Category Archives: Youth culture

2015 ➤ All in one room – more Blitz Kids than you could shake a New Romantic frill at

Café Royal, commemoration

Style guru Peter York meets Steve Strange’s family at Club Café Royal last night – sister Tanya, nephew Connor and mother Gill at right – with old friends centre, Judi Frankland and Anne Pigalle. (Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s)

◼ A BUZZING REUNION OF OLD ROMANTICS partied hard last night in memory of the inspirational host of the 80s Blitz Club Steve Strange, who died suddenly last February. He would have been proud of the gathering at London’s Club Café Royal last night, organised by his close friends Rosemary Turner, Amanda Lloyd and Steve Mahoney. Along with Amanda, Steve’s mother Gill and sister Tanya Harrington have created a charity called the Steve Strange Collective to sustain his legacy as style icon, popstar and one of the key shapers of the 80s. This celebration of Britain’s New Romantic heyday was the first of their projects.

The most impressive turnout last night came from the St Martin’s Massive ’78-84, a galaxy of original Blitz Club regulars whose attitude and talent ignited a new pop culture that became the Swinging 80s. Significant absentees included those living abroad or currently on the road with their still-active acts, such as Rusty Egan, Culture Club and Spandau Ballet.

The champagne party warmed up with a series of Steve’s admirers providing intermittent entertainment, opening with poet Celine Hispache. As Two Blondes and a Harp, former Shock dancer Lowri-Ann Richards in leather jacket and her accompanist Glenda Clwyd gave us a Berlinesque rendering of Visage’s Pleasure Boys. Cabaret chantoose Eve Ferret shimmied in a full-length black peignoir before the Harrington family, first setting fashionistas Stephen Jones and Fiona Dealey a-boogeying before animating her number All Ze French I Know by scattering mangetouts o’er the guests. Eve reminded us how Steve became the nucleus around whom a generation of like-minded spirits came to express themselves. For her the night became more special when she was reunited with her onetime partner James Biddlecombe of their act Biddie and Eve which was a backbone of the Blitz wine bar’s cabaret programme.

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Later Romance vocalist Jamie Lovatt reminded us of his near triumph on The Voice TV talent show, and electro-swing deejay Lee Being gave us Love Croaks. Finally came the loyal friends who joined with Steve in recent years to revive the 80s clubbing spirit with their Face club-nights, Camden Palace doyenne Rosemary Turner and new-generation deejay Alejandro Gocast. He hushed the guests gently and reminded us with intense poignancy of Steve’s giant influence on possibly every single person in the room tonight.

Another giant figure quietly circulating the party was style guru Peter York, who in this context we could dub the Anna Wintour of subcultural commentators, having documented all manner of British tribes from Sloane Rangers to his unique discovery, Them, in his landmark book Style Wars. Back in the day, York claimed that Steve’s Blitz club created “a powerful mix of magpie retro, fastidious taste and market exploitation, tailor-made for what they were calling the art form of the 80s”. Last night, he was charm itself, evidently wowed to meet the Harrington family.

The evening’s music was absolutely on fleek. While David Holah resurrected the fabulous Blitz Jive amid some hefty dancing to good old Romo tunes from Roxy and Japan and Bowie, spinning the platters was a sequence of deejays from Lee Being, Dennis Da Silva, Alejandro Gocast, Steven John Proctor to Little Andy.

Lifelong friend of Steve and bright spark of the Welsh contingent Kim Smith reported today: “Steve, we celebrated your life last night and it was fabulous to meet people that you have told me about.”

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In no particular order here are few of the guests we recognised at the Club Café Royal celebration, with apologies to many more whose names we hope to add once they become known. . .

