From roadie to snapper: Meet Lower Clapton’s Kriss Lee who toured with the likes of Gabrielle and Travis
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
Photographer Kriss Lee sits dowm with Emma Bartholomew to chat about his career as a tour manager for the famous – and not-so-famous – before settling down in Clapton
If ever there’s s a road accident, natural disaster or flood in Clapton, you can be sure Kriss Lee will be there, documenting it with his camera.
But before he became a photographer he spent 30 years on the road as a tour manager for the likes of Gabrielle, Travis and Steve Harley.
Kriss spent a “Famous Five style” childhood in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, where “there was always an adventure of some sort going on”, from playing in the tip or cycling to a beach.
His entire family is musical but unable to play a musical instrument himself Kriss became a DJ. Having been drawn into the music business because it was “all around him”, at 17 he moved to the mainland to become a roadie.
He travelled across Europe doing lighting and sound then fell into tour management because he “was the one with the driving licence”.
“I never looked back,” he told the Gazette. “It’s like being a kindergarten teacher, with kids that are able to drink and do drugs,” he laughs.
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“It’s a 24/7 job, you are responsible for everyone on the tour.
“I’ve been phoned up at 4am, and asked: ‘Can you go to A&E? Your singer’s there and he’s fallen over drunk’.”
He’s worked with the “famous, not so famous, and never were famous”.
“One of his favourite artists to tour with was Gabrielle, who - like him - lived in Hillstowe Street for a while.
“She’s this fabulously sweet beautiful person,” said Kriss.
“On tour you are up at 8am and it’s a long day right through until about midnight.
“Gabrielle would turn up at 4pm pushing her trolley saying: ‘Tea and cake boys?’
“It was like the Royal Albert Hall trundling across the stage. And when she comes off stage she is Louise – there are no airs and graces.”
Kriss, a father-of-four, had to give it all up in 2001 when his son Sebastian suddenly became epileptic aged nine.
He continued: “I couldn’t leave all the responsibility for him on his mother, so I came off the road, and decided to keep myself busy with the photography.”
Kriss took his first photographs at Mont St Michel aged five and became “hooked” – and has had a camera in his hand “ever since”.