Mark Ladd: A Retrospective

When Ian first asked me to write an introduction to these photographs, my initial reaction was to say no. I didn't think that I was capable of producing a few lines that could neatly sum up Mark Ladd's life: all that he did; all that he stood for, and all that he had to say. How could I do such an astonishingly talented talent justice?

I couldn't. I can't. But then, nobody can. Words are doomed to inadequacy. As we approach the fifth anniversary of his death, I feel the best we can do is to appreciate the different things he meant to different people. For although he was pigeon-holed as one of the 'wild men of rock' — something we are all guilty of doing — there was so much more to Ladd. He was an artist. An artist who inspired millions with his songs of the everyday.

These photographs are perhaps the closest we can get to knowing who Mark Ladd really was; some of them you will have seen before, many you will not. The now infamous and tragically prophetic shot of Mark reading a mocked-up newspaper announcing his death reveals a darkly comic side to this rock hero. But there are many other sides revealed through these photographs. As we trawl through a world of dimly lit studios, lonely hotel rooms and glamorous limousines, we feel like we are viewing stills from a documentary film. It is as if we are really there; as if we really know him.

The well documented friendship of Mark and Ian, dating back to their school days, is clearly the reason for this closeness, and it is easy to recognise in these photographs. There is a trust and an intimacy between camera and subject that no other photographer could capture, or even have access to. These photographs do not simply tell us what it was to be rich, famous, and talented in the 1990s, they tell us what it was to be Mark Ladd.

Robert J. Hack, Editor, Rolling Stone