Main content area

Tony Mott has spent the last 30 years photographing the...

Tony Mott has spent the last 30 years photographing the biggest names in the music industry – The Rolling Stones, U2 and Michael Jackson - as well as local legends like Midnight Oil, INXS and Cold Chisel.

The British-born chef got his first break photographing Sydney band the Divinyls back in the 1980s, and quickly established himself as Australia’s premier rock photographer.

His extraordinary career spanning three decades has produced an unrivalled documentary record of rock ‘n’ roll life in Australia - on and off the stage - including the enormous changes in the live music scene since the 1990s.

The Library is presenting the first major retrospective of Tony’s work in the free exhibition, What a Life! Rock Photography of Tony Mott, on show until 7 February 2016.

Tony has shared his top 10 favourites images:

Bono, U2, 1994
This photo was taken in 1994 before U2 became huge worldwide and Bono became god. I’d worked out that Bono headed straight for the cutest female photographer in the opening song. That night it was the talented Wendy McDougall so I parked myself right next to her to get the shot.

Chrissy Amphlett, Divinyls, 1987
I wanted Chrissy to wear a black slip but she insisted on wearing white and it worked. It ended up on the cover of RAM magazine.

Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil, 1985
This is the perfect example of capturing ‘the moment’, and then it’s gone.

Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, 1995
Mick travels around 25 kilometres on stage per night. Only Mick Jagger can get away with wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt!

Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, 1992
This was taken at the inaugural Big Day Out in 1992. By the time Nirvana hit the stage the entire festival audience had deserted the side stages to witness the Nirvana storm. Despite the vibe, this was not one of their better performances. The show at the Phoenician Club a few days later was awesome, and it’s possibly my biggest professional regret that I witnessed it without my camera. What a fool!

Björk, 1994
Taken at the Big Day Out in 1994, this is one of my most published photos and became so popular it ended up on the cover of Björk’s autobiography. It’s difficult to let go of a photo when you love it and I still submit it for publication whenever a Björk story is being published. She was as eccentric as you would expect.

Michael Hutchence, INXS, 1988
This was taken outside Michael’s management office in Woolloomooloo at the end of a shoot when he was showing me his new Harley. When he died in 1997 Rolling Stone wanted a photograph never seen before and I pulled this one out. It’s my all-time favourite magazine cover.

Johnny Rotten (Lydon), Public Image Limited, 1994
Taken in 1994 at the Hordern Pavilion before stage barriers were introduced, so I had 10 punks on top of me while shooting. Too much fun. He bought this photo for his biography.

Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, 1995
Unlike Mick, Keith never moves more than five metres from his amp and has a cigarette attached to his guitar or in his gob during the entire set. The mosh pit resembles an ashtray by the end of the gig. Without a doubt the man who most resembles and stinks of rock’n’roll.

Iggy Pop, 2006
This is about capturing the performance that is Iggy Pop. Iggy Pop and the Stooges came to Australia in 2006 for the Big Day Out festival. Iggy was by then 59, yet still managed to outperform – both in delivery and energy – bands on the bill that were half his age.