Kieron "Spud" Murphy

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Despite an interestingly obscure background with Horslips, an Irish folk-rock outfit with a cult following, Kieron "Spud" Murphy is most famous for his series of photographs of John Lennon.…
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Despite an interestingly obscure background with Horslips, an Irish folk-rock outfit with a cult following, Kieron "Spud" Murphy is most famous for his series of photographs of John Lennon. He also contributed photos to other major rock events, such as Electric Warrior by T. Rex, considered the birth of glam rock. But it was the fact that Lennon took a liking to Murphy, later inviting him to a private audition of the entire as yet unreleased Imagine album, that resulted in an especially rich, unhurried portfolio of Lennon portraits.

Murphy's dual interests in photography and music seem to have been an important part of his early professional career. By the late '60s he was employed by a Dublin advertising agency; fellow workers Charles O'Connor and Jim Lockhart were musicians as well, as interested in adding new bands to the world as they were in bandying about new ads. One of these combos would evolve into Horslips, although by the time things started moving for the group Murphy had decided to grab a job with Sounds, a now defunct competitor of the pop music magazine Melody Maker.

In the spring of 1971 he was sent out to cover a new recording Lennon was making on his own at the home he shared with Yoko Ono in Tittenhurst Park, London. The photographer's initial impressions of Lennon nipping into his breakfast at 5 p.m. were a combination of awe and relaxed acceptance of the rock icon as a mortal who ate food after all. Murphy wound up staying through the day, shooting a pile of film rolls, some of which were never developed due to deadline pressures. In the '90s Murphy, no longer a professional photographer, returned to these rolls to develop never before seen images that have become part of Lennon retrospective releases as well as an exhibit and print edition in their own right. This photographer should not be confused with other potato-nicknamed performers, including trombonist Claude "Spud" Murphy.