This week sees the opening of the second of London gallery Richard Saltoun’s two-part exhibition of Viennese art: Feminism presents the work of VALIE EXPORT and Friedl Kubelka.
The last time I saw photographer/manager Leee Black Childers – who has died aged aged 69 – was fleetingly, a year or so ago at the crowded launch of his book and exhibition at London’s The Vinyl Factory.
The first time I saw Childers was at The Speakeasy at a March 1977 concert by his charges The Heartbreakers. The poster for that gig, featuring his London rooftop portrait of the band, hangs behind me as I type.
That night and for the rest of his London stay over the next couple of years this Southern gent could be spotted at such haunts as The Ship in Wardour Street, his presence notable for lacquered pompadour, authentic sharkskin suits and slick black winklepickers, his reputation bolstered by the knowledge that Ian Hunter had dedicated Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis to Childers – who, in fact, was raised near Louisville, KY – and that he created the apocalyptic collage on the inner gatefold of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP (which now appears spookily prescient of the devastation of 9/11).
Childers appeared awfully frail at the Vinyl Factory launch, so news that he had been rushed to LA’s Cedar Sinai hospital during another bout of book promotion a few weeks back was worrying but not unexpected.
In conversation in 2009 Childers revealed a promotional plan for his book then in preparation: he wanted it to be published after his death so that he could be utterly honest about his extraordinary life and set of acquaintances. The promotion would consist of a series of pre-recorded chat show appearances, all ready for broadcast as soon as he expired. He wondered whether the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman would be up for it.
Well, it wasn’t to be. The book came out and though unwell he appeared to be enjoying being back in the spotlight.
I am told Childers’ archiving was ramshackle and can find no website dedicated to his photographic work. This is shame because no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.
Only Anarchists Are Pretty: New Fragment x Peel + Lift Anarchy Shirt goes on sale as The Pool opens in Aoyoama
Among the lines launching Tokyo’s new fashion and music retail outlet The Pool is a collaboration between Japanese streetwear labels Fragment and Peel + Lift on a fresh version of the 1976 Anarchy Shirt design by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.
The reissue, in four versions, is a stripped down reproduction of one of the original variants created by McLaren and Westwood to be worn by the Sex Pistols and for sale in their shop at 430 King’s Road in its incarnations as Sex and Seditionaries.
“I had been a student in the 60s, and the anarchic student movements in France really framed my critique,” McLaren told me in 2007. “This particular shirt celebrated that.”
The original designs used as a base the deadstock Wemblex brand shirts stored in boxes at McLaren & Westwood’s flat in Clapham, south London in the mid-70s. “They were pin-striped and made in cheap cotton in the early 60s when the ‘pin-through’ collar style – an American look – was fashionable,” said McLaren.
“I wore and wore them and then, one day, Vivienne decided to paint stripes over one. She showed it to me and together we customised it, using my son’s stencil set, with slogans such as “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” and “Dangerously Close To Love”.
“As well as layering the stencils to increase the impact, I attached silk patches of Karl Marx I discovered in shops in Chinatown which sold Maoist literature. I chose him because his book started the Socialist and workers’ movements in the 19th century. Also, Vivienne and I liked his beard.
“Marx was a writer/author, a creator of ideas, not a politician like Lenin. Marx represented a greater significance and was important to us because he lived in London at one point.”
The London Rock n Roll Show at Wembley Stadium 1972: Memories of Oz, Frendz and the Let It Rock stall
I acquired my first underground press publications in the summer of 1972, at about the point when the sector was taking the nosedive from which it never recovered.
Still, better late than Sharon Tate, as they say. Aged 12, my taste had been whetted by sneak peeks at an older brother’s collection of magazines when a guy called Kevin O’Keefe who lived down the road gave me a few copies of Oz, including number 43, the July issue.
A few weeks later, to my astonishment, the newsagents in Hendon’s Church Road started stocking Frendz. I folded issue 33 between a couple of music papers and pored over it in my bedroom.
Neither of the magazines are shining examples of the genre, but they had something in common: the centre spread of OZ 43 contained a subscription form back-printed with a flyer for the London Rock N Roll Show, a one-day festival of original 50s acts and those who could claim kinship held at Wembley Stadium on August 5 that year.
