This page links to a selection of twenty eight Music Videos on YouTube.com from the early days of 'pop promos', out of the many hundreds of productions of which John Henshall was Director of Photography.
Some notes have been added and there are also links to John's still photographs of the productions, where available. Thanks are due to YouTube contributors for finding and uploading these clips from the 1970s and '80s.
Please note that the quality of these clips is very variable and does not reflect the quality of the original recordings. The videos are not our copyright and do not reside on this website. We have no control over the items on YouTube, which often disappear without notice. Please inform us using the eMail link at the bottom of this page if any links no longer work. (As of 12 March 2009 there is an on-going dispute between YouTube.com and the Performing Rights Society which may remove videos. See this report from the BBC for details.)
The early television cameras used for most of these videos used thermionic tubes, not solid state CCDs as today. They needed a lot of light and their clarity and saturation was nowhere near as crisp as with today's cameras. It is interesting to compare the clarity of John's film stills -- made during shooting using exactly the same lighting -- with the video images.
Some people do not fully understand the role of Director of Photography, so here's an explanation. The Director of Photography (DoP), or Cinematographer, or Lighting Director, works closely with the Director and Production Designer to give the film or video its unique 'look'. The DoP is responsible for the lighting of the production - the way that the light falls on the star's face and reveals the studio set or location. This is critically important to every production. Lighting is the basic requirement of the photography of the film or video, indeed without it the production would be a radio show -- or sound only recording.
The work of the DoP is highly creative and intense. It includes planning the lighting, including the selection, positioning, direction, colour, brightness and rigging of each and every lamp or 'luminaire', generators, control dimmers and special effects. The job requires a good technical knowledge of photographic processes, camera equipment and specialised light sources. Knowledge of photography, painting and the moving image is essential, as is an in-depth knowledge of lighting techniques, and how to achieve them. A combination of practical, technical and creative expertise is required, as well as considerable industry experience, flexibility and the ability to adapt ideas and make decisions instantly.
Work on early music videos in the 1970s and 1980s allowed DoP John Henshall great creative freedom to experiment and take chances to achieve new effects which were not appropriate to his other work in mainstream film and television. John was lucky enough to work with and share the creative excitement of some of the great Producers and Directors who pioneered music videos -- including Keith 'Keef' Macmillan, David Mallet, Mike Mansfield and many others.
John's work on music videos led to him being appointed to design and install the studio lighting for MTV Europe when it first came to the UK. John recruited and employed the people who operated the lighting at MTV Europe for the first ten years of its coming to Europe.
This video was shot in Paul and Linda McCartney's cowshed at their farm in Kintyre, Scotland on 5 June 1978. It was directed by Keith 'Keef' McMillan who portrayed Paul as never before: unshaven and never looking into camera. This was a major and brave departure from the clean-cut Paul we had seen in the Beatles. The cowshed was turned into a padded cell by hanging duvets on the walls. John lit the scene -- and Paul -- with CCT Silhouette profile spots projecting hand-cut gobos of bars, reminiscent of prison bars on the windows. Paul told us that, when driving from Kintyre to London, a fan he met at a petrol station had said that he should release this track from the album 'London Town' as a single. Although a great rock and roll number, it wasn't Paul's biggest hit but it was the first of many times that John had the pleasure of working with Paul and Linda McCartney. Sir Paul is a true great who is completely down to earth, with no hint of an air of grandeur -- a real pleasure to work with. The location video facilities were provided by Ewart & Co, engineered by Fred Lucas. The camera operator was David Potts.
