Photographer For Roxy Music and Lou Reed Found Living in Semi-Obscurity on South Beach
Those with any familiarity of the original glam rock scene that emerged in the early 1970s of London will recognize the iconic images currently hanging on the walls of Balans, off Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Karl Stoecker shot pin-ups of brilliantly-painted models, as well as contributed album art for Roxy Music and Lou Reed during the glitter era's peak year of 1972. The vibrant images oozed sexuality, flirted with androgyny, and helped define a brief but still influential era in popular British music.
Karl Stoecker Detail of front cover of Roxy Music's debut LP
Stoecker's contemporaries included Mick Rock and Brian Duffy. He often worked with makeup artist Pierre La Roche, who applied the famous lightning bolt on David Bowie's face for the cover of his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. Stoecker himself hung out with Bowie and other musicians from that scene in the early '70s. He remains in touch with Roxy frontman Bryan Ferry who still sends him CDs of his latest work.
Nowadays, Stoecker lives on South Beach in a small house hidden behind a lush garden planted by his wife of 27 years. They've lived at the house, situated walking distance from the shore, for two decades. It's where they raised two daughters. They share the house with five cats, a giant ridge back and -- Stoecker is keen to point out -- two possums.
Hans Morgenstern Karl Stoecker at home
"They're quite nice creatures," he says between puffs on a hand-rolled cigarette. "Sometimes, when they get in the house, it's hard to get them out. But once you corner them, they really do roll over and play dead."
By her turn, his beautiful, svelte wife, Patti Stoecker, a former fashion model and 20 years his younger, points out that he doesn't promote his work much, but many orders have come because of the indefinite exhibit of his photos at Balans.
"It's OK," says the photographer. "Sometimes people call from there," he says of the Balans art. "It's nice not to have to star them," he adds with a laugh.
He's always done his work for nothing more than the love of it. He was shooting neo-pin-ups of the 1940s mixed with then-contemporary flourishes of heavy makeup that occasionally appeared in fashion magazines. Ferry took note of his work and asked him to provide images for his band's first album, a deal that continued until the band's third album, Stranded, released in 1973.
Hans Morgenstern Karl Stoecker's work on Balans' walls
In between, Stoecker famously shot the back cover of Reed's 1972, Bowie-produced glam rock masterpiece, Transformer. Rock provided the album's famous eerie, androgynous cover, but the back featured the dueling images of a man and woman. Stoecker's wife, who was but a child when that album came out, recalls its startling quality.