Gill, Tanya and Connor Harrington, Kim Smith, Mark Fuller, Mark Paul Jones, Lorraine Fitzgerald, Amanda and Shannon Lloyd, Lloyd Daniels, Trevor Byron Jones, Richard Lewis, Peter York, Princess Julia, Fiona Dealey, Stephen Jones, Greg Davis, Judith Frankland, Duggie Fields, Darla Jane Gilroy, David Holah, Steve Mahoney, Jennie Belle Star Matthias, Dennis Da Silva, Alejandro Gocast, Steven Proctor, Little Andy, Leo Baker, Paul Simper, Mark Wardel, Pam Hogg, Daniel Lismore, Franceska Luther King, Anne Pigalle, Mick Hurd, Peter Ashworth, Kiki, ‪Gabriella Palmano‪, Paul Lonergan, Gemma O’Brian, Bob Biewald, Louise Prey, Ajay Kenth, Kenny Campbell, Nelson Santos, Robert Gordon Eddie, Tamara Adair, Lowri-Ann Richards, Janice Long, Tommy Mack, Mark Tabard, Laura D’Alessio, Steven Jones, Logan Sky, John Harlow, Kevin Buck, Marc Albert, Pinkietessa Pinkie, Caroline Fox, Terry Challingsworth, Soraya Wilkinson-Wyke, Sandra Fox, Angelina Emma Whelan, Bart Barton, Francesca Shashkova, Crimson Skye, Philip Anthony Gable, Nigel Marlow, Tony Vickers, Mark Allen, James Leigh, Ffio Welford, Fifi Russell, Peter Barney, Jurgita Kareivaite-Hamblin, Alejandro Dante, Neena Richies, Dave Baby, Glenda Clwyd, Matthew Mullane, ‪Lee Being, Issidora Mua Rose‬, Heather Crimson, Andy Adamson, Jamie Karl, Alex Gerry, Sasha De Suinn, Stephanie Henie, Dane Goulding, Michelle Deyna-Hayward, Kevin Bennett…

➢ Click to view Nigel Marlow’s brief video at Club Café Royal

➢ Click to view video by Francesca Shashkova of Alejandro’s moving tribute to Steve

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
A Strangely Steve farewell – the funeral video, 2015

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend


2015 ➤ Hot revelations from the Flexipop book party

Flexipop, pop music, London, Swinging 80s, books,Barry Cain, Tim Lott, Red Gallery

Flexipop founders: Tim Lott and Barry Cain at Red Gallery last night. (Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s)

◼ THREE DECADES AFTER the maverick monthly music magazine Flexipop closed, guilty names were named during last night’s book launch at Shoreditch’s coolest new venue, the Red Gallery. During a Q&A with the mag’s founders Barry Cain and Tim Lott, they confessed that the three most difficult artists to deal with in those heady days of Britain’s burgeoning pop scene were. . . [X-Factor-style pause] . . . Tears for Fears and . . . Paul Weller and . . . the American new-wave band Blondie! Lott tactlessly remarked that what surprised him most was that singer Debbie Harry had “a huge head out of all proportion with her body” – which clearly means he really had a thing about blondes.

Whinging hosts apart, guests at their party were distinctly more polite. Generating tidal waves of affection was the original 2 Tone rude girl Pauline Black, who was happy to chat about this summer’s new album titled Subculture 36 years after her band The Selecter set out, having survived two splits and reunions, and now poised for a UK tour. . . Exchanging gossip beneath the “Free hugs” notice we found veteran 80s popsters Christos Tolera (Blue Rondo à la Turk) and Phil Bloomberg (Polecats). . . Catching up on the music du jour were the gifted jazzer Mark Reilly (Matt Bianco, still going strong and knocking out albums every few years) and the ubiquitous Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife, long defunct) who these days injects magic into the windows of the UK’s trendiest Oxfam in Dalston. . .

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Powering through the crowd was photographer Neil Mackenzie Matthews, eager to push his exhibition of pop-star photos printed on smart Somerset paper and selling at very affordable prices. He produced some flopsy-bunny big ears which apparently was the prop he invited stars of the 80s to wear in front of his camera. We saw immortalised on a poster the playful chanteuse Toyah Willcox, though Neil recalled how, despite having bought the ears as a gift for the precious Ian McCulloch of Echo and The Bunnymen (geddit?), he refused outright to see their entertainment value.