This is another video directed by that most creative early exponent of the music video, Keith 'Keef' McMillan. It was recorded at Blanford W10 Studios in Ladbroke Grove, London - a former cinema almost opposite the entrance to Ladbroke Grove tube station - on 25 April 1978. The young Kate was positioned on a 8 x 6 feet sheet of one inch thick 'Perspex' clear acrylic and lit from beneath, giving the impression of her floating on a cloud. John used his own Telefex Fog Filters in the camera. His company Telefex hired Fog Filters to the television companies. They were mainly used to soften the harsh television pictures somewhat, particularly studio dramas. When returned from hire, the finger prints showed that only the lightest grade filters had been used. So, for this video, John went to the other extreme. This gave a halo which gave the impression that Kate was floating on a sea of light. The 'mirror image' effect was not accomplished by digital effects, as would have been the case today. Nor did Trilion's LDK3 cameras have 'line scan reverse' switches, as many black and white television cameras had had. Instead, Trilion's Chief Engineer, Colin Reynolds, re-soldered the wires to the picture tube yokes! Cameramen were David Swan and Barrie Dodd. (Note: The YouTube version now linked to has poor sound but OK pictures.)
This video was one of three shot at Ewart & Co studios at Wandsworth, London, over a single weekend (21-22 April 1979). The other tracks were 'Look Back In Anger' and 'D.J.' -- see below). They were directed by David Mallet. The set designer was Michael Minas.
John admits that when Keef asked him to shoot this video he thought that 'Blondie' was the name of the lead singer, Debbie Harry! He lit her with an enormous amount of backlight (hairlight), to make her hair really glow. This is another of Keef & Co's superb productions, recorded at Isleworth Film Studios in West London on 21 August 1978 using crew and facilities from Trilion. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Another KeefCo production directed by Keef and shot in Ewart & Co's Studio A in Wandsworth, London, in a single day on 1 June 1978. The opening shot of the breaking lightbulb was done live in the studio -- the lit bulb being swung against a sheet of Perspex -- the same one used on Kate Bush's 'The Man With the Child in His Eyes'. The production was recorded on 2-inch videotape. The only slo-mo in the 1970s was video disc, used for sport. Ewarts did not have this facility, so the shot was sent down-the-line to London Weekend Television who recorded the slo-mo and sent it back down the line to Ewart & Co. Special effects were not easy in those pioneering days of music videos.
Directed by Brian Grant of Millaney-Grant and shot in Trilion's Dean Street basement studio in the heart of London on 18 July 1979. The special effects are some of the earliest digital effects by Ampex, edited by Phil Stone at Molinare.
Directed by David Mallet and shot in the Moving Picture Company's studio in the heart of London using a Bosch Fernseh KCU40 camera on 10 November 1978. The choir are producer Micky Most's office staff. Camera operator was David Potts.
Directed by Brian Grant of Millaney-Grant and shot in Molinare's studio in Fouberts Place, London on 9 April 1979. Why was it that this very low ceiling height studio was frequently chosen when an even 'infinity white' was wanted?! The Multi-Image prisms are from John Henshall's other company, Telefex.
Directed by Brian Grant of Millaney-Grant and shot in The London Dungeon after closing time in on the evening of 24 November 1980. Camera facilities were provided by cameraman 'Rocket', late of Trilion, and his new comapny Telegenic.
Shot in Molinaire's studio in Fouberts Place, London, on 22 February 1979 and Directed by Neil Innes (also well known for the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band "I'm the Urban Spaceman", an association with the TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Rutles). Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Directed by Hugh Scott-Simmonds of KeefCo and shot using 16mm film (certainly not on '70mm Cinemascope' as captioned on the film) on Ewart & Co's B stage in Wandsworth, London, in the Holiday Inn hotel near Knightsbridge, from a helicopter over London and in a limo in London's Soho at night on 23 April 1986. The film was telecined direct from the negative. The Japanese shots are stock footage. This is the only music video which John Henshall shot before the actual record was recorded. Note the size of the lightweight Motorola cellphone. This was state of the art in miniaturisation at the time.
