The King Of Fitzroy
I first stumbled onto Fitzroy fixture and poet Grant Mccracken sometime in 2007. Ten years ago. Possibly earlier. I would constantly peruse the streets of Melbourne learning photography. I would spend hours each and every weekend just going through long walks in the city photographing everything in sight. I was photographically young, naïve and inexperienced but I had a passion for photography that was undying.
One sunny day, I spotted Grant sitting amongst three other fellows on a street corner just off Brunswick Street. They weren’t bothering anyone but certainly adding to the flavour and culture of the precinct long before the hipsters moved in and stamped their trendy mark on all! You know, burger restaurants and a barber shop on every corner!
Grant spotted me and noticed I was holding a camera. He queried me about it and what sort of photography I was doing. I was too nervous and shy to ask if I could take his photo. Grant can be a little intimidating dressed in his leathers, studs, spikes and more silver rings than Lemmy and Al Jourgensen combined – especially when one encounters him for the very first time.
Nervously I asked, “Can I take your picture?”
“What’s in it for us?” came back a wicked response from one of the sidekicks present.
“I’ll give you ten bucks!”
I don’t think I had even finished my sentence when the four member motley crew were already throwing the poses!
Grant and crew (2007) My photography skills clearly weren’t up to par, but this was my first encounter with the great man.
Grant and crew (2007) You can see why I would be nervous approaching this lot!
Over the years, I’d see Grant all over Fitzroy. The following year in 2008, Grant began working his role as the ambassador for the Rose Street Market. Surely that market must owe him a lot because he must have sent so much clientele there way over the years. With a smile or if you were lucky a poem, Grant would (and still does) point you in the direction of the market.
Again in 2008 I struck up a conversation with him and again I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I shoot him. This time I was making the deal. Let me take a photo of you, and I’ll go visit the market.
“Do you mind if I shoot you?” I asked.
“You can shoot me anytime… just don’t shoot me in the back!” came the wicked response.
I reminded him about these two meetings this weekend. He said he would never ask anyone for money but the ‘shoot me in the back’ line was certainly something that he would say!
Grant (2008) at his permanent spot on the corner of Brunswick and Rose Street, Fitzroy
So after all these years I finally got to really know Grant last year when at the Bendigo Hotel in tribute to the fallen Lemmy of Motorhead, we struck up a conversation over drinks and great company on a night we were all remembering Lemmy.
Grant and I became Facebook friends and he immediately appreciated and loved my photography. He knows a thing or too about the art as his father was a photographer and I would always be delighted when he would throw a LIKE or comment on some of my work posted on Facebook.
Grant (2016) at the Bendigo Hotel on the night we celebrated the life of Motorhead’s Lemmy
And it was on Facebook that I learnt that Grant had been a little under the weather of late.
I had wondered why I had not seen him around and this past weekend I was telling my girlfriend that Grant had been a little ill.
As if by fate, we were driving along Brunswick Street when my partner Sam spots Grant at his usual Rose St/Brunswick St corner!
We had to catch up!
I parked the car and headed to Bimbo Deluxe. Directly across the road from Grant. Sam went and told him that I was waiting for him in the hotel and five minutes or so later… he appeared!
I hadn’t seen Grant since the Motorhead shindig so it was fantastic to catch up. He told us of his recent woes over a drink or two and it was fucking great to catch up again.
I had to leave early tho as I had to get ready to photograph Sebastian Bach on the night but Grant noticed I had my camera with me and out of nowhere organised a photo-shoot with him. I wasn’t really prepared for a shoot, but we made do with what we had. I mean come on, how hard is it to photograph this man? He may look like an extra from a Mad Max film, but don’t let that gruff exterior fool you. He is full of charm, wit and prose. Lots of prose!
I didn’t instruct Grant to do anything but be himself. Against a graffitied wall on Rose Street I snapped away as he chatted to me and my girlfriend. Just be yourself mate, I’ll try and catch you as best as I can.
And here he is. Check out the gallery below.
I am proud to call this man a friend and I hope our friendship can grow further over the years.
click the images below to view large