Although he worked with many rock luminaries, including David Bowie on three occasions including Scary Monsters and the Lodger, he is probably best known for capturing Bowie’s amazing visage on the Aladdin Sane album cover.
Known to friends and colleagues by his surname alone, was known for plying his models with wine, and often not shooting them until they sang him a song. Joanna Lumley, of Absolutely Fabulous, once had a sitting with him and said that he was so ill-tempered that “If you said ‘It’s a nice day’ to Duffy, he’d pick an argument with you.”
He is also famed for once burning part of his work in a bin in 1979, all because someone asked him where he kept the extra toilet paper in his studio.
At art school, Duffy considered himself a failed painter and moved on to dress design in order to get closer to prettier girls who filled the classrooms. Eventually he found his true calling – photography. He was one of the few photographers to shoot two Pirelli calendars.
But with Duffy came a class of photographers – working class – who became as well-known as the people they were photographing. They were some of the first A-listers in their field.
A recent retrospective of his work was shown including other celebrities, musicians and models he shot throughout the 1960s and 1970s, like Black Sabbath, Blondie, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but he was too sick with lung disease to attend.
For Bowie fans, here’s a link to rarely seen outtakes from the Aladdin Sane photo shoot featuring not only Bowie but also guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Mick “Woody” Woodmansey: http://duffyphotographer.com/pdf/BOWIE.pdf