While a student at the University of Leeds in England, John Rettie found his calling as a photographer. He started photographing car races for the student newspaper but the editor liked his work so much that he gained other assignments including photographing Christie Perfect (just months before she married John McVie) in November 1969.
On January 24th 1970 Rettie photographed Led Zeppelin as they performed in the university’s refectory. Three weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, he was lucky enough to photograph The Who at a concert that was recorded and later become the seminal “Live at Leeds” LP.
In the following few weeks Rettie also photographed Pink Floyd, Blodwyn Pig, Yes, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, Jackie Lomax’s Heavy Jelly, Procol Harum and Leonard Cohen. He was in an amazing position as it was at the peak of the British rock scene yet groups still loved performing at university and college campuses.
One year later after Rettie had left university to become an auto racing photographer he returned to Leeds once again to photograph The Rolling Stones who, at the height of their fame, still wanted to perform at Leeds as it was a location that had become a mecca for groups to perform, and still is to this day.
John Rettie was fortunate to be the sole photographer to capture some of the greatest British rock bands in a short span of time at one of the best, yet most unpretentious, rock and roll venues of all time.