The priceless footage of Teddy Boys & Girls dancing and talking about their cult lifestyle in the early 70s at the bottom of this post comes from the East Anglian Film Archive, which provides access to 200 hours of moving images relating to the part of the UK 100-or-so miles east of London.
//Chuck Berry with Paul Shaffer, Thames TV Studios, Lower Ground, Waterloo, London, May 16, 1995//
I saw Chuck Berry play live twice, and have written previously about the first time when, supported by David Bowie-endorsed revivalist rockers Fumble, he performed a truncated set at the Rainbow theatre in north London’s Finsbury Park in September 1973.
The second time was frankly bizarre. He and Little Richard sat in with Paul Shaffer and his band during a live broadcast of The David Letterman Show from the UK capital in 1995.
//Berry lower right and Little Richard, top, performing with Shaffer and his band//
This commenced, I kid you not, with a rendition of Knees Up Mother Brown.
I had been invited to be in the audience at the Thames TV studios in Waterloo by Warner Music’s press office after interviewing another of Letterman’s guests, Elvis Costello, for British trade weekly Music Week. That evening Costello performed Little Richard’s song Bama Lama Bama Loo in tribute.
The experience of sharing cigarettes at the bar of the crowded green room with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders (they were promoting the latest series of AbFab) was topped only by the sight of the lean Berry striding into the room with his guitar strapped on, wearing a sizeable pair of red Lionel Blairs. So similar were they to the trousers he had worn at the Rainbow 22 years earlier that I wondered whether they were the exact same ones.
Berry looked amazing, as did the more retiring LR. I was too awestruck to approach either, a fact which of course I now greatly regret.
Sayonara Chuck Berry, a titan who changed Western culture for the better.
He and Little Richard are introduced around the five minute mark in the clip below.
//The poster was designed by Adam Ant (then Stuart Goddard) before the Pistols were added to the bill. Courtesy Daniel Kleinman. No reproduction without permission//
The poster for the Sex Pistols’ first performance (on November 6 1975 in the Common Room of St Martin’s School Of Art in central London’s Charing Cross Road) has been found after 40 years – and it doesn’t even mention them!
//Poster for Italian release of Alan Freed’s 1956 musical Rock, Rock, Rock!. Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images//
//Left: Chuck Berry image isolated and bleached out. Right: As it appeared on the t-shirt, worn in this 1973 photograph of singer/songwriter Simon Fisher Turner. Photographer: Unknown//
When they were setting up Let It Rock in 1971, Malcolm McLaren and his original partner in the boutique at 430 King’s Road – Patrick Casey – acquired a cache of posters, showcards and ephemera for 50s rocksploitation movies, including many Continental-language variants.
//Lobby card for High School Confidential!, 1958. This is from the opening scene, where Lewis sings the movie’s title track//
Let It Rock was digging in the ruins of past cultures that you cared about. It was giving them another brief moment in the sun. It wasn’t about doing anything new. It was anhomage. It was nostalgia. Malcolm McLaren to Momus, 2002
Forty three years after its creation I can reveal the source of the Jerry Lee Lewis image which appeared on the Let It Rock t-shirt design “The ‘Killer’ Rocks On!”.
It is from a lobby card for Alan Freed’s 1958 rocksploitation flick High Street Confidential!; an original was just one of the pieces of 50s ephemera adorning Let It Rock’s premises at 430 King’s Road in 1972.
//Malcolm McLaren in a previously unpublished shot wearing original 50s George Cox Bingley D-ring brothel creepers to match his detail-perfect Teddy Boy garb. Photo taken inside Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road, January 1972. (c) David Parkinson//
//Left, Saint Laurent point-toed patent brothel creepers, A/W 2014. Right: George Cox Buckle Diano made to the 1950s last//
Last season’s foregrounding by Saint Laurent of the pointed brothel creeper is just one of a run of examples of fashion brands plugging into the purity of this quintessentially British rock & roll style minted in 1949 by the UK independent footwear company George Cox.
Among the first stylistic innovators to take the design out of Teddy Boy revivalism and apply it to contemporary fashion was Malcolm McLaren, who had been selling creepers for a couple of years at Let It Rock, the boutique he operated with Vivienne Westwood, by the time he visited the Cox factory in Northampton in November 1973. Here he ordered samples for six styles, some of which went into production for sale at 430 King’s Road.
