Under the covers... Aladdin Sane The Life Of Brian Duffy

The Life Of Brian Duffy

By the time Brian Duffy came to photograph David Bowie, he was already no stranger to capturing icons of popular culture on camera, having photographed the likes of Brigitte Bardot, John Lennon and Terence Stamp for magazines such as Vogue and creating numerous award-winning advertising images for brands such as Smirnoff.


Brian Duffy in a 1968 self-portrait

Later he photographed another classic cover for Bowie – 1979's Lodger – and his photos were also used on 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). 'My father was very friendly with David', his son Chris said in 2015. 'He was kind of a regular punter at my mum's dinner table'.

By the time of those last Bowie jobs, though, Duffy had become disillusioned with photography and was about to turn his back on it completely. 'I had nothing more to say in photographs', he reasoned. 'I'd taken all the snaps I needed to.'

One day he tried to burn the negatives of many of his best-known shots in his back garden in West London. Only neighbours' complaints and the subsequent intervention of the local council saved some of the work. The Bowie shots were among those unharmed, but Duffy still wouldn't take a photo again for the next 30 years.

He would switch to moving pictures for a while, and go on to direct commercials and pop videos (including Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'), before retraining as a furniture restorer in 1990. Brian Duffy died in 2010, but not before his son had set up an online archive for his work, at www.duffyarchive.com.