I want to say that’s when she heard her demo for “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” or something, but I don’t know what she’s listening to. I wonder if she’d even know now. I love photographs that show a place in time, where you can look at a photo and know when it was. If you didn’t have that tape recorder and the headphones, you wouldn’t know it was 1980. The wine bottle and ashtray look the same as they do now, but the Walkman is very 1980s. Even the tour-bus lounges look the same. And then there’s that expression. You want to know what she’s listening to.
I started working with her in 1980 when she was doing a bunch of shows, and I took this in New York. She was just going solo from the Runaways. I used to love the Runaways, and to have access to Joan was great. She was probably like 21 or 22 there.
Van Halen (1980)
I had shot a bunch of shows of theirs, and I knew what part of the song David Lee Roth would do this jump. So I would watch him, and when I saw him get up on the back of the drum riser, I tried to get the shot. You only get one chance to get that perfect shot. With this one, I had to use a flash to stop the motion, and I had to prejudge the focus because I never used automatic focus, and it’s hard when they’re moving. I wanted to get more Eddie [Van Halen] in there, but you gotta go with what you can. I think it’s kind of cool to get a little bit of Eddie screaming. But with Dave, I don’t even know how he got up there that high. He just jumped off. It was almost like he had a trampoline, but he didn’t have one. It was amazing.
It was always just a party touring with them. They used to give me passes to give to the girls. I remember, Dave would put your initials on the pass, and if the girl he ended up with had your initials on it, you’d get a bonus. I don’t even know how much that was. I definitely gave out some passes, but I never collected.
Ozzy Osbourne Shoots Mark Weiss (1981)
This was after a long day after our first shoot together in 1981. He literally gave me the jacket off his back and I gave him my camera. A little role reversal. It was a sign of fun times ahead and that it was.
AC/DC’s Angus Young (1983)
This is minutes before the show [at Hollywood Florida’s Hollywood Sportatorium] and we did it for a magazine cover. I set up a backdrop and he was just, you know, having a cigarette. For the final touch, I said, “Put your hand there [in your coat].” I don’t think he knew why I wanted to put the hand there, but I wanted it because it was kind of a Napoleon reference and then he stuck his hand up. He just has that quirky look about him, since he dressed like a school kid.
Ozzy and Aimee Osbourne (1984)
That’s Ozzy with his daughter, Aimee, in 1984. That was a play off of his album, Diary of a Madman. It was for a Mother’s Day issue [of Faces magazine]. The idea was to dress him up like a mad housewife, you know, Diary of a Madman/Diary of a Mad Housewife. Aimee came in at the end of the shoot, and I said, “We have to throw her into the shot.” There are actually some photos of him ironing Aimee, too. And after it came out, people were like, “How could you do that?” I was like, “We didn’t do that. It was a prop. The kid is OK.” But me and Ozzy got a lot of attention for a lot of photo shoots we did.
My first shoot with Ozzy was in 1981, when I got an assignment from Circus to shoot him for the cover. I was 21, 22. I went to the hotel, set everything up, and we started doing regular shoots in regular clothes, and then we had this one concept shoot, where Circus had a thing called the “Rock & Roll Yearbook.” He put on this pink tutu right on the bat. I brought boxing gloves, and we had fun with it. And he trusted me. From that first shoot with him, and he was so cooperative and great and listening to me, he gave me confidence. He listened to me and said, “Is that good for you, Mark? Do you need some more?” And he would turn it on. The first time we met, we were buddies
Mötley Crüe (1984)
This was an everyday occurrence with Mötley Crüe. There was always booze around and everyone always had a drink after the show. After one of the shows [on the Shout at the Devil tour], I wanted to get a “sweat shot,” because they’re down ‘n’ dirty. They had their drinks in their hands, and I just pulled them together. I love Tommy [Lee]; he’s got the beer in one hand and the Jack under his arm. I think with Vince [Neil], I might have told him, “Go back.” There’s some direction here and there. And Mick [Mars] is being the stern guy. He never sweats. That’s after a show, and it’s not like they fixed themselves up; I just put them there after the show.
They were opening for Ozzy on this tour. I was on tour with Ozzy on his bus, and I remember the Mötley guys said, “Hey, man. Want to come on tour with us?” So I asked Sharon [Osbourne] if it’s OK, and she said, “Yeah, go have fun.” Nikki [Sixx] took me on the bus, and Tommy was on the driver’s side of the bus and he kind of put his leg down so I couldn’t pass him and he kind of grabbed me. And then Nikki started biting my thigh. He just kept saying, “Draw blood.” I said, “What do you mean?” He kept biting me until I bled, and he wanted me to bite him back. I was like, “I ain’t biting you back, dude.” And Tommy’s got the Jack Daniel’s. I’m starting to have a little pain, and Tommy’s pouring the Jack down my throat, so it started easing the pain, and Nikki kept biting me until I bit him. Ozzy had already left, so I had no other way to get to the next city. So I either had to drink three more bottles of Jack, so I didn’t feel anything, or I needed to bite him back and draw blood. So I opted to bite him back.
So then I passed the initiation. Supposedly, they did that with people they like and wanted to travel with them for the first time. They didn’t do it again after that. I remember Mick and Vince in the back were shaking their heads like, “Leave him alone, man.”
Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli (1984)
Me being a kid from the Seventies, watching One Day at a Time, and there’s Valerie with a cigarette and a beer, it was cool to see this. I took that during MTV’s “Lost Weekend” [at Detroit’s Cobo Hall]. Everybody was in a free-spirited good mood with everything that was going on. MTV had gotten millions of postcards so that a fan could go away with Van Halen on this “Lost Weekend.” I was hired by MTV to pick up the two kids that won and go on a private plane and take pictures. I had known the Van Halen guys since 1979 when I first shot ’em, so they were OK with me popping in the dressing room.
