WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer’s words and pictures tell the tale


❚ As a decade the 70s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
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history, blitz club,blitz kids, theblitzkids, theblitzclub,cult with no name,billy’s, gossips, steve strange, rusty egan, boy george, baby boomers, nightclubs, clubbing, stephen jones, kim bowen, warren street, stephen linard, chris sullivan, robert elms, perry haines, princess julia, judi frankland, darla-jane gilroy,fiona dealey, derek ridgers,vivienne lynn,sharah,ostell, sallon, von thyssen,perry haines, terry jones,peter ashworth, andy rosen,scarlett, myra, sheldrick,helen robinson, stephane raynor, antony price, miss binnie,melissa caplan,Dinny Hall, Kate Garner,chris sullivan, Simon Withers, Graham Smith, Graham Ball, christos tolera,sade adu,marilyn, peter robinson,midge ure,gary kemp,steve dagger,Denis O’Regan, maybury, cerith, iain webb, jeremy healy, kate garner, david holah, stevie stewart,degville, worried about the boy, st moritz, club for heroes,le kilt, wag club, beat route,hacienda, cha cha, holy city zoo, rum runner, great queen street,camden palace, people’s palace,scala cinema, studio 21,crocs, hippodrome, le palace,white trash, fac51, gaz mayall,comedy store, alexei sayle,fouratt, dirtbox,mud club, St Martins,London Fashion Week,Yet from this black hole burst an optimistic movement the press dubbed the New Romantics, based on a London club called the Blitz. Its soundtrack was a pounding synthesised electro-pop created for the dancefloor by a studio seven-piece called Visage, fronted by the ultimate poser, Steve Strange. But the live band who broke all the rules were five dandies with a preposterous name: Spandau Ballet.
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As the last of the Baby Boomers, the so-called Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
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For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.
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“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of  a former Blitz Kid.
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➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.
CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant.

electro-pop, synth-pop, bowie, ashes to ashes, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife,visage, duran,depeche mode, midge ure,ultravox, human league, rich kids, makers, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, lennon, cleave,wham!, mclaren, mallet, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, oakey,Martyn Ware,martin fry ,altered images, 20th-century box, westwood, px, axiom, bodymap,willy brown, foundry, sue clowes,demob,seditionaries, acme attractions,ritz, zg,viz,i-D,the face,new sounds new styles,Kornilof, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,dencil, batcave, barbarella's, croc's

July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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2015 ➤ Pitch now to make a video for Duran’s slinky come-back party single

Pressure Off, Paper Gods, Duran Duran, album, video,UK tour, US tour

Duran reignited for 2015: Roger Taylor drums, John Taylor bass, Nick Rhodes keyboards, Simon Le Bon vocals. (Photograph by Stephanie Pistel)

◼ FILM-MAKERS AND CREATIVE TYPES, Duran Duran are talking to you! Deadline for pitching your treatment to make a new lyric video is Sunday 28 June. When they threw out a free-for-all invitation in 2011, dozens of brilliant music videos resulted from people adapting classic Duran tracks. Now DD are trying something similar for their single Pressure Off, the first from a new album, in another video collaboration with Genero TV – click now to apply.

In September, after a gap of nearly five years, the former house band of the Brummie Rum Runner club’s New Romantic scene launch a new studio album – Paper Gods, their 14th. As part of a recording deal with Warner Bros Records, the album starts the next chapter in the Duran story, and features a host of A-list collaborators who include Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Mr Hudson, Janelle Monáe, John Frusciante, Kiesza and Davide Ross.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2011, Ten killer videos made as tributes
to Duran’s return to creativity

Duran Duran,Pressure Off, Janelle Monae,pop music

Pressure Off features Janelle Monáe

“We found a whole new level of inspiration on this album,” says the band’s keyboardist and aesthetic overlord, Nick Rhodes. “We were talking the other day about artists that have been around for a long time – our contemporaries and some older ones, and there’s only a handful of the latter now, still out there playing shows. And we were saying, ‘What albums did they make this far down the line that we own?’ And that was a difficult one.”

DD seem convinced that this album will be one of the most visceral and daring of their career. A senior editor at Yahoo Music has already given Pressure Off a rave review, saying: “The sexy, slinky, all-around groovy party track is the legendary group’s best single in years. . . The remix-ready cut sounds fresh and modern, even as it traffics in D2’s tried-and-true signature sounds: super-Chic chickenscratch guitars, thick ’n’ gooey basslines, sassy soul-sister backup vocals, irresistibly effervescent chants.” Listen now at YouTube and you decide (no prizes for linking the cocktail of images with DD classic hits). Pre-order Duran Duran’s Paper Gods on iTunes and get an instant download of Pressure Off.

