In grade 11, a friend of mine, Sheldon Wiebe managed a record store in down town Calgary called Opus 69. Sheldon told me that someone he knew, Keith Sharp, a sports writer with the Calgary Herald, was going to start a magazine called Music Express, and he was in need of a photographer. The good thing was that he really didn't have money to pay a professional to do the job. It was the opportunity of a life time for someone like me, who had the basic skills and wanted the experience. I phoned Keith Sharp and we discussed his plans in a restaurant. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven when the job was mine. I was sure that this was the start of a career that would see me working for the Rolling Stone or Guitarworld.
Working for Music Express required new learning on my part. I had never worked with Black and White film before. All my experience up to now had been with color slides. Color is so exciting and precise, wheras Black and White can be very flexible and forgiving. This came in handy after my first interview with Keith Sharp. He had arranged to interview Randy Backman when BTO were playing Calgary. I was so excited because this was my first working interview that I didn't make the correct F stop calculations for a new flash unit I recently purchased. As a result, the images were way under exposed. I burned the hell out of those negatives to get something that was passable for the magazine. I didn't tell Keith about my mistake for another six months. When I brought it up later he confessed that at the time I showed him the pictures, he thought they were underexposed but he didn't know why. I never made that mistake again. In truth, I wasn't too worried about being let go because I knew that there was no money to get anyone with more experience.
While photographing rock groups was exciting, it also came with its dangers. While photographing The Who in Edmonton on October 16, 1976, the group was late starting because of problems getting enough power for the laser beams they employed during the song, Wont Get Fooled Again. As the waiting wore on, fans started throwing glass bottles toward the stage area. On another occasion, rowdy fans were waiting to see Styx in the Souther Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, an opera house in Calgary. When the doors did not open at the appointed time they became upset as rock fans will and made their feelings known by shouting. At this time the announcer let them know that the group would not appear because their truck had broken down. There is nothing more dangerous than being at a rock concert with people waiting when they find out the concert is not going to happen. Luckily, the opening act, Montrose, agreed to do a mini concert and a potential crisis was averted. The most eventful concert for me was Queen at the Jubilee Auditorium on March 17, 1977.