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Unbelievable rarity: Undocumented Let It Rock clothing featured on 1972 budget LP + previously unpublished views of stock inside 430 King’s Road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

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//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.

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

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//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 12in 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).

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Coming this week: Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered Carnaby Echoes + Nick Knight’s PUNK at Showstudio

Sep 1st, 2013

//Clockwise from top left: Cover, Helen And Desire, 1970; George O'Dowd, photo: Richard Bevan, 2013; Carnaby Street book and Palisades swing tag, 1970 and 1966; front cover, Anarchy In The UK newsprint fanzine, 1976//

I’m involved in a couple of events which open in London this week: artist Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered project Carnaby Echoes in the West End and photographer Nick Knight’s exhibition Punk at his Showstudio space in SW1.

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Iggy Pop’s Wild Thing jacket: Not from Paradise Garage

Jul 22nd, 2013

//From The Look blog 2009//

A few years back I wrote a series of blogs about the so-called “Wild Thing” jacket worn by Iggy Pop on the cover of his and The Stooges’ album Raw Power; in 2008 I had brokered a deal for the jacket designers John and Molly Dove to reissue a t-shirt range – including a version bearing the Wild Thing’s panther head – via Topman.

Around that time I also hooked them up with the current owner of the jacket, US maverick pop culture entrepreneur and collector  ”Long Gone” John Mermis (who I’d met as far back as the mid-90s at his extraordinary Long Beach mansion).

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The Photo Kid: Ben Kelly at the Royal College Of Art, 1974

Jun 13th, 2013

This is designer Ben Kelly at his 1974 degree show at London’s Royal College Of Art.

Kelly adopted the alter-ego The Photo Kid, who is portrayed in the work by which he is standing. The Photo Kid wore clothes – in particular brothel creepers – from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop Let It Rock, as did Kelly; the shoes, pink socks and belt in this photograph all came from there, while the Hopalong Cassiday & Topper top (see Ian Harris’s comment below) was picked up at a Paris flea market.

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Rough Kids badge for Kilburn And The High Road (sic)

Apr 24th, 2013

//Photo: Tom Sheehan Collection//

As an addendum to my recent post about the staging of the very special late night London concert given by Ian Dury’s art-rock ensemble Kilburn & The High Roads in 1974, here’s the badge commissioned by manager the late Tommy Roberts to flag up the concurrent release of the group’s single Rough Kids.

Then a neglected pop promotional medium – badges were considered kids’ stuff; the sole prominent champion was Barney Bubbles, who produced a range to go with his branding of space rockers Hawkwind and pub-rock outfit Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers – the pre-punk barbed wire logo button was conceived and executed by Simon Haynes, designer of the ambitious stage set for the Kilburns’ gig at the King’s Road Theatre.

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When Kilburn + The High Roads played the King’s Road Theatre 1974: Ian Dury in Let It Rock ‘Alan Ladd’ suit + feather tie and Sue and Simon Haynes’ extraordinary Tower Bridge stage set

Apr 12th, 2013

//Keith Lucas and Ian Dury onstage at the Kings Road Theatre, November 1974. Photo: Simon Haynes Collection//

As these rarely seen photographs show, when the subject of my last book the late Tommy Roberts took over management of Kilburn & The High Roads he sought to elevate them from the pub-rock scene by upping the visual ante on every front.

//From left: Lucas, Dury, David Rohoman, Charlie Sinclair and Davey Payne//

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The legendary Harold The Ted + one of Mr Freedom’s ‘monstrous oddities’

Jan 30th, 2013

//Harold Harris with 10ft tall display item designed by Rod Stokes, Mr Freedom, 1971. Photo courtesy Andrew Greaves.//

Something of a legend in 70s British boutique circles, here is Harold The Ted in all his glory accompanying one of the extravagant display items at Mr Freedom in Kensington Church Street: a 10 foot tall cut-out representation of a glowering boy scout made by Electric Colour Company’s Rod Stokes.

