By Sean O'Hagan
His intense colour photographs changed the way we see the world. Now, at 78, he has released his debut album, of synthesiser soundscapes. At home in Memphis, he discusses his extraordinary life and art
Darkness is falling outside the window of William Eggleston's fifth-floor apartment in midtown Memphis, and the silences that punctuate his conversation have grown even longer. After several hours in his company, I am preparing to take to take my leave, when suddenly he decides he is going to play the piano for me. I help him to his feet and he makes his way unsteadily to the magnificent Bösendorfer grand in the corner of his living room. Once seated, he stares for a few long moments at the keyboard, as if lost in thought.
“I play the piano maybe two or three times a day,” he told me earlier, “but only if she wants to be played. I speak to her and she talks back. Mostly, just to say: ‘What's in there?' She is almost always responsive.”