Paul Gorman is…

Don’t Knock The Rock: John E. Reed’s eternal image of exuberant Little Richard

Apr 20th, 2017

//London Records promotional image, 1958//

In 1956 the Hollywood photographer John E. Reed took a series of promotional shots of the stars of DJ Alan Freed’s rocksploitation flick Don’t Knock The Rock.

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‘A complete environment’: Patrick Casey and Malcolm McLaren’s installation at Let It Rock in Ben Kelly’s 111 Inspirational Interiors exhibition

Apr 13th, 2016
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//Interior, 430 King’s Road, west London, designed by Patrick Casey and Malcolm McLaren for the retail outlet Let It Rock and photographed by David Parkinson in January 1972. No reproduction without permission//

I have elected the above image for inclusion in the exhibition 111 Inspirational Interiors, which opens tomorrow in the Windows Gallery 1 at Central Saint Martins in Kings Cross, north London.

The show is curated by designer Ben Kelly in his role as chair of interior and spatial design at University of the Arts London as part of his project Popular Culture And The Interior; the 1972 David Parkinson photograph stems from my participation in Kelly’s ICA symposium last year, Dead Or Alive – Interior Design.

For the exhibition, Kelly invited 111 people to contribute “an image of an interior that has been important and influential in their creative and intellectual development”. The image I chose was taken on the completion of the refurbishment of the ground floor of 430 King’s Road  from the premises of boutique Paradise Garage into Teddy Boy culture emporium Let It Rock in late 1971 by the late Malcolm McLaren and his fellow former Harrow Art School student Patrick Casey.

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Rock, Rock, Rock! Roots of Let It Rock’s Chuck Berry t-shirt in 50s movie ephemera

Aug 24th, 2015
Movie poster advertises the Italian release of Alan Freed's musical 'Rock, Rock, Rock', starring Chuck Berry, 1956. (Photo by John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

//Poster for Italian release of Alan Freed’s 1956 musical Rock, Rock, Rock!. Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images//

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//Left: Chuck Berry image isolated and bleached out. Right: As it appeared on the t-shirt, worn in this 1973 photograph of singer/songwriter Simon Fisher Turner. Photographer: Unknown//

When they were setting up Let It Rock in 1971, Malcolm McLaren and his original partner in the boutique at 430 King’s Road – Patrick Casey – acquired a cache of posters, showcards and ephemera for 50s rocksploitation movies, including many Continental-language variants.

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From Vive la Commune! in 1881 to Vive le Rock! in 1972: How a Chinese Communist Party pamphlet inspired one of the great Malcolm McLaren designs

Aug 20th, 2015

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//From top left: Chinese Communist Party pamphlet, 1971; McLaren in Let It Rock 1972; Proclamation by Engels and Marx, 1881; Title lettering, Belgian film poster, 1958//

A year or so ago I established the source material for one of the first designs generated by Malcolm McLaren in the fashion partnership he conducted with Vivienne Westwood in the 70s and early 80s.

Now I can reveal the inspiration: text contained in an unprepossessing Communist booklet celebrating the short-lived “Paris Commune” government of 19th Century revolutionary France.

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Found! The source of the Jerry Lee image in Let It Rock’s Killer Rocks On t-shirt

Jul 29th, 2015
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//Lobby card for High School Confidential!, 1958. This is from the opening scene, where Lewis sings the movie’s title track//

Let It Rock was digging in the ruins of past cultures that you cared about. It was giving them another brief moment in the sun. It wasn’t about doing anything new. It was an homage. It was nostalgia.
Malcolm McLaren to Momus, 2002

Forty three years after its creation I can reveal the source of the Jerry Lee Lewis image which appeared on the Let It Rock t-shirt design “The ‘Killer’ Rocks On!”.

It is from a lobby card for Alan Freed’s 1958 rocksploitation flick High Street Confidential!; an original was just one of the pieces of 50s ephemera adorning Let It Rock’s premises at 430 King’s Road in 1972.

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‘This country is run by a group of Fascists’: When Malcolm McLaren met Sweet Gene Vincent backstage at The Marquee

Apr 27th, 2015

GV53_1Small copy Let It Rock - Gene Vincent AnAn copyb+b-ygwu3 copy

//Clockwise from top left: Gene Vincent with one of The Houseshakers, Magnet Club, Chelmsford, UK, February 1971. Photo: http://gene.vincent.fanclub.voila.net; Let It Rock assistant in Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps top, Wembley Stadium, August 5, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita; Vincent’s quote as featured on the Sex t-shirt You’re Gonna Wake Up, 1974//

‘Gene Vincent for me was the embodiment of rock’n’roll’

Malcolm McLaren 1997

On September 22 1971, Gene Vincent was a mid-week booking to play a “rock revival” night at central London club The Marquee.

Times were tough; at just 36, the soft-spoken American rocker was apparently way past his heyday and beset by severe health problems brought on by the combination of alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs taken to dull the constant pain in his left leg. This was the result of a crippling motorbike accident in his youth and the lingering effects of having been in the 1960 car-crash which killed Eddie Cochran.

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“There’s so much pollution in the world you should use the gear you already have, not buy something because it’s fashionable” – Trevor Myles + Paradise Garage in Jackie magazine December 1971

Jul 3rd, 2014
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//Trevor Myles in front of his store at 430 King’s Road, autumn 1971. Photographer: Not credited//

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//pp6-7, Jackie, December 4, 1971//

Well done to vintage collector/dealer Sharon of Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog for spotting this wowser on a Facebook group: a 1971 article in teen fashion and music magazine Jackie about the game-changing fashion outlet Paradise Garage run by Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road.

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//Myles with Bradley Mendelson (in ‘Bradley’ studded top) outside Paradise Garage. Photographer uncredited//

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//Myles on his tiger-strip flocked 1966 Ford Mustang Pony car. Photographer uncredited/

Paradise Garage is important because it was the first shop in Britain to import and sell used denim in a meaningful way. Using the astounding environment created by Electric Colour Company, faded and worn denim, sometimes appliqued or patched, was stocked alongside an acutely compiled selection of soon-to-be-familiar dead-stock: Hawaiian shirts, baseball and souvenir jackets, Osh Kosh B’Gosh dungarees, bumper boots, cheongsams and so on.

Myles opened Paradise Garage in May 1971 as a reaction to the Pop Art flash he had engineered at Mr Freedom with his ex-partner Tommy Roberts. In the Jackie article he makes a point about fashion and environmental sustainability of pertinence today:

“There’s so much pollution in the world that we thought you should use the gear you already have – not buy something just because it’s fashionable. By throwing the old lot away you only add to the pollution problem. So that’s why we’re using it all up.”

Also interviewed and photographed is shop manager Bradley Mendelson, the New Yorker whose November 1971 encounter with Malcolm McLaren while Myles was absent overseas resulted in the establishment of Let It Rock at the same address.

The publication date of the issue of Jackie – December 4, 1971 – is poignant; by the time the feature appeared Paradise Garage was gone and McLaren and others, including his art-school student friend Patrick Casey and Vivienne Westwood, had taken over the outlet and were refurbishing it to match Mclaren’s radical British take on 50s retromania.

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//Mr Freedom designs produced under Myles’ former partner Tommy Roberts appeared elsewhere in the same issue. Here customer Elton John sports an appliqued top//

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//The female cover model wore a pair of green and white winged boots from Mr Freedom (detail cropped out)//

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Read the Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique blog here.

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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 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).

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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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“I’m very earthy”: Trevor Myles and his Paradise Garage in Harpers & Queen 1971

Oct 28th, 2012

//Outside 430 King's Road (from left) summer 1971: Unknown, assistant Lisa Petersen, manager Roly Poltock, designer Diana Crawshaw and founder Trevor Myles. Photograph: Julian Allason.//

Harpers & Queen ran this photograph of the short-lived but significant World’s End boutique Paradise Garage in the Shopping Bazaar section of the September 1971 issue.

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