Kevin Cummins shares his memories of photographing Blur and...

Damon Albarn

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Kevin Cummins shares his memories of photographing Blur and other Britpop bands in an interview for The Guardian (My Best Shot series) [X]
Blur toured Japan in 1992 and I went with them for NME. It was the first time we’d seen Japanese kids wearing facemasks. Damon was intrigued, so he bought one. Normally when you’re away with a band, you don’t get time to see anything of the cities you’re in – and a lot of bands aren’t that interested anyway. But Blur were keen to explore Tokyo. Damon wanted to get on a train and see what that was like. He looks like he’s shivering but I think it was a joke to fit with the face covering. Back then, it was really unusual to see a westerner wearing a mask. Because of Covid-19, the image seems really prescient now.

NME got a lot of letters about the shot. People didn’t understand what was going on. How dare someone show vulnerability? I thought it would make a really good cover, but NME always wanted the cover star to be instantly recognisable and make eye contact, so they ran it inside.

I always got on with Blur. In the beginning, Damon was really relaxed. By the time we got to the Blur v Oasis war, he’d become a different person, very withdrawn. But he was always amenable and great to photograph. We’d talk a lot about football. It probably helped that I wasn’t the one doing the interview, asking questions about everything. Unlike a lot of rock stars, Damon actually carried money around with him and bought drinks. Normally musicians say “What room are you in?” and put everything on that.