In 1973 he was hired to become tour photographer for The Rolling Stones European Tour, which lead to a life-long relationship withThe Stones, resulting in some of their most enduring portraits. Michael was very much in demand shooting constantly for all the top record labels and many of the great artists of the time, “ I worked 7 days a week be it in the studio, on tour, concert hall or in the darkroom” says Michael Putland, who now has over 400,000 images in his collection, documenting the music industry from the 60’s through to the current day.
Michael’s assignments took him all over Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and of course the United States working for major Record Companies such as CBS, WEA, Polydor, RCA and EMI. In 1977 he relocated to New York, shooting a diverse range of artists such as Billy Joel, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen and The Bee Gees, creating many of the iconic images that we know today of the musicians of the time.
The exhibition“Off The Record” also includes some of the contact sheets from his many shoots both behind the scenes and on stage, that have never been exhibited before. One of these contact sheets includes his famous image of Bob Marley, Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh ‘Bob, Mick and Pete’ which was shot back stage at the Palladium Theatre, New York in 1978. “It was a tiny room after at Stones gig, squeezed in with the band were, Bob and Pete, Paul and Linda McCartney and various record label luminaries with hardly enough room to swing a camera”. A classic example of the confidence artists had in Michael and the freedom they allowed him to capture their private moments.
Michael’s collection of contact sheets is truly fascinating, from Elton John and Rod Stewart playing football at Watford, an early studio shoot with Donna Summer, David Bowie up a ladder painting the ceiling of his house to The Rolling Stones nearly drowning in a tent of foam on the video shoot for ‘Its Only Rock ’n Roll’. Michael’s work defines many eras and he continues to shoot today, particularly Jazz, one of his great loves. A master of the silver gelatin darkroom processes, Michael has recently relocated to East Sussex where he enjoys printing both his archive and new work in his darkroom.