""But I'm 41 now. That era, it's gone".
February 18, 2005 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Touch Me I'm Sick. Photographer Charles Peterson helped America see grunge from the inside out. His dramatic black-and-white images portrayed the energy of the music being performed in crowded basements and dingy dive bars featuring such bands as Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Hole, Black Flag, Fugazi, and Sonic Youth, among others. "Touch Me I’m Sick: Rock ‘n’ Roll Photographs by Charles Peterson" will be on view at the Chrysler Museum of Art through May 1. More inside.
posted by matteo (24 comments total)
BugMeNot for DailyPress, if needed

Peterson's work includes very good images from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos

The Chrysler Museum of Art's address is : 245 West Olney Road, Norfolk, VA
posted by matteo at 10:27 AM on February 18, 2005

Thanks for posting this, matteo. I have always loved Charles's work. He was able to capture chaos and motion better than any rock photographer I have ever seen.
posted by psmealey at 10:30 AM on February 18, 2005

Peterson interview here
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on February 18, 2005

I wish I could find it online, but Charles took this amazing picture of Eddie and Jeff standing back to back in front of the huge, seething mosh pit at Lollapalooza II. It was one of the most striking images I have ever seen. There used to be a vintage vinyl store on third avenue in Seattle that had it hanging up in the store for a year, and I kept meaning to make them an offer for it, but they went out of business one day and I never saw it again.
posted by psmealey at 10:41 AM on February 18, 2005

I personally own several of Peterson's Photos. He is really good (and is among a bevy of great photogs here like Spike Mafford et al). I have one I particularly love of Curt Kobain ascending aloft from an amp.

When Grant Alden (former editor Seattle's defunct "Rocket" alt mag) owned a gallery here in Seattle in the early 90's he specialized in the rock scene art before the mainstream co-opted it all and Seattle decided it wanted to be an overpriced "World Class City. I know I sound like a real mossback - but I really miss those days.

Alden used to show all our good friends work from Peterson, Art Chantry, to Sub Pop's Hank Trotter and Jeff Kliensmith. Some of the stuff was really brilliant.

I'm glad I got a piece of it while I could afford it all.
posted by tkchrist at 10:42 AM on February 18, 2005

I recently picked up a couple rock posters from Jeff Kleinsmith's site. There's some great stuff there as well. /OT
posted by psmealey at 10:57 AM on February 18, 2005

Check out Ed Fotheringham as well... part of the same crowd of designers in Seattle. I used to set type for those guys on my Mac Plus in Freehand 3.01!

Damn. Now I'm all nostalgic and shit.
posted by tkchrist at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2005

Thanks for this post... just when I think i'm over nostalgia, I see something like this and it all comes fucking back to me and leaves a terrible hole in my heart.
posted by pandaharma at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2005

Yeah, great post. Being from Victoria, BC and frequent Seattle concert-goer and fervent End listener back in the day I too am feeling nostalgic looking at those photos. I particularly like the '85 Stone Gossard shot...he looks like he's about twelve.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2005

Thanks for the links. For me, his photos helped define that era and they're still a potent signpost to it.
posted by safetyfork at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2005

I love the Sleater Kinney 2000 Portland shot -- it reminds me a little of Jim Marshall's famous Duane Allman shot

by the way, my brothers and sisters in nostalgia, Sleater-Kinney emerges from 'The Woods'
posted by matteo at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2005

Fugazi is grunge? Why, I had no idea.
posted by ScaryShrink at 12:27 PM on February 18, 2005

The rock press started throwing the word "grunge" around in 1991 or 1992 to basically describe an aesthetic, rather than a musical genre. The only pure examples of grunge as musical genre I can think of were Green River, early Soundgarden and Tad (in addition to many other lesser known bands among them, Dead Moon and Skin Yard). Excepting Bleach, Nirvana pretty much a straight ahead punk band, Pearl Jam was pretty pure 70's derived hard rock, Alice in Chains was metal and Mudhoney was garage. It just became a catch-all. And you're right, I wouldn't place Fugazi anywhere near that tag.

It's a good bar conversation at any rate, one that I haven't had in a long time. Maybe, I'll see you guys at the Comet later? [just kidding, I left the Emerald city 4 years ago].
posted by psmealey at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2005

ScaryShrink, I just came in here to bitch about the same thing.

