Joe Stevens’ 70s photograph of a pensive David Bowie merchandise seller is included in British artist Jeremy Deller’s British Pavilion installation English Magic at the Venice Biennale.
I’m a fiend for line ads in print media; all human life is contained in the few words demanding the casual reader’s attention.
Leafing through a 1971 issue of British underground magazine Frendz (which had previously been titled Friends) I spied this ad, and wondered whether it might have been placed by the American photographer Joe Stevens. The number has a west London prefix and he was living in that part of town at the time.
I fired off an email and received this reponse earlier today:
Yes. That’s me. Ramen-scarfing “Straight Press” Joe. Looking for work, living on £10 a week, not eligible for the dole.
The Cocoa Song is from the cult British Film Institute-funded multicultural musical Moon Over The Alley, directed by Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq.
Released in 1976 with a score by Galt McDermot, a fellow Canadian who is probably best known for his compositions for Hair, Moon Over The Alley is largely set around London W10; this scene was shot at the top end of Portobello Road market.
London punk demi-monde Polaroids from Jonathan Ross: The return of Chrissie Hynde + Kate Simon with Tamasin Day-Lewis, Gina Louthan, Ruth Marten, Judy Nylon, Patti Palladin, Jon Savage and…John Betjeman
//All photos (c) Jonathan Ross//
Here are more previously unpublished images from London’s punk demi-monde.
Coincident to receiving Joe Stevens’ photograph of the pre-Pretenders Chrissie Hynde and photographer Kate Simon in Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols Nude Boy shirts, collector/gallerist/Londoner Jonathan Ross supplied me with this fabulous selection of Polaroids taken at his west London house in the same period.
These include Hynde and Simon as well as their fellow Americans-about-town, the performers Judy Nylon and Patti Palladin and artist/tattooist Ruth Marten, writers Tamasin Day-Lewis and Jon Savage, Ross himself, his girlfriend Gina Louthan and Sir John Betjeman.
This photograph – taken by Joe Stevens in early 1976 in Fulham, west London – is featured in the exhibition Just Chaos!, which opens tomorrow (May 7) at Marc Jacobs’ Bleecker Street NYC bookstore BookMarc.
The T-shirts worn by Simon and Hynde were among the first variants of a limited edition designed by Malcolm McLaren to promote the newly formed Sex Pistols. A few were also sold in Sex, the environmental installation/shop operated by McLaren with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in World’s End, Chelsea.
“Malcolm dropped the shirts off at my Finborough Road studio; they were freshly silk-screened from a limited edition,” says Stevens, then working for the NME and living with Simon (who was employed by rival music paper Sounds). “Chrissie was living in a squat and cleaning offices for a living. She’d drop by the pad to take showers. I’d hear her singing in there and realised she had a wonderful voice.”
McLaren produced the designs with the express aim of promoting the new group. “This was my first attempt at making a Sex Pistols T-shirt,” he told me in 2006. “I wanted to create something of a stir.”
Dave Robinson, one of the British music business’s towering figures, has sent me this lovely pop-reggae tune from Madness man Lee Thompson’s project.
It’s great for this sunny Bank Holiday; Bitty McLean is on top vocal form.
Fair takes me back to seeing Madness in their North London Invaders incarnation support a jazz-rock trio (!) at Camden Town’s Dublin Castle, and before that the graffito ‘Kix’ emblazoned around 70s teenage nexus Golders Green tube station (courtesy of Thompson).
//Hipgnosis fashion shoot for Club International, 1972//
An antiques restorer friend has pointed out that the early 70s fashion shoot by design studio Hipgnosis I recently featured here calls to mind the preoccupations with the female form of the late German artist Paul Wunderlich.
My friend – who wishes to remain anonymous – has offered as evidence a print of Wunderlich’s work Vor dem Vorhang (“Before the curtain”). The story of how he came by the artwork one squally day in central London seven years ago is remarkable: