I’m the featured writer this week in the Almost Famous slot on Rock’s Back Pages, the world’s leading resource of music-related journalism.
This drum-head design by Barney Bubbles for Willie Wilson, sticksman of early 70s folk-rockers Quiver, makes a fine addition to the group of artworks produced in this medium by the late graphics maestro.
‘Ultimate internationalist, cultural provocateur…’ Constable to publish my book Malcolm McLaren: The Biography
The Bookseller has announced that British imprint Constable is to publish my book Malcolm McLaren: The Biography.
Derek Boshier’s 1966 work Sam Spade is given prominence in A Strong Sweet Smell Of Incense, the exhibition dedicated to the connoisseurship of the late art dealer Robert Fraser.
Boshier was a client until he foreswore painting for a decade or more in 1968. This was a particularly difficult period for Fraser, who was jailed over the infamous Redlands drug bust at Rolling Stone Keith Richards’ house the previous year.
Boshier has recounted how he became so frustrated over Fraser’s unwillingness to pass on payments in the 60s that he and his friend, the poet Christopher Logue, once broke into the Duke Street gallery and retrieved works Fraser had refused to release in lieu.
“In those minutes, you could see he really was about to become a major pop star.”
In The Guardian today, photographer pal and hero Joe Stevens has picked a favourite image from his six-decade career: a slightly tousled David Bowie and a French railway guard at a Paris station.
According to my copy of Kevin Cann’s definitive Bowie diary Any Day Now this would have been May 3, 1973; Bowie had travelled by train from Japan, on the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Poland and Germany in the company of the late NYC legend Leee Black Childers and Bowie’s friend and backing vocalist Geoff MacCormack.
Stevens’ captured Bowie at a moment of transformation; alighting blearily in dress-down mode from the train, the rock star was met by wife Angie and a gaggle of glamorous friends. In a matter of minutes he had changed into the Freddie Buretti-designed outfit seen here and was swept away to a reception and press conference in the Rouge Room of the George V Hotel.
Just in shot – and identifiable by his frizz and shoulder bag strap – is Joe’s NME compadre (and another pal and hero) Charlie Murray.
Read Joe’s reminiscence here.
I am proud to say I edited Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-74. It is a thoroughgoing delight and highly recommended – if you don’t already own it, purchase a copy here.
Charles Shaar Murray wrote a wonderful preface to my music press history In Their Own Write (which he ended with the following note to me: “You bastard. You’ll be hunted down and strangled like a dog for this.”)
Copies of In Their Own Write are available here.
The Family Acid: New book of the photography of a psychedelic pioneer, reggae archivist, actor and anthologist
One of my favourite Instagram feeds is The Family Acid, run by Kate Steffens, daughter of reggae archivist, actor, anthologist, psychedelic pioneer and photographer Roger Steffens.
My legal claim against Vivienne Westwood, her co-author Ian Kelly and publisher Picador over plagiarism of my work in the recently published memoir of the British fashion designer has been featured across the Australian media.
I was interviewed in Melbourne by Jason Steger, literary editor of The Age, whose article about substantial plagiarism from my book The Look as well as a multitude of factual errors, potential libels and serial failure to correctly credit photographers was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald and Australia’s book industry magazine Books + Publishing.
Into the over-worked field of ‘street style’ comes a breath of fresh air: What We Wore – A People’s History Of British Style.
Free of cliche and pretension, Nina Manandhar and Eva Dawoud’s book compiles the personal images and anecdotes of a hugely diverse set of contributors.
The book is not dominated by well-known people and the usual suspects who patronise this narrative (though I snuck in there) and so is true to the subtitle; What We Wore celebrates in a thoroughly egalitarian manner “the presentation of self” – Erving Goffman’s phrase as cited by Ted Polhemus in his excellent foreword.
What We Wore is a fitting testament to our collective visual invention. I recommend it highly.
Buy What We Wore here.
