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Oasis photographer shares behind the scenes shots from the band’s Be Here Now cover shoot

It was the album that arguably brought the curtain down on Brit Pop, that short-lived moment where jangly, aspirational indie music dominated airwaves across the UK. 

But for those of us with elephant like memories it is is also 25 long years – or, somewhat depressingly, a quarter of a century – since Oasis released their third album, Be Here Now. 

On 21st August 1997, long before the arrival of streaming services and digital downloads, fans flocked to local record shops for a copy of the album, already engaged by its distinctive cover art – an homage to the late, great Keith Moon. 

Here we go: Oasis star Liam Gallagher poses for a photo in behind the scenes snaps taken from the set of their now notorious Be Here Now cover shoot at Stocks House in Tring, Hertfordshire  

Inspired by a legendary story about the late Who drummer driving his Rolls Royce into a swimming pool, photographer Michael Spencer Jones was employed to shoot the cover in the sprawling grounds of Stocks House in leafy Hertfordshire. 

The focal point would of course be the car, an obligatory Rolls, submerged beneath the water of its outdoor pool – a symbol of the band’s status as one of the biggest band’s in the world. 

But he would be unaware of the chaos that would ensure as he prepared for what should have been a straightforward day’s work at the 182-acre Georgian estate on April 16th, 1997. 

Sharing behind the scenes shots from what he readily describes as a ‘chaotic’ shoot, Spencer Jones admits a combination of word of mouth and excessive drinking turned it into a nightmare. 

Centre-piece: The focal point of the shoot would be an obligatory Rolls Royce, submerged beneath the water of its outdoor pool - a symbol of the band's status as one of the biggest band's in the world

Centre-piece: The focal point of the shoot would be an obligatory Rolls Royce, submerged beneath the water of its outdoor pool – a symbol of the band’s status as one of the biggest band’s in the world

Graft: A crane and a submerged platform were used to ease the luxury car in the sprawling Georgian estate's pool

Graft: A crane and a submerged platform were used to ease the luxury car in the sprawling Georgian estate’s pool 

Left a bit: Members of the production team looked on as the vehicle was gently eased towards the pool ahead of the shoot

Left a bit: Members of the production team looked on as the vehicle was gently eased towards the pool ahead of the shoot 

‘Whether or not Keith Moon drove a Rolls Royce, a Lincoln Continental, a Chrysler Wimbledon or indeed any other car for that matter into a swimming pool and whether or not the pool had water in it at the time does not really matter,’ Spencer Jones recalled. 

‘The point is that whatever the scenario, it was a lavish statement of rock’n’roll excess, and was therefore a great basis for an album cover.’

But the shoot soon went awry as news of the riotous band’s presence in the usually sleepy English village started to spread, prompting rabid fans to congregate outside Stocks House – the former home of Victor Lowness,  Executive Director for Playboy magazine.

Spencer Jones recalled: ‘Word of Oasis “got out” and what should have been a closed and private shoot became a public one. As it became dark the chaos descended with more and more people getting on to the set including hotel guests, hotel staff, people from the local village, the press, firemen, policeman etc. 

Don't mind me: Liam is pictured enjoying a beer between shots on the Hertfordshire set of photographer Michael Spencer Jones' Be Here Now cover shoot

Don’t mind me: Liam is pictured enjoying a beer between shots on the Hertfordshire set of photographer Michael Spencer Jones’ Be Here Now cover shoot 

Safety first: Fencing surrounded the pool prior to the shoot, which Michael Spencer Jones admits quickly descended into chaos

Safety first: Fencing surrounded the pool prior to the shoot, which Michael Spencer Jones admits quickly descended into chaos

Banter: Liam and Noel let their hair down alongside the red moped that would later be immortalised on the album's cover

Banter: Liam and Noel let their hair down alongside the red moped that would later be immortalised on the album’s cover

Let's talk:Liam chats on a brick-like mobile phone while waiting to be called for another shot on the Hertfordshire set

Let’s talk:Liam chats on a brick-like mobile phone while waiting to be called for another shot on the Hertfordshire set  

Hard at work: A crane is seen lifting the white Rolls Royce before depositing it in the outdoor pool of Stocks House

Hard at work: A crane is seen lifting the white Rolls Royce before depositing it in the outdoor pool of Stocks House

‘At one point I was finding it difficult to get near the camera; also by this time a lot of people including the band were beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol that they had been drinking during the day.’ 

He added: ‘As this was all happening an old 78rpm record that Liam had brought with him dating from the 1930’s was playing on the old gramophone visible to the right of the shot.’

Originally the cover was going to be a night time shot but by night time the shoot had descended into chaos.

‘The cover to Be Here Now was originally going to be a night time shot. So taking shots during the day was a back up plan. It was a very long shoot. The daytime session went well but come evening time everything just descended into absolute chaos. 

‘It’s great to re-visit some of the shots and especially the night time version which I have restored for the 25th anniversary.’ 

Going, going, gone: The car slowly sinks beneath the surface where it sat on a specially installed platform

Going, going, gone: The car slowly sinks beneath the surface where it sat on a specially installed platform 

Cigarettes and alcohol: Liam enjoys a smoke on set. Spencer Jones admits the band soon became inebriated after drinking all day at the Georgian estate

Cigarettes and alcohol: Liam enjoys a smoke on set. Spencer Jones admits the band soon became inebriated after drinking all day at the Georgian estate

Cigarettes and alcohol: Liam enjoys a smoke on set. Spencer Jones admits the band soon became inebriated after drinking all day at the Georgian estate 

Nightmare: The shoot soon went awry as news of the riotous band's presence in the usually sleepy English village started to spread, prompting rabid fans to congregate outside Stocks House

Nightmare: The shoot soon went awry as news of the riotous band’s presence in the usually sleepy English village started to spread, prompting rabid fans to congregate outside Stocks House

Memories: 'The daytime session went well but come evening time everything just descended into absolute chaos,' Spencer Jones recalled

Memories: ‘The daytime session went well but come evening time everything just descended into absolute chaos,’ Spencer Jones recalled 

A deluxe edition of Be Here Now was released on 19th August to honour the album’s milestone 25th anniversary, including a silver-coloured double heavyweight LP, a double picture disc and cassette. 

The 12 track album, which includes the hit single D’You Know What I Mean?, received widespread acclaim following its original release, selling more than a million copies that year and topping the charts in 15 different countries. 

The full set of behind the scenes portraits are available via www.spellboundgalleries.com.  

Previously: Originally the cover was going to be a night time shot but by night time the shoot had descended into chaos

Previously: Originally the cover was going to be a night time shot but by night time the shoot had descended into chaos

There it is: Be Here Now, which includes the hit single D'You Know What I Mean?, received widespread acclaim following its original release, selling more than a million copies that year and topping the charts in 15 different countries

There it is: Be Here Now, which includes the hit single D’You Know What I Mean?, received widespread acclaim following its original release, selling more than a million copies that year and topping the charts in 15 different countries

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