmes, “This Is The Time”, that’s in the TV drama Killing Eve which was huge in Britain and has just kicked off in America. And my next album comes out in 2019. So it’s music, music, music – and now my first-ever photography exhibition in which actually, all the people photographed are music, music, music. You can’t get away from the warble and twang.