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“Late hippie fleur du mal to the power of N’: Nick Kent x 5 by Joe Stevens

// Nick Kent, London 1974. Photo: Joe Stevens. "Taken at the NME offices on Long Acre. Our Nick looking dolled up, headed to the record company offices to score albums he'd presold to shops in The Gate. Kent would convert the cash into dope, fags, eyeliner, some threads, and an omelette at The Hall Of The Mountain Grill on Portobello Rd." //

Overseen by Nick Logan (with Jann Wenner across the Atlantic, the key figure in the development of the music press) the NME was happily in thrall to The New Journalism, striking alliances with such fellow travellers as Creem’s Lester Bangs and charging through the mid-70s doldrums with a manifesto which contributed to punk’s rhetoric. This was delivered with élan, a drugged-up Dog Days Of Glam sense of style. No one exemplifies this slurred, unsteady on its bony legs, fuck-you stance better than Nick Kent.

Introduction, In Their Own Write, 2001

Photographer Joe Stevens has recently posted on his website a set of reminiscences of working with Nick Kent, whose journalism – along with that of Pete Erskine, Chrissie Hynde, Charles Shaar Murray and Chris Salewicz – for the NME in the early-to-mid-70s helped set me on the path to writing for a living.

Kent backed up his verbals with a striking visual presence which trumped most mainstream pop performers of the period.

As Dylan Jones has recounted, it was to Kent that a waitress in a Chinese restaurant once gravitated for an autograph, not his dining companions Iggy Pop and David Bowie, “because he looked more of a rock star than the other two”.

But not everybody shares such admiration. In her great memoir I Knew I Was Right, Julie Burchill wrote of Kent: “I thought he was a middle-class wanker and a junkie and a freak to boot. Rumour has it that Keith Richards was once copiously sick on his jacket after a prolonged smack binge and Kent never washed it again.”

Joe has also posted these portraits of Kent 1972-5, which I’m matching with stories from the photographer and a selection of anecdotes about the man from my music press history In Their Own Write.

// With NME staffer Roy Carr. Photo: Joe Stevens. " At the NME in Long Acre in 1973, where Kent, Murray, Pennie Smith and I had met with the editor Alan Smith, got jobs, and taken over the bleedin' paper." //

Kent was so right for 1972 it was dazzling. He was late-hippie fleur du mal to the power of  N and he looked like he’d crawled out of a Lou Reed song. Talk about decadent.
Peter York

// Photo: Joe Stevens. "He's doing an interview and having a few cocktails in the Finchley digs of the sensational Alex Harvey in 1974. Strange match-up for a news piece I thought at the time. But Alex was a Glaswegian charmer. We had a wee blast." //

God I remember Nick Kent. He OD-d at Wonderland Avenue when he came over with Iggy one time. He collapsed in the bathroom and we found him in these little pink underpants, so we had to rush him to hospital just wearing those.
Danny Sugerman

// With Chrissie Hynde. Photo: Joe Stevens. "On a double date with Kate Simon and I at Andrew Logan's loft in Battersea to see the brand new Sex Pistols play his Valentine's party in February 1976. My cameras came alive again. A fabulous evening! Chrissie was cleaning offices and living in a London squat. Next night we went to Ronnie Scott's to hear Lionel Hampton." //

One of the constituents of the Nick Kent legend was that he never learned to type. He would sit scrawling left-handed so he’d be [hunches in an uncomfortable-looking position] really crabbed and weird. One day, he brought in immaculately typed copy, saying “Hey, I’ve been practising”. Then we found out Chrissie had typed it.

Charles Shaar Murray

// Photo: Joe Stevens. "We had covered a Captain Beefheart show, interview and photo session in steamy Paris and then split to St Tropez for the rocky beaches of the Riviera. Kent and Hynde were on the rocks as well. The topless bathers were shocked to see Nick jogging about." //

When I worked there, Kent would be walking around with his bollocks hanging out. He had ripped clothes; the trousers were literally hanging off him and his family jewels were swinging in the breeze. Physically, he’s strange, very tall with a long body. You add heroin to that equation and get something really weird-looking.

Tony Parsons

Read an interview with Joe Stevens about working with Kent here and visit Stevens’ website here.

Copies of In Their Own Write are available here.

Read my post on The Politics Of Flash – Kent’s important 1974 NME feature on  fashion and music – here.

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Author: / Published: Mar 12th, 2013 / Category: Book reviews, Books, In Their Own Write, Journalism, Punk / Comments: 1

One Response to ““Late hippie fleur du mal to the power of N’: Nick Kent x 5 by Joe Stevens”

  1. LondonLee
    on Mar 18th, 2013
    @ 5:26 pm

    God, how sexy does Chrissie Hynde look in that photo?

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