Celebrity Specialist Targets Aussie LegendsThe world of celebrity is a weird and wonderful place, and the best way to indulge in it is often from the outside looking in. Local resident Richard Simpkin has perfected the art, having met and been photographed with over 2000 celebrities including Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Audrey Hepburn, Brad Pitt and David Beckham, all the while remaining relatively anonymous himself.
“I started meeting celebrities as a teenager in the 1980s. I used to wait outside their dressing rooms and when they left, I’d get an autograph,” Mr Simpkin said.
“I thought instead of getting an autograph, I’d be better off getting a photo with people who were remembered in history.”
In 1989 Mr Simpkin had the fortune of meeting INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.
“I knew there was something special about him; he was the most charismatic person I ever met,” Mr Simpkin said.
“I told my mum I wanted to leave school, hang out with INXS and be a photographer, so I left school and spent five months with INXS in 1990. Michael Hutchence took me under his wing and allowed me to practice my photography on him, which was incredible.”
Mr Simpkin formed a friendship with Hutchence that lasted until the pop star’s death, and it opened up numerous doors for the aspiring photographer.
“That world just opened up for me and I was gaining access to these international celebrities when they were coming to town,” Mr Simpkin said.
Next on the bucket list was to target the biggest Australian celebrities, which has culminated in the recent release of Mr Simpkin’s book, 100 Australian Legends.
“I thought, ‘I want to do portraits and interview some Australian legends’,” Mr Simpkin said. “I thought, ‘Who are the biggest Australian legends alive? I’m going to knock on Sir Donald Bradman’s door and see what happens. There are only a handful of people who have the audacity or balls to do that. If I can interview and autograph Sir Donald Bradman, who else do I want to meet?’”
Mr Simpkin then spent the next 17 years continuing to meet, photograph and interview iconic Australians, including the last Australian to serve in Gallipoli, Alec Campbell, and Dr David Warren, the inventor of black box flight recorder.
Mr Simpkin’s book, 100 Australian Legends, is available in all good bookstores and online at www.newholland.com.au.