Brian May Remembers Lord Snowdon, Who Took the Cover Photo for Queen’s ‘Greatest Hits’
Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was given the title of Lord Snowdon after he married Princess Margaret in 1960, passed away yesterday at the age of 86. During his lifetime, he was also an accomplished photographer, and Brian May recalled the shoot with Snowdon that wound up on the cover of Queen's 1981 Greatest Hits compilation.
In a post on his website, May said that, as a boy, the wedding between Armstrong-Jones and the princess so enthralled him that he kept a picture of the couple in a photo album. More than 20 years later, a few years after their divorce and Snowdon had re-married, May and the other three members of Queen found themselves in Snowdon's house in search of a perfect shot.
"I’m sure Roger [Taylor] has better recollections than I," he wrote of that day, "but I seem to remember us sitting around a little awkwardly, sipping coffee, discussing what we were trying to achieve. I don’t believe we had any preconceptions at all … the four of us hadn’t had the chance to confer beforehand, and I think on this occasion we didn’t have a plan."
Unfortunately, they spent so much time talking and drinking coffee that the natural light in the studio -- Snowdon refused to use artificial light -- was gone after only a few test shots. So they tried again the next day, and, after a "couple of dozen shots," it was over. "He knew exactly what he wanted, and he knew when it was in the bag - even though he couldn't verify that on the spot," May continued.
A few days later, they received the result, which May said was "perfect for what we needed -- nicely balanced in composition, with all of us looking quite decent; understated, a little formal, yet not stiff, and beautifully lit by Nature herself, with a little help from Lord Snowdon."
Greatest Hits has gone on to become Queen's most popular album, with 25 million copies sold worldwide, but also the best-selling record in the U.K., having sold 6 million copies.
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