Man whose face is on Arctic Monkeys' first album explained how photo changed his life 15 years on
| Last updated
It’s one of the most iconic images on an album in recent times, but do you know the story behind the cover star of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not?
Album covers tend to stick in people’s minds indelibly.
Think about The Beatles’ legendary Revolver, or Bruce Springsteen’s bum on Born in the USA.
You can see what we mean, right?
Well, few albums have had such an enduring cultural impact in the UK and abroad in recent times as the Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut album.
Sitting right there on the front of that album in black and white is Chris McClure, puffing away on a cigarette and scowling down the camera lens.
McClure, who is actually the brother of Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure, met the band on the bus once upon a time, then was contacted by the then-bassist of the band Andy Nicholson, who said he wanted pictures of a man for the album art.
Chris never knew that he’d be featuring front and centre on the cover, so didn’t realise he was about to be immortalised.
Speaking to The Guardian a few years back, he explained: "We met the photographer and assistants in a bar at 2pm.
"I said: 'What do you want us to do?'.
"They said: 'Go out and get drunk - come back after midnight'.
"They gave us a wad of cash, literally hundreds of pounds.
“We were young and made the most of it.
"When I arrived back it was gone 2am.
“There was a venue below the bar and we did the pictures there, just me sat on a stool.
"They gave me more whiskey and I threw up half way through. Everything was blurry."
He was 19 at the time, and after the album came out he was suddenly an unlikely celebrity.
On the 15th anniversary of the album’s release in 2021, he said: “What a record.
“Met some great people since… literally through having my photo taken.
“Pleasure to be associated with it.”
In that Guardian article, he elaborated: “That Monday [release date], my phone never stopped. It was bonkers; like being dipped into fame.
“Everyone in the world wanted to know who I was.
“I worked part-time in a pub and I got a call from the landlord to say there were 15 reporters there looking for me; another five were outside my mum’s house.
15 years. What a record. Met some great people since... literally through having my photo taken. Pleasure to be associated with it 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/sZ03vOwhvd— Chris McClure (@chrismcclure86) January 23, 2021
“The TV channel E4 asked me to present slots.
“The Daily Star offered me £10,000 to let a photographer follow me on a night out.
“They said they’d bring along a couple of models.
“When you’re 19, it’s not easy to refuse, but I didn’t want to sell the band out. I refused everything apart from interviews with Soccer AM and BBC News.”
He continued: “It made student life surreal. I’d go to house parties and my face would be in the bedrooms.
“Strangers would ask me to do the cigarette pose. Clubs would call and offer free drinks all night if I just went down.
“I think that album cover is the reason I only got a 2:2 degree.
“The best was when I went to see Noel Gallagher at The Lowry. I used to work there so I went backstage.
"Noel did a double take. He said: ‘I’ve got you hanging in my house!’ I said: ‘I’ve got you in mine!’”
It wasn’t all great though, as he explained: “It wasn’t all good. I was at a gig once and this guy kept putting his cig in my face.”
Still, it seems as if it’s been a largely positive experience.
Chris concluded: “Would I do it again? Absolutely.
“The only thing I might change is the money. I got paid £750 for that night. I should have asked for 10p of every album sale.”