A blast of hairspray, a click of a camera, a moment caught in time. Photographer John Scarpati captured a musical earthquake in 1980's Los Angeles. The looks were extreme - it was a time when punk, glam and hard rock were colliding in a vibrant club scene. It went from the underground to huge record deals and the Top 10 in what seemed like no time. And as fast as it came up, it disappeared with the next wave.
A lot of time has passed since then, just enough time that people are now looking back, remembering those crazy years or wishing they were there. Scarpati knew something was up when he started getting calls to dig up his old images for various projects. "I looked at all these pictures and realized I need to do a book," he said on a call from his current home in Nashville.
Scarpati started out in LA like most kids, doing odd jobs in film industry, dreaming of being a rock star (though he couldn't play) and going to school to get a straight job. But in his spare time he was in the clubs photographing live bands and musician friends. His first big break came after dong a shoot for The Motels' Martha Davis, he was introduced to former Journey frontman Steve Perry in 1984 who let him take some photos, one of which ended up on the cover of the album, "Street Talk."
From there, he went on to be the go-to photographer for the record labels, capturing the bands releasing albums in what would become the legendary glam metal movement as well as the iconic cult bands of the still thriving punk scene.
And now those archives have made their way into a new book, Cramp Slash & Burn, complete with personal essays from the band members themselves about that historic time. Scarpati has a few stories of his own. He recalled:
"For the Great White shoot for their album "Hooked," we had made a reflection pond out of a kiddie pool. After the shoot, we left it up and had the party in it. I guess we left the water on because we completely flooded out the studio below me! Oops!"
"For the Scorpians' photo shoot, about 300 live African Black Emperior scorpians were brought in. That was a fun one! Though somehow I doubt the model felt that way. Hehe!"
"The shot of the Cramps I picked for the book had never been used and I think it was the best picture from the shoot. The way Lux is looking at Ivy and how he's touching her, it just shows their relationship and how close they were."
"Jani Lane's [Warrant] individual photo was on the 'maybe' pile and then I heard of his passing and it had to go in."
Cramp Slash & Burn is available online at: www.crampslashandburn.com
Published by Kastle Waserman
Kastle Waserman is a seasoned journalist who has written for the Los Angeles Times, The NY Post and Fodor’s Travel Books. Her experience also includes copywriting for the beauty industry. She currently run... View profile
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