Paul Gorman is…

Don’t Knock The Rock: John E. Reed’s eternal image of exuberant Little Richard

Apr 20th, 2017

//London Records promotional image, 1958//

In 1956 the Hollywood photographer John E. Reed took a series of promotional shots of the stars of DJ Alan Freed’s rocksploitation flick Don’t Knock The Rock.

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The Paradise Garage Mustang pops up in mid-70s early learning book

Feb 13th, 2017

//Outside Paradise Garage, 430 King’s Road, GW Hales, 1971//

As punk expert/collector and design academic Paul Burgess notes, references to 430 King’s Road turn up in the most surprising places.

So thanks to him for notifying me about this photograph of the coolest address in pop culture – and in particular the tiger stripe-flocked Ford Mustang which adorned the street outside during the Paradise Garage phase – in a 1976 light educational book for young children.

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On Malcolm McLaren’s reading list: Nik Cohn, Frederick’s Of Hollywood and Giorgio Morandi catalogues, Wilhelm Reich, Tom Wolfe and the folk art and magic studies which inspired fashion adventures with Vivienne Westwood

Jan 3rd, 2017

A few years back I came across Malcolm McLaren’s annotated copy of Indian Rawhide, the anthropologist Mable Morrow’s study of the folk art produced by Native American tribes which inspired the late cultural iconoclast in the conceptualising with his partner Vivienne Westwood of their Spring/Summer 1982 fashion collection Savage.

//Frontispiece to Morrow’s book, published by University of Oklahoma Press in the Civilization Of The American Indian Series, 1975//

//From Indian Rawhide: design produced by the Apache Mescaleros in Taos, New Mexico, matched by McLaren and Westwood with book-end marbling on this Savage slip dress. No reproduction without permission//

//The Apache design as it appeared printed on the end of the train on a Worlds End jersey toga dress. No reproduction without permission//

McLaren obtained a copy of Morrow’s book during travels recording his debut solo album Duck Rock. Since the Pirate collection of March 1981 had established a post-Punk direction for himself and Westwood and their Worlds End shop and label, McLaren set about investigating the powerful ideas residing in pre-Christian ethnic cultures, selecting Indian Rawhide as the text with which to frame the next group of designs.

My McLaren biography, to be published in spring 2018, will reveal that research – particularly literary – was one of the life-long consistencies in his approach to creative acts.

The musician Robin Scott told me that McLaren was an avid attendee of art history lessons during their spell as students at Croydon Art School in the 60s, and a couple of years before his death in 2010 McLaren confirmed that he was inspired in part to open Teddy Boy revival emporium Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road in 1971 after reading Nik Cohn’s peerless post-WW2 youth cult history Today There Are No Gentlemen.

//This edition Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971//

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Eight Young Photographers: David Parkinson’s mould-breaking contribution to the 1971 exhibition

Nov 22nd, 2016
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//David Parkinson in the Eight Young Photographers catalogue, 1971. Image courtesy Mark Trompeteler//

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//Front, catalogue/fold-out poster, for the show which ran at the Photographers Gallery in Great Newport Street from April 6 to May 2, 1971. Courtesy Mark Trompeteler. No reproduction without permission//

Eight Young Photographers was the third exhibition to be held at the newly-opened Photographers Gallery at its original premises in Great Newport Street in London’s West End.

The gallery opened in January 1971 with a group show entitled The Concerned Photographer featuring, among others, Robert Capa, and followed that by simultaneously staging three exhibits, including a display of Polaroids taken by Andy Warhol.

Visitors to Eight Young Photographers, which ran during April and into early May that year, recall it as being an important staging post in the acceptance of photography as a subject worthy of artistic appreciation. Among the contributors was the late David Parkinson, about whom I have written often. He showed work alongside Mark Edwards, Meira Hand, Roger Birt, Sylvester Jacobs, Tim Stevens, Bob Mazzer and Mark Trompeteler (who has kindly retrieved the catalogue/poster for me from his archive).

