Checking Out Paul Zone’s Rock-and-Roll Playground [PHOTOS]

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 at 10:28 am by

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David Johansen (New York Dolls) / Max’s Kansas City August 1973

Paul Zone’s fleeting photo exhibit in SoHo this past Friday, “Growing Up In the New York Underground,” was my first introduction to his attitude-filled images of rock-and-roll between the years 1971 and 1977. I have seen hundreds of pictures of these music legends. Yet something about walking down a long hallway dotted with pictures, albums, and old magazine cutouts of my favorite bands really struck a chord (pun might be intended).

Paul Zone is one of those individuals who was present during the peak of The Mercer Arts Center, CBGB and the second incarnation of Max’s Kansas City (the Peter Crowley era). To assert that this was a time ripe with musical talent would be an understatement. His gift? The ability to capture these bands (The New York Dolls, Blondie, Jayne County, The Ramones to name a few) in their most raw form both on- and offstage.

The wall-sized photo of Joey Ramone, and the image of a young Johnny Thunders on stage during his last show in NYC, were my personal favorites.

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Tish & Snooky / Manic Panic, St. Marks Place 1978

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Debbie Harry (Blondie) / Max’s Kansas City 1975

Paul Zone lived in the West Village, at times staying with his parents in Brooklyn, bouncing back and forth between visiting friends and attending shows. Being a young teenager, he was able to hang out with the slightly older crowd (and by “older” I mean early 20’s) because of his two older brothers. He started taking pictures at shows, often sparsely populated other than friends of the band. Regarding his experience, Paul explains it as being with friends growing up, this is how it happened, and this is what we did.” It was about being young, hanging out with friends as any kid would do, and seeing bands that were playing in the area. It just so happened that the course of music was really changing, and bands like the Ramones were taking shape.

There was a lot happening at that time that contributed to this era being so pivotal in the history of music, and as Paul describes, It had a lot to do with raw talent, with New York, with the Lower East Side, the 1970s, what the music business was like at the time, and what we rebelled against.”

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Wayne County / Coventry, Queens NY 1973

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Arturo Vega / At Home 1975

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Lou Reed / Academy of Music December 21, 1973

“Growing up in the New York Underground” is no longer available for public viewing, so you can grab his book on Amazon here. It’s a great way to explore a priceless piece of New York City history. Although The Mercer Arts Center collapsed years ago, and Max’s and CBGB are no longer what they used to be (now a deli and a high-end clothing store), I always like to visit these places, anyway. I find that reading a book and looking at pictures, followed by visiting the old venues, allows you to connect a little bit more with something you may not have been able to experience. And, even if you did, this is still a great way to reminisce about years past.

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Paul Zone

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Playground: Growing Up in the New York City Underground by Paul Zone, published by Glitterati Incorporated

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