Rock photographer Bill O’Leary has a book Featuring over 175 full color concert images from the ’70s through ’90s of icons like Van Halen, Rush, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Pink Floyd, Zappa, and more Available Here
During his career, photographer Bill O’Leary took pictures of some of rock’s biggest names at the peak of their powers – Van Halen, Rush, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, etc. And now, he has opened his archives for the first time ever – assembling a collection of not only his best images, but also, offering stories and recollections behind concerts he shot over the years. Indeed, this book is comprised of over 175 full color, live concert images photographed primarily from the late 1970’s through the 1990’s.

Artists include…AC/DC, Albert King, The Allman Brothers Band, Anthrax, Blues Traveler, Bob Seger, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Dixie Dregs, Foreigner, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Joan Jett, Judas Priest, Kiss, Marillion, Mercyful Fate, Michael Schenker Group, Molly Hatchet, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Outlaws, Overkill, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Travers, Phish, Pink Floyd (The Wall), The Police, Queen, Rainbow, Reo Speedwagon, The Romantics, Rossington Collins Band, Rush, Scorpions, Slayer, Styx, Ted Nugent, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Triumph, UFO, Van Halen, White Zombie, XTC, Yes, Yngwie Malmsteen with Alcatrazz, and ZZ Top.

O’Leary says:
“Hard to believe that I have been shooting concerts for 4 decades now, beginning in the mid 70’s when I went to my first concert at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. I felt at home among the walls of speakers and the towering lighting rigs, I also immediately knew that leaving the show with a ticket stub, program and maybe a t-shirt would not be enough, so I had to capture the memory permanently. Within’ weeks I had traded my Sony home stereo system for a black leather jacket and my first Minolta SLR camera. After a brief learning period experimenting with the constantly changing lighting and vast array of colors, film speeds and the quick movements of the artists, I was told by many people that I was a “natural”. I have always felt that “knowing” the music deeply and being passionate about it as well, really was the “secret” to capturing the “moment”. With that confidence, I was soon shooting many concerts, 46 in 1980 alone. By then I was also being published in many major magazines as well. In the early days, I practiced “gorilla type tactics” to get my equipment into the venue’s. Later, I was forced to play the game of securing credentials in order to shoot shows. All too soon, promoter and band management rules and demands on photographers began to take the excitement out of shooting shows. Then the ” first 3 song” rule became common, NO more pictures after the third song. Pro concert photographers know that the “best” part of a shows production comes later in the event. In the end, I’m glad to have been a part of the glory days of concert photography.”

FOREWARD by Freddie Salem of The Outlaws:
“Bill O’Leary has played an extremely important part in the rock n’ roll world, as the consummate live performance photographer for over 40 years. As a professional musician, rock photographers are a part of the music scene – whether it be shooting promotional shoots, live concerts, or simply capturing life on tour. Bill first photographed us back in 1979 – a couple years after I joined the Outlaws, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. We were touring in support of our latest album, In the Eye of the Storm. Madison Square Garden is a big show for any touring band – as well as me personally, as a musician. A landmark venue. The following year, 1980, Bill again photographed me onstage – twice. Once at a Pat Travers Band show at the Palladium in Lower Manhattan in April, then again later that fall in November, as the Outlaws were touring in support of our latest album, Ghost Riders. This time, we were playing a smaller venue in Passaic, New Jersey, called the Capitol Theatre. Hundreds upon hundreds of marquis performers from all over the world have been captured on film by Bill – with the help of his trusty camera. I am surely anticipating the release of Bill O’Leary’s book, featuring his life’s passion and his iconic photography work. Looking at the thousands of live photos Bill has shot over the years one thing is very clear – he knows when to “pull the trigger.”

Steelhouse Festival is the annual Welsh Classic Rock Festival situated on top of a mountain in Ebbw Vale, which now in its ninth year, is a little gem of a festival which slowly grows year on year despite its reputation for being generally a bit on the damp side. 

After the particularly wet event last year I was half expecting to see a smaller attendance, but no, still people turned up in their thousands and that is down to the repeatedly great line ups and the sheer friendliness and affordability of this festival, I mean, what other festivals can you go to and get 4 pints for a mere £15! 

Those in attendance were not only rewarded with a whole weekend of glorious weather, but with some great performances across the weekend from both the old stagers and the up and coming bands.

Friday nights entertainment started off with solid sets from both Blackwater Conspiracy (6/10) and The Rising Souls (7/10), but it was local boys Those Damn Crowes (8/10), who despite not being my thing, were the first band to really win over the whole crowd and put in a great performance. 

However Massive Wagons (9/10) a band I have previously described as “sloppy pub rock” took the honours of the day in style. The energy from the stage took the crowd to the next level and sporadic Dad dancing was seen all over the top of the mountain especially as they kicked out the Rick Parfitt tribute ‘Back to the Stack’ and the fantastic set closer of Slade’s ‘Come Feel the Noise’, which saw all the other bands join them for a triumphant sing along. A great way to end day one.