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//From the Photographers Gallery listings. The show was preceded by an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids//

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Reissued: The Look Of London – charting fashion x music in the greatest city in the world

Oct 21st, 2016

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I’m delighted to announce that my map The Look Of London – which teases out the intertwining of popular music and street style in our capital over five decades – has been reissued by groovy guide makers Herb Lester Associates.

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The Filth & The Fury: Punk Fashion at the NFT tomorrow with Amber Butchart + SEX & Seditionaries superstar Jordan Mooney

Aug 5th, 2016

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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.

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//Selection of Let It Rock designs showcased in a May 1972 issue of The Sunday Times Magazine. Photos: Hans Feurer. Paul Gorman Archive//

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Sharks: The return of the Sharkmobile and a great shot of the band with Nora Foster in Let It Rock designs

Jul 8th, 2016
LONDON - JANUARY 1973: The Shark Car photographed in West London on 8th January 1973 (Photo by Brian Cooke/Redferns) *** Sharks;The Shark Car ***

//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//

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//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.

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‘Progressive, provocative, beautiful and belligerent’: 52-page Malcolm McLaren extravaganza in new issue of Man About Town

Apr 30th, 2016
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//Cover, Man About Town SS16. Otto in Buffalo hat and Rigby & Peller bra (prototype for Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982). Photography: Alasdair McLellan. Styling: Olivier Rizzo//

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//Above left: Frankie in Buffalo hat, white Nike socks and my George Cox Diano creepers. Right: Natalie in Malcolm McLaren’s Chico hat (Witches, 1983), Buffalo jacket (Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982) and Bondage Trousers (Seditionaries, 1976). Photography: Alasdair McLellan. Styling: Olivier Rizzo. Hair: Duffy: Make Up: Lynsey Alexander. Man About Town SS16//

On a warm London afternoon last July I enjoyed a meeting with Ben Reardon, editor-in-chief of the biannual Man About Town, the magazine’s senior fashion editor Danny Reed and Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate.

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Long Live The Soho Dead: Ghosts of Le Macabre haunt Robert Rubbish’s exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero

Apr 23rd, 2016

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Le Macabre

//Le Macabre, 23 Meard Street, London W1. Photo: Unknown//

“When I started working as the Saturday boy at Let It Rock (in 1973), Malcolm McLaren used to take me around these strange places which played a part in early rock & roll. One time we went to Le Macabre. I don’t know how he knew about it, but it was the real thing. The tables were coffin lids and the jukebox only had songs to do with death.”

Glen Matlock, interview transcript for The Look, 2000.

A chance encounter on eBay spurred artist Robert Rubbish into creating one of the key elements of his current exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero.

Rubbish – who is one of many mourning the recent death of his friend and documentary subject, the poet Jock Scot – is known for deep associations with central London’s Soho, and has celebrated its sleazy past and uneasy present in his own work and with the other members of the art collective Le Gun.

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//Dilly Boys, Robert Rubbish, 2016//

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//The Sailor And The Mermaid, Robert Rubbish, 2016//

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‘A complete environment’: Patrick Casey and Malcolm McLaren’s installation at Let It Rock in Ben Kelly’s 111 Inspirational Interiors exhibition

Apr 13th, 2016
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//Interior, 430 King’s Road, west London, designed by Patrick Casey and Malcolm McLaren for the retail outlet Let It Rock and photographed by David Parkinson in January 1972. No reproduction without permission//

I have elected the above image for inclusion in the exhibition 111 Inspirational Interiors, which opens tomorrow in the Windows Gallery 1 at Central Saint Martins in Kings Cross, north London.

The show is curated by designer Ben Kelly in his role as chair of interior and spatial design at University of the Arts London as part of his project Popular Culture And The Interior; the 1972 David Parkinson photograph stems from my participation in Kelly’s ICA symposium last year, Dead Or Alive – Interior Design.

For the exhibition, Kelly invited 111 people to contribute “an image of an interior that has been important and influential in their creative and intellectual development”. The image I chose was taken on the completion of the refurbishment of the ground floor of 430 King’s Road  from the premises of boutique Paradise Garage into Teddy Boy culture emporium Let It Rock in late 1971 by the late Malcolm McLaren and his fellow former Harrow Art School student Patrick Casey.

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