Now THAT so many rock stars have sold their souls to corporate sponsorships, it's no wonder we keep looking back to an era when the stage was a roiling petri dish as likely to spawn a fashion trend as a hit album. With two recently published coffee-table books compiled by the photographers lucky enough to be on the front lines, we can see what real style was all about. The early punk scene in California and the first decade of hip-hop in New York City are worlds apart, but both share what Bill Adler celebrates in his forward to Janette Beckman's book: a "youthful rebellion and blazing street style."
"Punk Pioneers: When Punk Was Fun"
By Jenny Lens (Universe, $29.95).
Photographer Lens' book, due out this month, captures the punk parade on its march through California from 1976 to 1980. Among the finds: Debbie Harry making her 1977 L.A. debut in a thrift-shop wedding dress spray-painted with the letters T.P. (Blondie opened for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Whisky) years before Madonna went matrimonial on stage; the Sex Pistols' final show at the Winterland Ballroom, capturing Johnny Rotten in the look that launched a thousand safety pins; and with surprising intimacy, the Ramones in all their leather jacket, drainpipe-legged glory.