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Exclusive: Inside Paradise Garage at 430 King’s Road with Electric Colour Company, 1971

Jan 27th, 2013

//Interior, 430 King's Road, Chelsea, May 1971. Note coconut matting, shack-style dressing room doors, trompe de l'oeil gate painted on stockroom door... and fake tiger. Photography: David Parkinson.//

I first wrote about Electric Colour Company – the design studio formed in the East End by four fine art students in the late 60s – in The Look and then in more detail here.

//Amid the singlets, printed sweatshirts and appliqued denim, a bamboo cage housed birds of paradise, suspended from the matting covered ceiling.//

In my view, ECC deserves much greater recognition for executing some very clever work in the field of retail design and interiors in the period 1969-1973.

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Wearing the clothing of Mr Walter Mitty: Jemima Dury selects from her Dad’s wardrobe ++++++++++ Also: WIN a signed copy of her new book ‘Hallo Sausages’

Oct 15th, 2012

//Detail, Ian Dury's Billy Bentley boxing gown, commissioned from Sex, 1974. Photographer: Adrian Turner.//

Ian Dury was as much a visual as verbal stylist.

The late performer’s wordsmithery comes into focus in daughter Jemima’s soon-to-be-released book ‘Hallo Sausages’, which also conveys his rich and idiosyncratic sartorial presence.

Published by Bloomsbury on October 28, ‘Hallo Sausages’ presents lyrics to 170 of Dury’s songs, some scribbled and heavily anotated, others meticulously typed and displayed to best effect in the book design by another member of Dury’s extended family, Jake Tilson (brother of Dury’s widow Sophy; their father is the eminent British artist Joe Tilson).

Making a merit of the archival jumble Dury left behind on his death in 2000 (a bunch of lyrics were found in a carrier bag bearing Barney Bubbles’ familiar Blockhead logo), this is a lovingly put-together document, the songs and Jemima Dury’s reminiscences adorned by a bank of rare, personal and professionally-taken images.

To celebrate the publication of ‘Hallo Sausages’, here’s a selection of key items from Jemima’s Dad’s wardrobe with some background material sourced from my recent book about one-time Kilburn & The High Roads manager Tommy Roberts. Jemima has also contributed a couple of images from her own archive.

Meanwhile, at the end of this post, there’s an opportunity to win a signed copy of ‘Hallo Sausages’.

//Onstage at London's Lyceum, 1981. Photographer: David Corio.//

Pearly King jacket

Rooted as he was in London lore, Dury added this authentic Pearly King jacket to his stage ensemble in the late 70s. According to Sophy Dury, he later found out it had belonged to an Eastender named John Snow (hence “JS Of Mile End” on the back). Snow’s mother had loaned the jacket to her friend Mrs. E. Rainbird, who wore it on VE Níght.
In a 1985 letter to the BBC radio broadcaster Libby Purves (who interviewed Dury that year) Mrs Rainbird wrote that she recognised the jacket from his TV appearances. Purves complied with her request to pass the letter outlining the provenance to Dury, who put it in one of the jacket pockets, where it remains.

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‘Because of the economic crisis, people are trying to consume as fast as possible. Ideas are dead; there aren’t any to express the mood. Fashion is irrelevant’: Malcolm McLaren + SEX, November 1975

Aug 13th, 2012

//Sex assistant Jordan, Gallery International, Vol 1, no 4.//

It’s unlikely that cities will shake or nations start to rock under the impact of Malcolm McLaren’s sexual revolution. A few people might die though.

Malcolm McLaren, at 30, is a mixture of entrepreneurial cultist, sexual evangelist, businessman, artist, fetishist and political philosopher; a psychotic visionary in the ephemeral subculture of the fashion world.

David May, Gallery International Vol 1 no 4.

In November 1975 – by which time his charges the Sex Pistols had just embarked on live performances – Malcolm McLaren was interviewed by journalist David May at 430 King’s Road, then in full bloom as radical retail venture SEX.

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