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David Redfern music photographer and photo library owner dies aged 78

↑ Great shot of David sent in by photographer Duncan Raban

Photo of David REDFERN imgres
David Redfern by David Redfern 1 Jan 1950 – supplied Getty Images

Very sad news to report this morning, David Redfern music photographer and founder of Redferns Music Picture Library died in France on Wednesday 22 October, after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.
He was 78.

Industry reaction:
Matthew Butson, Vice President, Hulton Archive told “Having known David for 25 years or more, am deeply saddened by his passing. David was one of the true gentlemen in the world of photography and aside from his talent as photographer, he was, without doubt, one of the good guys. His prodigious output over the years – not least in the world of jazz – is arguably unrivalled and his innate positivity about both life and work was infectious. A fighter to the end, it is amazing to think he was still snapping to the end and only this summer covered the Vienna Jazz Festival. With Getty Images having acquired Redferns Music Library in late 2008, David was a regular visitor to the archive and I was always amazed at how upbeat David was, considering his condition, always planning ahead. As Sinatra once said of David – “…you’re one helluva photographer, keep shooting…” . Needless to say he’ll be sorely missed by many and our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Suzy and the family.”

Charles Swan Swan Turton LLP: “I was a fan of David’s long before I started working in the photography field having watched his imposing figure at work way back in the eighties at a number of gigs. I was in awe of the man when I met him but he soon became a good friend. He was a true gentleman indeed and will be sadly missed. I’m happy I have some of his wonderful pictures.”

Paul Brown, Managing Director at Mary Evans Picture Library: “Very sad to hear the news about David Redfern. He was a stalwart of BAPLA, and in the role of President, which he filled so well for many years, he made a real difference to our industry in that calm and steady way that was uniquely his. Working with David was a pleasure and I will always remember his zest for life and the fun tales he would tell of his latest trip to photograph a jazz festival or music event; things which gave him so much pleasure and enabled him to touch so many lives. A great loss to us all.”

Photographer Mike Prior: “I am so deeply sorry to hear about David. I worked for him in the late 70’s early 80’s at his covent gdn studio. David was a very generous and flamboyant guy, every day was an new experience. A true gent with a great sense of justice.
When I went for the interview as his assistant, David told me he’d already found someone for the job but had agreed to see me because Auriel, his secretary had booked this appointment. We sat and talked for about 2hrs about about photography and more. We then went to the pub for a couple. (this became the norm) The next morning he phoned me and gave me the job. Great interview. Working for him was a truly great time in my life and I shall always be grateful for all his advice and guidance.”

Tim Harris, Sales and Marketing Manager Nature Picture Library: “As well as being a fantastic photographer, David will be remembered as an extremely kind and generous man, always happy to help others and to share his (vast and interesting) experience. For 25 years he attended Frankfurt Book Fair and he showed me and many other picture library colleagues the ropes and helped us discover wonderful restaurants, how to work the halls, and made sure that all were involved in his happy circle and entertained by his fantastic anecdotes. He will be greatly missed and my thoughts are with Suzy, Simon and all his family.”

Lynne Bryant at Arcaid photo library: “David was adorable ! I as Arcaid ,shared his Redferns stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair Book Fair for several years. His laid back sales pitch was to let publishers know he was there, and then it was up them to find him- and they did. Not a sales pitch I would recommend for the rest of us. Evenings were always a surprise David always picked up a gaggle of followers And we’d drive off in his Range Rover never quite sure where we would end up or if the restaurant could accommodate several car loads that were following. I’m recently back from Frankfurt and never a year goes by, or will without fond thoughts of David. Another side of our relationship was when I was Chairman of BAPLA, their were some difficult times and David was always there with his laid back words of wisdom. He was a wonderful combination , talented, friendly and helpful. Will miss knowing he’s there.”

Photojournalist Charlie Varley: “I was sad to read of the passing of David Redfern and send you this from New Orleans………
David was a regular visitor to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival where we first met. As a fellow Brit, we would often end up chatting away between sets whilst waiting for musicians to appear. It was always fun to share time with him in the photo pit or backstage where he would take the time to chat, explain whatever innovative camera he might have been working with and share some of his fabulous stories and insight into the world of music photography. With an easy smile, David was a lovely gentle giant of a man. The last time he was here he continued to wander the festival taking in the music and making photographs as only David could despite the obvious pain, discomfort and complications he was experiencing from his cancer. I know he has many fans and followers here in New Orleans, from the photographers in the photo pits to the top names in the music business and just about everyone he came into contact with. He will be sadly missed at the next New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”

If you would like me to add your own memory of David to this article please email me

David sold Redferns Music Picture Library to Getty Images in 2008.
He wrote in a post on his site after the sale to Getty Images: ‘Some 9 months have passed since I sold Redferns to Getty Images; the most frequently asked question (by far) ‘I suppose you’re just taking it easy now?’
Nothing could be further from the truth! I’d never wanted to retire, if you have a passion for photography and it’s lifestyle, then there is no cut off date. Much time has been spent renovating my building in West London, upgrading my flat and most importantly preparing the ground floor for our showroom that my partner Suzy & I are opening at the end of October.’

Photo of David REDFERN
Photo of David REDFERN circa 2000 – supplied by Getty Images

Getty Images obit reads: Described by drummer Buddy Rich as “the greatest jazz photographer in the world”, David Redfern shot the biggest names in music in a career that spanned six decades. Starting in the jazz clubs of London’s Soho, through the pop explosion of the 1960s and moving on to major US festivals like New Orleans, which he covered for over 40 years, he chronicled the careers of everyone from Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and BB King to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye to name but a few.
David was also a well-known and influential figure in the wider world of photography, both through the Redferns agency which he founded and ran for over 40 years and as chair of the UK’s BAPLA – his contributions to the industry were immense. His never dimming passion for both music and photography will be sorely missed.

• View a selection of David’s photography here
• There will be a private cremation in France next week, followed by a memorial celebration in London – yet to be arranged.
• Wiki reads: David Redfern (born 7 June 1936 in Ashbourne, Derbyshire) an English photographer specialising in music photography. He has been a photographer for 45 years and has over 10,000 pictures in his collection. His collection includes many famous photos of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. In 1999 he published a book about his life called The Unclosed Eye.
• David was President of BAPLA for many years and received ‘The Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in Jazz Photography’ in New York in January 2007. The award recognises lifetime achievementin jazz photography as art and history.
• David continued his photographic work via his website

If you would like me to add your own memory of David to this article please email me