RIP: Bob Kondrak, Punk Photographer & Bon Vivant (1948-2009)

Bob Kondrak, the Man. photo by Greg Langel
Bob Kondrak, the Man. photo by Greg Langel
posted Tuesday Dec 8th, 2009

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the departure of a real behind-the-scenes pillar of the underground rock'n'roll community. Punk photographer and music enthusiast extraordinaire Robert James “Bob” Kondrak, 61, passed away on November 27, 2009 in a Seattle hospital after a several-month-long struggle with a rare blood disease.

A fixture on the punk, garage and lo-fi rock'n'roll scenes, Kondrak photographed the early Seattle punk scene —which included bands such as The Lewd, The Refuzors, and The Mentors— in the late 1970s through early 80s, submitting photographs and scene reports to such early American punk zines as Slash in Los Angeles.

After growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and serving in the U.S. Air Force, Bob settled in Seattle, Washington, where he attended the University of Washington and studied Philosophy at the undergraduate and graduate levels , completing the majority of the requirements for a PhD. He also owned and operated a reggae record store for several years in the late 70s and early 80s, importing records from Jamaica and making regular record-buying trips to New York City to purchase stock directly from the likes of Coxsone Dodd.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kondrak continued to photograph northwest regional bands, such as The Makers and The Spits, and expanded his scope to the continental U.S, regularly attending and photographing bands at events such as Cavestomp, Garage Shock, Fuzz Fest, Gonerfest, Budget Rock, Vegas Shakedown, and the Chicago Blackout, where he made his debut, wine glass in hand, in 2002 at Beat Kitchen for his boys' The Spits' first Chicago appearance.

A regular contributor of text and images to underground music fanzines, Bob was known for his pieces in publications such as Horizontal Action, Make Room, and 10 Things Jesus Wants You to Know.

Although he never owned a computer or a car, and only had a cell phone for the last few months of his life, Kondrak was, an early adapter of new technology in the mid-to-late 1990s. Under the alias "Bongowhite," he was one of the most prominent and well-known posters on alt. music banana-truffle (better known simply as “the Banana Truffle”) in the mid-to-late 1990s, as well as the BOMP list. In recent years, Kondrak was known for his regular colorful posts on the Goner Records message board, among other online forums.

Our thoughts are with Bob’s Kondrak’s numerous friends and family across the country, and we pay tribute to this one-of-a-kind underground legend by posting a selection of his lesser-known punk-era photographs that appeared in Horizontal Action, and a couple other dear favorites here for your enjoyment.


The LOOK, Live in Seattle (featuring Rob Vasquez on bass, circa 1978
The Look, Live in Seattle (featuring Rob Vasquez on bass) circa 1978

Rob Vasquez hanging out with the ladies circa 1978
Future Night King Rob Vasquez hanging out with the ladies circa 1978

Teengenerate Live in Portland 1994, photo by Bob Kondrak
Teengenerate Live at EJ's, Portland 1994, photo by Bob Kondrak

The Spits, in a bathroom stall at Gibson's in Seattle 2001
The Spits, in a bathroom stall at Gibson's in Seattle 2001

The Spits, Live in Seattle 2001
The Spits live at Gibson's in Seattle 2001

The Spits, Live in Seattle 2001
Digital Leather Live in Seattle

Tina & Bob Kondrak
Tina Luchessi and Bob ham it up at Budget Rock Fest, San Francisco 2008, photo by Canderson

Bob Kondrak, Canderson and Justin
Bob Kondrak, Canderson and Justin Champlin, San Francisco 2008, photo by Tiger Lily

Memorial Service will be held at the Evergreen- Washelli Chapel, 1111 Aurora Ave N. Saturday, December 12th at 2:00pm. Please sign the online guestbook at this site.

RIP from all of us at Victim of Time.