Snapshots in time capture the kings of a generation

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If you are a music fan it’s impossible not to feel a tinge of envy when speaking to Ian Tilton.

The Blackpool lad surely had one of the best day-job’s of all time - official photographer for the Stone Roses during their meteoric rise to the fame and all the fun and games that came with it.

For those with short memories, the Roses were one of the biggest bands Britain has ever produced.

Led by Ian Brown and backed by the brilliant guitar of John Squire, the band emerged from Manchester in the late 80s and conquered the country.

Their eponymous debut album is widely regarded as one of the finest records of all time.

So to be hanging out with the band and sharing their success must have been a pretty remarkable experience to say the least.

“That’s putting it mildly,” says Ian, 49, who grew up on Anchorsholme Lane and learned his trade on a three-year photography course at Blackpool and Fylde College on Palatine Road.

“I loved music so following bands seemed a natural thing to do. There was a lot of luck in getting in with a band who were destined for huge things but it also helped that I’m good with people - so I could get on with bands - and I was always professional and not scared to graft.

“People think it’s easy being a photographer but it’s not - it’s bloody hard work.

“I had to be careful because it would have been easy to go off the rails.

“When you go on the road with a band there is a massive rider of beer and spirits and always someone to provide you with whatever chemical you might want.

“If I’d over-indulged every single photo would have been out of focus so I had to be disciplined.”

Ian also took snaps of Nirvana (his world-famous shot of Kurt Cobain crying was voted the sixth best rock shot ever by Q magazine), Guns and Roses and The Smiths, before moving into the theatre world in the mid 90s. “I was getting older and wanted to see my son grow up so I opted for a quieter life,” he says.

But Ian is about to relive his rock n’roll days.

He has published a book - Set In Stone - which charts the hectic beginnings of the Roses and features more than 400 photographs of the band, many never seen before.

To celebrate its release he’s embarking on a nationwide tour to promote it - and, naturally, is stopping off in Blackpool.

He will give a talk at FYCreatives on Church Street on Monday and an exhibition of some of his pictures is on at the venue until May 9.

“I had to come to Blackpool, not just because it’s my home town,” said Ian, who’s now based in Chorlton.

“But because there is a special chapter in the book all about the Stones Roses 1989 gig at the Empress Ballroom.

“I would say that gig was one of the best ever in the resort. It was incredible.

“The Roses got famous by building a fan base in the north and expanding out.

“They played Blackpool as a thank you to their northern fans and it was amazing.”

Ian is planning to organise a big event next month at a venue in the town centre, which will include a Q&A with the audience and music from a couple of bands.

In the meantime you can see Ian’s photographs at FYCreative. The exhibition is on Monday to Friday 9-5pm (excluding Tuesdays) until May 9 . Call the venue on 01253 477147 to check availability for Ian’s opening night talk on Monday.