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Rabble-rousing Caroline Coon, grim-faced editors and Eric The Tramp: Inside Oz and the obscenity trial with Joe Stevens

Jul 9th, 2016
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//Activist/artist Caroline Coon leads protests outside the Central Criminal Court during the Oz trial, summer 1971. Photo: Joe Stevens. No reproduction without permission //

Photographer Joe Stevens has dug deep into his archive for these three gems from his time with the underground press in London in the early 70s.

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//Oz editors (from left) Jim Anderson, Richard Neville and the late Felix Dennis in serious discussion during the trial, 1971. Photo: Joe Stevens. No reproduction without permission//

New Yorker Stevens had already made a name for himself at radical weekly The East Village Other before pitching up in London and contributing to International Times, Oz and Friends (which changed into Frendz in 1971). Later Stevens moved on to the music press and in particular New Musical Express, where he was often partnered with the likes of Charles Shaar Murray (ex-Oz) and Nick Kent (ex-Frendz).

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Signed copies of the Barney Bubbles book now for just £20 UK!

May 23rd, 2016

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Signed copies of Reasons To Be Cheerful, my acclaimed monograph of the radical British graphic artist Barney Bubbles, are now available from my eBay page for just £20 inc shipping in the UK.

Overseas shipping via eBay’s Global Shipping programme is subject to extra charges.

Otherwise you can buy by or paying via PayPal to this address at the following prices:

UK – £20

Continental Europe: £25

US: £30

Japan/Australia: £35

 

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Buy your copies here.

As well as a celebration of a pop culture great, Reasons To Be Cheerful is recognised as a significant design history, praised by leading magazines and newspapers around the world and voted MOJO’s book of the year . It is also a recommended reference source for graphics communications courses at leading educational institutions.

Reasons To Be Cheerful includes contributions from some of the most important graphic practitioners operating today, such as Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.

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Another gem from Joe Stevens: Barney Bubbles + Jon Trux at a Hawkwind gig under the Westway in 1971

Aug 1st, 2015
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//Barney Bubbles and Jon Trux, Portobello Road, west London, 1971. Photo: Joe Stevens//

Friend, hero and photographer Joe Stevens sends me gems from his archive occasionally; this shot of the graphics master Barney Bubbles with counterculture mover and shaker Jon Trux was taken at a Hawkwind gig in one of the underpasses of the newly erected Westway in the summer of 1971.

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The London Rock n Roll Show at Wembley Stadium 1972: Memories of Oz, Frendz and the Let It Rock stall

Mar 8th, 2014
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//Flyer for The Rock n Roll Show printed on the back of a subscription form for Oz magazine, July 1972. The Move were replaced by lead member Roy Wood’s new band Wizzard; this was their first gig. Original Brit-rocker Heinz was added to the bill; his backing band would soon become Dr Feelgood//

I acquired my first underground press publications in the summer of 1972, at about the point when the sector was taking the nosedive from which it never recovered.

Still, better late than Sharon Tate, as they say. Aged 12, my taste had been whetted by sneak peeks at an older brother’s collection of magazines when a guy called Kevin O’Keefe who lived down the road gave me a few copies of Oz, including number 43, the July issue.

A few weeks later, to my astonishment, the newsagents in Hendon’s Church Road started stocking Frendz. I folded issue 33 between a couple of music papers and pored over it in my bedroom.

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//Front cover of OZ 43, the issue which included the Wembley flyer//

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//Front cover, Frendz 33, September 1972//

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//Crowds around the Let It Rock stand. From the 1973 film London Rock N Roll Show directed by Peter Clifton//

Neither of the magazines are shining examples of the genre, but they had something in common: the centre spread of OZ 43 contained a subscription form back-printed with a flyer for the London Rock N Roll Show, a one-day festival of original 50s acts and those who could claim kinship held at Wembley Stadium on August 5 that year.

And for me the most beguiling article in Frendz 33 was a two-page stream-of-consciousness report of the event filed by one Douglas Gordon and illustrated with photographs by Pennie Smith, soon to leave for the NME and carve out her reputation as one of rock photography’s all-time greats.

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Ramen-scarfing ‘Straight Press’ photographer Joe Stevens’ line ad in Frendz, June 1971

May 23rd, 2013

//From Frendz, June 24, 1971//

I’m a fiend for line ads in print media; all human life is contained in the few words demanding the casual reader’s attention.

Leafing through a 1971 issue of British underground magazine Frendz (which had previously been titled Friends) I spied this ad, and wondered whether it might have been placed by the American photographer Joe Stevens. The number has a west London prefix and he was living in that part of town at the time.

I fired off an email and received this reponse earlier today:

Yes. That’s me. Ramen-scarfing “Straight Press” Joe. Looking for work, living on £10 a week, not eligible for the dole.

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Photography: Joe Stevens behind the lens

Aug 28th, 2012

//Malcolm McLaren at Joe Stevens' studio in Fulham, south-west London, 1976.//

In the late 60s, New Yorker Joe Stevens made a name for himself as an all-action photographer, covering riots, demonstrations and ant-Vietnam War marches for radical weekly The East Village Other (whose contributors’ list also included Allen Ginsberg, Robert Crumb and Abbie Hoffman).

But Stevens grew restless. “I wanted to do the same thing in London,” says Stevens. “I told my editor I’d probably return in a few weeks. By the time I did 10 years later, the US underground press had vanished.”

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Classifieds: Jerry Nolan’s advert in Rolling Stone June 14 1969

Mar 29th, 2011

I haven’t had it confirmed – nor seen this in any music history – but I believe this line ad to have been placed by Jerry Nolan three years before he replaced Billy Murcia as the drummer in the New York Dolls.

It appeared in the June 14, 1969 edition of Rolling Stone, the “first British issue” of the magazine produced in collaboration with newly recruited staff in London.

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