Annabella Lwin was one of Malcolm McClaren's discoveries for Bow Wow Wow. This is her first solo single -- a great cover of Peggy Lee's standard -- shot on location in Earl's Court, London, a house undergoing renovation in The Boltons SW10 and Ronnie Scott's club in Soho. Amazingly, all three locations were shot in a single day on 10 April 1986 and beautifully directed by Phil Davey of KeefCo. Despite the 'hot' look to this video -- shot on 16mm film and telecined direct from the negative. -- it was snowing outside the windows in Earls Court, which were covered with Lee 216 White Diffusion gel and lit with 2.5kW HMIs standing on the pavement. Would we be allowed to do that now? (Elf'n'safety.)
Shot in Brussels, Belgium, during Simple Minds' tour using six 35mm film cameras running simultaneously on 12 December 1985. The close-ups were shot during the day without an audience. The medium shots were also shot during the day but using a small invited audience of fans. The wide shots were shot during the live performance in the evening. This was a very good day for Eastman Kodak film stock sales. The film was telecined direct from the colour negative at Trilion in London. Another KeefCo production, directed by Keef.
A bit of a different one this. It was shot in the Churches Television Studio (CTVC) in Bushey, Hertfordshire, using Trilion cameras on 3 August 1979. Trilion had been approached directly to shoot the video and employed William G Stewart as Director.
Facilities by Molinaire, shot on location at a recording studio John can't remember the name of, somewhere in north west London in October 1980. Jim O'Donnell was the Molinare senior cameraman. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Another great production directed by Keef and recorded at Blanford W10 Studios in Ladbroke Grove, London - a former cinema - using Trilion facilities and cameramen David Swan and Barry Dodd on 9 November 1978. The BBC's Top of the Pops would not use this video because of the figure covered in black. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Shot in Ewart & Co's Studio A in Wandsworth on 14 August 1982. The powerful laser is rented from The Who group. The lightning effects generator was borrowed from the BBC Lighting Workshop. The dust in the studio was cement colourant, which got everywhere. Goodness knows what damage it did and is still doing to the lungs of all those who breathed it.
John Henshall was shooting 'Wizbit' in Joe Dunton Studios when he received a call from Keef in the afternoon. A few hours later he was in the EMI Abbey Road studios (exactly where The Beatles had recorded most of their songs) lighting this alternative version of 'Press' on 16mm film.
More magic with Keef! This clip starts with a long shot of Lympne Castle on a hill in Kent. It was shot in June 1979. The scene changes from summer to winter. Just a 'simple' lock-off shot while the special effects people covered the hillside and castle in 'snow'. Linda then rides her horse into shot and dismounts in the 'snowy' castle courtyard. 'Love Awake' starts with Paul seated paying the guitar by moonlight in the window of the castle, then he joins the group by the fireside. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Yet another clip from the 'Back To The Egg' concept album shot at Lympne Castle, June 1979. In the opening shot cameraman Dave Swan is on a big Champan camera crane which swoops down and into the aircraft hanger as the 'plane taxies out.
Just a short section of a cute little number by the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest winner for Ireland (now Dana Scallon, an Irish politician and Member of the European Parliament). It was yet another 'infinity white' video shot in Molinare's low ceiling studio in Foubert's Place, London on 12 February 1979. Directed by David Mallet. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
John was not aware that this video had been released as the music video for Private Lives because it was recorded in Ewart & Co's Studio A as part of the pilot for a music programme called 'Galaxy' introduced by Kenny Everett and Produced and Directed by Mike Mansfield. Recorded on 13 August 1980, John lit the incredibly beautiful Grace with a single softlight and Mike shot the whole number in one shot. John remembers that Grace loved her lighting so much that she wanted to take him back to her hotel... What a wonderful way to die that would have been! Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.
Directed by David Mallet in Molinare's Studio in Foubert's Place, London - a studio with a low ceiling, a nightmare to light to 'infinity white' - on 17 October 1978. The camera operator was 'Rocket' of Trilion. Embedding of this recording has been disabled by YouTube but you can click the title or image above to go to YouTube and watch the video. Click here to see John Henshall's still photographs taken during this production and which are available on the Alamy picture library.