Riot on Sunset and Punk at Whisky

Riot on Sunset and Punk at Whisky

My rebuttal to article claiming Punk saved the Whisky but then talked more about non-punk bands. Minimal about LA Punk bands. I could write a book. Read what I wrote (below or use link) after reading his long article.

Why the fashion photo above? Author included photos of English punks with swastikas on their faces. Not in LA! Plus most everyone in the above photo played a VITAL part in bringing punk to life. At the Whisky and elsewhere. Left to right: Terry Graham (Bags drummer and much more), Lorna Doom, Germs bassist, Belinda, future Go-Go and solo performer, ?, Hellin Killer, ?, Pleasant Gehman (who was quoted, as was I). Photographed near the Whisky, on the Sunset Strip, August, 1977. Just another night on the town.

LOVELY compliment: “Photographer Jenny Lens, whose work vividly documented the LA scene, wrote in Punk Pioneers…” Yes, I did vividly document and helped create the LA scene. Lots of colorful and vibrant photos.

My responses:

Where do I start? First, yes, I always said punk brought the Whisky back to life. No argument there. But the stories and photos veer off to include Van Halen (the better to promote his book), Johnny Cougar and Tom Petty. But exclude vital LA Bands? LA PUNKS built and kept the scene alive. Not just the Whisky. The many fanzines and flyers. We promoted and publicized and produced our own shows and good times at the Whisky. No mention.

The photos of the punk fans with swastikas on their faces: England. I went out nearly every night and many days, photographing parties, backstage, on the street and shows. Starting August 1976 and ending nearly 4 years later. I was at the Whisky quite often during 1977 and took photos to prove it.

I never saw anyone with a swastika on their face in LA or San Francisco. The clothes, the makeup in those images: all England.

“bulk of Hollywood’s young rock fans had embraced the scene.” Wow, gosh, no. There were only a few hundred fans, whereas, big places like Anaheim Stadium sold 60,000 tickets to a gig. Punk was still underground and small, even by end of 1977.  Of course it depends what you mean by Hollywood’s young rock fans. People who live in Hollywood, perform in Hollywood? But no, we were not embraced by everyone by any means.

Next, anyone who actually believes what Kim Fowley said might want to run it by a lot of other sources. Kim was the master of hyperbole, distortion and hype. I know that’s redundant, but he talked a big talk.

Talking about punk, and you include a photo of Johnny Cougar? Really? Yes, I was there, photographing him and the Jam.

No mention of LA bands who REALLY brought the Whisky back to life, beyond the Germs? Screamers? X? My gosh, whom did I photograph at the Whisky? Van Halen and their opening band, the Mumps, May 1977.

Ramones, Blondie, Dictators, Talking Heads, Mink de Ville, from New York. Nuns from San Francisco. I’m leaving tons off, cos this is from the top of my head. But photos of Tom Petty (whom I shot when Blondie played with he and the Heartbreakers, and other times) and already mentioned Cougar?

That’s somehow related to the Whisky and punk? I’ve stated many times the Whisky was my “home away from home.” I’ve tons of stories, onstage and backstage photos, but well, didn’t reach out to me? I’m so easily accessible (site and Facebook. People from all over the world contact me all the time). To get some more authentic early Whisky punk photos.

Wassup with no photo credits? Gee, I like knowing who took what.

Finally, huge THANK YOU for so kindly including me, with a quote. Gotta love you for “Photographer Jenny Lens, whose work vividly documented the LA scene.” I would have gladly provide photos for some of the real LA Bands AND performers who helped bring the Whisky back to life. A very special place and time. I fondly remember it well.

You can see photos and read stories on and see over 170 large photos on my photo store. See the photos and read the stories. I covered a lot more in my now out of print book, Punk Pioneers.

I made SURE I included many punk bands at the Whisky in 1977 thru 1980. Lots of amazing memories. Hard to convey, even with photos and stories, no matter who tells it. I always say punk is like the 6 blind men and the elephant. You had to be there cos something gets lost in translation.

Sorry, forgot to mention one tiny fact: NO RIOTS. Not on the Sunset Strip, not at the Whisky. The Riots were in the 60’s. Yeah, the peace loving hippies rioted. The punks didn’t riot in 1977. So a few ppl through some mayo around at a Germs show. That wasn’t a riot.

Might wanna get your facts straight. It just adds more mythology to what LA Punks were like. We did our own thing, but usually under the radar. That is what was so much fun!

We got away with a lot, cos we didn’t cause riots. But punks attracted violence. That became an issue with the Germs, but not other bands in 1977. We kept it contained. Til the hard core element from elsewhere moved in and yeah, the vibe changed. After 1977.