The Face of Legends

 “There are very few people that have escaped my eye. It was only when I finished my career did I realize what I’d done. I’ve done the best people ever. And there will never be people to match them. Ever.”

Terry O’Neill




Terry O’Neill began his career working in a photographic unit for an airline at London’s Heathrow Airport. During this time, he photographed a sleeping figure in a waiting area whom, by happenstance, was revealed to be Britain’s Home Secretary. O’Neill thereafter found further employment on Fleet Street with The Daily Sketch in 1959. His first professional job was photographing Laurence Olivier.


Laurence Olivier, Back Stage, London, 1962


His reputation grew during the 1960s. In addition to photographing the decade’s show-business elite such as Judy Garland, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he also photographed members of the British Royal Family and prominent politicians, showing a more natural and human side to these subjects than had usually been portrayed before. O’Neill had a longtime relationship with Faye Dunaway. They were married from 1983 until 1986.


Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli, 1963


beatles_abbey_rdTerry O’Neill rose to fame in the 1960’s in London, where he snapped this photo of the Beatles at Abbey Road, during the year they released their three classic albums, Please, Please… Me, Introducing the Beatles and With the Beatles. This image hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London


The Rolling Stones outside St. George’s Church in Hanover Square, London, 17th January 1964


“Because I used to be a jazz musician, people at the paper asked me, ‘You know about music, who’s going to be the next pop group?’ I said, ‘I’ve been watching a group called The Rolling Stones. They’re a blues group but they’re good’. I went to photograph them and they [the newspaper editors] were horrified. They thought they looked like five prehistoric monsters. They said, ‘There’s got to be some good-looking ones!’”


This stunning portrait of Marianne Faithful was taken the year she was discovered at a Rolling Stones record release party by manager Andrew Loog Oldham


a_hepburn_poolActress Audrey Hepburn, swimming in the South of France during the filming of Two For The Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)


Frank Sinatra arrives at Miami beach with his entourage (including his stand-in, dressed in an identical suit and less well-dressed beefy minders) while filming Lady In Cement  (Gordon Douglas, 1968)


American actor Steve McQueen looking thoughtful in his Hollywood office, 1968


Scottish actor Sean Connery and French actress Brigitte Bardot meet for the first time in Deauville, before the filming of Shalako (Edward Dmytryk, 1968)


French actress and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot on the set of The Ballad Of Frenchie King (Christian-Jaque, 1971), a comedy western, filmed in Almeria, Spain


Rod Stewart, Windsor, 1971


Actor Paul Newman resting his head on an actress Ava Gardner during a break from filming John Huston’s 1972 comedy western The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean


Director John Huston and Ava Gardner, 1972


elton_dodger_stadium_batting_stanceelton_john_backbendEnglish pop star and pianist Elton John performs at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, October 1975


Singer David Bowie sharing a cigarette with actress Elizabeth Taylor in Beverly Hills, 1975. It was the first occasion that the pair had met


Singer Bruce Springsteen walking down Sunset Strip with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, 1975


German actress Marlene Dietrich walking on stage for a curtain call, 1975


Actress Faye Dunaway resting by the Beverly Hills Hotel swimming pool the morning after she recieved the 1976 Best Actress Academy Award. There are newspapers on the floor and her Oscar is on the table, 29th March 1977


Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin outside the famous Paris cafe, Aux Deux Magots. The pair have collaborated on more than 30 albums over a 40 year partnership, 1980


Anjelica Huston, promotional picture for Witches (Nicholas Roeg, 1990), a fantasy film based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl


British actor and musician Sting, lead singer and bassist with pop group The Police, 1985


Amy Winehouse


“I was working on a present for Nelson Mandela, when he came here for his 90th birthday and there was a concert for him in Hyde Park. Amy was due to sing but she was in hospital. She actually got out of bed to come and perform. I only took two frames but I’m so glad I did because she was a really talented lady.”


More Terry O’Neill photographs:


In the bed with Janis and Amy

“Janis Joplin: “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer”. Guy Peellaert.


“Onstage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.”

Janis Joplin


Still from Rehab‘s videoclip (Phil Griffin, 2006)



I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed

Janis Joplin in Pearl ‘s album sleeve. Photo: Barry Feinstein, 1970


I taste a liquor never brewed —
From Tankards scooped in Pearl —
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!


Amy Winehouse


Inebriate of Air — am I —
And Debauchee of Dew —
Reeling — thro endless summer days —
From inns of Molten Blue —

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door —
When Butterflies — renounce their “drams” —
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats —
And Saints — to windows run —
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the — Sun —


Poem #214

Emily Dickinson