In 1978 I didn’t even
own a camera. I just knew that something was going to happen to Sid Vicious
so I borrowed one—which happened to be a Nikon—and drove to New
York City. I hung around St. Marks Place and kept bumping into Sid and Nancy
over the next week. I was always trying to get him to swap his trademark cock
ring belt with me. Every time I saw him I’d pull on one of the rings and
he’d nearly fall over because he was so off balance. It was September
29¸ 1978 and Sid was in the middle of a three-day gig at Max’s Kansas
City. I photographed him at the show. There were two shows on each of those
three nights. In between the shows I hung out front with Sid while Nancy constantly
complained and tried to pull Sid away. She didn’t like him having any
fun without her. Sid wanted us to come back to the Chelsea later that night
for a party. Nancy got mad and stomped away. She walked off the curb right into
the path of a taxi. I happened to be standing there and grabbed her out of the
path of the skidding and screeching cab. Less than two weeks later,
Sid was in jail for the murder of Nancy and he didn’t even know if he
did it or not. I was in London four months after that when I learned that Sid was dead.
About a year later I finally
owned my own camera—which also happened to be a Nikon—and I started shooting
everyone. Every band and every show that I went to…and I went to a lot.
It was pure fun. Fun-fun-fun! Tons of fun. I walked into dressing rooms like
the reporter on the scene that I was and photographed people like I knew them.
I was never chased away; in fact I was mostly encouraged and usually welcomed.
I had my eye on the future and wanted to document this entire punk era so that
I could look back on it years later. I knew we looked good with all the spiky
hair, make-up, leather and graphics—and I was curious what we’d think
about it in the future. I forever had my camera in hand and I went on a mission.
These shows were never about
violence. They were about being goofy and having fun. They were about doing
things for yourself if you weren’t satisfied with what was out there.
They were empowering.
If you don’t like
popular music—create your own. If you don’t like current fashions—make
your own clothes. If you don’t like accepted rules—use your brain
to generate new ones.
Lots of creativity and energy
in abundance is what it was all about.
And I loved every minute