Josh Cheuse was born in New York City in 1965. By the time he was sixteen, Josh was photographing bands in the nightclubs that would become his second home. In 1981, he used the payphone at his high school to call The Clash at Electric Ladyland Studios in Manhattan and asked to photograph the band. What he got was an invitation to what would become a lifetime year career creating imagery for the music world.
After winning a full scholarship for photography to the School of Visual Arts in New York, Josh immediately hit the road with Big Audio Dynamite, coming back to school only to use the darkroom. He began designing merchandising and sleeve artwork and shooting video with an early portable Sony camera. He photographed his friends the Beastie Boys and documented the hip-hop and reggae scenes for publications such as SPIN, Rolling Stone, Musician and Time Out.
He also shot, produced and directed two videos for Joe Strummer using hand-cranked war cameras bought on Portobello Road in London. From1993 until present, Josh has been an art director at Sony Music creating packaging and websites for artists including Bob Dylan, Run-DMC, Rod Stewart and Tony Bennett while still finding time to go on the road to photograph his favorite groups like Oasis, The Black Crowes and MGMT.
After Joe Strummer’s untimely death in 2002, Josh directed a video tribute for Joe’s version of the “Redemption Song” sponsored by Hellcat Records and MTV2.
2007 Josh’s first book of photography, “Rockers Galore” was published by Stussy Books along with a line of tee shirts with images from the book. There were shows in Tokyo, Paris and Toronto in conjunction with the book.
2008 Josh had his first exhibit in Moscow at Afisha Picnic rock festival where 5,000 music fans saw the exhibition in one day.
2009 The publication of Rockers Galore Ltd. Edition box set of 14 prints, tee shirt, badges and cassette tape with Damien Hirst’s Other Criteria shop in London. Josh’s image of Run-DMC live has been selected to be in Who Shot Rock photography exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum opening October 2009.
Josh is currently a Design director at Sony Music Entertainment in New York and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with his wife, actress Cara Seymour.
Credit portrait : Dmitri Blueglass
This virtual gallery was presented as part of the 30th anniversary Stussy x Ricoh GRIII Digital camera project.
My folks were Bohemian hippie types, and I think there was always like a conscious kind of thing in the household. I guess I was lucky because my parents used to take me to Truffaut films and turned me onto that stuff before I even knew what it was. My mom took me to see “Jules and Jim”, and she told me it was cowboy movie just to get me in there. “Where are the cowboys?”, so maybe the black and white French thing soaked in. When I saw “Don’t Look Back” and the grain of that, it was a kind of love. Then Robert Frank and also Penny Smith.
The pizza and soul food trip, which is Harless Avenue, which I always love these pictures because the kids look so original. It’s before The Gap and all the chain stores. They’re not wearing any gold. Everyone has a kind of personal style that doesn’t look as generic. It’s funny because on the roll you’ll see people, the same kid in five different set ups. It’ll be the same kid. There’s this kid, Teddy No-Neck, who’s kind of funny and who’s in this great picture of Run DMC. This was when they were filming Crush Groove, the movie. He was kind of just this Harless kid who, literally, I guess was deformed and had no neck. I guess everyone loved him because he was kind of f***ed up, but he was really funny. He was like, “Hey! I’m Teddy No-Neck”, and he was just this character.
This was the Belfast, Belfast ’83. I think it was a year or two later I was there with B-A-D, and we brought Schoolly and Code Money, and we took a walk down the street. It was weird for them. I think it was their first time in England, and the response was throwing sneakers and wine bottles, and I remember those guys kind of going, “Yo, Josh. That was a wine bottle they threw at my head”, because I just don’t think they had ever seen anything like that. There was a guy with turn tables, and he was a kind of beefy guy with his shirt off, muscles and a Kangol rapping to basically what was a bunch of Clash fans.
That was probably one of the first times Rap hit Glasgow. In 1981 the Clash were recording Electric Ladyland on 8th Street, and it was really a case of calling the studio and talking to Cosmo Vinyl who was there man and saying, “Hey, I want to come and take photographs of the band”, and he said, “OK.” I walked into the studio, and I was handed a Polaroid. They used to take before the computer consoles they used to take a picture of the recording desk with a Polaroid to see where the faders were. All of a sudden that was a tool to f*** around and take pictures in the studio. I think you were kind of, in the same way, Don Lutz, who was a kind of compatriot and also an influence on me. He was always like, “Well, I just picked up the camera.” I think he picked up the movie camera, and I just happened to pick up a still camera.
Now everything seems to be stratified into these genres of rock, hip-hop, but back then it seemed like everything was a bit more mixed. This was probably pictures of the Rock Steady crew dancing to Simple Minds or Gary Numan or something at the time. There were the hip-hoppers, there was reggae scene, there were us white kids trying to figure out where we fit in, and I think we were trying to get our hands dirty and not in a kind of collector kind of way. Not in a kind of, “Oh, hey. Look at these people. They’ve got such great rhythm.” I think we really wanted to be a part of it in an honest way.