Thursday, August 02, 2007

When Slash Ruled

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This is a scan of the first anniversary issue of Slash, the Los Angeles punk rock and culture magazine that became a force unto itself. Born in the year that punk rock was at its very best - 1977, Slash was both a chronicle of and an influence on a generation.

darby crash 1977

It was in August of 1977 that Slash held the first a few benefits for itself at Larchmont Hall. The Screamers, The Germs from Los Angeles and The Dils from San Francisco played.

dils chip jumping



This is a scan of the first cover - Dave Vanian of The Damned. The great thing about Slash was that they covered punk rock in a way that made the world seem like it was all in your room or your own back yard. It brought everything home, put it in context and gave your own misfit punk rock world context.

Slash was the brain child of Claude "Kick Boy Face" Bessy, his wife Philomena, Steve Samioff, Melanie Nissen and Bob Biggs, with serious and healthy contributions from many. The magazine was local and organically grown. It gave many writers and photographers some of their first bylines and feature-length assignments.

But more than resonating locally, Slash influenced the world. The graphics, the art direction, the style of journalism and photojournalism that Slash published established the foundation of punk style with a distinctly American postmodern flavor.

One of the artists whose work was featured in Slash was Gary Panter. Here's a scan of one of his covers for Slash. If you weren't around back in the day, yet these graphics all seem comfortable and familiar to you, that's just another nod to the enduring influence of the Los Angeles-born phenomenon that is Slash.

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Yes, the UK gave punk rock graphics its own inimitable style and sensibility, as reflected in the fantastic artwork on picture sleeves by the Sex Pistols, and the clothes that Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren designed and sold in the trendy Kings Road. No one can deny that. Slash celebrated it.

backstage whisky grey

In Los Angeles, Melrose Avenue was the counterpart to the Kings Road, and Hollywood, Silverlake and Echo Park the neighborhoods where much happened. But as LA is expansive, each of its distinct neighborhoods gave punk rock something special - hardcore from the South Bay, Power Pop from the Valley, and so on.

belinda outside whisky2 grey

Some of the LA punk rock icons who had their early by-lines in Slash included Pleasant Gehman and Jeffrey Lee Pierce.

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Many people know Slash as a record label, and a great one it was! Two Lobotomy alumnae formed the core of Slash's A&R department: Randy Kaye and Anna Statman.

randy kaye newstand SF 78-small

Slash, the magazine and the label had many supporters and fans. As the scene morphed and grew, the label business of Slash grew with it. The magazine, however, stopped publication around 1980, thus for me, and many others, signaling the end of the Golden Age of Punk Rock in LA. Of course, punk rock didn't die, in fact, its bigger now than ever. Its influence reaches far and wide, and Slash is an integral part of that.

If you want to see an unauthorized but really cool archive of Slash magazine, check out www.slashmag.com and unauthorized but devoted fansite of Slash Magazine.

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