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Michael Putland died last month at the age of 72 from prostate cancer.

He grew up in Harrow where he took his first pictures at the age of nine before leaving school at sixteen to work as an assistant to various photographers. In 1969 he set up his own studio and by 1971, he was the official photographer for the British music magazine Disc & Music Echo. His first assignment for them that year was to photograph Mick Jagger in London.

From the editorial work for Disc and Music Echo, Sounds and later Smash Hits Q magazine amongst others, to the 1973 tour with the Rolling Stones that led to a long-standing relationship working with the band, Michael has shot prodigiously including for major record labels including Warner, Elektra, Polydor, Columbia Records and EMI. Relocating to New York in 1977, it was here that Michael founded the photo agency, Retna, which went on to become one of the most respected music and celebrity image libraries in the world.

Putland’s subjects included Elton signing autographs at the launch of the Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player album; David Bowie painting his ceiling at Haddon Hall; Roger Daltrey in his kitchen; and Jeff Beck with his beloved hot rod cars.

As EJW readers are aware, Terry O’Neill also passed away in November. Robin Morgan, the former editor of the Sunday Times Magazine and CEO of the Iconic Images agency, released the following statement:

 “No other photographer worked the frontline of fame for so long and with such panache. Terry chronicled the cultural landscape for six decades from HM Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela, the Beatles to Amy Winehouse, Muhammad Ali to the biggest stars of film and stage. They all dropped their guard to his mischief, charm and wit. It explains why so many of his subjects, from Raquel Welch to Sir Michael Caine, remained lifelong friends.

 “By the end of his life his work was hanging in more than 40 galleries and museums around the world.”

O’Neill was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Centenary Medal in 2011 in recognition of his significant contribution to the art of photography and an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. 

Of course, the lensman was also known for his many years of collaborating with Elton. He took it upon himself to seek out the rising young star, after hearing him on the radio in 1971. “I’d often be asked by the papers – who’s next – who is going to be the next big rock ‘n roll star. And that was Elton John.”
Terry spent the next few decades working with the former Reg Dwight.  Many of his images were used as reference material in the film Rocketman and it is O’Neill’s portrait of the artist that adorns John’s recent memoir, Me.
Elton himself wrote that “looking at Terry’s photographs is like gazing through a window at the most extraordinary and exciting moments of my life.”