PUNK rock gave us 'anarchy in the UK'.

But that world of mohawks, bovver boots, ripped jeans and safety pins meant something else entirely to Denis O'Regan – the start of his dream job.

The 62-year-old first fell in love with the Beatles but it was the rule-breaking ethos of the 70s punk era that gave him his first big shot at being a professional photographer.

"Punk meant that you didn’t need to go through all the hoops of accreditation," said Denis.

"You could just turn up on the night, pay 50p and get in without a photo pass. I used to just turn up, get in, take pictures and then the music papers started to use them and I moved up the ladder."

Some of those punks became new romantics then heavy metal rose in popularity as Denis documented the evolution of rock over the years.

Denis first made a name for himself as a contributor to NME but has since had pictures in every UK national newspaper.

He is now looking back at a career spanning five decades as he prepares for an exhibition of his work at the Golden Square throughout May.

Denis's first experience of live music was when he persuaded his mum to take him to see the Beatles at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1964.

He then used to borrow his uncle's camera and run down to the front of the crowd to take pictures of the likes of David Bowie and Queen.

But it was seeing Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin at Alexandra Palace which made him want to go professional.

The dad-of-one added: "I thought the way he played the guitar with the violin bow and came out into the spotlight was very theatrical. I really wanted to take that image home.

"And then I went to see David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and that had a huge effect on me when I saw mime and theatre and dressing up.

"It was pure rock – the whole artistic side of it – and I thought: ‘This is it. This is what I want to do’."

Denis initially used a Zenith camera he bought from a mate for a fiver and the first image he sold was one of Queen in 1975.

He was then in the right place at the right time during the punk movement and as his reputation grew so did his opportunities.

Denis, who gave up a job as an underwriter to follow his dream, said: "The first band I toured with was Thin Lizzy and the first big band was the Rolling Stones and then I was off.

"I did two years on the road with David Bowie and I did Pink Floyd’s last tour, which is now 22 years ago.

"Touring was what I wanted to do because it combined music, photography and travel. They’re my three favourite things and still are to this day."

So is the rock and roll life all it is made out to be?

"There’s a lot of sex and drugs and rock and roll but it’s not as wild as it’s made out to be," added Denis, whose picture of Freddie Mercury appeared on one of Royal Mail's Millennium stamps.

"People take drugs in private if they do it at all. Most of the sex is in private too so really it’s people hanging out and going to clubs together.

"There is very little wild behaviour really as hotel rooms and airports is a lot of your life.

"It’s wild in a different way like getting a private jet to work instead of a bus and you don’t get a taxi, you get a limousine.

"The biggest buzz for me has always been going out in front of a gigantic audience. That second when the band come on stage and the audience go mad is what I find really exciting."

Denis now counts the likes of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet among his friends and he was close with David Bowie before his death.

But he admitted he often felt starstruck in the early days.

Denis, who worked as a professional photographer for Live Aid and the Concert For Diana, said: "Bowie and the Stones and Queen were people I’d looked up to and grown up with and here I was working with them.

"It was a bit strange and I was star struck but you get over it pretty quickly because you’re with them all the time.

"One of the most surreal moments was when I arrived for rehearsals for David Bowie in 1983 and I was at the back of this huge arena and David called my name out over the PA

"He asked me what songs I thought he should play for the set. I thought this is definitely a moment I’m going to remember.

"Another was the day when I didn’t know if I was going to be on tour with the Stones or not. I was pacing up and down my hotel room waiting to hear.

"It was a really magical moment when they said yes and took me down to meet one of the world’s biggest bands. It was what I always wanted to do. The ultimate goal in a way."

Denis O'Regan's exhibition will be at Golden Square throughout May as part of the shopping centre's Style Rocks festival