It was hard to miss Murray at a show, the tall bearded older guy at seemingly every house party, warehouse show, backyard BBQ, etc. camera in hand, never looking through the viewfinder always moving to get the best shot. He was eternally in the middle of the action, never off to the side—always part of the scene, never the scenery.
He was a kind and humble man of legendary status, a quiet force of calm in a sea of chaos at times, he was always there snapping away, documenting the lives of thousands of Bay Area punks one image at a time.
Murray started his voyage into photography making images as a backpacker, though he quickly abandoned that pursuit as punk came into form in the 1970s—at the encouragement of Tim Tonooka of Ripper he began to bring to his camera to every show he went to, beginning a journey which would see him publish images in Maximum Rocknroll (including the iconic If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I Always in the Pit?), as well as on records for bands as diverse as Neurosis, Green Day, Raw Power, The Minutemen, Fang and many more.
A firm believer that there should be no boundaries between the band and the crowd, he was notorious for photographing people at the show as much the bands themselves, creating a document of scene for over forty years—and he never stopped, shooting a show as recently as a week ago, because of course he was.
So, thank you Murray for all the inspiration, words will never truly convey the gratitude we all feel for you. Thank you.
Tagged: murray bowles