These days, everyone at a rock concert is an amateur photographer. The minute the band steps on stage, phones are whipped out, and thousands of pictures–some blurry, some pixelated, some where the performers are ant-sized–find their way to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Before such technology, fans wanting a memento had to take a different tack: a lens in one sock, a camera in another, and “some rolls of film hidden in my crotch,” which was how Julian David Stone took illicit photos of The Ramones in Palo Alto, California on April 28, 1983.
For six years, Stone snapped pics of legendary musicians: U2, Prince, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, R.E.M.–45 bands in all. NO CAMERAS ALLOWED: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer reproduces these photos, some in color, some black-and-white, and all larger than life. The detail is better than anything found online. Stone shows his artistry in certain photos, such as one of David Bowie surrounded by pitch black. Gone are the crowd, the stage, Bowie’s bandmates; it is as if he is the only thing in existence.
Amid the 200+ pages of photos are 21 pages of text. In these pages, Stone sketches his progression from shutterbug groupie to professional photographer–he was on staff at two magazines, Artist and BAM–to leaving the business after most of his shots following a 1985 Springsteen performance turn out to be blank negatives. The scenes of run-ins with concert security are exciting. He gets Rolling Stone to show interest in his photos of Tom Petty, Talking Heads, and Huey Lewis but doesn’t say whether the magazine bought them–the narrative equivalent of “No Show Jones.” Millennials may not recognize groups like Cheap Trick, Foreigner, or Duran Duran, and they won’t know what to make of descriptions of darkrooms and passages such as “That click I had heard or felt during the concert was the aperture on my 2X diopter . . . locking down at f/16.” Middle-aged readers, however, will find their inner fanboys (and girls) awakened.
A gorgeous coffee table book with a hint of memoir, NO CAMERAS ALLOWED: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer is the perfect evocation of 1980s rock-and-roll.
~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader