The turbulent early days of California punk, as captured by Ruby Ray
By the time Ruby Ray had set up shop in San Francisco in the late ’70s, California punk was in full force. Between Detroit, the East Village, and London, the story of punk’s genesis doesn’t always have room for the niche scenes that had begun to take to take root during the same era. But while CBGB and Sid Vicious grabbed headlines, a host of scenes had started to materialize a few thousand miles West–just as vital, just as anarchic, and just as loud. Armed with a Nikon FM, Ruby found herself the heart of a tumultous Bay Area scene that spawned The Avengers, The Mutants, The Offs and the Dead Kennedys, shooting stark, intimate black and whites for the now-storied punk zine Search & Destroy. Her approach, like the music she was cataloging, was decidely DIY, captured on the fastest film she could find, and developed in her bathroom.
From the Edge of the World, the first official publication from Oakland-based label Superior Viaduct, archives and curates a selection of Ray’s late ’70s and early ’80s work pretty epically. There are glimpses of towering cult heroes like Roky Erickson and luminaries like Devo and William S. Burroughs. There are onstage meltdowns and intimate bedroom portraits. There are even a few shots of Sid and the Sex Pistols’ fateful journey to states, snapped on the night of their final performance. Included below are selections from the book, which you can cop via Superior Viaduct, right here. It’s a powerful book, and beautifully put together. Highly recommended.
Booji Boy (Devo)
Trudie (The Plungers)
William S. Burroughs
Sue Mutant (The Mutants)
Fritz Fox (The Mutants)
Search & Destroy headquarters
John Maxwell & Roky Erickson at Mabuhay Gardens
Hellen Killer with Sid
Lux Interior/Poison Ivy/Bryan Gregory (The Cramps) at Napa State mental hospital
Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)
Monte Cazazza at Ocean Beach
Ruby Ray’s bedroom on Jones Street
Ruby Ray shoots William S. Burroughs