Brian Lawton photographer...

About 4 years ago, Holmfirth Film Festival was entrusted with a collection of photographs, negatives and related documents left by Brian Lawton. Brian was a former postman and amateur photographer who had a wide ranging interest and involvement in the local and regional music scene. He documented local music events for decades, from the early 1960s, and built up a large collection of interesting material, including photographs of a great many famous performers associated with jazz, blues, rock, pop, and folk music. He also photographed actors, celebrities, comedians, and other famous people who appeared locally over the years.

Visit the fantastic website:
Incredible galleries of Brian's work can be found here:

In 2017 HFF applied for and were awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant in order to make Brian’s materials better known and more widely available. The project concentrated on his large collection of photographs and documents relating to the folk music scene, both local and national, and during its 1 year duration, involved a number of dissemination events, and the creation of a website:

A large number photographs from the collection are still freely available to view on that site, and as part of this year’s November online weekend of film, we are hoping to revive interest in the collection by producing a couple of features focussing on two particular groups of photographs…..

(Below Interview with Laurie Stead friend and collegue of Brian Lawton)


American Folk Blues Festival Tour - St George’s Hall, Bradford. 21st October 1964

Between 1962 and 1972 some of America’s leading blues performers were persuaded to undertake an annual tour of Europe, including several events in the UK. Most of these performers had never previously performed outside of the USA, but began to find themselves in less demand in their own country, as musical tastes shifted towards the newer styles - Tamla Motown, and soul music in particular.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the most exciting emerging bands - Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, The Animals etc. looked to these legendary names for inspiration, and the influence of such influential blues artists as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson etc on their music was profound. In the audiences at some of the earliest of these events (in Manchester and London), were reportedly Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Eric Burdon, and others who would become legendary performers in their own right. It has often been noted that it was only when the English pop music invasion of America in the mid to late 1960s took place, that many in the USA began to properly value and appreciate the rich musical heritage of their own country that provided the musical foundation for these phenomenally successful bands.

When, in October 1964, this tour finally reached a Yorkshire venue, Brian Lawton was, of course, on hand to document it. Characteristically, he managed to capture a number of photographs of these world famous performers behind the scenes, informally playing to, chatting with, or signing autographs for some of their (mostly young and studious looking) admirers. Thus, we see individual and group pictures of (among others), Sonny Boy Williamson ( on his final tour - he died he following year), Howlin’ Wolf, Sugar Pie De Santo, Willie Dixon, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sunnyland Slim, and Hubert Sumlin.

It was a unique event, and as with so many of the pictures in the collection, what comes across is Brian’s ability to depict his subjects in a relaxed, informal and revealing way. (We have made a display of these photographs for St George’s Hall in Bradford, and they are intending to use them as part of an exhibition when circumstances permit).