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.
Tonight I will join academic and arts writer Dr Ian Massey and filmmaker John Maybury in conversation with photographer David Gwinnutt for an event to coincide with his exhibition Before We Were Men at the National Portrait Gallery.
//Cerith Wyn Evans and John Maybury at ‘And Then I Woke Up’, London Film Makers Co-Op, Camden, North London, 1980. Photo: David Gwinnutt//
//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.
//Top: Entrance to Ealing Club stairwell with jeweller’s to its right, early 1960s. Photo: ealingclub.com. Above: The entrance as it is today//
“Suburbia is the breeding ground for the richest and most innovative cultural production of the 20th and 21st centuries” Rupa Huq, writer and MP for Ealing Central & Acton, 2013
An advert in the New Musical Express for a “Rhythm & Blues Night” staged 55 years ago today – on St Patrick’s Night, March 17, 1962 – sparked the British musical revolution which soundtracked youth culture in the West for decades.
The ad proved a lure for suburban London teenage r&b fans including Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, while Eric Burdon, soon to be vocalist with The Animals, hitchhiked the 300 miles from Newcastle to join them in witnessing the main performance by Blues Incorporated (in fact he and Jagger traded verses on stage during a rendition of Billy Boy Arnold’s I Ain’t Got You).
//I’ll be in conversation with Soho tailor Mark Powell at 2pm. Photo: Mark Powell//
//And talking about The Face from 3pm. This issue: Clinton McKenzie by Jamie Morgan/Ray Petri (Buffalo), June 1985 //
Sartorial Style is on this Saturday at the V&A and looks to be a humdinger.
The day of talks, q&as and presentations considers centuries of male style and elegance and also explores contemporary men’s fashion, bringing together curators, academics, photographers, writers and designers.
Sartorial Style kicks off with Real Men DO Wear Pink!, an investigation into masculine style up until 1800 by Susan North, the V&A’s curator of 17th & 18th Century fashion.
//Sir Roy Strong at the V&A, May 20, 1987. Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty//