Hundreds of former Fleet Street colleagues, friends and family will be gathering in Wraysbury in Surrey today (18 June) for the funeral of Peter Stone.
Stoney, as he was popularly known (and he really was popular), died last week aged 61.
All over the country, and in many countries abroad, hacks and snappers have been remembering him and exchanging anecdotes about him. Paddy O’Gara, art editor of the Daily Mirrorin Stoney’s days on the paper, once remarked: “Stoney has always been devoted to me – since the day I removed a thorn from his paw”.
His career across the globe spanned 40 years and his images from Vietnam won him the coveted Photographer of the Year award. Stoney said he learned a lot from covering Vietnam, especially on how to stay alive.
He said that the great Don Wise had advised him in Saigon never to wear army uniforms. “Dress neatly in civvies.
This confuses both sides and they hesitate before shooting you.”
Like many of the great Mirrorphotographers, he was totally versatile but one thing he did specialise in was the pop scene. He produced a book about his exploits with Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, and became mates with the likes of Paul Young, Keith Moon and Rod Stewart.
Ray Weaver, (former group picture editor and assistant editor), remembers Stoney’s first meeting with Robert Maxwell.
“In 1987 Peter and I worked together on the launch of Maxwell’s London Daily News. Peter arranged with the actor Michael Crawford to do a montage shot of him before the opening of Barnum.
The picture worked out well and when Maxwell saw it he exclaimed, ‘That’s a f*****g good page three picture! That’s how I want all my page threes to look!’.
Maxwell then turned to me and said, ‘Who took it?’. I replied ,’You are standing right beside him Bob, this is Peter Stone’.
“He gave Peter a bear hug and announced, ‘I am going to give you a thousand pound bonus. And he never did see it!” The Mirror’s most famous reporter, John Pilger, knew Stoney very well.
Here is Pilger’s memory of Peter: “I worked with Peter Stone all over the world: in South East Asia, Biafra, Ghana and, most memorably, Timbuctoo. Peter and I were assigned to cover a hovercraft expedition on the great rivers of Africa. It was one of those stupendous, pointless ideas spawned in the 1960s, and the Mirrorwas one of the sponsors.
“Having heaved and splashed our way up the Senegal River, we were moored near Timbuctoo when Peter spotted the expedition leader, a fevered figure called David Smithers – ‘Smithers of the River’ – throwing the last of our grog overboard, including a whole crate of Scotch.
‘Just lightening the load’ was his cursory explanation for this insane act. I put it down to the particularly vocal attack of dengue fever he had had on the night.”