Next month I’m taking part in an event which examines the birth of London club culture in the early 60s.
Held at creative hub Second Home, London Stories: The Mod is the first in a three-part series of discussions hosted by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, authors of the club bible Last Night A DJ Saved My Life and the men behind the mandatory DJ History.
Tomorrow I’m a guest of historian Amber Butchart at London’s National Film Theatre for a conversation and q&a about Punk fashion with her special invitee Jordan Mooney, SEX and Seditionaries superstar and inner member of the Sex Pistols circle.
I’ve put together a presentation from my archive to run during our chat, including images of Jordan’s striking series of visual personae and slides showing how the designs by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road were regularly featured in the fashion and national press from the early 70s to the time of Punk later in the decade.
//Selection of Let It Rock designs showcased in a May 1972 issue of The Sunday Times Magazine. Photos: Hans Feurer. Paul Gorman Archive//
//Activist/artist Caroline Coon leads protests outside the Central Criminal Court during the Oz trial, summer 1971. Photo: Joe Stevens. No reproduction without permission //
Photographer Joe Stevens has dug deep into his archive for these three gems from his time with the underground press in London in the early 70s.
//Oz editors (from left) Jim Anderson, Richard Neville and the late Felix Dennis in serious discussion during the trial, 1971. Photo: Joe Stevens. No reproduction without permission//
New Yorker Stevens had already made a name for himself at radical weekly The East Village Other before pitching up in London and contributing to International Times, Oz and Friends (which changed into Frendz in 1971). Later Stevens moved on to the music press and in particular New Musical Express, where he was often partnered with the likes of Charles Shaar Murray (ex-Oz) and Nick Kent (ex-Frendz).
//Island Records promo shot of the Sharkmobile outside the long closed Blenheim Arms, Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, west London, on January 8, 1973. Photo: Brian Cooke//
//Sharks surround Nora Foster, 1974. From bottom left: keyboard player Nick Judd (in Wonder Workshop jacket); drummer Marty Simon, bassist Busta “Cherry” Jones, frontman Snips and guitarist Chris Spedding in Let It Rock Rock N Roll Lives/Chuck Berry tee. Photo: Dick Polak//
Singer-songwriter Steve “Snips” Parsons has been in contact; the reunion of early 70s British rock band Sharks (which he fronted) moves apace – with an album out in September, next week they are launching a crowdfunding appeal to bring back the so-called Sharkmobile.
This was guitarist Chris Spedding’s Pontiac Le Mans which – at the behest of their record company boss Chris Blackwell – was decorated with fibreglass shark’s teeth and a fin and appeared on the back cover of the group’s debut LP First Water.
As part of west London’s recent INTransit festival, artist Emma Alonze staged a series of chaotic public interventions in and around Chelsea’s King’s Road under the title I’m Waving.
//Cakewalking: Alonze with Alexander James Turner, Andy Becker, James Batley and Mandi Goodier. This and other cake parade photos: Claire Poulter//
The two-and-a-half mile thoroughfare has all but lost its reputation as the wellspring for creative activity so Alonze’s acts – by turn absurd, impulsive and surprising – were most welcome in the neighbourhood where property values rather than artistic considerations top the agenda.
And I’m Waving was achieved against resistance from the local council, which deemed six of Alonze’s 10 planned acts “not suitable”.
//Jordan Mooney, Gallery International, Vol 1, no 4, 1976//
On August 6 I am taking part in a discussion about Punk visual style and culture with fashion historian Amber Butchart and Jordan Mooney, the sales assistant superstar at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shops at 430 King’s Road in the 70s who became a fashion inspiration and role model in her own right.
//Jordan Mooney in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, 1978. Photo: BFI//
//Front cover of the Rev-Ola reissue of I Am The Greatest. Scan courtesy Joe Foster//
I was commissioned to write these sleeve-notes by Joe Foster for his label Rev-Ola’s 1998 reissue of I Am The Greatest, the Cassius Clay album pulled from the shelves by Columbia Records amid his championing of civil rights and name change to Muhammad Ali.
To those of us who grew up with Ali, whatever our persuasion or interest in boxing, he was – as I wrote nearly 20 years ago – King Of The World.
//From Champion As Long As He Wants, Gilbert Rogin, Sports Illustrated, November 29, 1965//
In the mid-60s, the writer Gilbert Rogin, one of those hard-asses equally at home publishing fiction in The New Yorker as filing sports coverage in the dailies, expressed the perplexing prospect presented to the world by Cassius Marcellus Clay’s complex personality.
Insisting on using Ali’s despised “slave-name”, Rogin was attempting to assess this giant’s world-beating activities inside the ring, but his remarks refer equally to this collection of bragadoccio raps, bar-room poems and verbal whuppings delivered to the likes of vanquished rivals such as Sonny Liston.
Also present and correct is the rare version of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, a finely delivered performance which rivals those of the greatest vocalists who have also covered the song.
At the time of recording Clay’s cachet was pretty damn high. His charisma, stunning physical abilities and spitfire mouth had combined to turn around the fortunes of the US boxing industry; annual receipts rose from $7.8m in 1963 to £26.5m two years later.
//Audrey Watson’s great grand-neice Carlie models the spot-print two-piece bought in 1971 from Mr Freedom’s branch at 20 Kensington Church Street in west London. All photos: Helen Smith//
//Sooty & Sweep print Mr Freedom shirt also acquired by Watson on one of her shopping trips to London in the early 70s//
The emergence of good condition Mr Freedom designs with strong provenance is rare these days, so I’m delighted to showcase these unusual and original garments from the seminal early 70s London boutique operated by Trevor Myles, John Paul and Tommy Roberts.
They were acquired in the early 70s from the second Mr Freedom outlet in Kensington by the ultra-stylish British collector Audrey Watson, now 87 and a lifelong devotee of quirky and interesting clothing who has reluctantly begun the process of divesting herself of her fashion archive.
As well as a celebration of a pop culture great, Reasons To Be Cheerful is recognised as a significant design history, praised by leading magazines and newspapers around the world and voted MOJO’s book of the year . It is also a recommended reference source for graphics communications courses at leading educational institutions.
Reasons To Be Cheerful includes contributions from some of the most important graphic practitioners operating today, such as Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.