Paul Gorman is…

RIP Billy Murphy: ‘There were many kings of the King’s Road but only one Emperor’

Dec 20th, 2014
10646984_10152924764237500_39201664015745018_n

//Billy Murphy by Sean Moorman//

“There were many kings of the King’s Road at different periods of time but there was only one Emperor”

Lloyd Johnson

Very sad to note the passing of Billy Murphy, a thoroughly lovely bloke whose contribution to street fashion – particularly in Britain and specifically in and around the King’s Road – is sorely underrated.

I knew all about Billy’s significance in his field decades before I met him; as I wrote here, his shop The Emperor Of Wyoming was “an extremely important staging post not just in the story of British rock and roll fashion but also the development of the vintage scene in this country”.

emp2

//Stetson, embroidered shirt and hand-tooled leather belt from The Emperor Of Wyoming. Photo: David Parkinson for Club International, February 1974//

The received histories of the Chelsea thoroughfare  concentrate on 430 King’s Road and places such as Acme Attractions, but ignoring The Emperor Of Wyoming presents an incomplete picture of the retail landscape there in the early to mid-70s. Murphy’s shop was a major draw, and rightly championed by influential fashion editors  of the period such as Janet Street-Porter and Pru Walters.

Billy Murphy-EmperorWestOne1974VWLitReviewNov26

//Red, yellow and green check shirt, gun-belt, whip and tie-ring from The Emperor Of Wyoming. Photo: Karl Stoecker for West One, May 14, 1974//

Put simply, Murphy’s particular area of excellence formed the missing link between the niche sales of Americana imported and explored by one of his close pals Trevor Myles at the nearby Paradise Garage in 1971 and the explosion of interest when another King’s Road outlet, Flip, started shipping substantial amounts into the UK towards the end of the decade.

And during my researches, when I turned up photography of his lovingly curated clothes in an issue of Club International, I made sure to dig out a pristine copy for Billy. Not that he struck me as the type of character to trade on his past; Billy’s unassuming nature was just one aspect of his delightful charm which will be missed by those who knew him well and the thousands like me who pleasured in just a passing acquaintance.

Thanks to Sean Moorman for his kind permission to feature the portrait of Billy. Visit Sean’s site here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road

Apr 12th, 2014
lir-rockarchive580

//Front cover, Rock Archive, Various Artists, Windmill Records, 1972//

It is relatively common knowledge among those interested in the careers of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their series of extraordinary shops that they supplied clothes to the 1973 album Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll; Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road was clearly credited on the back of the record sleeve.

Let It Rock-Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll

//Front cover, The Golden Hour Of Rock N Roll, Various Artists, Pye/Golden Hour, 1973//

lir-rockarchiveflipped

//The photograph on the Rock Archive cover was flipped to better accommodate the text. Here it is as originally shot//

But I have fresh information which helps towards a greater understanding of McLaren’s project to investigate the detritus of popular culture’s recent past. During a bout of research recently I came across this earlier and hitherto undocumented use of Let It Rock clothing in a music context: the front cover of Rock Archive, a budget LP compilation released by the specialist British independent label Windmill in 1972.

And I am detailing the clothes on the cover with images taken inside Let It Rock which have never been previously published.

lir-redshirts

//Starke shirts with 50s sports jacket on Let It Rock wall, January 1972. Photograph: David Parkinson//

lir-starke

//Starke label detail//

Each garment worn by the model – whose attempts at rocking out resulted in his giving every appearance of suffering considerable pain – comes from the deadstock of British brands assiduously assembled by Malcolm McLaren and his art-school friend Patrick Casey for the opening of the world’s first avowedly post-modern retail outlet in November 1971.

From the ground up, the Rock Archive cover star wore black suede Denson’s Fine Poynts, ice-blue Lybro jeans with 12in cuffs, a Frederick Starke flyaway collar shirt and a studded and decorated Lewis Leathers early 60s Lightning jacket (which featured a highly collectable 6-5 Special patch).

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Memories of Zanzibar and the nights Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders left their mark on Fulham

May 10th, 2013

//Signed bar menu. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

//Signed back cover of So Alone, Johnny Thunders, Real Records,1978. Courtesy: Jonathan Ross//

As demonstrated by my recent post, the west London house of collector/gallerist Jonathan Ross became a hive for the art/boho/punk crowd flooding the capital in the  70s.

Among the visitors were Johnny Thunders and Iggy Pop, who both left their marks in different ways.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photos from The Look Of London launch at Lewis Leathers

Oct 13th, 2012

The Look Of London: An illustrated guide to the city’s most influential fashion spots 1950-2000

Oct 10th, 2012

Tomorrow (October 11) is the publication date of The Look Of London, my map collaboration with the pre-eminent modern guide-makers Herb Lester Associates.

“This map is a reminder that London, with all its individuality and character, is still very exciting,” writes Paul Smith in the foreword; he opened at 44 Floral Street WC2 in 1979.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The King’s Road Music + Fashion Trail

Aug 11th, 2012

These are the first five downloadable clips in the King’s Road Music + Fashion Trail, a celebration of landmark boutiques I am making for the culture section of Royal Borough Of Kensington + Chelsea Council.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the Broken Hearts’ + Lloyd Johnson on Strongroom Alive tonight

Aug 6th, 2012

Tonight I am the guest again of the Broken Hearts DJs, this time on their monthly show at Strongroom Alive, the station which is part of the media complex based in the Strongroom recording studio in east London.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,

Granny’s in Duke of York Square: Preview of the King’s Road Music + Fashion Trail

Jul 14th, 2012

Still from film about Granny Takes A Trip for the King's Road Fashion   Music Trail

Last night saw a preview on a giant outdoor screen in Chelsea’s Duke Of York Square of a couple of the new films celebrating the golden age of London boutique culture.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Filming: Lloyd Johnson and Nigel Waymouth for the King’s Road Fashion + Music Trail

May 17th, 2012
Lloyd Johnson in the doorway of 406 King's Road - site of his Johnson's The Modern Outfitter boutique 1978-2000

//Frederique Cifuentes captures Lloyd Johnson in the doorway at 406 King's Road. Lloyd installed the lamp above his head when he opened Johnson's at the premises in 1978.//

Yesterday filming started for this summer’s King’s Road Fashion & Music Trail, which is is being launched to visitors to west London’s historic thoroughfare as part of Kensington & Chelsea’s InTransit festival in July.

The films of sites which have housed important boutiques in the story of rock & roll fashion will be accessible for pedestrians via QR codes and also appear on the RBKC website and on Youtube.

IMG_5800

//Nigel Waymouth on the terrace at 488 King's Road.//

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

SXSW installations: The look of music

Mar 16th, 2012


If you’re in Austin TX – and there’s a chance you might be since hundreds of thousands of people have descended on the city for the annual SXSW film/music/interactive conflab taking place there this week – try and nip along to the Ray Ban Legendary Visions house at 78 Rainey Street on the eastside for a gander at the room collages/installations I have engineered to reflect my take on the look of music.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,