Blondie guitarist Chris Stein is back -- again.
Never mind the new wave/pop punk band’s 1997 reboot, or the fact that bits and pieces of its 10th album, “Ghosts of Download,” started leaking onto the Internet last month. Stein, also an accomplished photographer, will soon have his first art exhibition in more than 30 years at L.A.’s Morrison Hotel Gallery.
“I had one show in London and one in New York in the early ‘80s -- that’s it,” Stein says. “I always meant to do more, but music has been all encompassing.”
In his late teens, Stein set out to become a photographer as well as a musician; he attended New York’s School of Visual Arts in the late ‘60s with an emphasis on art photography. Hanging around the downtown rock scene in the early ‘70s, he met -- and began photographing -- Blondie’s Debbie Harry. They started the band in ’75 and eventually became long-time lovers and even longer-time creative collaborators, still working together.
But Stein never gave up photography -- if anything, his access to the ‘70s and ‘80s music scene fueled his interest. Shooting, alternately, with a Nikon FM and a Hasselblad, he captured images of friends and band mates -- Iggy Pop, the Ramones, countless shots of the platinum blond, porcelain-faced Harry.
“I was always taking pictures. There was a glamour in the decay that we were all in,” Stein says. “I think that’s why so many hipsters are into these [photographs]. Now it’s all about money and gloss -- you look back at the rot and decay with a sort of envy.”
“Hell in the City of Angels: Chris Stein” will feature two dozen photographs -- many never before exhibited -- from Stein’s personal collection. The show opens Aug. 10 at Morrison Hotel Gallery, the West Hollywood offshoot of the New York gallery devoted to music photography. The gallery, co-owned by two music execs (Peter Blachley and Richard Horowitz) and two music photographers (Henry Diltz and Timothy White), opened in February in the lobby of the Sunset Marquis hotel. The show opens Aug. 10.
Stein says his photographs will be collected into a book, to be published next year by Rizzoli.
Here’s a sneak peek, on the rail at left, of some of the images from the show.