Great photos, though, awesome post.
posted by saladin at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2005

As long as we're doing this thing, we should point out that Black Flag was long broken up and never grunge either...I'm just happy that Charles Peterson took such amazing photos regardless of what musical heritage or genre pegging may have been going on with any of the bands he captured on film.
posted by safetyfork at 1:13 PM on February 18, 2005

Excellent stuff, thanks matteo!
posted by carter at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2005

psmealey - Ah. Yeah. The Comet. Drinking Red Hook and then stumbling over to Moe's to see a Stumpy Joe show.

You 'member a Seattle Punk band Coffin Break (Peter Litwin & Rob Skinner) from back in the day? I have a good story about them if you have.
posted by tkchrist at 4:38 PM on February 18, 2005

I sure do. In fact, I have one of their tunes ("Kill the President") on my iPod.
posted by psmealey at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2005

That's the one.

When I first came to Seattle I hooked up with some roommates in this 4 bedroom house up in Mapleleaf ($275 a month... those days is gone, gone, gone).

We decided to throw an inaugural bash for the place.

At the time I had like eight jobs. One was with the League of Conservation Voters in the U District - I worked with Pete Litwin. I designed some posers and t-shirts for Coffin Break and he said, as payback, his band would play my party. For free, even. Man I was SOOOOO naive.

Ok, I said. My roommates were all psyched. So we go all out to decorate the place, get food, a couple of kegs. We invite maybe forty people.

So at about 10pm - an hour AFTER they were supposed to start playing (which was cool with us) - Peter and Rob and the band show up. This turns out o be their first "official" gig and they are really nervous - nobody was really there yet except about 20 of our friends.

I leave to go pick up my girlfriend while they are setting up. The drummer worries there may not be enough people. So as I am out the door he asks if he can make a "couple" calls.

An hour later I come back and my house is seething with about 200 people. AND mostly street punks.

Shit. I start forearm shiver drilling people to get my way back into my house. People breaking shit. Shooting up in the bathroom. Fucking in the car port. Throngs everywhere.

Coffin Break is playing LOUD- with amps set to Eleven - and can't hear me screaming.

I was like: HOLY FUCK! I just moved in here and I KNOW I'm getting evicted. My room-mates were all on acid and useless.

Finally, after leaving a trail of semi-conscious punks in my wake, I muscle my way to the front and between songs I frantically yell to Peter "We gotta get some of these people outta here".

"Are you nuts!" he says.

And I realize it would be a riot. "Just start drinking and try to enjoy the ride" He says, smiling.

LSS. I woke up at about 9am with a pounding hangover enhancing the sound of the last of the "Guests" as they were leaving. Leaving with last of the the contents of my refrigerator (even the cocktail onions were kipped).

I get up. My girl friend is out cold. I hazily remember lots of drinking and nudity. Then I realize there are other people in the bed. I scurry out suddenly feeling very dirty.

I stagger to the living room. I look around. It was like the Grinch had come, man. I mean the nails holding up the pictures were gone. Cut my packing time.
posted by tkchrist at 5:20 PM on February 18, 2005

tkchrist, that is an excellent Seattle story. Thanks for sharing that. Most of my really good Seattle stories involve Tommy Bonehead (and/or Jason Finn), the back pool table room at the Comet and a motorcycle helmet, but nothing as epic as that.
posted by psmealey at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2005

tkchrist, I could tell a very similar story about Stumpy Joe playing a house party of mine. Basically, when you invite a band to play in your house... it's a good idea to put everything you own somewhere else. We had a Christmas tree up but it didn't stay upright long.
posted by litlnemo at 7:38 PM on February 18, 2005

I designed some posers and t-shirts for Coffin Break

So. Posers are not born, but made...
posted by kindall at 7:45 PM on February 18, 2005

It's funny that Stumpy Joe (outside of a Spinal Tap reference) has been mentioned a couple of times 10 years later. Next time I think of it, I'll have to look up John Ramberg and Mark Hoyt and let them know that they've not been forgotten.
posted by psmealey at 7:56 PM on February 18, 2005

It's a great exhibit.
Chrysler Museum is one sign that Norfolk is one of the best kept secrets on the east coast...in my opinion.
posted by Feferneuse at 4:55 PM on February 20, 2005

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