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Mötley Crüe, W.A.S.P., Poison and more invade the Sunset Strip for the first time

Photographer Don Adkins took the first-ever shots of some of L.A.'s most iconic bands. He tells Metal Edge the wild tales behind the incredible images

If you've ever wanted to know what the Sunset Strip rock scene looked like in the very early '80s, a good place to start would be with Don Adkins' photos. The Cerritos-born photographer was there at the very beginning of the Hollywood hard rock explosion, and took some of the first – and in the case of Mötley Crüe, very first – shots of some of the Strip's most legendary bands. 

Adkins got his start photographing local L.A. artists like Dyan Diamond and the Orchids, both female acts that were managed by impresario Kim Fowley. One day, the Orchids' drummer, Laurie Bell, asked Adkins if she had ever seen her boyfriend's band perform. "I said, 'No, who's your boyfriend?' She told me he had a band called London," Adkins recalls. "And that's how I met Nikki Sixx."

The two struck up a friendship, and Adkins began shooting the bassist with London. When Sixx left that band to start Mötley Crüe, Adkins came along for the ride, witnessing some of the Crue's earliest rehearsals and taking the first-ever shots of the soon-to-be-legendary band. 

Even as he earned a degree in engineering, eventually leading to a successful career in the aerospace industry, Adkins continued to take photos, leading to early encounters with a host of on-the-rise L.A. rockers like Quiet Riot, Ratt, W.A.S.P., Poison, Great White and Faster Pussycat. 

Adkins paired up with Metal Edge for an exclusive photo gallery of some of the most striking images from his early days documenting the Hollywood scene. And if you want to check out more of Adkins' work both past and present, head to his Instagram and Facebook pages or his official website.    

London 1980
Circus Circus 1980
Motley Crue 1981
London 1981
Tantrum 1981
DuBrow 1981
WASP 1982
Poison 1985
Faster Pussycat 1985