I met the Ramones when Tony Wright asked me to shoot the cover for Subterranean Jungle. A year later, the band contacted me about shooting their next cover and asked me if I knew any art directors, as they were not happy about the way the cover of Subterranean Jungle looked.
I told them that we should continue to work with Tony and they would just have to tell him what they wanted.
The shot above is for their album Too Tough To Die. It is the first cover with Ritchie Ramone, the drummer.
At this point in their career, they could afford to have a cover that didn't show their faces. Which is what happened when my front strobes failed to fire.
Another one of my lucky accidents.
This was a publicity shot for the Ramones, around the time when they were covering a lot of psychedelic hits from the Sixties.
In 1970, my Florida girlfriend, told me that her ex-boyfriend in NYC, Ira Cohen, had photographed an album for the California band, Spirit. I was mightily impressed by the acid-influenced, melting images of wizards dressed in multicolored costumes.
I began experimenting with mylar (it was on the floor of the B-52s' original B&W photo that became the first album cover) early in my NYC career.
When the band contacted me about doing our umpteenth cover together, I was fresh out of ideas. I showed Johnny, Markie and CJ my mylar shots of other unknown bands and they told me that they were thinking of calling the album Mondo Bizarro. Everyone was cool with the mylar concept...until I spoke to Joey.
Joey said he had a friend who he was thinking of having shoot the next cover. This guy took pictures that were "kind of melting."
I said, "Who? Ira Cohen?"
Joey was stunned that I knew Ira's work and was afraid that if I took a picture for the cover that looked like Ira's work, Ira would think that Joey ripped him off.
The other members of the band were not concerned, but I thought it would be best if we had a meeting with Ira and tried to work this out so nobody had hurt feelings.
I met Ira with Monte Melnick and Joey. Initially Ira was unfriendly, but as he looked at my portfolio, he became warmer and complimented me on my mylar work, stating that it was a little more commercial than his.
I came up with the solution...
"How much for your Jimi Hendrix in the mylar chamber?" I asked Ira.
"$1500," he replied."
"Well, I will buy one. And you will too, right Joey?"
Ira seemed pleased at this solution, he would make $3,000, I would do the cover.
I gave Ira a huge credit on the album cover so everyone would know that I knew just who I was ripping off.
This my absolutely favorite shot of the Ramones. It was commissioned as a publicity shot for the Acid Eaters album. It was inspired by the hookah-smoking caterpillar sitting on a psylicybin mushroom in Alice in Wonderland.
I built a 12" wide dome out of fiberglass and epoxy over a wood and chicken wire frame, but it wasn't strong enough to hold four guys. So I added about 400 lbs of plaster of paris over the fiberglass. The plaster of paris wouldn't dry because I had painted it.
Then I painted the whole thing day-glo orange, but the paint wouldn't dry because plaster of paris was still wet and I rushed home to get some oriental rugs for the guys to sit on so they wouldn't get paint all over their clothes. I shreaded the stuffing out of a pillow to make the white spots that are on a psylicybin mushroom.
When I got the film back from the lab, the shot looked so disgusting I had to do something.
I contacted John Holmstrom at High Times magazine, who was kind enough to refer a Californial mushroom photographer to me, who was kind enough to let me use one of his shots of a real psylicybin 'shroom.
But it was brown and the wrong shape! Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, I was able to alter the color, shape and number of mushrooms in this picture.
The Mandlebrot fractal background was created with Kai's Power Tools on a MacIntosh II CI, taking 16 hours to render the hi-res file.
- George DuBose