Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rare Boston scene photos from the 1980s by Rocco Cippilone

Text © Robert Barry Francos, FFanzeen, 2011
Photos © Rocco Cippilone
Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them

I met Rocco Cippilone in the early 1980s, through a mutual friend, and when I started traveling up to Boston twice a year during the first half of the 1980s, we would hang out together by going to shows. We developed a friendship that I certainly enjoyed.

Rocco, who often went under the nom de photo of Peter Parka, loved the Boston scene and would go to as many shows as he could. He was a bit shy with his thick Italian accent, but as the bands all got to know him, they trusted him to do them justice in the lens.

About twice a month, I would receive some 5x4 black and white photos that he would process himself (a skill I never learned), which would be of musicians he had seen over the previous weeks.

Not only did he like the milieu of bands and the music they produced, he particularly fond of female musicians, especially Salem 66, but his fixation was Barb Kitsen, of the band City Thrills (who would go on to retool as the Thrills). Perhaps it was her addictions making her that unavailable bad girl, but he would talk about her often, and send a lot of pictures of her performances on stage.

Rocco was, obviously, an excellent music performance photographer, and he captured a lot of the scene throughout the ‘80s. Some time in the mid-‘80s or so, he started his own fanzine, Bang!, which was 8x10, well printed, and looked great.

Somewhere in the early ‘90s, Rocco changed the focus of Bang! to exploitation and “b” movies. Then he seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. There was some speculation that he ran off, back to Italy, but it’s that just a theory. He has not turned up anywhere on social media that I could find, so if you’re seeing this, Rocco, please get in touch.

Two things to note: first, I scanned these from the photos he sent me, and they have certainly lost some definition in the process. His pictures are quite sharp, though they seem a bit grainy and washed out here. Second, I am making no profit off of these photos (and don’t expect anyone else to do so, other than Rocco), and am doing this blog to honor his work. I would love to see a Rocco Cippilone book of photos one day.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any Rocco stories to share, please feel free to add some comments to the blog.

Johnny Thunders [d. 1991]

Nico [d. 1988]


Willie Alexander

X: Excene Cervenka

John Sebastian

Iggy Pop

Jim Carroll [d. 2009]

The Go-Go's: Belinda Carslile

The Cramps: Poison Ivy

The Gun Club: Jeffrey Lee Pierce [d. 1996]

Bebe Buell

The Lyres: Jeff "Monoman" Conolly

The Neighborhoods

Salem 66

Joe Viglione: The Count

Legal Weapons: Kat Arthur

Boy's Life: Johnny Surette

City Thrills: Barb Kitsen [d. 2006], Johnny Angel, Sean McDonough


  1. Did he take any pictures of "The Stains" ? We shared the bill with half the bands shown in the photos above!

    1. Honestly, I have no idea. The only pictures I know of is what he had sent me. This is a majority of them.