Another impressive opening at The Morrison Hotel Gallery (Bowery) in New York City went down March 11th — a joint photography exhibition documenting the monumental punk and hip hop movements of the 70s and early 80s. For those who are not in the know, The Morrison Hotel is a fine art photography gallery based in NYC with locations in SoHo (124 Prince Street) and the Bowery (313 Bowery). The Bowery location is in the hallowed grounds of the old CBGBs gallery and keeps the spirit alive through film. When I was younger I saw plenty of amazing shows in both the actual CBGBs (now John Varvatos) and the CBs gallery and was even lucky enough to perform on the legendary stages in my own band, so I take personal passion and notice of the featured shows that have taken place since the rebirth of the space.
The Catch the Beat show was truly in the spirit of CBs and included several photos of artists who played the venue in its halcyon club days including The Ramones, The Police and Debbie Harry (aka Blondie) as well as other seminal heroes of the early punk and hip hop scenes. The Clash, Iggy Pop, The Police and John Lydon represented punk’s snarl and primal scream while hip hop pioneers like Run DMC, Afrika Bambaata and Grandmaster Flash held it down for hip-hop’s roots. Biz Markie and a great image of a vampire-grilled RZA also represented hip hop legends. Additional photos including an amazing shot of James Brown (caught in mid-air leap), Bob Marley and Pete Townshend also graced the walls and rounded out the ever-changing face of music in those times.
Regarding the photographers themselves, Janette Beckman and David Corio were freelancing for rival weekly music papers in the late 1970s in London — Melody Maker and New Musical Express, respectively. These were the largest circulation music papers and had a huge influence on the music scene. In 1982, after capturing much of the early punk scene in London (including shooting 3 Police album covers) Janette moved to New York and started to document the emerging hip hop scene. Meanwhile, David was doing the same in the UK. When Corio moved to New York in 1992, the two became fast friends and realized they’d both been documenting the same bands and music scenes. And hence, Catch the Beat was born.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery itself was founded in 2001 by Peter Blachley, a former record company executive, producer Rich Horowitz, a former independent record store owner, and Henry Diltz, a legendary music photographer. The gallery has since grown to become a major brand in fine art music photography and is respected amongst peers and artists alike. If you’re in NYC, keep an eye out for the much anticipated Pocket Cash (Jim Marshall’s unseen Johnny Cash collection) exhibit opening this Friday, March 25th at the SoHo gallery’s Loft space at 116 Prince Street.