‘Fela Kuti was always in his pants’: legendary music photographer Val Wilmer’s greatest shoots

Tout sur les Beatles

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She ate fried chicken with BB King, gave Jimi Hendrix a lift home from a gig and accidentally worked for MI6. The pioneer recalls her favourite subjects – and the ones like Miles Davis she’d rather forget

She shot the Beatles in 1963 and found them “very bright and interesting”. Not long after, she captured Bob Dylan, still just in his 20s, and recalls: “I think I was the only photographer at the gig.” Then, in 1967, there was Jimi Hendrix, who got slightly more than an interview and a shoot. “He was a very nice, gentle man,” Wilmer remembers. “I even gave him a lift in my car!”

It is surprising, given that some would give their eye teeth to have been at these performances, to hear what Wilmer has to say about their music. “Jimi was playing the Royal Albert Hall but I didn’t stay for his performance,” she admits. “I recognised he was a great guitarist, but I just didn’t have much interest in rock music. I probably went off to Ronnie Scott’s instead.” Tellingly though, she adds: “When I interviewed Jimi, we spoke about blues. He appreciated my deep connection.”

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