In the late 1970s and early 1980s John Brian King was turned on by the high-energy vitality of Los Angeles’s punk scene. LA has long enjoyed a gut-busting diet of great bands and music – Minutemen, Black Flag, the Go-Go’s, RHCP, X, the Dickies, Van Halen, Faster Pussycat, Motley Crüe and Guns ‘n’ Roses. But for many the heyday was when punk hit and the cool kids looking for the genuine article read Lobotomy: The Brainless Magazine and followed bands like The Weirdos, The Controllers, The Germs, Los Illegals, The Skulls, The Bags, The Gun Club, The Brat, The Plugz, Johanna Went, Thee Undertakers,X, The Screamers, Metro Squad, The Brat’s Teresa Covarrubias. It was fun with booze, drugs, style and noise.
Many photos of the punk era seem hackneyed. Familiarity with pictures of snarls, glue and DIY decor dopes expectations. John’s photos are different. Composite blends of snapshot spontaneity, the joy of looking at someone else’s life and a photographer’s eye, these pictures capture the moment of what it was to be there tuned into something new and thrilling.
Nina Hagen performing at the Whiskey A Go Go, Sunset Strip, Hollywood. November 15, 1980.
Su Tissue of the Suburban Lawns performing at the Hong Kong Café, Chinatown, Los Angeles. July 24, 1979.
Friends drunk in car, 1980.
A friend at my rental house in Santa Monica Canyon, 1980 – my landlord was the artist Ed Moses.
My roommate Cedd Moses with his 7-11 booty, Santa Monica Canyon, 1980.
Rednecks hanging out at 7-11, Hollywood, 1980.
Mark Mars and Ashley Bickerton, punk party, 1981.
My friend Scott, punk party, 1981.
The backyard of my apartment, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, 1982.
My friend Avril, her apartment in Venice, 1982.
My friend Gary, punk party, 1981.
My first apartment, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, 1982.
My friend Shana with a recent used-record find, Silver Lake, 1982.
My then-girlfriend Nancy Barton working on an art project, Hollywood, 1982.
Punks at a concert, 1980.
John McGeoch of the band Magazine performing at the Whiskey A Go Go, Sunset Strip, Hollywood. September 1, 1979.
Save the Masque! benefit, Elk”s Hall, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles. February 25, 1978. My first punk concert.
Punk party, Santa Monica Canyon, 1980.
Punk girls at a Hollywood video arcade, 1981.
A friend’s loft – we graffitied his place for fun. Downtown LA, 1981.
Top Jimmy & The Rhythm Pigs performing at the Cathay de Grande, Hollywood, 1981.
More visions of LA from John:
Los Angeles Airport In The 1980s: Wonderful Photos Of Humanity In Limbo
Dick Clark’s Anarchy: Photos of Public Image Ltd’s Performance on American Bandstand (1980)
Follow John’s work here on his website and buy his books at Spurl Editions.