Tag Archives: 1980

2009 till now ➤ Archive of posts at Shapersofthe80s

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➤ Rik Mayall, fireball of comic energy, is dead

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar,

Angry Feminist Poet: Rik Mayall at Soho’s Comic Strip, Nov 1980. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ THE 56-YEAR-OLD STAR of The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and The New Statesman has died suddenly at his home in London. Long before his TV stardom, I met Rik Mayall in November 1980 in pursuit of the first magazine feature about the achingly funny team putting the Comic Strip’s new wave of “alternative comedy” on the map. Here is that first feature about them, with my own pictures:

➢ 1980 – At the Comic Strip, ‘alternative cabaret’ throws up the next generation of household names – here at Shapersofthe80s

Comic Strip, 1980, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Alexei Sayle, alternative comedy

First published in Over21, January 1981

“Awful news about Rik Mayall – a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent” – Rory Bremner

“Rik Mayall was just pure wiry, energetic, unpredictable humour poured into the shape of a human. You couldn’t not watch him” – Charlie Brooker

➢ Ade Edmondson said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing … They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him” – Independent

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar, Alexei Sayle

Twentieth Century Coyote, 1980: Rik Mayall’s coruscating double act with Ade Edmondson, seen backstage at Soho’s Comic Strip club, within Raymond’s Revue Bar. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident – Telegraph

➢ Mark Lawson pays tribute to a dangerously funny man … “The savage charisma that Mayall projected in his TV comedy roles led the director Richard Eyre to cast him, in 1985, in a National Theatre production of Gogol’s political satire The Government Inspector”

➢ Rik Mayall: tributes from comedians, fans and celebrities – Telegraph

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➤ Toasting the Blitz Kid dynamos who have driven the success of Shapers of the 80s

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Blitz Kids as stars of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980: from the left, Steve Strange, Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise and Judi Frankland. When they got back to London after filming, they all went clubbing. Video © 1983 Jones Music / EMI Records Ltd

❚ SHAPERS OF THE 80S TELLS THE DEFINITIVE STORY of a subcultural revolution in British music and style 30 years ago. Its detonator was a youthful blast of impossible trendiness and its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This site gathers together the eye-witness journalism and photography of one observer who knew a good time when he saw one and was published in the coolest titles of the day.

Now in its fifth year, this site has attracted a total of 722,500 views since its launch, according to year-ending WordPress stats. The figures also identify the 20 most widely read items out of more than 600 posted here. Most of these pieces were first published back in the day, but seven of the Top 20 items reflect the continuing interest expressed through the recent 80s revival. In many ways, London is again displaying all the symptoms of being the world’s most swinging city, as it was in the 60s and the 80s, when there were a galaxy of reasons to hit the town every single night of the week.

THE 20 MOST VIEWED POSTS AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S

1  ➢ The Blitz Kids — 50 crucial nightclubbers who
set the style for a decade

2  ➢ The key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names? (2010)

3  ➢ Golden rules for keeping Studio 54 ahead of the pack (1981)

4  ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – birth of the once-weekly party night (1983)

5  ➢ Sorry, girls, but Spandau’s Steve Norman has a secret love — see that ring on his finger? (2011)

The Face, magazine, May 1980, launch, Jerry Dammers, David Bowie, The Cult With No Name, New Romantics

The difference seven months made: In May 1980 The Face launched with Jerry Dammers of the Specials on its cover. By November the new direction was Bowie plus a feature on The Cult With No Name, as the New Romantics were first known

6  ➢ The Face and other power brokers of the fourth estate — a new media language for a new decade (1980)

7  ➢ First Blitz invasion of the US — Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

Blitz club, London 1979, Wilf, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth

Left, real Blitz Kids – right, the TV version… George’s boyfriend Wilf and fashion student Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

8  ➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV drama about Boy George’s teen years, Worried About the Boy

9  ➢ Hockney’s new vision of the world — Britain’s favourite artist reveals his insights into cubism (1983)

