Joe Stevens

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Joe Stevens (born July 25, 1938 in New York City) is an American photographer. He photographed 1970s and 1980s rock musicians and bands, notably David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash.[1][2] In the 1960s, he managed the Playhouse, a Greenwich Village coffee house where he took pictures of musicians who played there.[3] He was encouraged to pursue photography by photographer Jim Marshall.[4] His 1965 image of Johnny Cash and guitarist Luther Perkins backstage at Carnegie Hall appeared in the public television series Country Music. Stevens does not have formal training in photography. He worked as road manager for Miriam Makeba and The Lovin' Spoonful. Meeting Marshall again at Woodstock, he decided he "had an eye" for photographs and would make photography his career.[5]

Moving to England in the early 1970s, Stevens was credited in the International Times by the nickname "Captain Snaps" until he received a work permit. Paul McCartney hired him to photograph the Wings Over Europe tour on the recommendation of Linda McCartney.[6] Stevens worked for the New Musical Express for several years before returning to New York City, where he photographed musicians at the club CBGB, including Debbie Harry and the Ramones.

Several of his images are considered historic.[7][8] One shows Paul McCartney hiding in Linda's arms during their arrest for marijuana possession on Aug. 10, 1972 after a Wings concert in Gothenburg, Sweden.[9] Others images are John Lennon wearing bags on his hands as he and Yoko Ono marched to protest the 1971 obscenity trial of Oz magazine editors; Peter Gabriel covered with soap bubbles circa 1974 in the bathtub of Stevens's flat on Finborough Road in London;[10] and the 1976 fight between the Sex Pistols and audience at London's Nashville Rooms. The Gabriel photo was one of many on the cover of NME.

In January 1978, Stevens photographed the Sex Pistols on their American tour. When the group broke up in San Francisco, Stevens gave singer Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) airfare to New York City. Rotten stayed with Stevens before returning to London.[11] In 2011, Stevens described himself as a chronicler of history.[12] In 2015, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth said Stevens "was really the bridge between New York and London... He was really significant in the whole history that was developing in new music at that time."[13] In 2018, Stevens' photographs were used in a biography of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page[14] and autobiography of British-American media executive Les Hinton.[15]


  1. ^ Broussard, Rick. "Rock Music Photographer Joe Stevens". NH Magazine. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Salewicz, Chris (2008). Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer. MacMillan. ISBN 978-1-4668-2162-0. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Sander, Ellen. (1973). Trips : rock life in the sixties. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-684-12752-0. OCLC 591933.
  4. ^ Hislop, Christopher (20 January 2013). "Hot shots: Joe Stevens reflects on his time photographing David Bowie". Seacoast Online. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Stevens, Jenny. "Joe Stevens' best photograph: David Bowie chats to a Paris station porter". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Dahlen, Chris. "Picture This: Whatever Happened to Captain Snaps?". Pitchfork. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Kanner, Matt. "Shooting the Pistols". The Sound. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Hislop, Christopher. "London calling: Fans of the Clash, head to Sonny's Tavern, where the rockers hang out". Seacoast Online. Retrieved 7 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Doyle, Tom (2013). Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s. Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-8041-7914-0. Retrieved 13 April 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Pictures: A look at images, not just the rockers," Adam Coughlin, The Hippo, Nov. 3, 2011
  11. ^ Lydon, John (2014). Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored. Simon & Schuster, p. 177. ISBN 978-1-4711-3719-8.
  12. ^ Coughlin, Hippo
  13. ^ "The architecture of sound," Christopher Hislop, Edge, July 30-Aug. 5, 2015
  14. ^ Salewicz, Chris (23 July 2018). Jimmy Page : the definitive biography. London. ISBN 9780008149314. OCLC 1045638468.
  15. ^ Hinton, Les. (2018). The bootle boy : an untidy life in news. Brunswick, Vic.: Scribe Publications. ISBN 978-1911617013. OCLC 1020637384.

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