From Lou Reed to The Clash, these unseen photos capture the spirit of punk

Photographer Michael Grecco chronicled the explosion of punk music in the United States.

Michael Grecco had been sitting on never-before-seen photographs of the punk era for decades when his archivist suggested digging them out for review. What they found was a veritable treasure trove of images dating from the late 1970s of some of the biggest names in the genre, including Johnny Rotten, The Buzzcocks, Talking Heads, Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and many more.

The award-winning photographer and director captured the seminal shots when he was covering the music scene for the legendary radio station, WBCN, which put him at the forefront of one of the most rebellious and unfiltered moments in sonic history. “The spirit of Punk was extraordinary. It marked me forever,” he says. “As you look at these images, I hope you also get touched by its infectious freedom.”

The full 162 images are available to view in Grecco’s new book, Punk, Post Punk, New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face 1978-1991, and the accompanying multimedia exhibition, Days of Punk, which debuted at Photo London in 2021.

Here, the photographer shares a selection of 20 photos from the archive. Scroll for a raw, unfiltered look at musical icons in the full flush of their fame. 

Dead Kennedys, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981.
David Bowie Fans, Foxborough, Massachusetts, 1983.
Adam Ant, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1981.
Elliot Easton and Nick Lowe, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
Human Sexual Response, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981.
The Clash.
Johnny Rotten of P.I.L., Boston, Massachusetts, 1982.jpg
Lou Reed, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
Kid Congo Powers of The Cramps, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
Martha Davis of The Motels, Boston, Massachusetts, 1982.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Boston, Massachusetts,1980.
Michael Grecco, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
The B-52’s #3, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
The Specials, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
The Slits, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980.
Billy Idol, Boston, Massachusetts, 1982.
WriterNessa Humayun
ImagesCourtesy of Michael Grecco