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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Let It Rock x Let’s Rock x Little Richard = Vive Le Rock!

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//Malcolm McLaren in front of display of Belgian 50s rock n roll movie posters inside Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road,  January 1972. Note Vive le Rock! poster top left. Photo: David Parkinson//

//Taken by John E. Reed in 1956 to promote teen-movie Don’t Knock The Rock, the photo was reissued by London Records to mark the release of the four-track EP Little Richard And His Band//


//Front cover, You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down, Little Richard, Union Pacific, 1972. Designer: Unknown//


//As shown on this repro, McLaren’s design for the Little Richard shirt sold at the London Rock N Roll Festival held at Wembley Stadium in August 1972//

Yet another example of Malcolm McLaren’s astounding design talent is examined across a number of exhibits at the Let It Rock show, which opens at Copenhagen’s Bella Center on Sunday (August 3).

In 1972 McLaren expanded his investigations into 50s pop design culture by producing a series of t-shirt designs celebrating the great American rock & roll stars performing on the bill of the one-day festival at London’s Wembley Stadium that August.

McLaren continued to followed the path dictated by his formidable art education by creating new artworks out of the juxtaposition of found objects. A 1956 promotional photograph of Little Richard provided the main image for the shirt dedicated to The Georgia Peach.

In 1972 it also appeared on the cover of the UK compilation You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down; that year also witnessed a revival of interest in the pompadoured Richard Penniman after Let It Rock customer Charles (now Lord) Saatchi featured a Little Richard song in a 50s-styled TV advert for Libro jeans.


//The title lettering on the poster was isolated//


//Reed’s image was flipped vertically//

McLaren flipped the image, reversed it out and positioned the exuberant figure with the joyous title lettering from a  rock & roll movie poster he stocked in Let It Rock. Vive Le Rock! was, in fact, the French title of the 1958 US production Let’s Rock, so tied indirectly with the name McLaren had chosen for his own venture. In Britain the film was marketed under the tamer Keep It Cool.


//Poster for the American release of the movie, 1958//


//McLaren later incorporated the Vive Le Rock! elements into a fresh composite for sale in 430 King’s Road when it was Seditionaries in 1979. This also featured Situationist slogans, a quote from the early 20th century Spanish anarcho-syndicalist Buenaventura Durruti and “recipes” from William Powell’s The Anarchist’s Cookbook, first published in 1971//

The Copenhagen show features a Let It Rock installation complete with a series of large prints of previously unseen photographs taken by David Parkinson inside 430 King’s Road in January 1972. Included is a full version of the image at the top of this post, as well as a Vive le Rock! shirt and the Little Richard LP cover.

Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion is at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center from August 3-6.

Read more here.

*This post was revised and updated to reflect fresh information on the source of the image on March 11, 2017*

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Author: / Published: Jul 30th, 2014 / Category: 1950s, 1970s, 2010s, 430 King's Road, David Parkinson, Exhibitions, Fashion, King's Road, Malcolm McLaren / Comments: None

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