Renowned music photographer Lynn Goldsmith says that when his publisher suggested he create a book of his photographs from 1980s, his reaction was: “It was a terrible decade! My first thought would be that it would just be a lot of pictures of hair bands.
But after compiling some footage of her work from that time, Goldsmith says she realized that “it was actually an incredible decade. There was so much new music and such a variety of music on the charts,” she says. “You had bananarama and Barry Manilow. Bruce Springsteen and Spandau Ballet. Madonna and Prince. Herbie Hancock had a hit with “Rockit”. Even Goldsmith wrote, recorded and performed under the self-help name Will Powers. Dry cleaning for the era.
“So I was like, ‘I love the 80s! ‘” said Goldsmith, whose about-face resulted in 80s music, a 352-page hardcover book published by Rizzoli, which is an alphabetized collection – from AC/DC to Ziggy Marley – of Goldsmith photos from this decade. (There’s also a photo of her as Will Powers.)
A preface of sorts features quotes from artists featured in the book summarizing the 10-year period in which MTV, new wave, hip-hop and hair metal went pop.
From Guns N’ Roses guitarist slash“Looking back, I’d say the ’80s was the last really definable decade, love it or hate it.”
blondeby Chris Stein: “The 80s killed what was left of the 60s.”
Iggy Pop: “I hated the 80s, except for sex and drugs.”
Laurie Anderson“It was all so big – big hair, big budgets, big egos, big paintings. Could it really have been as airy as it seems now?
A number of photos seem to have good stories behind them. A photo of Paul Simon and Lou Reed looks like they might be in the middle of an argument, and another shows Keith Richards walking down a deserted New York street while an elderly woman looks at him like she’s witnessed the first sign of an alien invasion.
But Goldsmith, whose work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum, says she has nothing to tell. “I’m so focused on the visual, you’re sure to say anything to me,” says the photographer, who owns a Nashville Gallery and is working on a Springsteen photo book for Taschen. “I could never repeat it because I could never remember it.”