Detroit Punk Photographs

My work is about rock and roll, specifically the rock and roll environment(s) I live in, the subculture. In 1977, just after art school, I fell into the art-and-punk Detroit scene with my friends Destroy All Monsters (the rock band). That scene was a creative incubator where I developed my vision. Mid-eighties I took a hiatus from photography – I was in the psychedelic garage-rock band Batteur Attaqué, then moved to Paris and got a straight job – and returned to photography around 2002. I met French musicians and bands who liked my Detroit work, and who actually knew the music of the bands in those photos, so I ended up right back in the rock and roll scene – which is how I like it. The Detroit Institute of Arts has just acquired four of my photographs from the late seventies scene.

End of the Night
Niagara in the upstair's ladies' room at Bookie's Club 870, 1978.
David Thomas of Pere Ubu, at Bookies Club 870, Detroit, March 25, 1978
Fred
Scott
Ron Asheton and Dennis
Gang War, Ann Arbor, circa 1979-82
Iggy Pop, Bookies Club 870, Detroit, 1980
Iggy Pop performing at Bookies Club 870, 26 September 1980
Ron Asheton and Niagara of Destroy All Monsters, Detroit, 1978
Destroy All Monsters at the Red Carpet Lounge, Detroit, Februry 20,1978
The Cramps, Bookies Club 870, Detroit, July 23, 1978
Jayne County
John Cale at Bookie's Club 870, 1979
The Dead Boys performing at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan on August 7, 1978. Pictured:bassist ???, guitarist ??? singer Stiv Bators, guitarist Cheetah Chrome, drummer ???
The Cult Heroes' band practice room, Ann Arbor, 1978.

End of the night at Bookies Club 870, Detroit, 1978

Niagara in the upstair's ladies' room at Bookie's Club 870, 1978.

David Thomas of Pere Ubu being interviewed for White Noise magazine in the backstage dressing room at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan on March 25, 1978

Fred "Sonic" Smith and Patti Smith backstage at the Second Chance in Ann Arbor, Michigan on February 8, 1978. The occasion was a gig shared by Sonic's Rendezvous Band and the Patti Smith Group. Patti Smith later married Fred "Sonic" Smith. "Sonic" Smith was formerly a guitarist with the MC5.

Scott "Rock Action" Asheton and Scott Morgan of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, backstage at the Second Chance, Ann Arbor, Michigan on August 26, 1977

Guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977

Gang War performing at the Second Chance in Ann Arbor, Michigan, circa 1979-82. Pictured: guitarists Wayne Kramer and Johnny Thunders.

Iggy Pop performing at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan, September 1980. It was a rare performance at a 'teen night' concert at Bookies.

Iggy Pop performing at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan, 26 September 1980.

Ron Asheton performing with his band, Destroy All Monsters at the Red Carpet Lounge in Detroit, Michigan on February 20, 1978. Pictured: singer Niagara (making a halo with her hands over Ron's head), guitarist Ron Asheton (ex- Iggy and the Stooges guitarist)

Destroy All Monsters performing at the Red Carpet Lounge in Detroit, Michigan on February 20, 1978. Pictured: legs of Michael Davis, Niagara, Ron Asheton.

The Cramps performing at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan on July 23, 1978. Lux Interior (Erick Purkhiser), singer, and Bryon Gregory, guitarist.

Jayne County at Bookies Club 870, Detroit, 1979.

John Cale at Bookie's Club 870, 1979.

The Dead Boys performing at Bookies Club 870 in Detroit, Michigan on August 7, 1978.

The Cult Heroes' band practice room, Ann Arbor, 1978.

Click any image to view at full size.

For a limited-edition portfolio of my work published in 2007, which included some of the photos shown here, Iggy Pop graciously wrote the following prose poem. It captures what we all were living then.

-Sue Rynski

These pics are horny and bad. Fuck if you were a normal person from a
normal place you would look at this shit and say what the fuck are
these people trying to do. These people are seeking truth in a place
where there is none. I fucking like it, beer bottles and all. Though
it’s kind of sad to picture it passing into the dust of time and
disappearing greasy hair and all down some black hole.

These people you are looking at were the backbone of rock and roll in
its last gasps, its last years. Now it’s long fucking gone. They are
not the smartest, not the prettiest, definitely not the most
sophisticated or even the coolest. Just the most real and in a weird
way, the best. I played a weeks stand at this place, and I can tell
you it was funky and down. People took their sex and their music and
their cool very seriously and one wrong move or word would finish
you and that was that, and all the bullshit on earth wouldn’t help.
Sometimes you have to get up, go out and prove something, and this is
where these people went to accomplish that and to get rather drunk and
stoned.

Cars in a corn field… kids in a row
In the middle of nowhere, milling in circles Detroit Nocturne
Bad liars, crippled in society
Unable to cheat or scheme smoothly
Given only the gifts to see clearly and be natural
Detroit Nocturne hard headed parents
Tough times
Belligerent sexual sullen Negroes in the background crops of children
factories of children pyramids of children knuckleheaded fuckups
Ready to do anything and much much worse
Where are they going?
Straight to old age and bitterness
Prone to fantastic wrong turns subject to sad decay worthy of love
Condemned to rock
Bookies. Fucking bookies.
Cool. I love it.

-Iggy Pop


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