Chris Saunders - Hawley

Legendary Sheffield musician Richard Hawley has led quite a colorful life, working with some of the worlds finest musicians and creating his own critically acclaimed albums has won over the hearts of many music fans. Over the years one man has followed him and his exploits closely. Chris Saunders has worked photographing Richard for some years now and has collected quite a library of fantastic images and tales of miss adventure.

Chris put together a collection of some of his favorite Hawley images and the stories that go along with them come from some of the people that know him the best, including DJ Marc Riley, musician Guy Garvey and artist Pete McKee, who himself used to share a flat with him in Sheffield some years ago when they both worked at HMV.

Here is what Chris had to say about Hawley and the exhibition.

“I first became aware of Richard's music around 2001 having borrowed both the newly released Late Night Final and the previous eponymous mini album. I was familiar with his music with The Longpigs and I probably was expecting something along the same lines. When I finally got around to playing them I was astounded at how good they were. I found it difficult to comprehend how a guitarist with a band like The Longpigs could be coming up with tunes like this and have a voice like his which he'd never really used. 

I've since got to know Richard's history and the kind of music he grew up with, but back then I had no idea, and I had no expectation of hearing such beautifully intimate and melancholic tunes that evoked such past greats as Roy Orbison and Lee Hazlewood, 

A few weeks later Richard was playing at The Leadmill to support the release of Late Night Final so I went along, camera in hand. I certainly wasn't expecting stand up comedy in the manner of a Working Mens Club comedian in between songs and In 2005 that I got to photograph him properly. I'd sent the photos from the aforementioned gig to his manager, and heard back that Richard liked them. We'd bumped into each other in pubs and at gigs a few times and got to know each other a little. The shoot was for a feature for Sandman which by that point was becoming quite a popular free music magazine dedicated to Sheffield music and myself and the magazine's editor, Jan Webster, arranged to meet Richard in The Washington pub. This would prove to a be a fateful decision and led to Jan coining the phrase "Hawleyed"...

Definition: Adjective: To have become intoxicated through consumption of large amounts of the stout beverage "Guinness" in the presence and under the direct influence of Sheffield musician Richard Hawley (due to him regularly asking the question "Another one?")

The day ended quite messily about 8 hours later. I'm really not quite sure how the pictures came out at all, never mind as well as they did. 

So this collection of pictures is by necessity a highly edited selection of everything I've shot of him over the last decade. It's been good to watch him grow as an artist and become ever more popular over this period. It's also been amusing to see him looking as cool as he can on TV, and then when he's back home watching that image being shattered over nine pints with him ending up in a disgraceful state”.

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