Destroy All Music : The Masque and Beyond, 1977-1978
Photographs from the Early LA Punk Scene
On display though October 26th
Dawn Wirth bought her first camera in 1976, a
Canon fTB, with the money she earned from working at the Hanna-Barbera
animation studio. She enrolled in a high-school photography class
and began taking photos of bands. Although the photography teacher
told her that the work was “crap”, she continued to
follow her passion. “I was going to these punk shows; the
music was exciting, new and different. I thought that taking pictures
of the bands might be a lot of fun.” Dawn captured on film
the beginnings of a very underground LA punk scene with no idea
of the kind of impact and longevity the music, dress and ideas
would have on pop culture. While preserving history was the furthest
thing from her mind, she was aware that she was one of only five
photographers snapping away at the time; Gabby Berlin, Jenny
Lens, Theresa Kereakes and Herb Wrede.
Wirth shot, up close and in action, legendary bands such as
The Germs, The Screamers, The Bags, The Mumps, The Zeros
and The Weirdos in and around The
Masque and The Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood, California.
In addition, Dawn snapped out-of-town bands such as Devo
and Talking Heads and took color photos
of The Clash before they came to America.
“I saved up all my money and flew to the UK the day I graduated
from High School and lived there for six months.” Dawn also
took color photos of the last Sex Pistols
show at Winterland and another of her favorite groups,
Queen, at The Santa Monica Civic.
Though she shot a few things in color, black and white was her
preference. Dawn states “I was influenced at the time by
Alfred Stieglitz and George Hurrell.” Dawn Wirth’s
photos have been seen in the pages of fanzines such as Flipside,
Sniffin’ Glue and Gen X. Her photos will also
be appearing in the upcoming books Punk 365 released
by Rolling Stone and The Masque Book by Brendan Mullen.
Destroy All Music will be the first
time Wirth will be showing a major body of work in public.
was one the very few photographers brave enough to endure the
intens pummeling at the front of the Masque stage, night after
night. The reward for all her hard knocks and bruises are these
"as close asyou can get" photos of The Weirdos, Screamers,
Germs and many others. As if that weren't enough, she makes the
best fucking brownies in the universe!" Alice
"Sometimes pictures speak louder than words and in 1977 during
the early days of L.A. punk rock, Dawn Wirth was on the front
lines, camera in hand, capturing the moment with terrific photographs".
John Denny, lead singer for The Weridos, 2007
"Dawn Wirth captured the essence of the L.A./Hollywood punk
maelstrom from within the eye of the hurricane. She is authentic
and her work is among the greatest of the genre."
Dan Kessel, 2007
"Dawn Wirth's verite images are essential to any understanding
of first wave Los Angeles punk rock 1977-79. Without angel shutterbugs
like Dawn toiling away (thanklessly at the time) there would be
scant archaelogical evidence this species ever existed. Now --
more than ever -- is the time for love and reparation." Brendan
Mullen, founder of the Masque, 2007
"Dawn IS Punk - she is my go to girl when it comes to the
LA Punk scene. She was there." Scott Michaels
of www.findadeath.com, 2007
"Dawn Wirth was there to take photos of the bands that you
can only dream about." Chris Walters, author
of many books on Punk Rock, 2007
it wasn't for my Mummy, I wouldn't have discovered how COOL the
art of photography is. She has and still does share her love of
photography with me. I want to be a photographer just like her."
Sarah Wirth, 2007