➢ Duran Duran 2015 tour dates at their own website – The four-man Duran line-up is set to headline at Bestival, in the UK, in September, and a trickle of European tour dates kicked off this week in Barcelona and The Hague, following up with the US and UK before climaxing in December.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth — when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

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Spandau 2010 ➤ Normski says Hola! to Barcelona

Steve Norman, Barcelona

Steve Norman doppelgangers in BCN: live in yer face at front of stage and caught on the video backdrop. Pictured © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ View the video of Normski’s live sax break here

◼ STEVE NORMAN GIVES A THUMBS-UP FOR BARCELONA during one of his dirrrty sax solos on Spandau Ballet’s Reformation tour in 2010 (above). He and the rest of Spandau Ballet returned to Spain this week on their worldwide Soul Boys of the Western World Live tour and tickets are still available for their two weekend dates at the Festival Pedralbes in Barcelona.

Earlier this week on his personal art tour Gary Kemp was bowled over in Bilbao: “Wow. Just seen Gehry’s Guggenheim museum for the first time in the flesh. Even in the rain its magnificent.” Martin tweets: “Thank you Madrid… You were fantastic!” Now Steve is all set: “Ya venimos Barça.”

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World Live, concerts, Madrid, Spain

Surprise acoustic taster: Steve Norman, Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp playing bang in the centre of Madrid. Photo: Carlos Rosillo

➢ Tickets still available for 20 and 21 June when Spandau Ballet play the Festival Pedralbes 2015 in Barcelona, priced from €58 to 128

➢ Spandau’s UK and international concerts continue through the summer months

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2015 ➤ Seven’s easy stages: from jelly parties to saviour of the rock scene

TeamRock , radio, interview, Seven Webster, RockComm, Pete Bailey

Seven Webster and Pete Bailey: Face to face interview about a life in music

◼ STRICTLY SPEAKING we don’t allow “rockists” onto this blog, since our idea of 80s yoof culture was defined by the dance music and fashion-forward styles emanating from UK clubland. And what 80s pure pop did was to banish 80s rock from the weekly charts. But Shapers of the 80s is very happy to make one big exception for probably the nicest guy on the entire UK music scene even though he does all his business down at the denim-clad, can’t-dance, beer-belly end of the music spectrum. His parents with the surname Webster gave him the unforgettable first name of Seven, and in the 30 years since he spouted one hilarious soundbite after another when we met in a posey little Numanoid London club, he has learned the ropes as musician and manager and built his own influential company into a thriving business.

Tomorrow, his outfit 7pm Management launches a new annual rock music conference at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Shoreditch. RockComm London describes itself as “the first UK-based international rock music conference aimed at bringing together all sectors of the community for positive discussion aimed at stimulating business and growth”. It hopes to unite everyone from labels, publishers, managers, distributors, agents, promoters, manufacturers, digital aggregators, the lot.

Seven says: “With so many great rock music based companies from across the world wanting to be involved, we’ve extended the event to give everyone time to network, which is the conference’s primary objective.”

There are people actively signing rock music
at moment: it’s a very buoyant time for rock

RockComm launches with a full day of networking which will showcase some of rock’s tastiest new bands. “The emphasis will be on quality over quantity.” The conference itself occupies Tuesday 9 June, as an appetiser for the UK’s biggest rock music event, Download Festival, and leading up to both the Kerrang and Golden Gods award ceremonies.

It is more than ironic that Seven is attempting to reconcile the many differences that define the music industry within a week of one of the most influential managers from the 1960s, Simon Napier-Bell (Yardbirds, Bolan, George Michael), partying in Soho to promote the paperback edition of his latest book, Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay. In this painstaking slice of history through the past 200 years of popular music he decides that nothing has changed in a business based on “greed, corruption, self-interest and fun”. Today recorded music remains in tricky balance between art and marketing where traditional record companies are squeezing a dying revenue stream and the US government still prosecutes them for payola offences running into millions of dollars.

Seven is one of a seemingly small band of brothers who is determined to assert his creative ideals. He draws on a lifelong love of music – “it’s my heart and soul” – and believes rock music is in a very buoyant state today, with people actively signing rock acts and wielding what he believes is “a cumulative fist”. His own reputation is as an international rock festival booker (Hard Rock Hell and Hammerfest) and worldwide artist manager of Skindred. His partner in 7pm and in RockComm is Steve Wolfe, a former Universal Records director of A&R.

As a taster of his ideology, Seven gave this hands-up interview to Pete Bailey at TeamRock national DAB and online radio. He talks about being the manager of Skindred, The Qemists and Dido, his brother-in-Law Mick Wayne (RIP) and former guitarist with David Bowie and the Pink Fairies, new bands and brands making waves and monetising their social media…

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During this half-hour stroll through his life-story, Seven reminds us of when he played guitar live at the Lyceum during the Batcave era in a goth band called Geschlecht Akt (German for Sex Act). “We weren’t great,” he says. Make up your own mind here by sampling their track Libido Twist from the Foreplay 12-incher (Criminal Damage Records, 1984) at YouTube.

Seven’s next band One actually signed to Chrysalis for £65k. Seven took his turn, as you did in the 80s, fronting a clubnight called Pigeon-Toed Orange Peel, then edited a magazine, as you did in the 80s, called The Buzz to help launch other bands, as you did in the 80s, which led into management and promoting new acts at the Marquee. So not too much standing still, then. Seven’s advice for the ambitious newcomer? “Don’t emulate, innovate. Take your time and put a good team around you.”

