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Brock Scott’s bootleg photography book

The journey to the front row was full of roadblocks

Our crew at The Grateful Dead, Brock, Frank, Don, Hans and Tammy, Irvine Meadows 1985
Our crew at The Grateful Dead, Brock, Frank, Don, Hans and Tammy, Irvine Meadows 1985

Brock Scott’s mission was to get those band photos. He had no photo pass and no permission to take a camera inside any given venue (this was years before camera phones). But he had his ways. “In 1984, I separated my shoulder and had to keep my arm in a sling for a couple months,” he recalls. “Once it healed, I would hide my lens under my arm with the sling and wince when security got close during pat downs. They would apologize, and in we would go.”

Once inside, “it was always a challenge with our cameras. We never had good seats, which meant our photos would be dark and sometimes blurry, and that the artists would be tiny. The journey to the front row was always full of roadblocks, but the more we did it, the better we got at it. Our flannel shirts became the shields to hide our cameras while we looked for a way to get to the stage. After a while, we figured out which guards were easiest to sneak past, and the best spots to hop onto the floor. We also befriended a Staff Pro guard that Frank [Toscano] and I met at the beach one summer. In return for a six-pack of beer at the beach or a concert T-shirt, he would look the other way or take us away from other security guards if we got caught. Then, when the other guards weren’t looking, he would let us go.”

Scott, a San Diego native who’s been shooting concerts “bootleg” style, without permission, for decades, is publishing a book in November via Amazon that puts his best pics together with his best stories and his best friends: From the Parking Lot to the Front Row: My Life with Music, Friends, and a Camera.

He grew up in East San Diego, near 45th and University, and remembers it fondly as a “cultural melting pot.” He got into music by picking albums out of his father’s collection (especially after his parents’ divorce), but it was one of his first real jobs that set him on his path in life. “I did some cleanup work at The High Road Head shop on El Cajon Boulevard when I was 12, and as payment, I was allowed to pick two LPs from the record bin. The first was Robin Williams’ Reality...What a Concept. But the second would change my life forever; it was Queen’s Live Killers. I can still remember the smell of the vinyl as I pulled off the cellophane wrap…the power of the band, the crowd singing along. The songs and the photos pulled me in and hooked me good. Less than eight months later, a neighborhood friend and I went to see our very first concert together: Queen, at the Sports Arena. The experience was better than I could have ever imagined, and set the stage for the next 40 years of rock and roll in my life.”

He went to photography school and hung out a shingle, shooting weddings and other celebrations. But his zeal for bootleg photos and the related camaraderie never left. “Our main crew was me, Frank Toscano, Donald Razo, Bill Glasheen, and Hans and Fritz Jensen [of Collage Menage]. But, really, there were a lot more friends that turned us on to great bands, people who would hang out in the parking lot with us before showtime. Sometimes, these friends would help us by sneaking in a lens or a few rolls of film. Or, if they had better tickets than us, they would allow us to use their stubs to sneak down, or let us stand by their seat with them.”

Not every show went his way. He tried every gate at a Van Halen show in 1981, but still wound up putting his camera in his car. “I then sat lower level, one section from the stage, and sulked my way through the show, telling myself that I would never let that happen again. Iron Maiden, ZZ Top, Peter Tosh, and the Byrds [were] all shows where I was apprehended by security. But in every case except Peter Tosh, I was still able to get at least a couple shots, which was better than nothing.”

Today, Scott (whose late brother Robert operated Comickaze Comics) is eager to get back into the swing. “The biggest change for my future is that I have started teaching photo, video, and media arts in middle and high school. I want to give back to the new generation of young artists out there. There is so much talent, it would blow your mind.”

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Our crew at The Grateful Dead, Brock, Frank, Don, Hans and Tammy, Irvine Meadows 1985
Our crew at The Grateful Dead, Brock, Frank, Don, Hans and Tammy, Irvine Meadows 1985

Brock Scott’s mission was to get those band photos. He had no photo pass and no permission to take a camera inside any given venue (this was years before camera phones). But he had his ways. “In 1984, I separated my shoulder and had to keep my arm in a sling for a couple months,” he recalls. “Once it healed, I would hide my lens under my arm with the sling and wince when security got close during pat downs. They would apologize, and in we would go.”

Once inside, “it was always a challenge with our cameras. We never had good seats, which meant our photos would be dark and sometimes blurry, and that the artists would be tiny. The journey to the front row was always full of roadblocks, but the more we did it, the better we got at it. Our flannel shirts became the shields to hide our cameras while we looked for a way to get to the stage. After a while, we figured out which guards were easiest to sneak past, and the best spots to hop onto the floor. We also befriended a Staff Pro guard that Frank [Toscano] and I met at the beach one summer. In return for a six-pack of beer at the beach or a concert T-shirt, he would look the other way or take us away from other security guards if we got caught. Then, when the other guards weren’t looking, he would let us go.”

Scott, a San Diego native who’s been shooting concerts “bootleg” style, without permission, for decades, is publishing a book in November via Amazon that puts his best pics together with his best stories and his best friends: From the Parking Lot to the Front Row: My Life with Music, Friends, and a Camera.

He grew up in East San Diego, near 45th and University, and remembers it fondly as a “cultural melting pot.” He got into music by picking albums out of his father’s collection (especially after his parents’ divorce), but it was one of his first real jobs that set him on his path in life. “I did some cleanup work at The High Road Head shop on El Cajon Boulevard when I was 12, and as payment, I was allowed to pick two LPs from the record bin. The first was Robin Williams’ Reality...What a Concept. But the second would change my life forever; it was Queen’s Live Killers. I can still remember the smell of the vinyl as I pulled off the cellophane wrap…the power of the band, the crowd singing along. The songs and the photos pulled me in and hooked me good. Less than eight months later, a neighborhood friend and I went to see our very first concert together: Queen, at the Sports Arena. The experience was better than I could have ever imagined, and set the stage for the next 40 years of rock and roll in my life.”

He went to photography school and hung out a shingle, shooting weddings and other celebrations. But his zeal for bootleg photos and the related camaraderie never left. “Our main crew was me, Frank Toscano, Donald Razo, Bill Glasheen, and Hans and Fritz Jensen [of Collage Menage]. But, really, there were a lot more friends that turned us on to great bands, people who would hang out in the parking lot with us before showtime. Sometimes, these friends would help us by sneaking in a lens or a few rolls of film. Or, if they had better tickets than us, they would allow us to use their stubs to sneak down, or let us stand by their seat with them.”

Not every show went his way. He tried every gate at a Van Halen show in 1981, but still wound up putting his camera in his car. “I then sat lower level, one section from the stage, and sulked my way through the show, telling myself that I would never let that happen again. Iron Maiden, ZZ Top, Peter Tosh, and the Byrds [were] all shows where I was apprehended by security. But in every case except Peter Tosh, I was still able to get at least a couple shots, which was better than nothing.”

Today, Scott (whose late brother Robert operated Comickaze Comics) is eager to get back into the swing. “The biggest change for my future is that I have started teaching photo, video, and media arts in middle and high school. I want to give back to the new generation of young artists out there. There is so much talent, it would blow your mind.”

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