It’s a wonderful life

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Black aka Colin Vearncombe died last Tuesday. He was only 53. He was in a coma following a car accident. I clearly remember buying his Wonderful Life record in Caen, on a Saturday afternoon. I always used to buy my records on Saturday afternoons after I had seen my grand-father who was very generous with pocket money. I owe him my record collection. I remember the record shop was called Nuggets!

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Not only did I like the track but I loved the video. It moved me. There was so much humanity in it, in the characters, in the way it was shot, in its rhythm: the slow motion and the black & white.

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Years later, a friend from Liverpool told me it was shot in New Brighton. Black was from Liverpool. I contacted him a few years ago for a photo project I was doing about musicians who had inspired and changed my teenage years.

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I asked him whether I could photograph him. He agreed and told me he would get in touch when he’d come to London – he lived in Ireland- and he did. Exactly 4 years ago.

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We met in Hampstead Heath. The late afternoon winter light was beautiful. I photographed him surrounded by trees, then we went to a pub on Highgate Road. He told me he used to have friends in the area.

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We chatted about music, things, life. It was like having a cool catch up with a pal. I couldn’t believe he was the man behind a song I knew by heart and had listened so many times.

Colin Vearncombe, aka Black, in Hampstead Heath, London, in January 2012

Colin Vearncombe, aka Black, in Hampstead Heath, London, in January 2012

Four years later, his death saddened me deeply. But what he gave me will never die.

 

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