Interview with Richard Mann

Richard Mann took the iconic April 1978 pictures of Sid and Nancy at Richard Branson's house in Ladbroke Grove, London, for the Record Mirror article 'Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll'. He kindly set aside a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to Love Kills about those photos and his career.
LOVE KILLS: Could you tell us how you got started in photography and what made you pursue it as a career?

RICHARD MANN: My graphic design course had a very charismatic Irishman called Dermot Goulding as head of photography. He got the whole thing started. I had the intention to become an illustrator but realised I probably hadn't got the patience. I think I've ended up as a better photographer than I would have been as an illustrator.

LK: What was your first professional assignment?

RM: I did a few cash jobs while I was still at college, but my first paid job outside college was for Brown & Tawse, steel stockholders. Interestingly for the same chap who commissioned me to do Sid and Nancy some time later!

My first music assignment was for Record Mirror: the Fabulous Poodles on location at Battersea Dogs Home.

LK: I regard your sessions with Sid and Nancy to be among the best taken of them. How did they come about?

RM: Thank you. I like them too! Record Mirror wanted to do a Valentine's type story about their relationship and Jon Frewin, the art man, thought I'd be the best man for the job.

LK: What were they like to work with?

RM: Up and down. For the most part reluctant to cooperate. Mind you, when they did they were very enthusiastic.

LK: A few shots were taken in Richard Branson's toilet. Whose idea was it to shoot in there?

RM: I'd been there earlier on in the interview and liked the fake fur wall coverings and general paraphernalia. For Richard Branson it was pretty punk!

Photo taken by Richard Mann at Ladbroke Grove, London, Aprl 1978

LK: There's a photograph where Sid is kissing Nancy's breast. Did that happen spur of the moment?

RM: Yes, pretty much. As I said, they were very enthusiastic. Those shots were taken at the end and I made a discrete exit. Nowadays I might not have been so discrete. These opportunities don't occur that often.

LK: I understand a lot of those shots were lost until recently. How and where were they discovered?

RM: They weren't actually lost. Just laying dormant. I've been sitting on them, so to speak!

LK: Almost everyone who has worked with Sid and Nancy has at least one story about them. Do you have one?

RM: Sid thought I should "bequeath" my Dutch policeman's leather coat to him. I had other ideas. A small tussle ensued and Sid fell over. I might have let him have it when he was at his peak, but he was far from that at this stage.

LK: You are a part of Don't Talk to Me About Heroes. Could you tell us a bit about your involvement?

RM: I am pleased to be part of the collective and that is all thanks to Aki's [Paphides] intrepid attitude in tracking me down. He's encouraged me to revisit the early part of my career and get the pictures out there again.

LK: Do you have anything planned for the future?

RM: Lots!

© Brett Dunford/Love Kills
Thanks to Aki Paphides