Born on May 25, 1942 in Durham, northern England, Barrie Wentzell was educated in Kent and London, attending Maidstone Art School in the late 1950’s. His first job at Manhattan Displays on Greek Street in London’s Soho occupied him from 1959 to 1961, during which time he became an avid Scrabble player under the tuition of author, performer, wit and philosopher, Quentin Crisp. He continued on to work at Color Applications, a photo studio in the Belgravia area of London learning photography basics from 1961 to 1962. It was then upon meeting his soon to become mentor, photojournalist Maurice Newcombe, that he would be inspired to pursue a photographic career of his own.
During the early 1960’s Barrie began diversifying into the worlds of fashion, music and advertising. In 1965 he had a chance encounter with the young Diana Ross. The image he made of this yet-to-be global super-star became a riveting front cover of The Melody Maker, England’s most renowned music publication, which caught the attention of Bob Houston, the assistant editor at the time. Houston was to contact Barrie and sign him on as exclusive chief photographer for the paper. Barrie went on to shoot for The Melody Maker from 1965 until 1975, one of the most important decades in the history of popular music, photographing unknown musicians who would later become legends and household names. Rock icons such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton as well as celebrated artists such as Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and many more all have their place in Barrie Wentzell’s vast archive.
In 1975, Barrie abandoned his Soho studio, leaving photography and the longest running party behind to move to the Isle of Wight and pursue a completely different direction. Today Barrie lives and works in Toronto, Canada.