Just to make him squirm a bit, here’s the snap of Seven propping up a fruit machine the night we met in 1983 at a post-Romantic clubnight in Mayfair called the Padded Cell. Though it was fronted by a couple of wannabe 70s Numanoids, he quipped about the exceedingly time-warped crowd that night: “So many people here have stepped straight out of their nappies into bondage gear.” Not him, of course. So what was he doing among this bunch of late arrivals on the synth scene? “I just hate staying in,” he said. “I’ll go to ice-cream and jelly parties, anything.” Which was enough to get his pic into my nightlife review in The Face. The rest is history.

Seven Webster,Padded Cell, The Buzz magazine,  music management

A quiet master of the telling quip: Seven Webster at the Padded Cell in 1983. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

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➤ A dance sensation: Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck to music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

◼ YOU ARE ONE CLICK AWAY from a mesmerising, funky, brilliant music and dance and video sensation as Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Must be viewed at full-screen. Music by Venetian Snares.

➢ ONE CLICK HERE!

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

Baryshnikov, Lil Buck , Rag & Bone, fashion, film, Georgie Greville, Music , Venetian Snares, dance,video

Baryshnikov meets Lil Buck in Rag & Bone Men’s Fall/Winter 2015 film by Georgie Greville. Music by Venetian Snares

➢ Remix of Billie Holiday’s version of Gloomy Sunday, released on Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett in 2005 by Venetian Snares, aka Canadian experimentalist Aaron Funk

Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you.
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all,
My heart and I have decided to end it all.
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are sad I know.
Let them not weep, let them know that I’m glad to go.
Death is no dream for in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul I’ll be blessing you.

Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you.

You know my love of dreams. . .

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A Strangely Steve farewell: the funeral video, 2015

◼ HERE IS THE FULL TEXT of the first celebrity eulogy at Steve Strange’s funeral, given by Spandau Ballet sax player, Steve Norman. (An earlier address had been given by ‘Kimbo’, a local friend, who was almost inaudible inside the church.) The audio quality generally was too poor to publish more than the short clip of Steve that you hear in the funeral video, above, created by Shapers of the 80s.

Steve Norman’s voice faltered in the most touching way because he was feeling strong emotions and apparently speaking spontaneously.

Steve Strange, Stephen Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, obituaries, funeral, Visage, eulogy, Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, pop music,

The Steves Strange and Norman: friends to the end

NORMSKI’S SPEECH: ‘HE HELPED SHAPE THE 80S’

In full, he said: “A lot has been said since Steve passed about his contribution to the pop culture and how he helped to shape the 80s. We wished a few more people had said it when he was around. Steve needed that affirmation of how much he was loved.

“He was a very generous man, but first and foremost he was my friend. I’ve known Steve since the 70s. He took myself and Martin Kemp under his wing. We didn’t have any money back then and he took us to all the groovy places in London back in the 70s and early 80s when things weren’t really happening at all, but Steve found out what was going on, took us there and paid for everything and our drinks, whatever we wanted, and we had a great time. And that relationship lasted all throughout his life – we were very close to the end.

“The last time I spoke to Steve was before Christmas and he called up and he was a little distraught and we had a mutual friend he’d fallen out massively with, and Steve was worried I might take the other side. I reminded him of the early days and what he did for myself and how he was always there. He would turn up at my parents’ house for a cup of tea and a chat – he loved people and really needed to connect with people.

“I remember saying to him I love you dearly and he said he loved me. And I put the phone down – and he hadn’t put it down properly and I heard him telling somebody ‘Ah, I love Steve and Steve loves me.’ He was so sensitive. It was a great comfort that I could tell him how much I loved him.

“He was a very sensitive, generous, caring, special human being with a massive heart.”

BOY GEORGE’S POEM FOR STEVE STRANGE

Steve Strange, Stephen Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, obituaries, funeral, Visage, eulogy, Boy George, pop music,

Steve Strange and Boy George: “first-class show-off, 
fellow freak”. (Photo by Yui Mok)

❏ Even though the service took place in a high Anglican church, George O’Dowd wore his cap throughout. He adjusted the microphone before declaiming= his eulogy which took the form of a poem, saying: “I’ve known Steve some time so I’ve written a few things. . . you might not have heard in a church before.”

Life asked Death
why do people love you but hate me?
Death responded:
because you are a beautiful lie
and I am a painful truth
.

Goodbye Steve,
part-time nemesis, 
rogue, 
glam rocker, 
punk rocker,
new romantic, 
old romantic,
first-class show-off, 
fellow freak,
beautiful gay man, 
seminal pop star,
wrecking ball, 
costume ball, 
masked ball,
futurist, 
fashionista,
Blitz Kid, 
blitzkrieg,
Welshman, 
wild card, 
weirdo,
sister, 
sinner, 
saint,
whirling, 
swirling, 
in your warpaint.

If you pray
all your sins are hooked upon the sky.
Pray and the heathen lie will disappear.
Prayers they hide
the saddest view.
(Believing the Steve Strangest thing,
loving the alien)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
All on one website – the tidal wave of tributes that
have flooded in for Steve Strange

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