My recent post about David Bowie’s visits in 1974 to 430 King’s Road when it was in its Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die incarnation prompted Facebook friend and DJ Graham “Sugarlump” Evans to alert me to Polaroid photographs of David Bowie trying out make-up, hair and styling options in preparation for his Diamond Dogs tour of the US that year.
// Polaroid taken by Dana Gillespie in New York in 1974//
In one, as Evans points out, Bowie posed in a leather hood of similar style to the model sold at 430 as it was transformed over a period of six months from TFTL to fetish emporium Sex.
It is a little known fact that David Bowie was an occasional visitor to 430 King’s Road when it was operating as Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die.
This manifestation of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s revolutionary boutique – which paid design tribute to the fetishistic studded leather attire of Britain’s early 60s Ton Up Boys and rockers and sold the cult clothing associated with 40s mobsters and Latino zoot suit rioters – succeeded the 50s outlet Let It Rock in the early spring of 1973, as noted at the time by the fashion writer Catherine Tennant in British Vogue.
“As an artist Derek Boshier has never lost his sense of wonder at the world” – David Hockney
The publication date of Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-entry – the monograph of the great British artist I have edited – is confirmed as October 5.
Published by Thames & Hudson with a preface by David Hockney, Rethink/Re-entry contains 300-plus illustrations, from student exercises in the mid-50s to current works including the cover, a new portrait of Hockney and chapter openers especially designed by Boshier for the project.
//Astral Weeks – Van Morrison, Peter Wilkins, 2015//
//Hammersmith Apollo, Peter Wilkins, 2015//
In the 21st century, when digital downloads displaced compact discs as the format of consumer choice, music went naked into the world, unadorned by design or packaging. Yet this in turn gave rise to vigorous rear-guard action in the growing appreciation of what was fast disappearing. As if from the dead, vinyl made a comeback and the fan in Wilkins places him in a key position to cogitate this phenomenon. From my text for the Lost In Music catalogue
//Just over CSM’s shoulder: David Bowie and a railway guard, Paris, May 3, 1973. Photo (c) Joe Stevens//
“In those minutes, you could see he really was about to become a major pop star.”
In The Guardian today, photographer pal and hero Joe Stevens has picked a favourite image from his six-decade career: a slightly tousled David Bowie and a French railway guard at a Paris station.
According to my copy of Kevin Cann’s definitive Bowie diary Any Day Now this would have been May 3, 1973; Bowie had travelled by train from Japan, on the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Poland and Germany in the company of the late NYC legend Leee Black Childers and Bowie’s friend and backing vocalist Geoff MacCormack.
Stevens’ captured Bowie at a moment of transformation; alighting blearily in dress-down mode from the train, the rock star was met by wife Angie and a gaggle of glamorous friends. In a matter of minutes he had changed into the Freddie Buretti-designed outfit seen here and was swept away to a reception and press conference in the Rouge Room of the George V Hotel.
Just in shot – and identifiable by his frizz and shoulder bag strap – is Joe’s NME compadre (and another pal and hero) Charlie Murray.
I am proud to say I edited Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-74. It is a thoroughgoing delight and highly recommended – if you don’t already own it, purchase a copy here.
Charles Shaar Murray wrote a wonderful preface to my music press history In Their Own Write (which he ended with the following note to me: “You bastard. You’ll be hunted down and strangled like a dog for this.”)
//Sketch for songbook cover, 13 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery//
While interrogating materials for Rethink/Re-Entry – the monograph of artist Derek Boshier I am editing – I’ve come across many delights, including these sketches in the Flowers Gallery archive for one of the most visually striking documents of the post-punk era, CLASH 2nd Songbook.
The last time I saw photographer/manager Leee Black Childers – who has died aged aged 69 – was fleetingly, a year or so ago at the crowded launch of his book and exhibition at London’s The Vinyl Factory.
The first time I saw Childers was at The Speakeasy at a March 1977 concert by his charges The Heartbreakers. The poster for that gig, featuring his London rooftop portrait of the band, hangs behind me as I type.
That night and for the rest of his London stay over the next couple of years this Southern gent could be spotted at such haunts as The Ship in Wardour Street, his presence notable for lacquered pompadour, authentic sharkskin suits and slick black winklepickers, his reputation bolstered by the knowledge that Ian Hunter had dedicated Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis to Childers – who, in fact, was raised near Louisville, KY – and that he created the apocalyptic collage on the inner gatefold of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP (which now appears spookily prescient of the devastation of 9/11).
//The inner gatefold of my well-worn copy of Diamond Dogs showing Childers’ apocalyptic photographic collage//
Childers appeared awfully frail at the Vinyl Factory launch, so news that he had been rushed to LA’s Cedar Sinai hospital during another bout of book promotion a few weeks back was worrying but not unexpected.
In conversation in 2009 Childers revealed a promotional plan for his book then in preparation: he wanted it to be published after his death so that he could be utterly honest about his extraordinary life and set of acquaintances. The promotion would consist of a series of pre-recorded chat show appearances, all ready for broadcast as soon as he expired. He wondered whether the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman would be up for it.
Well, it wasn’t to be. The book came out and though unwell he appeared to be enjoying being back in the spotlight.
I am told Childers’ archiving was ramshackle and can find no website dedicated to his photographic work. This is shame because no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.
Lovely to see the gorgeous Eve Ferret out and about this spring with a series of live dates to celebrate the long-overdue release of her first album.
I fell under Eve’s spell in the summer of 1978, witnessing performances at Covent Garden’s pre-New Romantic Blitz club with her-then partner James “Biddie” Biddlecombe. More recently we connected via the late Tommy Roberts, at whose memorial she sang a version of Rawhide which rocked ’em in the aisles and nearly blew the roof off St Giles in the Fields.
//Exhibition cards and private view invitations, 1973 to date//
I’m assembling materials for Rethink/Re-Entry, the long-overdue monograph of the great British artist Derek Boshier I am currently editing.
The book takes its title from the early Boshier painting which inspired rock’s ultimate art-directed star Bryan Ferry to choose the name Remake/Remodel for the first track on Roxy Music’s game-changing debut LP.