These photographs, taken in Soul clubs in Memphis and New York, are the work of photographer David Reed. Still working today, Reed was first commissioned by the UK’s Sunday Times Magazine in 1969, and worked exclusively for the magazine for the next 21 years.
Even though he is in essence a photojournalist, Reed’s skills are such that a number of his portrait photographs are now part of the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery in London. David is also available for weddings. (This is not a joke, you really can hire Reed for your next big ceremony.)
The images seen here were taken for an eight-page feature entitled “Soul on Fire” for The Sunday Times. By the early 1970s, Soul music had become increasingly diverse, evolving into multiple micro-genres from its roots in Gospel and R&B.
Psychedelic soul arrived at the close of the previous decade, and artists like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye stretched the boundaries into both pop and long-form albums.
In 1971, Don Cornelius’ Soul Train pulled into the televisual station and would remain there until 2006. By which time, many of the clothes you see here had returned to the status of high-fashion.