Toyah Willcox and Midge Ure worked in Sex… Nostalgia Of Mud sold bondage trousers… Philip Hoare’s compromised review littered with as many howlers as contained in the Vivienne Westwood book
It will be frustrating for publisher Picador and their authors Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood that novelist Philip Hoare’s national paper five-star review of memoir Vivienne Westwood is rendered unreliable by, pro rata, as many inaccuracies as contained in the book itself.
Holed by these gaffes, the review – in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine published October 26 – is capsized by Hoare’s failure to declare a significant interest.
In Kelly’s acknowledgements, Hoare’s name appears first on the list of those who extended to the author “accommodation, guidance, encouragement and friendship on this project”.
On the basis that phrases such as “fetishistically brilliant” justify a thumbs-up, Hoare’s review arrived in the wake of the media coverage of my claim against the publisher and the authors over substantial plagiarisation of my book The Look in Vivienne Westwood.
Since I have publicly charged the book with major-league sloppiness, this positive review by a relatively well-known literary figure may be framed in the context of a push to restore credibility to the troubled project (as well as the plagiarisation and the huge amount of factual errors, the book is held to contain at least one serious libel and fails to provide proper credit for a number of photographers).
Hoare – who has post-punk associations, having worked in west London record shop Rough Trade and managed the indie group the Pale Fountains – bravely inserts himself into the piece with personal memories of Westwood’s design business with Malcolm McLaren in the 70s and 80s.
According to Hoare – and these are his additions to the blunders already piled high by the 458-page tome – the shop assistants at 430 Kings Road in its incarnation as Sex included not only musician Midge Ure but also actress/performer Toyah Willcox.
Of course neither was employed there. Hoare has simply confused each person’s tangential relationships to the McLaren/Westwood coterie: it is well known that Ure was once approached as a possible singer for the Sex Pistols during their formative stage, while Willcox appeared in Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk movie Jubilee (the subject of a salty attack printed onto a t-shirt by Westwood).
During the period Hoare is discussing, Ure had already hit the number one spot with Scottish teen-pop band Slik while Willcox was making her acting bones in Birmingham Old Rep before transferring to the National Theatre. A simple check in one of the reliable published sources – of course I recommend The Look – would have put him right.
Against these howlers, we can generously attribute to memory failings Hoare’s depiction of shop manager Jordan’s “Kandinsky make-up” (it was avowedly based on the work of Mondrian and introduced in 1977 during the later Seditionaries phase) and the “scaffolding rails” in Sex (they were made of curved chrome and expertly-turned wooden gym bar racks courtesy of the trained wheelwright Vic Mead) and instead study Hoare’s ownership of a pair of bondage trousers bought at Nostalgia Of Mud, McLaren and Westwood’s store in St Christopher’s Place in London’s West End.
Bondage trousers were not sold at NoM, which opened in spring 1982. By this time McLaren and Westwood had publicly rejected these and other designs produced at the height of punk six years earlier.
In fact so vehement was their abandonment of the punk-era garments that Westwood licensed all the designs, include the patterns for the bondage trousers, to King’s Road store Boy, which was knocking them out in inferior copies by the hundred by spring 1982.
Hoare – who has prior in giving glowing reviews to Kelly’s previous books – compounds the mistakes in his review by quoting one of the plagiarised passages from my book: “Sex,” Westwood tells Kelly,”translated into fashion becomes fetish…the very embodiment of youth’s assumption to mortality.”
As pointed out here last week, and as my lawyers have communicated to Westwood, Kelly and Picador, this is one of 40 passages in Vivienne Westwood which bear close resemblance to text in my book, in this case from the introduction written by McLaren nearly a decade-and-a-half ago: “Sex translated into fashion becomes fetish, and fetishism is the very embodiment of youth. Youth has to behave irreverently – it has to take drugs because of its fundamental belief in its own immortality.”
Read Hoare’s review here.
I’m delighted to announce that David Hockney has written the preface to Rethink/Re-Entry, the Derek Boshier monograph I am editing.
In the piece, Hockney points out that they have known each other since 1957, and that Boshier “like me, is an artist, and one who has never lost his wonder at the world”.