In 1976, Dave Treat got an apartment in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood while studying photography.
A few months later, a young rocker from Youngstown named Steve Bator moved in next door, and the two became fast friends.
Bator would become Stiv Bators, the visionary frontman of punk legend The Dead Boys. Treat did the band’s first photo shoot, just before the act moved to New York and become leaders of the first wave of punk, when the genre was at its rawest.
Treat’s photos were never published. He stashed them in a shoebox and moved on with his life, beginning a career in the construction trades. The photos were seen by almost no one for four decades.
A new hard-bound book titled “Dead Boys 1977: The Lost Photographs of Dave Treat” will be published Friday. Treat will sign copies at a book release party from 6 to 9 p.m. at Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland, near Beachland Ballroom. Band member Johnny Blitz will also be there. The book ($29.99) can also be ordered at deadboys1977.com.
The new book coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of The Dead Boys seminal debut album, “Young, Loud and Snotty.”
Treat’s book has photos from that early shoot, the band’s final Cleveland performance, and a special section on Bators.
Treat, who lives in Solon, recalled how the lost photos were discovered back in 2014.
“They almost got thrown out,” he said. “I was purging after my son went off to college, and I found [the negatives] in a baggie in a closet and I said, ‘Oh, my Lord, there they are.’”
When Treat showed them to Cheetah Chrome, the Dead Boys guitarist was stunned. “He said to me, ‘Where the [expletive] did you get these?’,” said Treat.
The photos were first compiled for an exhibition at a Cleveland gallery in 2015. Now that the book is out, Treat is planning more exhibitions.
While the photos are a priceless peak into the early days of the outrageous band, they also parallel the artistic development of rock photography.
Over the years, I have received a million promo shots in which a rock band is posed in front of a stark brick wall. But Treat was among the first to shoot in the style, and the urban decay and desolation of 1970s downtown Cleveland make the photos about as punk rock as it gets.
In fact, the cover art of the band’s debut album was based on one of Treat’s photos from the shoot. A record label executive hired a professional photographer to recreate the shot.
His shot and the album cover are shown side by side in his book, and Treat is happy the world is finally learning the truth about his photo.
When he looks back on his days as a friend of The Dead Boys – which included some legendary Lakewood parties, by the way – he sums it up thusly: “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Treat hung out with Bators – who tragically died in 1990 when he was struck by a car in Paris – pretty much every day during the Lakewood phase.
“He was a great guy, and one of the craziest rock front men,” said Treat. “He had stage presence up there with Iggy Pop.”
LEMON GROVE LIVEs AGAIN in a new location
The Lemon Grove was the vanguard of downtown Youngstown’s rebirth, but it didn’t have a long life. It was, however, more memorable than most bars that have been around for decades.
The Lemon always had a great crowd of art and music lovers, and booked the best bands. It was ground zero of a rarified scene that has been absent ever since it faded away.
The bar-eatery opened in 2009 at 122 W. Federal St., in what is now O’Donold’s, and moved two doors down into the Knox Building (where the Federal is now) a few years later. Either the new location didn’t have the same vibe, or the brilliant Lemon was simply doomed to die young.
But the ownership has been steadily renovating the second floor of the Knox, and on Friday, Lemonheads can gather there for an opening event that could recreate the legendary bar.
Dubbed the Lemon Grove Opening Olio, the event will include some old favorites, including Van Allen Belt, Tribe of EOS, Dr. Goo, Bernadette Lim, Richard Elmsworth, Rocco Sait and artist Eric Alleman, plus Chantillion (featuring Jackson of Grand Buffet), Lady K and the Gents, Fake News and more. Hours are 4 p.m. until late. Admission, which is from inside the Federal bar, is $5.
Jacob Harver, the Lemon’s visionary owner, said the new location will be a concert venue, event center and market place, and Friday’s show will be the first of many.
tinseltown upgrades seats
For folks wondering why Tinseltown in Boardman has had only a couple of screens open the past few weeks, it’s because the multiplex is installing recliner seats. The Cinemark chain, which owns it, has been upgrading its theaters nationwide.
Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.