Peter Gabriel pays tribute to ‘rebellious’ photographer Terry O’Neill

Peter Gabriel has paid tribute to photographer Terry O’Neill as a “rebellious, independent and irreverent” man.

O’Neill, who rose to fame with his work with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, died at home on Saturday at the age of 81 following a long illness.

Gabriel, best known as lead singer in progressive rock band Genesis, recalled how O’Neill was “not in the least fazed” by his request to be shot smoking a cigarette underwater.

He shared a long message on his website, writing: “Very sad to learn of the loss of a great photographer, Terry O’Neill, some of whose images helped define the Sixties and whom I was lucky enough to work with.

“Music, film and fashion photography seems to attract rebellious, independent and irreverent personalities. Terry O’Neill was one of those.

“When I told him I wanted to be shot smoking a cigarette underwater, he was not in the least phased (sic).

“He found a place in London – an old Seventies disco with coloured lights and a mini pool in the centre of it, which I’m sure they would fill with scantily dressed young ladies in a very non-PC Hefner way.

“I jumped into this pool to get filmed, only to discover that the lights had shorted and received quite a shock.

“He knew how to get the best out of his subjects and his shots and leaves behind some extraordinary work.”

Gabriel, who played alongside Phil Collins in Genesis’s heyday, was joined by former One Direction star Niall Horan in paying tribute to O’Neill on Monday.

Horan said: “Terry O’Neill you’ve taken some of my favourite photographs of all time.

“Because of you I’ve grown to have a massive passion for music photography and I will continue to love your work. May you rest well sir xx”

Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul said O’Neill’s legacy would live on “forever”.

He said: “We lost a legend today. Terry O’Neill you made this world more beautiful.

“My heart hurts today but my god you will love (sic) on forever. Thank you for your genius. Rest In Peace my friend.”

One Mr O’Neill’s last major public appearances was when he collected his CBE for services to photography from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in October.

After receiving his honour, O’Neill, who had been suffering from prostate cancer and was in a wheelchair, said the award “surpasses anything I’ve had happen to me in my life”.

Stars including Sir Michael Caine, Sir Elton John, tennis great Billie Jean King and Barbra Streisand shared tributes following news of O’Neill’s death over the weekend.

A spokesman for Iconic Images, which represents O’Neill’s impressive archive of photographic work, said: “It is with a heavy heart that Iconic Images announces the passing of Terence “Terry” O’Neill, CBE.

“Terry was a class act, quick witted and filled with charm.

“Anyone who was lucky enough to know or work with him can attest to his generosity and modesty.

“As one of the most iconic photographers of the last 60 years, his legendary pictures will forever remain imprinted in our memories as well as in our hearts and minds.”

O’Neill was one of the world’s most collected photographers with work hanging in national art galleries and private collections worldwide.

His images have graced album covers, movie posters and magazine covers and by 1965 he was being asked to work with the biggest magazines and newspapers in the world.