I happened to pop in that day and saw Valerie there and thought, “This is definitely a shot.” They were just talking, so I had to get ’em together, and they just posed for the photo and I just caught it. They almost look like brother and sister. Also, it’s so Eighties. It was like, “This is how you dressed.” Valerie probably stepped it up a little bit to have the Eighties cool vibe going, but it wasn’t for show.
Steven Tyler (1985)
That was the last photo I took of Steven Tyler for 10 years. I started shooting Aerosmith after Joe Perry left, and I was also shooting Joe Perry after he’d gone solo. They were a little bit more accessible, because they weren’t doing as well. They knew my photos from the magazines, and I helped them get press at a time they really needed it, so we developed a good relationship.
In 1984, Joe rejoined the band, and I shot a lot of those shows. They put out the Done With Mirrors album and brought in a new manager, Tim Collins. Part of Tim’s thing was to get rid of all the people from the band’s past, including their entourage, hangers on, and I guess, photographers — mainly me. They thought everyone was a bad influence on them. They hired Tim to get them clean and on track — which he did, and I give him credit for that — but to get rid of everyone in their personal and working life … is that a good thing? I didn’t want to accept it. If anyone was a bad influence, they were a bad influence on me. I was a young kid. If I did drugs with them, it was around them; I would never bring drugs to them.
So for this show [at Compton Terrace in Chandler, Arizona], they were opening for the Scorpions. Aerosmith were kind of on their comeback. I tried to get a photo pass and didn’t get any response from the management and couldn’t understand why. I ended up working for the Scorpions, and when I got there, I looked for Tim Collins, the manager, and he was dodging me, so I went up to Steven. He said, “I didn’t know you were gonna be here. Are you shooting the show?” I said, “Oh, I’m working with the Scorpions.” He said, “Take my laminate. You’ll be cool.” So I started taking photos backstage and Tim walks in. I said, “Oh, Steven said it’s cool. Can I have a photo pass for the concert?” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. You won’t need one.” And he gave me a look like I was going to have some trouble. I go in the photo pit, and within three minutes, these two big guys dragged me out of there.
I later found out that if I ever show up at a show, they’d have me thrown out. They took it so far that there was a picture of me, so if I was working with an opening band, I wasn’t allowed by the dressing rooms. So for 10 years, until they fired him, I wasn’t allowed to get near them. Then once I heard he was gone, I knocked on the door and I was working with them again. So this photo is very meaningful to me.
Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider (1985)
I had done the Stay Hungry album for them, and this was an idea for their next album, Come Out andPlay. This photo was used for the inner sleeve. I think we put a little makeup on the right side, because if you look at his arm with the tattoo on it, that’s his true skin color. We whited him out a little bit for the contrast. So the left side is the makeup, and the other side is straight. They just wanted to do something a little different. Looking at it together, it’s kind of confusing, but if you cover one side and then the other, it’s almost like two different people at two different times. It shows what makeup can do.
This was backstage when they were touring with Ozzy. At that point, they were loving the success they were getting and they were ripping up the crowd. They knew it was a matter of time before they were going to play arenas. I told them I was Ozzy’s photographer and that I would be there for a couple of weeks, and I asked if I could take some photos and try to get them into some magazines. They said sure. Before the show I told them I wanted to get a “sweat shot” of them afterwards. So I gathered them together, it took me some time, and I love the feet. The feet tell the story. And that’s a big smile for Cliff [Burton, the group’s bassist who died later that year]. He never really liked his picture taken. But he was a good sport and he knew he had to do it.
Guns N’ Roses (1987)
CBGB’s was New York City. It was the punk scene. Every band wanted to go there, play there, or hang out there. And when Guns N’ Roses started having some early-on success for Appetite for Destruction, they came to New York and they did a couple shows at the Ritz, they also did a photo shoot and told me they were going to CBGB’s for an acoustic performance and autograph signing. They asked me if I wanted to come along. The show was kind of down ‘n’ dirty. It was acoustic and it wasn’t even on a stage; it was on the side where there was a guard rail. It wasn’t great to take photos on. But it was what it was; I don’t think there was another show like that again. It was historic.
Afterwards, we were just hanging around, and I just gathered everyone together. It wasn’t hard to talk them into getting this shot. Everyone wants to do that, and Slash started having some fun, climbing up the awning. It was just a good moment. It’s an iconic image.
Bon Jovi (1988)
That was four or five months before the Moscow Peace Festivals. [Manager] Doc McGhee wanted to document their trip there. They went to the stadium where the Olympics were once held, and we met all the dignitaries. Rolling Stone was doing a piece on it, and they used my photographs for the spread. And it was really cold, too.
I like how Jon is looking off in this one. I don’t like shots where everyone is looking at you. It doesn’t tell the story. Jon was always one to have eyes on everything; he’s always checking everything out and seeing what’s going on. I do have one where Jon is looking at me, but this one tells a story
Elton John and Bon Jovi (1990)
Jon did the soundtrack for Young Guns II, and he had this vision of getting together some of his heroes from when he was younger. Elton was one, Little Richard was one, and so was Jeff Beck. So he had me document it. I videotaped it and photographed it for the duration of the sessions. And right before the guest artists would leave [A&M Studios and Los Angeles], Jon wanted to make sure I’d get shots of him with them. It was amazing for me, because Elton was my first concert ever when I was 14. So to have rock royalty in there and see him with Jon as equals … The first time I’d seen Jon, he was some kid opening for Southside Johnny and now he’s here with Elton John, 10 years later. It’s things you can’t make up.