Punky Meadows, lead guitarist for Angel
Marvin asked me if Scott every showed me any of his pictures. The answer to that is a little weird. Yes and no. He showed me some work he did for local music rags, but he didn’t really show me much more than that. I asked, but he was fairly dismissive of his photographic past.
Pondering that question, and the huge amount of time we spent looking at pictures and talking about them, I was suddenly reminded of another great influence on Scott that hasn’t been mentioned before. The rock band Angel, which featured the infamous Punky Meadows on guitar. Scott spent some time with them in Hollywood. Punky (and his pout) were immortalized by Frank Zappa:
In today's rapidly changing world
Rock groups appear every fifteen minutes,
Utilizing some new promotional device.
Some of these devices have been known
To leave irreparable scars
On the minds of foolish young consumers.
One such case is seated before you:
Little skinny Terry 'Ted' Bozzio,
That cute little drummer!
Terry recently fell in love
With a publicity-photo of a boy named Punky Meadows...
Lead guitar player from a group called Angel.
In the photograph,
Punky was seen with a beautiful shiny hairdo
In a semi-profile which emphasized the pootched out succulence Of his insolent pouting rictus,
The sight of which drove the helpless young drummer mad with desire!
The influence wasn’t musical, of course—it was Scott’s big lesson in the power of the camera. The story goes something like this:
In the early eighties, Scott was a consummate party crasher. He was especially proud of using his camera to bluff his way backstage at an Angel concert at the Civic Auditorium in Bakersfield. He managed to convince them that he was taking pictures for a local magazine; he parlayed this into a trip on the tour bus back to LA, where he partied with the band for around three days, that is, until they figured out that he didn’t actually have film in the camera. He was just as proud of this story (when he told me, anyway) as he was of his time hanging out with Darby Crash.
I think his favorite story of party crashing was the cast party for Penelope Spheeris’s Decline and Fall of Western Civilization where Scott and Lee Ving (of Fear) plotted to steal the keg. A career in show business, after all, was what someone went to Hollywood for—and what is more Hollywood than the caper movie? But the main thing I want to bring out here is the complexity of the ways that Scott maintained the right appearance, both verbal and visual; it wasn’t just about getting over on people. He frequently boasted that he was raised by drag queens; he was sensitive to the illusions that people work to construct. Legends aren’t born, they are made.
The first time I visited Scott at his house (which belonged to his father—the house he grew up in) I noticed several gig flyers he had made that featured photographs from Robert Frank’s The Americans. Scott had good taste about what he “appropriated.” His sense of design, his sense of what made a “good picture” was far beyond most musicians I met. When he told me about his time as a photographer in the early eighties (long before I met him) it made more sense. He’d gotten far enough into it to figure out that it was hard to do well; he chose to stick to music instead.
We spent a lot of time looking at photographs across our friendship; I remember vividly bringing Garry Winogrand’s Stock Photographs and Lee Friedlander’s Jazz People of New Orleans to show him at a hotel, in that transition time before he moved up to Selma. Any time he’d visit, my photographic library would usually end up scattered around the room. He had a voracious appetite for pictures. But he also wasn’t above faking it if the situation called for it. One should never underestimate the importance of a good pose; perhaps that’s the power of Punky.
July 10, 2007 1:08 AM