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Blue - September 2003

Punks Not Dead
Rikki Ercoli's portraits bring dead stars to life, and make the homely handsome again.

Adam Ant is famous for fucking up. In recent months he's been caught with his pants around his ankles in a crowded London café, and in the middle of an all-in-bar brawl. But once he was beautiful-his white cross-nose makeup emulated by boys and girls all over the world. And in Rikki Ercoli's portraits, he is “Prince Charming” once again.

Ercoli's book, Legends of Punk: Photos From the Vault, tracks some of the most notorious figures in rock'n'roll in the late ‘70s and early 80s. In the previously unreleased photos, Sid Vicious is alive and sneering and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers barely have a tattoo between them. Adam Ant-now little more than fat tabloid fodder-is a vacant-eyed dude in leather pants.“I guess I would be nuts, too,” Ercoli says of the artist formerly known as Ant. “He's lost his looks and all that. He was real quiet. At his shows, cameras were strictly banned…but when he saw I had a camera he posed for it.

Ercoli, now the Photo Editor at San Francisco's Falcon Studios, has a bit of trouble recalling all of the rock'n'roll moments in his life. He remembers meeting Patti Smith's mother, and staying in Joey Ramone's New York loft, around the corner from legendary punk club CBGBs. He remembers hanging out with Blondie's Deborah Harry in the girl's toilets at college, and watching The Mumps singer Lance Loud, who had famously come out as a teenager on the 1973 US documentary series An American Family.He also remembers legendary Sex Pistol Sid Vicious as a fantastic guy in a belt made of cock rings. “He was so nice, so friendly, and so funny-he was like a kid really. I was always pulling on his cock ring-belt, trying to get it, trying to get him to trade it with me.”

Ercoli's expectations for his book come with the post-punk nihilism evident in his portraits.“I bet I'm going to be on Oprah Winfrey. I'll be shocked if anyone picks it up-I'm always surprised anybody's interested in anything. Although-seeing al the pictures in one place like this, I do really like it.”

—Stacy Farrar

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Bay Area Reporter
- October 2003

Punk Spunk

SF rock photographer Rikki Ercoli is between hard covers at last in Legends of Punk, Photos from the Vault (Manic D Press), filled with his candid shots of punk legends on and back stage. Coverboy Sid Vicious loved the camera and gives good moue; a young Billy Idol looks fierce; and Jello Biafra gives extreme close-up.

As much fun as the actual snaps are Ercoli’s notes on the photos. Backstage with “Grandma” Edith Massey, he finds her crying, asks her what’s wrong. “She told me that everyone in the audience was gay. I was kinda shocked and asked, ‘But Edie, what’s wrong with that? Gay people love you, too.’” That’s what’s wrong with that.

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Alternative Tentacles
- 2003

An incredible hardbound book of black–and–white photos of punk, new wave, fringe, and alt rock music legends. Ercoli hung out on stage and back stage in the late '70s and got pics of damn near everybody — East Coast, West Coast, and London, first, second and third waves — on their first tours!

Bands and people included are:

Adam and the Ants, Andy Warhol, Bauhaus, Billy Idol, Bow Wow Wow, Brian Brain, Circle Jerks, Clash, Brian Cook and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, Cramps, David Johansen (post-New York Dolls), Dead Kennedys, DOA, Edith Massey (of John Waters fame), Exploited, Gang of Four, GBH, Girls School, Jah Wobble, Jello Biafra, Killing Joke, Lance Loud, Lydia Lunch, Marianne Faithfull, Misfits, Nico, Nuns, Patti Smith, Public Image Ltd, Raincoats, Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richard Hell (of The Voidoids), Sex Gang Children, Sid Vicious, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slits, X, Stiv Bators (of The Dead Boys), Stray Cats, and Virgin Prunes.

These aren't posed fashion shots, they're all performance or back stage photos–all action! Plus, his commentary, while minimal, is interesting and fun! The bits about saving Nancy Spungen from getting run over by a taxi and about overhearing Andy Warhol and Truman Capote gossip are unforgettable!

