Colin Beard photographed by Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Rock legend the late Jimi Hendrix photographed by Colin Beard at the Monterey Pop Festival in California in 1967. Signed print number 3/25 was listed for sale on eBay this year for $A1,432.00

Photographer Colin Beard photographed by Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW communications coordinator, came across Colin Beard in the disaster recovery centre in Lismore a few days after the regional city and much of the surrounding area was inundated by floodwaters.

Like thousands of evacuees in the Northern Rivers, Colin, who is 83, had plenty of stories to tell, not least about courage and kindness of those who had rescued him from his flooded home downriver in Coraki and taken him into their home and hearts.

‘I realised the water was starting to come up and thought ‘I better get out of here,’ but I couldn’t find my cat Sweetie,’ Colin told Rob.

He found his cat and put her in a box but was less lucky with his car, which was destroyed – and uninsured because as a pensioner he could not afford the premium.

Trapped in his house, he rang the police and six hours later was rescued by two men in a tinnie. Later, in a safer place, a young girl named Asia introduced Colin to her family and he was ‘adopted’.

‘Asia came and said she'd put a chair in the shade for me. I became part of the family, they’d lost their house, which moved 10 feet. They’re a beautiful family. They have relatives here [in Goonellabah, Lismore’s elevated suburb] and they brought me with them. I have a little room with Sweetie, who’s my only family.’

When the waters subsided Coraki residents began returning to survey what was left of their homes. This was when details of Colin’s previous life started to emerge.

‘The Fire Brigade came to clean up, and one bloke put down a camp chair and said you sit there, we’ll handle this. When one of the younger blokes came out he had one of my photos from the 60s, a shot of Jimi Hendrix,’ Colin said.

‘Wow, did you take this?’
‘Yeah, a long time ago.’
‘It’s a really good photograph…’
‘It’s yours,’ I said, ‘I insist…’

Colin suggested the firey get the photo framed and put it up in the station.

For years the English born photographer had travelled the world with his cameras, focusing on rock icons like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, The Who, Cat Stevens, The Kinks... and Jimi Hendrix. Colin’s work appeared in international newspapers, magazines and Australian Geographic.

According to an ABC profile, ‘Colin Beard followed the sixties rock 'n' roll revolution from behind the lens when he became the founding photographer for Australia's first iconic pop music magazine called Go-Set.’