And for me the most beguiling article in Frendz 33 was a two-page stream-of-consciousness report of the event filed by one Douglas Gordon and illustrated with photographs by Pennie Smith, soon to leave for the NME and carve out her reputation as one of rock photography’s all-time greats.
All about Eve this spring: Ferret Up The Arts, Don’t Be So Shellfish and her first-ever album release
Lovely to see the gorgeous Eve Ferret out and about this spring with a series of live dates to celebrate the long-overdue release of her first album.
I fell under Eve’s spell in the summer of 1978, witnessing performances at Covent Garden’s pre-New Romantic Blitz club with her-then partner James “Biddie” Biddlecombe. More recently we connected via the late Tommy Roberts, at whose memorial she sang a version of Rawhide which rocked ‘em in the aisles and nearly blew the roof off St Giles in the Fields.
I’ve had few, if any, lunches as enjoyable as last week’s hook-up with Richard Hell and Jake Riviera for a piece I am writing for GQ magazine.
Richard and Jake first met outside CBGB in March 1976, having been introduced by photographer Roberta Bayley, who was working the club door that night.
With Dr Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux, Jake had witnessed Richard in performance the night before with Johnny Thunders in the first – and soon to disintegrate – line-up of the Heartbreakers at Max’s Kansas City.
We dined less than half a mile away from Chelsea embankment, where Richard and the rest of his next band the Void-Oids spent a pretty miserable-sounding sojourn on a leaky boat when in the UK on tour with The Clash in 1978.
As Richard recounts in his fabulous memoir I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, he and Jake have shared a series of adventures over the years, some of which I will be covering in my GQ feature which should be out in the summer.
I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp is out in paperback this week; buy here.
If you are of a London gig-goer of a certain (getting on to be advanced) age you will remember “Jesus”, an enthusiastic audience member at many musical events in the capital from the 60s to the late 70s.
Jesus was notable because a) he was personable and b) would often discard his clothes as he energetically idiot-danced stage-front. Jesus liked to frolic with abandon, more often than not exposing much, or even all of his rail-thin body.
I’ve been enjoying researching materials relating to the late photographer David Parkinson for a feature for GQ magazine, so thought I’d share some of the images I dug out of the Parkinson archive concerning the 70s King’s Road retro clothing store Acme Attractions.
Parkinson’s position as fashion editor of Paul Raymond’s sophisticated soft-porn magazine Club International enabled him to style and present Acme clothing for a wide readership, on occasion using the shop team as models.
Acme was opened by Parkinson’s friend Stephan Raynor (they’d known each other since they were part of a gang of style-obsessed teenagers in Leicester in the early 60s) with John Krivine, previously a Brixton-based jukebox dealer, in 1974.
My 2011 post unraveling the threads running through the notorious Naked Cowboys punk t-shirt has itself inspired a new shirt.
The Cowboys t-shirt was designed by Malcolm McLaren in 1975 for sale in SEX, the shop he ran with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in London’s World’s End.
Popular with punks and worn by members of the Sex Pistols and their coterie, it was initially known as the Saturday Night Dance shirt because of the presence of the dancehall sign in the appropriated homoerotic cowboy illustration by Jim French.
The new t-shirt has been produced by Japanese streetwear company Peel + Lift, which reproduces many McLaren and Westwood designs. It is entitled Drift, making overt the presence of 60s radical thinking in McLaren’s artwork: the drift, or the dérive, was a major theme of the Situationist International, which believed individuals should allow themselves to wander urban landscapes and become either repelled or enchanted by what they found (in the manner of the archetypal French urban explorer the flâneur).
My recent post about the Mr Freedom designs in the V&A collection sparked some memories from graphic artist Ian Harris, who sends this 1972 photograph of himself in a Mr Freedom hamburger print shirt:
In the 1972 photo, the shirt’s hamburger appliqué is obscured; Harris had worked for Mr Freedom partner Tommy Roberts at his 60s boutique Kleptomania, and gave the late Roberts a number of items relating to his career a few years back. Included was the appliqué which Harris had kept for many years.
As Harris points out, his wife Maggie, a model, is sporting an Angie Bowie-influenced look in the photo above. Here she is in another early 70s shot, taken outside John and Lyris Mann’s Kensington boutique Strictly For The Birds: