Derek Ridgers

Photographer — London

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.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
In the digital age do you mean? Probably the Byrds ‘Eight Miles High’.

A song from your favourite album?
I will go for ‘She Said Yeah’ from ‘Out Of Our Heads’ by the Rolling Stones.

A British music icon that has inspired you and favourite song?
If I’m being completely honest - and I’ve been asked that I should be - I am very rarely directly inspired by music. And the times I have been, it’s hardly ever been by anyone British. 

For me, the most truly inspirational music will always be jazz and ‘Journey in Satchidananda’ by Alice Coltrane or ’Slightly All The Time’ by Soft Machine come into that category. But neither track is what anyone could call a song.

If it needs to be a song then ‘Los Angeles’ by Phosphorescent. Both the city and that song are an inspiration. But he is not British.

If it absolutely has to be someone British then ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks.

Best song to bring people together?
If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) by The Staples Singers. Mavis Staples has the sort of incredible voice that is best heard live.

A song that defines the teenage you?
It would most probably have to be 'See Emily Play’ by Pink Floyd. It came out at the precise time that I evolved from being a clueless schoolboy to a clueless art student.

Best love song of all time?
Wow.  That's a hard one. Today I will go for ‘You Belong to Me’ by Kate Rusby. Tomorrow it might be something completely different. 'Dance with My Father’ by Luther Vandross. But I can’t listen to that at all without becoming somewhat tearful.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
As the above may indicate, I’m really just a superannuated old hippy and I’m mostly not inspired by music or lyrics.  

My most direct inspiration always comes from people I meet and places I find myself in.  Also other photographers work and graphic art and oil painting. Francis Bacon is a real inspiration. But… since he didn’t write, to my knowledge, any decent songs, I will pick ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ by Bob Dylan. 

I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard it and, at the time, I really identified with what he was singing about.

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.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
In the digital age do you mean? Probably the Byrds ‘Eight Miles High’.

A song from your favourite album?
I will go for ‘She Said Yeah’ from ‘Out Of Our Heads’ by the Rolling Stones.

A British music icon that has inspired you and favourite song?
If I’m being completely honest - and I’ve been asked that I should be - I am very rarely directly inspired by music. And the times I have been, it’s hardly ever been by anyone British. 

For me, the most truly inspirational music will always be jazz and ‘Journey in Satchidananda’ by Alice Coltrane or ’Slightly All The Time’ by Soft Machine come into that category. But neither track is what anyone could call a song.

If it needs to be a song then ‘Los Angeles’ by Phosphorescent. Both the city and that song are an inspiration. But he is not British.

If it absolutely has to be someone British then ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks.

Best song to bring people together?
If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) by The Staples Singers. Mavis Staples has the sort of incredible voice that is best heard live.

A song that defines the teenage you?
It would most probably have to be 'See Emily Play’ by Pink Floyd. It came out at the precise time that I evolved from being a clueless schoolboy to a clueless art student.

Best love song of all time?
Wow.  That's a hard one. Today I will go for ‘You Belong to Me’ by Kate Rusby. Tomorrow it might be something completely different. 'Dance with My Father’ by Luther Vandross. But I can’t listen to that at all without becoming somewhat tearful.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
As the above may indicate, I’m really just a superannuated old hippy and I’m mostly not inspired by music or lyrics.  

My most direct inspiration always comes from people I meet and places I find myself in.  Also other photographers work and graphic art and oil painting. Francis Bacon is a real inspiration. But… since he didn’t write, to my knowledge, any decent songs, I will pick ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ by Bob Dylan. 

I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard it and, at the time, I really identified with what he was singing about.

Derek Ridgers

"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."

Derek Ridgers - Full Interview

Loading bag contents...

Changing Purchase Currency will empty your shopping bag