It was Flexipop’s belief that all celebs should be humiliated at every turn. As further proof, souvenirs of the magazine’s heyday were visible everywhere, including a blown-up cartoon strip satirising Marc Almond as a “sex dwarf” and Dave Ball his partner in Soft Cell as a beer-swilling “mega-hunk”. Writs for libel were due to be served at midnight.

Flexipop’s trademark plastic 7-inch discs were being dispensed free, after unsold supplies were recently unearthed in Cain’s mum’s garage – and “still playable”, assuming you have a wind-up gramophone.

Apparently Paul Weller couldn’t get along to the party as he was collecting some award as Modest Mod-father of Them All.

➢ The big public Flexipop! book launch party
for charity starts at 7.30pm tonight 25 Sept at the Red Gallery, London EC2A 3DT – tickets £20 at door


2015 ➤ Brace positions! Flexipop aims to drag us all back in time

Flexipop, pop music, London, Swinging 80s, books, Glen Matlock

80s survivor: Glen Matlock, bass guitarist in the original Sex Pistols line-up, relishes Flexipop-the-book-of-the-mag

◼ THE MOST RAUCOUS OF ALL 80S POP MAGS was Flexipop, dedicated to pricking pomposity and kicking the egos of the jumped-up nobodies shrewd enough to bunk into the UK pop charts for the obligatory two singles – and an album if they had the staying power – such was the state of the geriatric music industry bequeathed by the 70s, the decade of corporate megagroups.

The unashamedly puerile Flexipop was unleashed “like an explosion in a paintball factory” by two ex-Record Mirror journalists, Tim Lott and Barry Cain, designed “by a chimp” so it claimed, and determined to put the larks back into pop, in contrast to the earnest Baudrillard-heavy NME. It ran for three years from Dec 1980 and now it’s back with revengeance as The-Book-of-the-Mag, being launched tomorrow by invitation, and for J Public at a charity bash with bands on Friday.

Flexipop, pop music, London, Swinging 80s, books,

Now The-Book-of-the-Mag

According to the Flexipop manifesto, 35 years ago “a golden future beckoned and our hearts beat to a fusion of punk, soul, Motown, new wave, new romantic, rock’n’roll and reggae”. Its verdict on the 80s was “a haphazard, ludicrous mish mash of genius. Such a moment required a haphazard, ludicrous mish-mash of genius to reflect it all”.

Though the rest of us had rather higher standards and wrote eloquent essays in praise of the new “pure pop” that was creating world-beating British supergroups, Flexipop insisted in dragging us all down into the gutter to enjoy its unique view of the stars.

Its big draws were zany photo stories and a thin plasticky 7-inch flexi-disc featuring an exclusive track from a major chart act taped to the cover of every issue. Many of them are collector’s items today, such as Adam and the Ants doing A.N.T.S. to the tune of YMCA. Guests to the party will receive an original flexi-disc and a copy of the magazine (presumably unsolds stashed in a warehouse for three decades).

Flexipop, pop music, London, Swinging 80s, books,

Madness songwriter Lee Thompson photographed by Neil M Matthews for Flexipop – for sale at the 2015 book launch party

➢ The big public Flexipop! book launch party starts at 7.30pm Friday 25 Sept at the Red Gallery, London EC2A 3DT. The Flexipop! photographer Neil M Matthews exhibits his iconic 80s photos, while three intrepid bands attempt to recreate the hysteria of the 80s. Tickets £20 available online and on door. The event is in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust and the National Foundation for Youth Music.

➢ The first Flexipop! book launch party is an invitation-only event at the Red Gallery on 24 Sept that will include the official launch of the book and a limited edition Flexipop! photo/poster exhibition by Neil Mackenzie Matthews.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: When new media meant a bendy Flexipop freebie


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…

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


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


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.”


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, 
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,
Blitz Kid, 
wild card, 
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