10  ➢ Paradise Point: live leaders of a new Brit pop blitz (2010)

i-D 1980

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style of photography is established with, at left, one then unknown New Romantic and, right, one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

11  ➢ ‘i-D counts more than fashion’ — launch of the
street-style bible in 1980

12  ➢ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

13  ➢ Who’s who in the New London Weekend — key clubs that set the capital swinging (1983)

14  ➢ Aside from the freaks, George, who else came to your 50th birthday party? (2011)

© Shapersofthe80s

Londres est arrivée au Palace, 1982: classic set, nouveaux styles. Pictures © by Shapersofthe80s

15  ➢ Steve Strange takes fashion to the French — six British designers rock Le Palace in Paris (1982)

16  ➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

17  ➢ Who are the New Romantics? — A mainstream deejay’s guide published by Disco International (1981)

Spandau Ballet, 1980

Houseband of the Blitz club: at the London megaclub Heaven Spandau Ballet play their tenth live date on 29 Dec 1980. From left, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, plus John Keeble on drums. © Shapersofthe80s

18  ➢ They said it — landmark quotes about the decade of change by the people who made it happen

19  ➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s (2010)

20  ➢ Comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ — an enduring star who made 2010 her own

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➤ Visage: out of the 80s frying pan into the 21st-century fire

Steve Strange, Visage,Shameless Fashion

The face of Visage today: Steve Strange behaving shamelessly. Peter Ashworth Photography. Makeup by Lara Himpelmann

Visage 1979: Rusty Egan, John McGeoch, Barry Adamson, Dave Formula, Billy Currie, Steve Strange, Midge Ure. Photographed © by Sheila Rock

Visage 1979: Rusty Egan, John McGeoch, Barry Adamson, Dave Formula, Billy Currie, Steve Strange, Midge Ure. Photographed © by Sheila Rock

❚ THE STUDIO BAND VISAGE were central to defining the electropop sounds of 1980 thanks to the musical nous of Midge Ure, who had bought his first synthesiser in 1978 because he felt synths “embodied a kind of nostalgia for the future”. He’d been faffing around with Glen Matlock, Steve New and drummer Rusty Egan in the 60s-flavoured one-hit power pop group Rich Kids, and sensed an appetite in the zeitgeist for a more soulful version of Kraftwerk plus a return to melody. Intent on making vibrant dance music for the “visa age”, Ure dreamed up the name Visage for his new experimental band with Rusty Egan on drums.

They co-opted Rusty’s flamboyant Welsh pal Steve Strange as face-painted frontman to give visual expression to a range of what were being called “moderne” fashions. Dressing up in the face of a grinding economic recession was the destiny that Bowie’s children were to fulfil. Visage’s songs captured the sidelong humour and knowing irony that came to characterise the 80s, while their explosive backbeats, electronic fills and synth riffs changed the vocabulary of British chart pop. This TV generation dreamed in both sound and vision.

Supercool in ’78: Egan, Strange and Ure establish Visage

What Strange lacked in vocal proficiency he made up for in promotional value, since he soon became a walking advertisement for the cooler-than-cool clothes shop PX in Covent Garden where he was an assistant. Run by Stephane Raynor and Helen Robinson, they more than any other designers in 1980 set the template for New Romantics fashion, favouring oversized chemises, medieval doublets, breeches and frilly lace. The shop’s followers were soon dubbed posers, and the Pose Age was born. Disposable identities, portable events, looks not uniforms – for his disciples, Bowie’s imperatives became the norm.

As a studio project – the original lineup never played live – Visage probably was a case of too many cooks. The band took in several musicians, all of whom had other loyalties, while the creative drive came from Ure and Billy Currie. Even so, Currie was persuading the restless Ure to help resurrect the synth band Ultravox following John Foxx’s departure. By 1982 when Ure quit Visage in favour of Ultravox, Visage had enjoyed four top-20 singles hits in the UK and one top-ten album with The Anvil. As we now know, Ure went on to mastermind the Band Aid fundraising hit single and the subsequent Live Aid charity concert with Bob Geldof, and duly earned himself an OBE.

