Paul Gorman is…

When Chuck Berry and Little Richard played Knees Up Mother Brown on David Letterman in London

Mar 19th, 2017

//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.

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Happy Birthday British rock and R&B, born 55 years ago tonight at the Ealing Club when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Eric Burdon gathered around Alexis Korner

Mar 17th, 2017

//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).

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Sartorial Style on Saturday: Talking about The Face, in conversation with Mark Powell, Samurai rogues + merchant dandies, Adam Murray on North, Roy Strong’s wardrobe and real men DO wear pink!

Mar 15th, 2017

//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//

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Look sharp! In conversation with Mark Powell at Sartorial Style at the V&A, 2pm, Saturday, March 18

Mar 5th, 2017

Later this month I will be in conversation with British menswear legend Mark Powell at the V&A’s Sartorial Style day.

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What’s it going to be then, eh? An ‘unforgettable evening of typewriters, music, rough cider and poison-pen letters’

Feb 24th, 2017

//Anthony Burgess, Chiswick, west London, 1968, with the border collie Haji, “crafty, disobedient, and ignorant of the sexual life, except in perverted forms peculiar to himself […] He had no loyalty, leaving that commodity to us”. Photo: IABF//

Tomorrow is Anthony Burgess’s centenary; would that I could, I’d be in Manchester, specifically at the Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, home to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for its celebration of the great fellow with an “unforgettable evening of typewriters, music, rough cider and poison-pen letters”.

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Before We Were Men: With David Gwinnutt, John Maybury, Ian Massey + Jeffrey Hinton at the National Portrait Gallery on March 23

Feb 23rd, 2017

//John Maybury, Crowndale Road, c. 1981. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

//Leigh Bowery, Farrell House, Stepney Green, c. 1983. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

I am one of the guests of the photographer David Gwinnutt at an event being staged next month to coincide with the opening of his forthcoming exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Before We Were Men showcases Gwinnutt’s documentation – with hand-held camera and exclusive use of natural light –  of creative London in the 1980s. Among his subjects were the designer/performance artist Leigh Bowery, artists Cerith Wyn Evans, Duggie Fields, Gilbert & George and Grayson Perry and dancer/choreographer Michael Clark.

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Apollonia Van Ravenstein + Ara Gallant in originals of Seditionaries Mickey & Minnie and Exposé t-shirts

Feb 21st, 2017

//Van Ravenstein with Gallant (wearing his trademark Japanese schoolboy’s cap adorned with gold charms). From photo by Francis Ing//

Images of the novelty t-shirt designs détourned by the late Malcolm McLaren for sale in Seditionaries in 1978 are rare, which is why this shot of Apollonia Van Ravenstein and Ara Gallant from a spread in a late 70s issue of L’Uomo Vogue is extra special.

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Curious, humorous and anonymous: Ian Harris’s Argos art postcard interventions

Feb 18th, 2017

/A selection of the 60 appended cards Harris placed in London art gallery and museum shops. No reproduction without permission//

//The Death Of Marat, Jacques-Louis David, 1793. No reproduction without permission//

//Charles I, Daniel Mytens, 1631. Card from National Portrait Gallery. No reproduction without permission//

Ian Harris is a man of many parts, having been at various stages in his life a successful graphic artist, fashion designer, homewares retailer and musician/performer, notably with late 60s blues-rock group The Earth and as his mod revival alter ego Terry Tonik.

Just this week Harris let me in on a curious, humorous and anonymous public intervention series he staged in London galleries and museums a few years back.

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Bend Sinister: Trump The Toad

Feb 16th, 2017

//1960 Weidenfeld & Nicolson edition. Jacket design: Eric Ayers//

“This choice of a title was an attempt to suggest an outline broken by refraction, a distortion in the mirror of being, a wrong turn taken by life.”
Vladimir Nabokov, from the introduction to the 1963 edition of Bend Sinister

Donald Trump’s nightmarish occupancy of the US presidency has occasioned quite a few literary comparisons, causing sales spikes for such dystopian works as George Orwell’s 1984 and prompting arguments about whether other books more accurately envisioned what passes for our current version of reality: see Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

An admittedly cursory check around hasn’t turned up anyone else who, like me, makes the connection to Vladimir Nabokov’s 1947 novel Bend Sinister, about a bereaved world-renowned philosopher living in a totalitarian state run by the repulsive schoolmate he had once bullied and nicknamed “The Toad”. This tyrant, Paduk, rules via his Party Of The Average Man.

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Lives less ordinary: Jane England’s Turn And Face The Strange documents 70s cultural and social churn

Feb 14th, 2017

//British street style legend Paul Beecham in Battersea, south London, 1974//

//Jasper Havoc (Peter McMahon, 1953-1979), a member of the Sydney performance troupe Sylvia and the Synthetics, in Ladbroke Grove, west London, in 1977 and on the front of England’s book//

Jane England’s Turn And Face The Strange is a valuable addition to the documentation of the social and cultural churn occurring at the edges of society in the 1970s.

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