Friday, November 20, 2020

Karl Stoecker

Kimono My House Outtake
Karl Stoecker wasn't about black and white, instead the iconic photographer was the harbinger for the likes of Mick Rock and Anton Corbijn, and more so for the more famous shock-photographers of the 70s and 80s (from Helmut Newton to Herb Ritz and Bruce Weber). Stoecker was essential to album art for Roxy Music and Lou Reed during Glitter's peak year, 1972, his vibrant images oozing sexuality, flirting with androgyny, and helping define a brief but influential era in popular music.

Bryan Ferry took note of his fashion ad work and asked him to provide images for Roxy Music's first album, a deal that continued until Roxy's third LP, Stranded. In between, Stoecker famously shot the back cover of Reed's 1972, Bowie-produced glam-rock album, Transformer. Mick Rock provided the album's famous eerie, androgynous cover, but the back featured the dueling images of a man and woman. Stoecker's wife recalls its startling quality:  "The whole thing with he was a she," she says, referring to the lyrics of "Take A Walk On the Wild Side." "I had this album the day it came out, when I was a kid. I would even think, was this the same person?" she says of the back cover, featuring the model Gala and Reed's roadie and friend Ernie Thormahlen, wearing a plastic banana in his jeans. "You know, when you're a kid and you stared at a record cover for ten hours," Patti continues, "you thought, was that the message? Is that him as a girl?"

Transformer Outtake
Of all Roxy Music, Karl remembers getting on particularly well with Eno, who was often celebrated as the most eccentric member of the band. "Brian was really into music," he said. "He did that stuff with the trumpet player in New York [Jon Hassell]. He's done a lot of nice stuff with John Cale. He lived on Portobello Road, somewhere in Notting Hill, and so you'd go over there and he'd be doing interesting stuff. Like, they recorded a brass band playing badly. It was either a badly playing brass band or a brass band that was playing badly on purpose, and he'd be like, 'Yeah!' And I didn't get," he laughs.

In 1974, Stoecker photographed Sparks' Kimono My House, which would prove to be one of his last for the rock world. Unlike Rock and Corbijn, Stoecker was more in tune with the models than the music and seemingly opted out of the whole New York/London scene. He lives and works today in Miami Beach. "I think now I only want to be a beachcomber," he says. "I mean, taking photographs is fine, but that's what I want to be for my prime occupation if I can figure it out."