Black N Blue…Literally!
Black N Blue
June 8, 1984
(opening for Night Ranger)
When I was a young teen I started listening and collecting demos from the local L.A. bands. Some of the tapes I got from the bands and at shows; some I traded through the mail with other metal fans around the world. It was a great time for heavy music out here in Southern California and a great time to be a music fan.
Steeler, Ratt, WASP, Armored Saint – they were all looking for record deals and they were all handing out their music for free, building their fan-base. Black N Blue was one of the new bands on the scene and their early demos were among the strongest. Each demo was better than their previous one, and it did not take much time before they nabbed a major label deal.
By the time I shot these photos, Black N Blue’s debut record had just hit the streets and they were on a national tour supporting Night Ranger. As you will read, I went through a lot to get these photos.
As always, I had to make sure I could get as close as possible to the stage in order to get good shots, so my buddy Howie and I headed straight to the Palladium after school and jumped in line. It was at least 100 degrees that day, and to make things worse, I had to wear a long sleeved, hoodie sweatshirt – it was the only way I could sneak my camera in. Poor Howie, I also made him wear the same sort of hoodie – he was sneaking in my lens for me…what a pal! We sat in line for at least 3 hours, sweating our balls off. I can’t even tell you how many stares we got because we were wearing sweatshirts in the middle of a heat-wave.
They finally opened the doors and we moved towards the entrance. First I slipped in with my camera unnoticed and untouched, Howie followed right behind me. We were in!
I remember getting in to the lobby and having to step to the side for a moment, I thought I was going to faint. All that heat and all that stress had taken its toll on me. I gained my composure and we both headed to the bathroom and rinsed our faces with cold water. We were wiped out and the show hadn’t even started yet.
Howie and I worked our way through the floor towards the stage. I found a spot that I thought would work for photos and held our ground. Usually, when I was shooting from the crowd, I would grab a char and stand on its arms to shoot over everyone’s heads. But there were no chairs in the Palladium, so I was forced to hop on Howie’s shoulders to snap my photos. We must have looked like a couple of fruit-cakes. I didn’t care, I was getting my photos. But Howie was still exhausted from all the heat and was very shakey and could only hold me up for small amounts of time.
As soon as Black N Blue had finished their set we headed out of the crowd to get some air and maybe throw some more cold water on our faces. I took my sweatshirt off and wrapped my camera in it. I must not have been thinking straight – that was a big mistake! It was very obvious that I had something inside that hoodie as I cradled it in my arms in the lobby.
From out of nowhere, a security guard grabbed me and ordered me to open up my hoodie. He saw my camera, grabbed it and put me in a headlock. He threw me in a small office and started questioning me…just like in the movies. He asked me how I got the camera and lens into the venue. I told him that I just walked in with it. He didn’t believe me. He started demanding that I tell him which security guard I paid off to allow me in with the camera. I tried to tell him that he was nuts, but before I could finish my sentence he sucker punched me – square in the temple of my head. I was on dream street, I was fading, passing out. He smacked me in the face to wake me and punched me again.
I knew I was in trouble, but there was no one else around to help…it was just me and him in this little room. All I could think about was my camera and protecting the film. I was so broke that I could only afford one roll of film that night. I had gone through hell to get these photos, there was no way I was going to lose them. I reached for the camera, but the security guard beat me to it. He gave me a sinister smirk and said, “Say bye-bye.” He tried to open my camera to expose the film, but he couldn’t figure out how to open it. I think all the duct tape I had on the camera body threw him off.
He finally got frustrated and gave up on my camera and threw it at me. He grabbed my hair and lifted me from the chair and escorted me out of the venue. Howie was waiting near the door, unsure of where I had been taken and followed us out of the venue. Poor Howie did want to see Night Ranger, but instead he chose to follow me out to make sure I was okay. Again, what a pal!
I didn’t really care that I was thrown out, I was only there to see Black N Blue. Most importantly, I had my camera and the film was still safely inside.
I never got the chance to tell the guys from Black N Blue what I went through to get these photos. When I was shooting KISS on their reunion tour, I was just about to tell Tommy Thayer (he was their tour manager at the time), but he was pulled away with some sort of last minute stage drama.
If any of you loyal readers know the Black N Blue guys, please point them to my blog and have them read this – it would mean a lot to me.
Photographed on Howie’s shoulders with my smuggled in Canon AE1 Program and a cheap, no name 70mm-200mm f 5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Negative film.