//TOP: From the NME’s coverage of the Wembley Rock N Roll Show – staff model Let It Rock clothing outside 430 King’s Road. Photo: Robert Ellis./ABOVE: From the Evening Standard special issue – Teds and (left) LIR assistant Addie Isman outside Let It Rock.//
As a follow-up to my recent post about the Rock N Roll revival show held at London’s Wembley Stadium in August 1972, here is another selection from the media surrounding the event.
The New Musical Express dedicated a section to reviewing the show, decking staffers Danny Holloway, James Johnston and the late Tony Tyler in appropriate clothing from Let It Rock. The journalists were photographed outside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s outlet at 430 King’s Road by Robert Ellis.
//Bo Diddley on the cover of the ES special//
//Angus McGill and Geoffrey Aqulina Ross were among the journalists who contributed to the ES special. I love the juxtaposition with the knife and fork/skull and crossbones logo promoting a Sunday Times feature by the architectural writer Ian Nairn, whose work has recently undergone critical appraisal//
The capital’s daily paper the Evening Standard’s special issue – billed as the official programme – also included images taken outside Let It Rock, including assistant Addie Isman in one of the store’s then-new studded t-shirts (this one emblazoned with the phrase Rock N Roll Ruby) and customer and prominent London Ted Bill Hegarty in full regalia.
The images of the Evening Standard special issue are from the copy owned by collector Takeshi Hosoya, whose Japanese clothing label Peel + Lift can be viewed here.
Many thanks to Robert Ellis for permission to use his shot in the scan from the NME. Visit Robert Ellis’s Repfoto site here.
//Vivienne Westwood in felt Inside Out Jacket with assistants Debbie Wilson and Michael Collins in Seditionaries, 1977//
While updating his rich and varied archive, photographer Homer Sykes came across these superb photographs taken inside Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique Seditionaries at 430 King’s Road in the spring of 1977.
The images capture the air of raw uncertainty surrounding the shop and the McLaren/Westwood coterie in this period. McLaren’s charges the Sex Pistols had recently been signed to their third record company in six months – Virgin Records – after being publicly excoriated for their behaviour and bounced out of EMI and A&M. The national media had seized upon punk as a source of sensationalism and the release of the Pistols’ explosive God Save The Queen was a matter of weeks away.
//Debbie Wilson (aka Debbie Juvenile) sports Hangman Jumper, Seditionaries, 1977. Note the studded Venus Top and leather jacket on the wall behind the counter//
//Westwood expounding against the photographic mural of Dresden after WW2 air-raids, Seditionaries, 1977. Note Collins’ Cambridge Rapist design produced by Westwood’s partner Malcolm McLaren a couple of years earlier//
//Behind the customer in black bondage jacket is the wall-size inverted photographic mural of Piccadilly Circus, Seditionaries, 1977//
On Saturday August 20 1977 Sykes again took to the King’s Road to document the atmosphere of unrest embodied by the outbreaks of violence caused by marauding Teddy Boys targeting punks and such boutiques as Seditionaries and Boy.
//Young Ted bops while another’s jacket mourns Elvis Presley’s recent death, King’s Road, 1977//
//Musician/actor Gary Holton and girlfriend Tracy Boyle lead a demonstration against violence between Teds and Punks along the King’s Road. Far left is punk Mick Bladder//
Some of his photographs feature the punk Mick Bladder, whose arrest on that day in August 1977 was featured in Wolfgang Büld’s Punk In London. This documentary shows how the movement’s initial creative burst swiftly dissipated, while Sykes’ images capture the ways in which a cult movement had entered the mainstream, infiltrating the media, music, fashion and the wider culture.
Sykes’ archive covers the waterfront, from social unrest including the Notting Hill Carnival riot of 1976 and the riots in Toxteth and Brixton in the early 80s, to the on-the-road antics of Paul McCartney & Wings and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the New Romantic haven the Blitz club, Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World and Quentin Crisp . Visit www.homersykes.com.
//"Sunglasses Ron" Fahey, top right, leads the applause onstage at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park, London, spring 1977. Photo: Neal Purvis//
The photograph above – taken by a friend, Neal Purvis – captures one of the leading lights of London’s Ted scene at the height of his rabble-rousing powers.
Here is “Sunglasses Ron” Fahey taking to the stage of north London venue The Rainbow during The Sun Sound Show, which ran on the nights of April 30 and May 1 1977 and featured rockabilly giants Charlie Feathers, Buddy Knox, Jack Scott and Warren Smith.