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Terry O'Neill (1938-2019)

Terry O'Neill (born 1938)

Terry O’Neill was born in the East End of London and left school in 1952, aged 14, with the firm ambition of becoming a jazz drummer. He was already accomplished, and easily found work with small combos playing on the London scene. However Terry had bigger ideas and had set his sights on studying with the great drummers on America’s East Coast. Becoming an air steward would get him a free ticket to New York, and so he applied.

Advised by BOAC’s personnel department that getting a foot in the door would help his chances of finding such a job, Terry joined the company’s technical photographic unit as a trainee. Regular courses at art school were part of this training and sparked an unexpected interest in photojournalism.

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