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Ahead of the 20th anniversary of Oasis' debut single Supersonic, photographer Kevin Cummins talks about Oasis and new exhibition Chasing the Sun: Oasis 1993-1997
THE first time famed photographer Kevin Cummins was scheduled to meet Oasis was in Amsterdam. He’d been sent over to the Dutch capital by the group’s record company to photograph the band while they supported The Verve.
But it didn’t exactly go to plan.
“The only person there was Noel. The rest of the group managed to get themselves deported,” he explains, in a gruff, Mancunian voice.
“How? The night before, they were on a ferry, got drunk and had a fight with a load of Chelsea fans. So when they got to The Hague, they were sent back to England.
“Noel was asleep, he didn’t get involved with any of that, but the gig was cancelled. I ended up spending the day with him talking about Manchester City.”
All was not lost however. The photoshoot was rescheduled back in the UK, and Kevin managed to create a series of iconic, 60s stylised images, two of which are set to appear in a new exhibition about the band, entitled Chasing the Sun: Oasis 1993-1997.
“I also did a big on-the-road piece with them for the NME, which was complete and utter chaos,” says Kevin, who has lived in London for the past 20 years.
“Neither Noel or Liam is difficult to photograph, but there’s that sibling rivalry. One says one thing, the other says the other. It must be difficult to have your brother in a band, so they’d be forever sniping at each other, then they’d start pushing each other. I’ve got great photographs of them fighting while playing football in east London, and the band’s just looking on. You can tell they’re thinking, come on, get on with it.”
The show will feature several other examples of Kevin’s images taken of Oasis over the years, along with other rare pictures from photographers such as Jill Furmanovsky, Paul Slattery, Tom Sheehan and Jamie Fry, as well as artifacts and memorabilia from the past two decades.
The exhibition opening coincides and celebrates Oasis’ 20th anniversary of their debut single, Supersonic, which was released on April 11, 1994, and documents Oasis’ live performances at London’s 100 Club, Glastonbury and Knebworth, as well as the creation of three of their albums – Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory and Be Here Now.
“At the time of their first two albums, wherever you went – either a railway station or a bar – all you heard was Oasis. And it was great, it was exciting, because it really tapped into the zeitgeist at the time,” Kevin adds.
“As soon as you heard a track it sounded familiar, it was easy to listen to and it was anthemic, without being U2, without being pompous.
“So this exhibition is a celebration of their early years and their contribution to music.”
Given the group’s impact and his history with the band, it’s surprising to discover that Kevin would not like to see them reform.
“When bands have a great moment they should leave it at that,” he says. “If musicians worry that a generation hasn’t seen them – tough, watch YouTube.
“Oasis is no different. I don’t think because they were great then, they should come back and do something for a load more dough, they don’t need to.”
Chasing the Sun: Oasis 1993-1997 is at Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch, London, April 11 until April 22. Details: oasisnet.com
FACTS ABOUT KEVIN:
Born: Withington Hospital, Manchester, July 14, 1953.
Studied: Photography at Salford college.
Influences: Diane Arbus, Bill Brandt, Jane Bown, August Sander.
Top tip: “It doesn’t matter what camera you use, what’s important is the connection with your subject.”
Favourite Oasis song: Cigarettes and Alcohol