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A Farewell to David Sinclair

Blog
A Farewell to David Sinclair

24.04.2019

A farewell to one of the most special photographers of the jazz world

One of the most important names of jazz photography, David Sinclair, has passed away on 25 March 2019, in his home at Melksham, Wiltshire at 84 years of age. Driven by his passion for music, Sinclair’s photography career has started relatively “late”, in his 50’s, and went on for 25 years. The unique moments he captured in his black and white photos have been featured in numerous media such as The Guardian, Jazzwise and Jazz UK. Most of the photos on the walls of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club and Chelsea’s 606 Club belongs to Sinclair who has been tracking the jazz scene in Britain since the 80’s. His physical disabilities that were caused by the tuberculosis he had in his childhood years prevented him from taking any more pictures after 2018, yet he left a sophisticated archive of photos that feature over 5,500 artists.

Here are some quotes from David Sinclair on how he met photography and become a jazz photographer: 

The first meeting with a camera:
“I was working at a job, not music or photography related until one day quite late on in life, my wife suddenly bought me a camera. I knew nothing about cameras, I still don’t know a lot. Techniques are beyond me.”

His first photography memories:
“For the first two years we just went out at weekends, on Saturday afternoons, and drove around countryside looking at old churches. We were going in and taking pictures of the churches. We enjoyed it and it was nice photographs.”

His love for the clarinet:
“I’ve always loved music. My favorite instrument is clarinet. I got a clarinet but you wouldn’t want to listen to it... But I’ve got one.”

His favorite Ronnie Scott moment: 
“One day in local newspaper, there was an advert in a little village hall near us for an American clarinet player called Kenny Daverne. I had never heard of him. So I said we will go to that, which we did. We took the camera for no reason. I took my first jazz pictures there. We enjoyed the evening... Lovely man from Uganda was running it and asked if he could see the pictures. I said ‘Yes, if we come again’. He said ‘Next month we got another American coming’. I didn’t know who he was, so the same things happened. He wanted the pictures on the wall. I didn’t ask for it. And he said ‘Next month Ronnie Scott is coming’. Oh, I knew who he is. But I’d never seen him. So we went there for that. It was a great evening. Ronnie was wonderful. Him sitting in the door way is my favorite.”

Looking back, how did he comment on his career as a jazz photographer?
“It was just enjoyable. It was something very different, something I hadn’t done before. And it was successful. Pictures were coming out well. There was little bit of money in it. Newspaper don’t pay much. Nothing in jazz pays much. But it was nice to see a picture in the paper with my name on it.”

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