Saturday, February 26, 2005

Punk Respect

A couple of days ago, I mentioned how Stiv Bators picked the brain of Doors producer, Paul Rothschild when we met him at Kirk Wood's amazing Malibu compound.

A lot of the punk ethos was founded upon a nihilistic rejection of all the rock that came before - the stuff of oldies stations and mainstream radio that later became known as "classic rock." The clever artists who were also punk rockers knew better than to reject wholesale the music that broke ground for youth culture worldwide.

Consider how X embraced rockabilly and roots rock into their own stylings way before any marketer coined the term "alt.country" and put John Doe in movies about Jerry Lee Lewis. And how about former Door Ray Manzarek producing X anyway? That's what I mean.

Stiv, throughout all his bands, simply embraced what sounded good and what helped him get his message across. I never saw Frankenstein or the early days of Rocket From the Tombs, but I recall the Dead Boys covering the garage chestnut "Have Love Will Travel." Now, we can hear The Sonics help sell cars for somebody in a mainstream, prime time television commerical (I don't remember the car but I do love it when I hear the song).

When Stiv was making his solo album, "Disconnected," he drew from his own pop music influences and his teenage years in Youngstown, Ohio listening to the likes of The Choir, and other pop-smiths. The result is a bright sounding album with often dark lyrics. While we were all considering the presentation of the album, we fooled around with emulating album covers.

This shot of Stiv with Frank Secich, George Cabaniss, and David Steinberg was intended to look like The Doors. Fortunately for me, that studio out in Sun Valley had a bonafide basketball court and on it, I was able to set up a seamless backdrop and all kinds of crazy lights. Believe it or not, the backdrop I used on this shot was dove grey! I used green, amber and red lights for effect and turned out all the other lights in the room and then trained a single 650 watt flood light at the band from a 45 degree angle.

All my individual headshots and live shots were used on the back cover and innersleeve, however, one night, there was a party, a gun and a camera - and the resulting David Arnoff candid was used for the cover.

Stiv was one of the best photo subjects EVER. I have photographed so many people, and it seems like the ones who seem kooky or uncooperative are actually pretty good at the posing game. I think they have a solid sense of who they are, what they want to project and they know how to do it. In fact, I put some examples of my favorite portraits online last night.

Stiv had a special and loving relationship with cameras and photographers. I remember him chiding me on more than one occasion for running out of film or not bringing a camera. Photo opportunities I missed included Todd Rundgren hanging out with Stiv during The Wanderers' only gig in Cleveland in 1981 when I failed to bring a camera. You know, Stiv, I was the road manager on that tour, so please, cut me some slack! Then there was the time I ran out of film at The Orchids debut in Los Angeles - an event hosted by punk svengali, Kim Fowley. I could have photographed Stiv with Ray Manzarek and Cars mastermind Ric Ocasek. Jenny Lens got that shot. Ask her to post it!

Finally, when I invoke the word, "respect," I have to reiterate that Stiv was always a gentleman. Beneath his antics, he was a kind man and a gentle soul.

He was, however, a true punk.

2 comments:

Cathy said...

I MISS STIV

Amy said...

I think one of the pictures from this photo session is posted on myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=792335