Well, not washed up actually, just really tired. To tell the truth, we photographers made it out of the fall of heavy metal and hair bands virtually unscathed. We weren't forced to immediately dump the hairspray, jump into a pair of camouflage, sport some Doc's and walk around all pissed off and pensive. Not that we didn't, because we did, but we got to transition into that role slowly and at our own pace. Nobody called us has-been's or wanna-be's. We were just the photog's shooting the same shit night after night, right up until that last fateful night; the night that Heavy Metal Hair Bands died.
I remember that night well. I had been asked by July Alley, one of Dallas' top bands at the time, to come shoot some photos for the
unveiling of their new album and new name. I walked into the "Basement", a local venue and brilliantly dark bar, with all my gear,
prepared to knock out a pretty easy shoot and then hang with some friends. I had done it dozens of times and with this band especially,
it was old hat. They were a really cool band at the time; they had a very "LA Guns", "Faster Pussycat" thing going on. Long black hair,
bandanas tied around their heads (side note: that bandana was signal of the end. Remember seeing that "Poison" video and instead of
that big ol' hair Bret Michaels was famous for, he was sporting that bandana around that lifeless mop... That was the beginning of the end). Anyway, back on track, all the guys in "July Alley" had that bandana thing going; they wore skin tight "Lip Service" pants, shredded tight t-shirts and just for good measure a few colorful scarves tied around their mic stands. They danced and jiggled and humped around on each other making lewd insinuations. The girls went wild.
At first, I thought I had gotten the venue wrong, or at the very least had missed the band. Because on stage, every single one of them were in calf length, baggy, army green pants, Doc Martins, flannel shirts and the guitar player, was now a blonde with dreadlocks. That wasn't the end of it. Instead of the happy "let's get drunk and screw hot chicks" songs they had become locally famous for, the singer, was howling in low "D" about the agony of drug addiction and loneliness. Above them, a banner boldly stated their new name "Flack Jacket". "What the fuck!" I thought. After the show, the sound system blared into "da d... da da da" and Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit", swept through the room like a giant angry broom, taking with it the last of the hairspray guys into the cold world that awaited them. And that was it friends, hair bands were officially dead.
Back in the day, when "Heavy Metal" ruled and "Glam Rock" was cool, shooting bands was a lot of fun. You got to burn a lot of film, because the bands themselves were so colorful. They all posed and made kissey faces at the camera when they were on stage. They danced and twirled and carried around their mic stands. It was great stuff; you could stand there and shoot all night. Group shots were always planned way in advance in these elaborate settings, the more elaborate, the better. There were lots of props, lots of big-boobed chicks in mini skirts, and fishnets crawling all over the guys. You always needed at least two big fans to blow all that hair just right and you could have had a field day on a slip-n-slide with all the lip gloss.
The grunge phase was an entirely different animal. Everyone wanted to look as ugly and poor as possible. Live shows were downright dangerous; you were consistently dodging bodies and boot prints in those mosh-pits. On stage the band didn't move, each one of them copped a stance, and hung their heads straight down and if they did look up it was just to shoot the crowd that chin up "fuck you" look. One roll of film, black and white and you were done. Nothing to do for the rest of the night, but sit at the bar and sink into the agonizing wails of the angry youth of the 1990's. Oh, if I only had a nickel for every shoot I did of five heroin addict looking guys on train tracks, or in graveyards with empty beer bottles scattered about. Of course, the underside of graffiti ridden bridges played a pretty close second. The whole idea was to look like you didn't give a shit and no-one ever looked at the camera. Ever.
There was a glimmer of a return when "Metallica" released their "Black Album". It was loud, it was fun and their hair was jacked to Jesus; but all hope was gone sometime around 1995 when even the holy "Hetfield" and clan cut their flowing locks. It's no coincidence that "Load", released in 1996 launched with a resounding thud. That "Black Album" was the last dying breath of an entire genre.
Gone were wild Jacuzzi parties and all night bedlam, it was traded for tribal tattoos and solemn introspection. Strippers were replaced with junkie girlfriends, and perky band names like "The London Quireboys" were replaced with more somber titles like "Alice in Chains". The world got really grey and no matter where you resided, you lived in the "Seattle Sound". Going shopping was the same as dumpster diving and thrift stores across America made millions.
Sure, some of them made it out alive. The few hair bands that hit mega fame before the Washington fog hit the fan, still tour and make records. Motley Crue got back together recently. I'm pretty sure Bon Jovi never even took a break. Metallica got a therapist and got back on the road. And recently I found out that "Tim Skold" from "Shotgun Messiah" went on to play in KMFDM and then replaced "Twiggy" as "Marilyn Manson's" bass player.
Jones w/ TIM TIM, or rather Tim Skold
Some were not so lucky. I mean do I even have to say David Lee Roth? He's an EMT in New York. Um, excuse me, but in what world,
does "David Lee Roth" from the "Van Halen" that put out "Fair Warning" and "Diver Down" become an EMT? Not that it's not an
honest profession, but c'mon, that's quite a leap. Oh, and "Van Halen" is whole other sad story by itself. "Van Hagar" was bad
enough to take both "Eddie Van Halen" - guitar god and "Sammy Hagar" - the red rocker, down. And just now, we are beginning to
see the sad demise of those bitter artists of the 90's. Poor "Alanis Morissette" has re-released "Jagged Little Pill" acoustically,
as if to say, "Don't you remember? You liked me; you really, really liked me." Maybe those guys who just disappeared were the lucky
ones after all.
Grunge came and went and somewhere around 2000, the soft, melodic sounds of "Dave Matthews" and "Radiohead" let us lick our tortured,
pierced, tattooed wounds and get through rehab. Life and music run in circles and like the peace music of the 60's led to the
fury of 70's Punk, which was the predecessor to the 80's Metal and Glam which gave way to the 90's Grunge revolution which folded
for the melodic sounds of the millennium, 2005 finds music once again angry. Hey, at least it's angry and colorful this time around.
Photographers are having a blast again. Artists like, "Eminem", "Marilyn Manson", "Green Day" and "The Black Eyed Peas" scream out in
rage while sporting couture fashion and designer cologne.
What about me you ask? Where does a washed up metal photographer find herself on the eve of her 37th birthday, a mere sub-genre from 40?
I'm still out there; I'm still shooting; although these days you're more likely to find me snapping a fine art series or a folk singer
than a "Stained" or "White Stripes" concert. What happened? What changed? You ask. Well, there was that one last show; I can't remember
the show itself and I'm not sure what exactly happened. I think I just took one too many steel toed shoes to the chin, or lost one
last piece of equipment to the throngs of a live crowd. But one night, I crawled out of the pit, walked to the bar, ordered a shot,
took one long look at the stage and left the building.
Back to the Bonez
Jones is currently working in San Diego as a photographer & promotions director.
You can visit her website at
Also, click here to check out her exclusive interview with us.