’80s rock ‘n’ roll photographer Lynne Goldsmith reveals the stories of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and more

Lynne Goldsmith never thought she would write a book about the ’80s.

“If you mentioned this contract to me, for whatever reason, I would have gone ‘blech! ”

“Most people in my age group feel this way,” the 76-year-old added. “The era began with john lennon assassination … I suspect Chris Stein [of Blondie] Put it best: “The ’80s killed what was left of the ’60s.”

When an editor suggested she dig into her old photos from the decade for a potential project, Goldsmith reluctantly began reviewing her negatives. But as she meditated on her set of photos, she realized that the ’80s were actually pretty cool.

“I really saw what creative time was like,” said the Detroit native. “When I started putting them together, I thought I could do this alphabetically to show the range visually – how different Bananarama is from Barry Manilow.”

Music in the 80’s(Rizzoli) Showcases The Amazing Show of Decade Me: The Rolling Stones to The Boss; Herbie Hancock runs DMC; Madonna to old college classmate Iggy Pope at Goldsmiths; plaintiffs, yes, Barry Manilow.

Lynn Goldsmith's New Photography Book,
Lynn Goldsmith’s new photography book, Music in the ’80s, is now out.

“I wondered, ‘How did you take pictures of all these people?'” said Goldsmith, who was also doing her own dance music under the name Will Powers at the time. “How did you grow? Did I ever set in the 80’s? And I had to disqualify a lot of artists because there weren’t enough pages! “

She’s captured these characters in their most surprising, glamorous, and most truthful way—perhaps because she herself is a musician and artist. “I’m shooting from a fan’s point of view,” she said.

Here, Goldsmith shares some of her photos and stories from the ’80s.


The B-52 was shot in the sewing room of their home in Nyack, New York.
The B-52 was shot in the sewing room of their home in Nyack, New York.
Lynn Goldsmith

The first time Goldsmith heard about The B-52’s, the cartoonish new five-way band from Athens, Georgia, she knew she had to meet them.

“I went,” she remembered, saying, “It’s going to be huge! So, Goldsmith traveled to the band’s new home in Nyack, New York, to shoot them at her own year rates. (She said that 90 percent of the photos she produces are “to a certain specification” or in the hope of selling them later—”that’s how much I have to believe in myself and in the people who I take their pictures.”)

“It was just an ordinary house,” Goldsmith recalls. Next, they came to roommate and fashion designer Robert Molnar, with old wallpaper, a lava lamp, and bits of colored cloth on the floor. “They called it the sewing room,” Goldsmith said. “I knew this was [the setting for the picture]because they really become B-52’s with their clothes and their hair.”

“Overall, taking pictures of five people is a nightmare,” Goldsmith said. “No one can close their eyes. There are characters [competing with one another]. But it was never like that with BS. Even though they are five completely different people, it was like shooting a single entity.”


Prince-step-son of Apollonia was not afraid of a challenge.
Prince-step-son of Apollonia was not afraid of a challenge.
Lynn Goldsmith

When Apollonia arrived at the photoshoot before her first solo album debuted in Los Angeles, it was Prince Protected She brought her own clothes, including a sexy two-piece bathing suit with a tiger-striped top and high-cut bottoms that Goldsmith loved.

After they took some pictures in the studio, Goldsmith suggested going outside: “We threw a lot of clothes in the car and went to Malibu.”

They ended up throwing a black coat over the two pieces — “I thought it would be more comfortable,” Goldsmith said — and started shooting. The first few photos looked pretty, but the photographer wanted something more attitude. She said, “They would have been fine for Time magazine, but if I was going to get her into Cream magazine, I needed her to give her a thumbs up!”

That’s how Goldsmith got the perfect challenge picture: Apollonia, one hand on her hip, her middle finger in the air and her coat fluttering behind her in the wind.

“Apollonia wasn’t just a woman with an album, Apollonia was an actress,” said Lens. “In the early days before MTV, people weren’t comfortable in front of the camera. But Apollonia knew how to take direction and add something of her own.”

Van Halen

According to Goldsmith, Eddie Van Halen, and David Lee Roth
According to Goldsmith, Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth “never got along well”.
Lynn Goldsmith

From the first time Goldsmith met Van Halen – prior to the release of the band’s eponymous debut album in 1978 – she could tell that there was tension between the guitar talent Eddie Van Halen blazing attacker David Lee Roth.

“David and Eddie never actually got along,” she said. “David was obviously really comfortable–maybe too relaxed; sometimes I had to calm down–making the visuals, while Eddie just wanted to play his guitar.”

Her job was to make it sound like they liked each other.

“The moments on stage where they were enjoying each other, going off together to the music they were making, were what I wanted to capture,” Goldsmith said. “Because fans want to believe that teams are brothers or sisters teams. But they’re like brothers and sisters, they fight—it’s like family, you know.”

Tom Petty

Goldsmith said Tom Petty borrowed this pose from Bruce Springsteen after he was on tour with the president.
Goldsmith said Tom Petty borrowed this pose from Bruce Springsteen after he was on tour with the president.
Lynn Goldsmith

Goldsmith has worked with rocker Tom Petty since the late ’70s, when he was first, until His death in 2017.

“It was very nice,” she said. He made a quote for one of my books: ‘Lynne has always been the best rock ‘n’ roll photographer; She felt like she was living in the same world as me and it was worth a lot when you’re all young and you doubt authority.”

Distrust of authority – to work for man – their enslavement. They first met when Goldsmith was filming Bruce Springsteen in the late ’70s, and he was a little boy who would go on tour with them on occasion.

At the time, Goldsmith said, Springsteen did quite a bit as he hid behind E Street band member Steve Van Zandt or behind the speaker during part of a song. “A year later, I went to see Tom’s show and saw him doing his own interpretation of that move,” Goldsmith said. Despite this, Betty held his guitar slightly in front of him, and bowed, as if hiding behind him.

“I just felt like it was, Tom: It was someone who was hiding behind the music,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to capture that.”

Michael Jackson

The photographer wanted to capture how Michael Jackson gave everything he had on stage.
The photographer wanted to capture how Michael Jackson gave everything he had on stage.
Lynn Goldsmith

The first time Goldsmith met Michael Jackson, his manager took her to a recording studio to see how the pop star would react to the photographer. “Michael and I shared a desire to be five or six, so we played really well together,” she said. “I was hired.”

Music in the ’80s includes several photos of Jackson, including a close-up of an exciting concert.

“I remember all of Michael’s performances being the ones where he was giving his best, every breathing moment, because I think that’s where he was alive,” Goldsmith said. “Sweat, everything about Michael’s performance, was totally about him.”

“I shoot from a fan’s point of view,” she added to the photo of Jackson, in a red jacket, his sweat gleaming, his beaming face. “I really want artists to feel good, and feel that way [my picture] I picked up a moment. But most important is that the fan feels closer and more connected. …that’s what I’m trying to do with my photos.”

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