Growing up as a rebellious teenager in the suburbs of Los Angeles, hanging out at gigs and gaining access to the now-legendary bands of the era, Marla Watson is now unleashing her rarely seen hardcore punk photography from the early 1980’s in this new book entitled ‘My Punk Rock Life’.
“I never considered myself to be a professional photographer but more of a historian. Regardless, I took some pretty great photos right alongside some of the greats like Edward Colver, Alison Braun and Glen E. Friedman. In late 1983 I travelled to London for two months and took pictures of all my favourite punk bands of that era. Life is a lot of fun when you are young and unencumbered. My negatives have been safely stored in my attic until the Covid years when I had extra time on my hands to scan them and create a book.”
Marla’s book emphasises the fans point of view. Reaching out to both friends and strangers to write short pieces about what it felt like to be a punk back then, including personal stories and experiences. The feedback so far has been massively positive from the likes of Ian Mackaye, Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, Mike Burkett, Jeff Nelson and others, many of whom are featured in the book.
“A crucial document on the early days of US hardcore!”
“A great archive of that time period. The bands, the people, the venues... everything is so well documented.”
“Marla paints an excellent picture of the SoCal punk scene during the 80s with her photography and anecdotes.”
Marla started taking pictures at Los Angeles punk shows in the early 1980’s, just as the US punk hardcore scene was emerging. This was her salvation. She made a press pass and stood on the side of the stage with her camera during all those amazing shows. She has collected the photography from that experience of a lifetime into this 254 page book.
With over 300 high quality and rarely seen images from the infancy of the hardcore punk scene featuring seminal acts such Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, The Damned, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, The Vandals, Channel 3, The Adicts, Stiff Little Fingers, Shattered Faith, Fear, White Flag, Youth Brigade, Social Distortion, The Angry Samoans, Battalion of Saints, Redd Kross, 7 Seconds, Suicidal Tendencies, Descendents, Bad Brains, Discharge, UK Subs, The Clash, The Varukers, The English Dogs, T.S.O.L, The Lewd, Subhumans, Red Scare, Ill Repute, The Pandoras, The Blades, The Bangs, The Toy Dolls, Sin 34, GBH, The Dickies, DOA, and the list goes on!
These photos have sat in a box, untouched for forty years. Now Marla is sharing her photography with the world in her first book; ‘My Punk Rock Life’.
254 pages, hardback, ISBN 9781739443870
These beautiful books are shipping now, along with a poster, bookmark and extra goodies.
Marla Watson was born at the right place at the right time. Her birth at the tail end of 1962 gave way to a coming-of-age in the late ‘70s where she discovered punk rock when a high school friend took her to see X. She felt instant acceptance in the LA punk scene and a sense of self she had never experienced before.
In the early ‘80s Marla was a journalism major in college, when she met a punk boy on the school paper and the two decided to start a fanzine. Marla owned a camera so she became the photographer. The pair managed to put out one issue of the Skank Magazine before breaking up, but Marla kept on going to shows and taking pictures.
By the mid-eighties the L.A. hardcore scene had become increasingly dangerous and in 1985, Marla, who was tired of injuries and broken cameras, stopped photographing punk and moved on to other forms of music and new interests, continuing to write and take photos for various local magazines.
Marla’s photos have been used on LPs by Minor Threat and Channel 3.
Most of Marla’s work remained unseen until this book. ‘My Punk Rock Life’.
Marla left Los Angeles in 1991 and moved sight unseen to Portland, Oregon where she met her deadhead husband Walt and settled down, raising their daughter Hailey. They are now empty nesters with two spoiled German Shepard’s named Iggy Pup and Strummer Jo.
‘My Punk Rock Life’ was created during the Covid lockdown when Marla finally had time to finish this project.
Marla’s photography is on display at The Punk Rock Museum in Las Vegas as well as in the recently released T.S.O.L. documentary ‘Ignore Heroes’ and the upcoming documentary on the Orange County punk scene ‘Where The County Line Ends’. It will also be featured in a documentary about the horror-rock band Haunted Garage as well as a doc about LA punk and gangs currently in production. She will also have photos featured the memoir of Leonard Graves Phillips of The Dickies.
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