Graham Nash said he’s become a lifelong supporter of underdogs everywhere after the injustice his father experienced when the singer was a child.
Nash was 10 when his dad, William, gave him a camera for his birthday – but when it turned out to be stolen, William wouldn’t reveal who’d sold it to him. As a result he was charged for a criminal offense himself.
“My father would take me and my youngest sister Elaine to Bellevue Zoo in Manchester. He would take pictures,” Nash said in a recent episode of the BBC’s Desert Island Discs show. “He would take a blanket off my bed and put it up against the window and tape it down to block out the light.”
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He continued: “I always will remember the very moment that I fell in love with the photograph. He put a blank piece of paper into a colorless liquid and he’d say, ‘Wait’ – and there, fading into existence, was a photograph of me and my sister that my father had taken that morning. It was a piece of magic that I remember to this day.”
Those good times made a keen photographer of Nash, who’s published a number of photo books and displayed his images at exhibitions – but he can’t forget how being given his first camera turned into a heartbreaking experience.
“He gave me a little small Agfa camera [with] tiny little bellows and stuff,” he said. “But then the police came to the door. That was shocking. And they told my father that the camera that he had bought from his friend at work – that he gave to me – had been stolen. And who was it that sold him the camera? My father would not tell them and they put him in jail for a year.”
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Nash himself wasn’t told what had been going on. “The thing that I always remember was my father talking to me at bedtime and telling me that he would have to go away for a year. He didn’t tell me why… My father never spoke a word about his time in Strangeways.”
William died at the age of 47 – his young passing a result of his trauma, Nash argued. “I think he was feeling a lot of shame, feeling that he had let his family down, feeling that his life was never going to be the same – and in fact it wasn’t,” the singer said.
“It did affect me as a person. I’ve always appreciated the underdog and I’ve always rooted for the team that’s not supposed to win, but does. I hate injustice – my passion against injustice comes from what happened to my father.”
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff