The Smiths Photographs 1984-1986 by Stephen Wright

An exhibition of early photographs of Manchester music icons The Smiths – including the world-famous shot of the group posing outside the Salford Lads Club – is now on display at Manchester Central Library.

As a novice photographer, Stephen Wright captured the band with his first Nikon camera in the mid-1980s and his images have become an integral part of The Smiths’ visual history.

Stephen has photographed a number of musicial legends during his career, including Madonna, Prince, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and James Brown.

But his most famous image is still a posed shot of The Smiths, taken outside the Salford Lads Club in 1985, ahead of the release of their album The Queen is Dead.

Stephen caught the band at their peak on a dark, murky day in Salford. The original film was processed in a darkroom in the photographer’s bedroom, with chemicals which were kept in old fizzy-drinks bottles.

The image was selected by the band and became renowned worldwide. The photograph is now a part of the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Manchester Art Gallery and the Salford Art Gallery.

Stephen recently allowed the Salford Lads Club to use one of his Smiths images to adorn a  T-shirt, which raised £65,000 in a year for a trip for teenagers to visit Native Americans in South Dakota – the descendants of the ‘Salford Sioux’, who worked with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Circus in 1888.

Stephen has also donated signed limited edition prints to a range of charities.

“I’m delighted that people will have the opportunity to enjoy my early photographs in such a lovely venue, which is only a few hundred yards the site where I first photographed The Smiths live, at what was the Free Trade Hall in 1984,” said Stephen.

The instantly recognisable images will be displayed on the library’s first floor, near to the Henry Watson Music Library, which hosts a collection of musical instruments and production software which can be used for free, plus an extensive collection of rock and pop biographies to loan.

The images will be on display at Central Library until 25th August.

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