Photography by Alex Hayes-Newbrook and Harry Yeates
Words by Harry Potts
Influential Mancunian rock guitarist Billy Duffy of ‘The Cult’ was born in Hulme in 1961. Growing up in Wythenshawe in the 1970s, Billy became a leading figure in the early Manchester music scene, notably inspiring and mentoring his pal Johnny Marr's guitar playing and encouraging Morrissey to make his singing debut with Duffy in 'The Nosebleeds' in the late 70s.
Billy Duffy and The Cult, went on to be one of the biggest hard rock acts of the 80s and early 90s, their 'Electric' and ‘Sonic Temple’ albums went platinum in the US. Billy has written some of the most recognisable guitar riffs of the his generation: She Sells Sanctuary, Lil' Devil and Fire Woman to name but a few.
Billy now lives in Los Angeles, but returns to Manchester as often possible to visit family and friends and watch his beloved Man City.
Billy Duffy (right) - The Cult 1985
'Sonic Temple' Platinum in the US
"As a Mancunian I never miss an opportunity to button up all my shirts and jackets all the way to the top!... and when its extra cold I add the (naturally) sky blue and white scarf worn steptoe and son style as extra protection." - Billy Duffy
Billy didn't have the opportunity to meet up in Manchester during their last UK tour due to time constraints (but gave us a photopass for the gig). Instead he invited year 2 students to meet and photograph him at the soundcheck of The Cult’s Leeds show a few days later. The band played a couple of extra songs for students Alex and Harry to allow them to get live shots, then Billy spent 15 mins chatting with the lads about life on the road, his guitars and growing up in Wythenshawe.
THE SHOOT: Leeds Beckett University
The Cult's soundcheck on their 'Hidden City' tour
Student reflection: Alex Hayes-Newbrook
"Working on location with Billy Duffy (The Cult) was an opportunity any young photographer would take in a heartbeat, although I was honoured to be a part of this experience it did have its challenges, one of them being nerves. I didn’t know what Billy 'the rockstar' was going to be like, or how he would react to us photographing him, we needn't have worried. Billy and the band's crew were extremely welcoming and accommodating, putting us at ease and giving us confidence while working in a fast-paced environment - I managed to captured some amazing images in such little time. As a young photographer starting in the industry, I am extremely proud I took the opportunity to work on this shoot, it has helped me dramatically, taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me confidence in my own ability."