Terry Spencer (1918-2009)

Terence Spencer was born in 1918 during a Zeppelin raid in Bedford England. He took an engineering degree at Birmingham University, then WW2 claimed his skills as an RAF pilot flying Mustangs, Hurricanes and Spitfires. He was taken prisoner of war twice, blown up over the sea once, and had more narrow escapes than Biggles, earning himself a DFC in the process. After the war Terence flew a single-engined airplane 8000 miles to South Africa without radio and only emergency supplies. He ran a successful aerial photographic business outside Johannesburg with his actress wife, Lesley Brook.

Terence started shooting for LIFE Magazine in 1952 covering the troubles of the African continent including Sharpville and and the Congo revolution. He went on to cover stories that took him to far, distant, lonely and dangerous places, including the Vietnam war, various crises in the Middle East, Indonesia, and Cuba after The Bay of Pigs. In 1963 he returned to England to photograph "Swinging London". At the request of his 13 year old daughter, Cara, Terence chronicled the Beatles phenomena as it was taking off, and produced a definitive book on the band, "It Was 30 Years Ago Today." He went on to shoot celebrity stories for PEOPLE Magazine which included portraits of stage and screen personalities, as well as politicians, writers and pop groups.

Rockarchive has but a small selection from his vast archive. Terence and he and his wife wrote a book about their lives called ’Living Dangerously". An understatement. All of us at Rockarchive smile whenever we think of Terence (Terry) Spencer who died on 8th February 2009. These are not wry smiles nor chuckles, but smiles of love and admiration, because that is what Terry inspired in others. Photographer, war hero, pilot and dare-devil -Terry wore his archive (for that is what photographers do) like a discreet medal of bravery. Rockarchive only publish his superb collection of music images, most particularly his images of The Beatles in 1963, but these images were just a drop in the ocean in a career that spanned three wars and 6 decades. Often shooting for Life Magazine, Terry's subject matter was truly diverse. There were his ariel pictures of South Africa - imagine Biggles hanging out of a plane with a camera in his hand, that sums him up - to Mods and Rockers on Brighton Beach, Francis Bacon in his studio, the Vietnam war, Dylan at the Isle of Wight and Robert Plant striding through the woods like a character from Lord of the Rings. Shooting beautifully and always providing dates and captions Terry must have been an editor's dream.

Rockarchive met Terry (and his beautiful actress wife Lesley) late in his life, but he was a young spirit to the very end. We will miss him terribly.

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