In his heyday within the within the late ’80s and early ’90s, Powell was a mainstay within the downtown Manhattan artwork and music scene. His portraits and candids of musicians like Eric B and Rakim, LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., and Madonna, in addition to downtown NYC denizens like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sofia Coppola, and Laurence Fishburne, have been proven in artwork galleries and revealed in a number of photograph books.
Powell was born in Brooklyn and frolicked on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, however got here of age in Greenwich Village. He held levels from LaGuardia Community College and Hunter College, however transitioned into images out of spite, discovering a digicam left behind by an outdated girlfriend and deciding to make one thing of himself to point out her what she missed out on. He started to doc the artwork openings and hip-hop reveals he frequented in downtown Manhattan, and in 1986, give up his job promoting lemon ices to tour with the Beastie Boys on Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell tour.
Some of his most iconic pictures have been made with the Beasties, and he made common cameos on their excursions and movies. He could be seen studying a duplicate of Popular Science of their “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” video, and was immortalized within the Paul’s Boutique tune “Car Thief”: “Homeboy, throw in the towel/Your girl got dicked by Ricky Powell.”
Powell additionally hosted a present on New York public entry tv referred to as Rappin’ With the Rickster, which featured well-known pals like Run-D.M.C., Laurence Fishburne, and Sonic Youth alongside New York City’s distinctive forged of characters, like a Greenwich Village man well-known for carrying a plastic sandwich bag on his head. The episodes have been collected onto a DVD in 2010.
A road photographer who might typically be discovered roaming his neighborhood, digicam in hand, Powell favored to speak concerning the “chemical connection” between photographer and topic. His images was revealed in a number of collections, together with the retrospectives Oh Snap!: The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell (1998) and Public Access: Ricky Powell Photographs 1985-2005. A documentary, Ricky Powell: The Individualist, premiered in May 2020.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork