Los Angeles photographer Brad Elterman was “a teenage paparazzo.” A legend of sorts, he started out with a borrowed camera at 16 and quickly became a regular at lavish hotel parties, private rock star gatherings and… wherever David Bowie could be found trying to walk down the street without having his picture taken. It helps that he’d befriended the Runaways, Blondie and Joey Ramone and the captures themselves are instantly iconic. This Gene Simmons and Brook Shields moment? Priceless.
There’s an almost naivete in these glimpses of rock superstars of yesteryear, helped in part by Elterman’s own commentary. He eagerly recalls how a stranger at the Beverly Hills Hotel party suddenly breaks into a topless boogie. He remembers fondly how teen heartthrob Leif Garret asked him to come over to photograph that new “knockout” girlfriend he’s got. “Joan’s just being Joan,” he says, of a photograph of Joan Jett giving him the finger and snarling. Flipping through these captures makes us almost nostalgic for places we’ve never been, but it’s all in good fun. Check out more shots at Brad Elterman’s gallery, the photoblog American Suburb X and Elterman’s book Like It Was Yesterday.