Derek Ridgers photographed by Raúl Hidalgo
Name, where are you from?
Derek Ridgers, London
Describe your style in three words?
Relaxed and functional.
Music drew you to photographing different subcultures, what is it about music that you think connects people?
In the days before the internet, social media and devices like the Walkman and the iPod, music for young people was just not as easily available as it is now. These days, music is all pervasive but when I was growing up in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, popular music was very hard to find on the TV and radio.
Which British subculture do you feel will have the greatest legacy and why?
It entirely depends what one means by greatest legacy but I suppose, by process of elimination, it would have to be the Mods of the mid ‘60s. Prior to the mods, arguably all British sub-cultures were a watered down versions of what was already happening in the US. The Mods were really the first truly British youth sub-cult. Even though their look was entirely based on music and clothes coming from abroad, the mods put it all together in a uniquely new, British form.
Best gig you’ve ever been to and standout song?
I’ve been so lucky and gone to so many gigs and seen so many great artists.
One of the most memorable gigs I ever went to was the first one. The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Ricky Tick in Hounslow, in December 1966. I got there early and was right at the front. Not because I loved Hendrix - his music was completely new to me then and The Experience had only been formed for a few weeks. I was right at the front because I wanted to avoid getting drawn into any of the big fights that I’d been told would take place closer to the back of the club.
A standout song would be 'Purple Haze’. I don’t think it’s one of his best, by any means, but I heard it first that night and the initial riff sounded so discordant and different.
I was so close to him I could have operated his Wah Wah pedal for him. I saw him a few more times in the following couple of years but the first time was the best. He put the neck of his guitar through the ceiling and when I went back to the Ricky Tick a few months later the hole was still there.
And my info was correct. There was always a big fight.
Read the full interview in Derek’s Further Reading.