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.

//Berry lower right and Little Richard, top, performing with Shaffer and his band//

This commenced, I kid you not, with a rendition of Knees Up Mother Brown.

I had been invited to be in the audience at the Thames TV studios in Waterloo by Warner Music’s press office after interviewing another of Letterman’s guests, Elvis Costello, for British trade weekly Music Week. That evening Costello performed Little Richard’s song Bama Lama Bama Loo in tribute.

The experience of sharing cigarettes at the bar of the crowded green room with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders (they were promoting the latest series of AbFab) was topped only by the sight of the lean Berry striding into the room with his guitar strapped on, wearing a sizeable pair of red Lionel Blairs. So similar were they to the trousers he had worn at the Rainbow 22 years earlier that I wondered whether they were the exact same ones.

Berry looked amazing, as did the more retiring LR. I was too awestruck to approach either, a fact which of course I now greatly regret.

Sayonara Chuck Berry, a titan who changed Western culture for the better.

He and Little Richard are introduced around the five minute mark in the clip below.

The version of Knees Up Mother Brown is at 05.53.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road

Apr 12th, 2014
lir-rockarchive580

//Front cover, Rock Archive, Various Artists, Windmill Records, 1972//

It is relatively common knowledge among those interested in the careers of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their series of extraordinary shops that they supplied clothes to the 1973 album Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll; Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road was clearly credited on the back of the record sleeve.

Let It Rock-Golden Hour Of Rock & Roll

//Front cover, The Golden Hour Of Rock N Roll, Various Artists, Pye/Golden Hour, 1973//

lir-rockarchiveflipped

//The photograph on the Rock Archive cover was flipped to better accommodate the text. Here it is as originally shot//

But I have fresh information which helps towards a greater understanding of McLaren’s project to investigate the detritus of popular culture’s recent past. During a bout of research recently I came across this earlier and hitherto undocumented use of Let It Rock clothing in a music context: the front cover of Rock Archive, a budget LP compilation released by the specialist British independent label Windmill in 1972.

And I am detailing the clothes on the cover with images taken inside Let It Rock which have never been previously published.

lir-redshirts

//Starke shirts with 50s sports jacket on Let It Rock wall, January 1972. Photograph: David Parkinson//

lir-starke

//Starke label detail//

Each garment worn by the model – whose attempts at rocking out resulted in his giving every appearance of suffering considerable pain – comes from the deadstock of British brands assiduously assembled by Malcolm McLaren and his art-school friend Patrick Casey for the opening of the world’s first avowedly post-modern retail outlet in November 1971.

From the ground up, the Rock Archive cover star wore black suede Denson’s Fine Poynts, ice-blue Lybro jeans with 5in cuffs, a Frederick Starke flyaway collar shirt and a studded and decorated Lewis Leathers early 60s Lightning jacket (which featured a highly collectable 6-5 Special patch).

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,