Visage, Fade to Grey,albumsIn 1984 a Visage lineup comprising Strange and Egan along with newer members Andy Barnett, Steve and Gary Barnacle put out a so-so third album, but when it flopped they soon called it a day. The truth was that Visage failed to invest single-mindedly in themselves as a musical enterprise: their progress simmered rather than blazed as individuals pursued their own favoured goals. Occasional tracks sizzled on the dancefloor – In the Year 2525, Fade to Grey, Mind of a Toy, Night Train – but the band lacked unity and commitment.

Nobody can deny Strange’s fizz and chutzpah which in 1979 coralled a disparate group of post-punk no-wavers and outcast fashionistas when he co-hosted the agenda-setting Neon Night at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden. It lit up London in an explosion of invention, gender-bending and ridiculous hair. As the club’s stand-out stars became media celebrities, these exponents of modern dance and stance began forcing the pace of change across the creative industries. Thanks also to Rusty Egan as a mould-breaking deejay, whose mixing did much to change the sound of clubland music, the pair went on to reshape London nightlife at two notable venues, Club for Heroes and the Camden Palace, during the early 80s. At the end of the decade, dance music as we knew it was swept aside by the craze for E’s and rave. Egan set out to make a fine reputation deejaying on London’s boutique nightclub circuit, while Strange can claim a ghosted autobiography as full of fantasy and foggy memories as you’d expect from an arch-poser who’d been out on the town every night for 20 years.

Roll forward to 2010. John Pitcher, who fronts a music services provider called MRC, established a Blitz Club record label and an associated website, and Strange and Egan launched it in January 2011 by throwing a Return to the Blitz party at the site of the former club. The event raised a few media ripples but little groundswell and only three remixes have been released in as many years. With 80s band revivals making waves all around them, that old Blitz magic had lost its charm. Egan said this week: “Pitcher registered everything for us, so he owns everything, including the website and the Visage brand.” Growing personal differences hindered collaboration between the three. These worsened last year when Egan made allegations that Strange had squandered a substantial sum of accrued Visage royalties paid via Strange and that he failed to share them among the original lineup. This week Egan said: “Try telling John McGeoch’s daughter her dad’s [share] was spent by Strange.”

Visage, Steve Barnacle, Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall , Robin Simon

Visage 2013: Steve Barnacle, the inimitable Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall and Robin Simon. Photography © by David Levine

When Strange proposed reviving the band name of Visage after almost 30 years, neither Ure nor Egan could see the point and they disputed Strange’s right to do so. Ure told an American newspaper in January: “Visage was always something Rusty Egan and I created and controlled. The idea of doing a Visage 2 was never appealing to me so I wasn’t interested. I walked away from Visage when it got ridiculous and supremely hedonistic and I will probably leave it that way.” In response to Strange’s claim on German TV last November that Ure was collaborating on a new album together, Ure tweeted: “He is deluded if he thinks that. He knows that isn’t happening.”

EARLIER BACKGROUND

➢ 2013, A couple of slaps in the Visage
as Strange and Egan squabble

Rusty Egan remains aggrieved that Strange has not resolved recent differences. He is angry that Strange should make any claim to creative input into Visage’s lyrics and music, and maintained this week: “Strange had nothing to do with the music in The Blitz or Visage.” In January Egan said: “There has never been a Visage album without me. It’s my group and Strange is a singer. He is not Visage.”

Yet for all this, and Strange’s sad personal saga of ill-health, the vocalist has doggedly set about persuading a new circle of supporters to bring Visage back to life. In the face of widespread disbelief – the garrulous Strange’s little weakness, after all, has always been for exaggeration and melodrama – last year he announced a new “Visage” lineup, with a gorgeous singer called Lauren Duvall, plus Steve Barnacle (fretless bass) and Robin Simon (guitar). Keyboardist Mick MacNeil, from Simple Minds, was enlisted to contribute on a range of vintage analogue synthesisers which include an early Moog Source.

At last, what is being called a fourth “Visage” album titled Hearts and Knives is due to be released on May 27.

