Rare photos from punk music era in new coffee table book

Members of the British punk-rock band The Clash — L to R: Nicky “Topper” Headon, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Joe Strummer — pose for a portrait backstage in Boston, Massachusetts on May 05, 1981. Photo by Michael Grecco

LOS ANGELES – In the very non-socially-distanced late 1970s, punk rock music grew and morphed into post-punk and new wave movements that prevailed into the 1990s. Back then, fine art, editorial and celebrity portrait photographer Michael Grecco – based in Los Angeles since 1988 – was a working photojournalist, shooting shows in Boston and New York almost nightly. His was a rare opportunity to embed himself in this revolutionary scene from the beginning, as a chronicler and participant – a self-described “club kid.” This previously unseen body of work comprises Grecco’s new book, Punk, Post Punk, New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978–1991 (PPPNW) (Abrams Books, ISBN: 978-1-4197-4854-7).

“The spirit of Punk was extraordinary. It endures. It marked me forever. As you look at these images, I hope you also get touched by punk’s infectious freedom.” – Michael Grecco

This unique coffee-table volume is a bold time-capsule featuring 162 black-and-white and color images of punk and post-punk’s quintessential artists, with an introduction by veteran music journalist Jim Sullivan, and foreword by Fred Schneider of the B52s. Grecco’s photos capture the scene’s insurgent energy, onstage and off, with artists including The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Cramps, Talking Heads, Adam Ant, Joan Jett, the Ramones, The Plasmatics, and more.

Members of Siouxsie and the Banshees pose for a picture backstage before performing in Boston, Massachusetts Circa 1980. A British rock band formed in London in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin, the band rapidly evolved to create “a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation.” Photo by Michael Grecco

In conjunction with the book’s publication, Grecco has launched the website Days of Punk. Along with a deeper dive into the book, the site features an extensive image gallery and a section on “PUNK,” a new TV series for ePix™ based on a concept by Grecco, who also served as an executive producer along with John Varvatos and Iggy Pop, aka the “Godfather of Punk.”

Billy Idol poses for a portrait backstage in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 01, 1982. Photo by Michael Grecco

Grecco’s days in the trenches of punk clubs inspired his career trajectory. “It exposed me to more self-expression, and made me continue to strive for it,” Grecco said. “It was impetuous for me to leave the Associated Press, and the Boston Herald, and go off to LA in the late ’80s to do the portrait work I’ve been doing since, but People Magazine had invited me to be a regular contributor, and I was driven to seek creativity and authenticity. I go out every day with the intention of breaking visual rules, to make an evocative image that inspires people. Punk helped bring me to that place of creativity.”

Cover of the book ‘Punk Post Punk New Wave’ by Michael Grecco. Photo by Michael Grecco

Plans are under way for related exhibitions and events for 2021, pandemic permitting. The work will be represented and offered to collectors by, among others: Atlas Gallery, London; Foley Gallery, New York City; Struck Contemporary, Toronto; The Photo Gallery, Halmstad/Gothenburg, Sweden; and Modern Rocks Gallery, Austin, Texas. There will also be a public exhibition at the international fair Photo London 2021. Live events will feature soundscapes from Roger Miller and Peter Prescott of the band Mission of Burma.

To purchase the book visit https://daysofpunk.com/book-gallery/the-book.

About Michael Grecco:

Michael Grecco is an award-winning commercial and fine art photographer and film director noted for his celebrity portraits, magazine covers, editorial images, and advertising spreads for NBC/Universal, GE, Pfizer, HBO, Kodak, ABC, IBM, Yahoo!, ESPN, WIRED, TIME, People, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Premiere, and others.

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