The airwaves may have been dominated by new wave in the 80s, but there was an explosion of talent coming up from the underground. Venues like the Radio Club helped to establish rap music in LA, hardcore punk was blowing up in the South Bay, and every hair metal band in the country seemed to converge on Sunset Boulevard.
When the LA Public Library decided to dedicate an exhibit to this era of music, they discovered that “…little coverage of it exists in the Herald Examiner photo archive. According to one staffer, the smaller clubs were simply too dark and crowded and altogether inhospitable to photographers.” For only one year, from 1988 to ’89, photographer Lucy Snowe and columnist Gregory Sandow covered alternative bands for the “Nite Flash” Column.
The library doesn’t claim to include all of the bands that flourished during the 80s (or all of the photographers), but is proud to present a variety of images reflecting the diversity of LA. Approximately 30 medium-sized black and white photographs of bands and musicians like Redd Kross, Black Flag, Eazy E and Eddie Van Halen hang upon a single wall. The images are accompanied by band synpses written by librarian Wendy Horowitz.
From Pop to the Pit: The LAPL Photo Collection celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene 1978-1989 will be on display in the Central Library History & Genealogy Department until June 28, 2015. Keep an eye on the library calendar for a lecture series featuring LA photographers like Edward Colver and Gary Leonard.
Nikki Kreuzer contributed to this article