“It has been 29 years since the last Visage album and during that period it often seems like we have all lived through several lifetimes,” says Strange. Indeed, “bruised and wounded” declare the rueful lyrics of Shameless Fashion, the new group’s first single, available this week. It isn’t clear whether this refers to the very many contributors we see jostling for credits on the new “Visage” packaging. The Visage 2013 camp is probably keeping fingers crossed.

➢ A free download of the new single Shameless Fashion is available from today at the Visage website

➢ 1980 at the Blitz, Strange days, strange nights, strange people

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2012 ➤ Soho’s nightowls revisit the club that sifted the Artex monkeys from Bowie’s Heroes

Cultural observer Peter York: eager for the Sullivan autograph on the new edition

❚ THE 80s BLITZ KIDS turned out in force last night. As Kitten Kouturist Franceska Luther King remarks today: “an elegant crowd, older, but still the same spirit.” Those clubbing compulsives who defined the sounds and styles of Soho 30 years ago, swarmed into the tiny steaming Artex-lined cellars of the St Moritz restaurant, the fit all the tighter thanks to a fair few middle-aged paunches. For three months in 1980 this was the site of their milestone one-nighter which signalled the first faction to break away from the futurists at Steve Strange and Rusty Egan’s pioneering elektro-diskow, The Blitz. In host Chris Sullivan’s words, this was “the more alert end of the Blitz crowd” – in other words, the hardcore fashionistas.

Initially St Moritz’s music evoked interwar Berlin cabaret until Charles Fox, the theatrical costumiers, staged its closing-down sale in Covent Garden and injected a huge Hollywood movie wardrobe. You could be a gangster, a geisha, or Geronimo. The New Romantics had been born – just like that!

“No single shop sale ever had such an influence on street fashion before or since,” Sullivan writes in the fabulous photo-book, We Can Be Heroes. This ribald account of the dawn of UK clubbing in the 80s, led by the eye-popping photographs of Graham Smith, was the reason for last night’s beano. Soul-music diehards Smith and Sullivan graduated from The Blitz to become two of the St Moritz deejays (along with Robert Elms and Steve Mahoney) and half a lifetime on they were hosting yet another launch party. The book’s revised and amended second edition of 2,500 copies is released this week through regular retail outlets. Copies of last year’s limited edition are still available from the fund-it-yourself publisher Unbound.

St Moritz 1980: Chris Sullivan and Michele Clapton – from Smith’s book We Can Be Heroes

Back in the day, the St Moritz posse distinguished themselves from The Blitz by playing retro lounge-lizard tunes from Lotte Lenya or Nat King Cole. In today’s arts pages of The Times Sullivan recaps how, in their efforts to avoid the present, he and his cohort helped create the future: “We decided to oppose Blitz futurism and turn the clock back with music from Marlene Dietrich, Monroe, Sinatra and soundtracks from A Clockwork Orange, Last Tango in Paris and Cabaret. It was an alarming success.”

Rob Milton: Shooting the Pump in the deejay booth

♫ Click to hear Shoot the Pump in a new window

Fashions in music moved apace. Within a year successive London club-nights at Hell, Le Kilt and Le Beat Route were stirring into the club mix not only familiar 70s soul but the edgy new urban sounds of North America.

Choosing the soundtrack last night at St Moritz were the were the astute ears of David Hawkes, Christos Tolera and Sullivan himself, plus Dirt Box co-founder Rob Milton, who raked the dancefloor early in the evening with the crazed beats of Shoot the Pump. This intoxicating debut single from 1981 was a state-of-the-art fusion of emergent street sounds – rap, hip-hop and funk with a hint of mutant disco – from the “playin’ brown rapper” and graffiti artist J Walter Negro & the Loose Jointz (on Zoo York Records via Island). J Walter is urging his crew of Zoo Yorkers to spray docile citizens with the water from a fire hydrant: “You make like a monkey with monkey wrench, cos you feel a little funky, got a thirst to quench.” In 1980–81, something similar was pumping the adrenalin in London.

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