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God Save The Sex Pistols
- November 2003

Once in a while, in amongst all the re-packaged, re-released products, comes a real nugget. Legends Of Punk showcases the work of photographer Rikki Ercoli, focusing on the late 70s / early 80s US punk scene, starting with Sid Vicious at Max's Kansas City. In the book's forward, Rikki recalls his time in NYC, briefly getting acquainted with Sid and Nancy. The remainder of the book is text free, allowing full enjoyment of the images.

You will find a treasure trove of unseen black and white pictures within the 116 pages. These include striking atmospheric shots of Johnny Lydon with PIL, plus Steve Jones & Paul Cook as The Professionals. Steve is captured with his best perm while Paul has long hair!

Other highlights include The Clash, Ramones, BowWowWow, plus Debbie Harry looking stunning as per usual. Worthy of particular note are shots of Jah Wobble, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and American originals, Richard Hell and Stiv Baters. Additionally, second generation UK punk bands such as The Exploited and GBH are pictured during some of their earliest visits to the US.

This is a superb unmissable publication. A genuine 'new' product. Purchase & enjoy.

—Phil Singleton

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NY Rock-
Spyder Crawls the Web
- December 2003
Lastly, and just in time for fishnet–stocking–stuffing time, comes Legends of Punk: Photos from the Vault, a fascinating photo book by San Francisco shutterbug Rikki Ercoli. At under $20, Ercoli's is a cost-conscious collection of images from punk's inaugural Class of '77 (i.e., Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Clash, etc.). And makes for provocative page turning if only to see the peach–fuzz young, but not–so–innocent faces of Sid Vicious, Patti Smith and an unholy host of others you won't remember (Gang of Four anyone?) until seeing them snarling back at you in glorious black and white. Legends of Punk is a must for both black–leather geezers of the original CBGB scene and MTV2 kids who think punk rock started with Good Charlotte. Good grief!
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San Francisco Chronicle
-Pink Section

- 2003
A second show has been added to the reunion of T.J. Kirk, the unique cover band that mashes up the music of James Brown, Thelonious Monk and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, John Schott and Scott Amendola play Dec. 26 and 27 at Great American Music Hall, celebrating the release of their live album "Talking Only Makes It Worse"... Tiny Cupertino label Springman Records has just released "The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show," a remake of the classic camp soundtrack with contributions by the Ataris, the Swinging Utters, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, the Groovie Ghoulies and others … Rikki Ercoli's "Legends of Punk: Photos From the Vault," a hardcover book featuring rare images of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Clash, the Dead Boys, Richard Hell and others, is now available from San Francisco's Manic D Press … A nightclub called 12 Galaxies is scheduled to open in mid-January on the site of Club Galia, on Mission Street between 21st and 22nd. Live music and a full menu … Duran Duran will headline the entertainment at Super Bowl XXXVIII … Rumor has it that Creed has disbanded. Who will step up and take the mantle as the new band we all love to hate?
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- 2003

The cover of Legends of Punk: Photos from the Vault offers an intriguing black-and-white photo of a sneering and shirtless Sid Vicious, the ultimate bad boy of punk music. The raw sexual energy of a leather jacket and a pair of tight black pants is certainly an invitation to take a closer look at Rikki Ercoli’s photo collection portraying some of the most celebrated personalities of the punk scene. Pictures of pioneers such as the Clash, Lydia Lunch, Patti Smith, and the Ramones grace the 120-page book. The performance shots capture the frenzied energy of a live punk show while the images taken offstage offer a rare, relaxed glimpse of people who made names for themselves by being angry. The only real disappointment is the lack of accompanying text. Ercoli has included some brief descriptions of each photo in the back of the book (including a neat little ditty about a threatening Lydia Lunch), but I’m willing to bet there is a lot more story to be told for each image. Nevertheless, fans of late-’70s and early-’80s punk will get a kick out of this volume.

—Georgette Nelson.

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