Posted: January 13th, 2019
Former Sunday Mail picture editor RONNIE ANDERSON, who died last week aged 70 (w/b Jan 7 2018), was a talented and prolific photographer who thrived in a golden age for the printed press.
The story of Ronnie’s incredible working life is perhaps best told by the extraordinary catalogue of pictures he leaves behind. A trawl through a battered metal suitcase of prints reveals a cast of showbiz royalty. Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger and John Denver. Roger Daltrey, Cilla Black and Alex Harvey. Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart and Chrissie Hynde.
Ronnie’s portraits of Billy Connolly would merit an exhibition on their own. The anarchic enthusiasm of a 30-something Big Yin is perfectly captured in a series of black-and-white shots. In a bishop’s mitre and vestments; warming his bum over a shagpile carpet; wearing his iconic banana boots on a fishing trip.
Many of Ronnie’s portraits of the biggest stars of the day came from the Apollo venue in Glasgow’s Renfield Street, from where he supplied newspapers and magazines across the UK.
But there was more to Ronnie Anderson than just being a showbiz snapper. He was on the spot at the Ibrox disaster in 1971, producing some of the lasting images conveying the horror of an event which changed Scottish sport for ever.
Ronnie’s appetite for going in where the Doc Marten boots were flying is there for all to see in his coverage of an anti-apartheid march in May 1975.
One of his favourite series – which he nicknamed the Maryhill Olympics – shows children in Glasgow inspired by the 1980 Moscow games vaulting a home-made high-jump bar and flopping on to a discarded mattress.
Born in 1948, Ronnie went to Penilee primary and secondary schools in the south of Glasgow and fell in love with photography when his brother Bill bought him a 15-shilling camera. Then aged 12, Ronnie was so enthusiastic about his new found passion that he began attending after-school photography classes.
His first job came in the dark room of the now defunct Glasgow Evening News before he moved to the Daily Record.
Long-time colleague Ian Stewart said: “It wasn’t long before we progressed to being photographers out on the road. He would do the odd football game but news and showbiz were his thing.
“He loved mingling with the stars and had a story for every one of them, whether it was local talent or worldwide superstars. He treated them all the same. He had time for everyone and was an extremely sociable person, which helped put anyone he was photographing instantly at ease.”
Later in his career, Ronnie joined the Sunday Mail picture desk, initially as a deputy. By the time he retired in 2014, he had risen to become Sunday Mail picture editor, organising staff photographers and freelances and assessing images coming in on the wires from around the world.
Sunday Mail editor Brendan McGinty said: “Ronnie was a fantastic photographer, picture editor and a true newspaper person.”
Ronnie is survived by brother Billy, sister Evelyn, partner Norman Campbell, hundreds of friends… and the lasting legacy of those thousands of wonderful photos.
(Picture: Daily Record)