Day two openers Liberty Lies (6/10) didn’t do much for me musically, but it has to said that frontman Shaun Richards is not only a great singer, but also knows how to keep the crowd engaged which some funny in between-song banter. Ryder’s Creed (8/10) however were on a completely different level and looked like 5 guys who had been force-fed Red Bull and Haribo all morning before being unleashed onto the stage. Great catchy tunes and the sheer enjoyment on the band’s faces was just contagious. 

Unfortunately, Hollowstar (5/10) couldn’t follow that, and despite being perfectly competent and getting a good reception from the rest of the crowd sent me to the bar, which is where I stayed for a while causing me to, unfortunately, miss The Wild who I did hear good things about. 

Crobot (9/10) were one of my must-watch bands of the weekend after picking up a copy of their Something Supernatural album 5 years ago and they didn’t disappoint. Kicking off with Legend of the Spaceborn Killer, frontman Brandon Yeagley took to the stage looking like some crazy merman and he didn’t let up for the whole gig, completely owning the stage and in fact the mountain. Tight, heavy, big riffs and catchy choruses, job done! 

After that, I found Gun (8/10) a bit strange. To watch they were a bit dull, but the sheer strength of their songs made their performance work and work well. Watching people drunker than I sing along joyously to the likes of ‘Steel your Fire’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Taking on the World’ really made me want to go home and dig out those albums again. 

The Temperance Movement (9/10) were my band of the day and had me throwing some hideously drunken shapes from the minute they walked on until the minute they walked off. The standard of musicianship was second to none as they drifted from epic strutting singalongs like ‘Only Friend’ to the stunning Deeper Cut which completely sent shivers up my spine. After that performance, I wouldn’t expect it to be long to see them return as a headliner. 

Thunder (8/10) don’t do bad gigs, and though they didn’t deliver the best gig I have seen them play, still had the crowd eating out the palms of their hands and singing along word for word from the minute they kicked off with ‘Loser’ to the minute they finished with a song I can’t remember due to a long days drinking and enjoying myself! 

The final day was opened up by fellow Cornishmen Willie and the Bandits (8/10) who I felt sorry for as they didn’t get the crowd they deserved due to issues getting into the arena with bag searches. Their laid back Bluesy Rock was the perfect start to the day and was a performance worth far better than their lowly spot on the bill. Sadly the good start to the day came crashing down to earth with The Amorettes (3/10) who frankly looked and sounded like two average bands had been stuck together with cheap sellotape to make one below average band. 

Completely the opposite of that were Tax the Heat (8/10) who returned to the mountain with another great display of slick, stylish rock and roll. Scott Gorham loves this band for a reason, even if he had to berate them for driving too slowly up the mountain! 

The charismatic Mango Kid himself Mr Danko Jones (8/10) brings a blistering set of balls-out garage rock and certainly wins over a legion of new fans. As an old fan, my only complaint was that he missed the golden opportunity to play the track Mountain which would have been perfect for the occasion.

Band of the weekend? Well, that goes to Uriah Heep (10/10) who provided a set of absolute perfection. The sound, the musicianship, Bernie Shaw’s timeless vocals, and Mick Box’s huge smile completely stole the show. How a band soon to be moving into their 50th year can still play gigs sounding this fresh and exciting is beyond me. Happy Daze indeed! 

At one point Corey Glover of Living Colour (8/10) said “who’s idea was it for us to follow Uriah Heep?” and that was the only problem with their set. While perhaps a band that didn’t quite fit in and draw the crowd that the Heep did, Living Colour came on and played superbly for those prepared to listen to them, and bringing out the festival legend Bernie Marsden for a cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ was a masterstroke. 

Closing the whole weekend was then left for Thin Lizzy (9/10) who were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the legendary ‘Black Rose’ album by playing it in its entirety. I was a little sceptical in advance but I have to say Thin Lizzy absolutely smashed it. This was in no small part to a rhythm section made up Mastodon’s Troy Sanders and Judas Priests Scott Travis, who were one of the most impressive I have heard in many years, but for me the star of the show was Mr. Ricky Warwick, who has gone and proved himself time and again to be someone who not only sings the songs of the late great Phil Lynott with style but who almost makes you think that perhaps he was the man who wrote and sang them first time around. No disrespect is meant it that comment, but Ricky Warwick does the job perfectly with the utmost respect and deserves that respect right back. 

With a closing ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ finished off with a great fireworks display Thin Lizzy were the perfect end to an amazing weekend, the only problem now is how are Steelhouse going to top that for their 10th Anniversary?! 

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Author: Nigel Taylor