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When one is talking about Sub Pop and grunge / alternative rock boom of the late 80s / early 90s, its impossible not to mention a key figure in the movement. Although not a musician himself, photographer Charles Peterson captured an energy and excitement of those particular time periods.

Euguene Chadbourne wrote about him:

Charles Peterson certainly can’t be blamed for titling one of the published collections of his photography Touch Me, I’m Sick: this is, after all, the man who created cover images for such recordings as Fuck Me I’m Rich, Blood Guts & Pussy and God’s Balls, not to mention the Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers. From time to time in recorded history there is a photographer who is heavily associated with a certain music scene, quite often creating a series of covers for one label. This Charles Peterson — not to be confused with an earlier photographer of the same name who hung out with the ’40s swing crowd — filled that role for the Seattle grunge scene, particularly the bands documented by the SubPop label.

Peterson received his degree in photography from the University of Washington in 1987. During this period, he became acquainted with a crowd of musicians who would become members of the groups Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam, among others. Of even more importance to the photographer’s career in some ways were the relationships with individuals such as Bruce Pavitt, a record promoter who wisely saw the possibilities of matching Peterson’s photographic style with new releases by the bands they were both enamored with. Subsequently, Peterson’s photographs have been on more than 100 album and CD covers and have also appeared in many publications. The photographer has published three collections of his work and went on to direct videos for Mudhoney.

Shown below are some of his works – from the 80s to now, plus a video tribute to his work created by one of YouTube users:


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