Tag Archives: Jordan

➤ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

Simon Barker, Six, Punks Dead, Jordan, photography, exhibition

Reunited: a plonker from Six for Jordan at Divus Gallery © Shapersofthe80s

❚ OLD HABITS, EH? A day in the spotlight and Simon Barker, aka Six, starts rewriting history! There we were last night in a Spitalfields gallery, chatting for the first time in 20 years at Punk’s Dead, his new show of early photographs of the now fabled Bromley Contingent, the posse of a dozen fashionistas who helped put the Sex Pistols on the map back in 1976. Having staked his claim to fame as the only person clapping at the end of the Pistols’ sixth gig (Dec 9, 1975, at Ravensbourne College) and being one of four fans with the band during the infamous “Filth & Fury” TV interview (Dec 1, 1976), Simon today works as a photographer in Prague.

Why Prague, I ask, as a big fan of the Bohemian medieval city? He groans: “Oh no! Why Prague? Why does everyone ask me the same question?” You’d never guess Simon and I used to natter away as if we liked each other back in the 80s when I’d pop into Viv’s Worlds End shop after going for a haircut next door at Smile. OK then, Six, why *Bromley*? As in Bromley Contingent. What was in the water in Bromley that produced his posse of poser punks?

“Ah, excellent question!” he replies. “We hated the name. It was created by the media — that woman Caroline Coon.” This is a double-edged dig at both the middle-class, ex-hippy Melody Maker writer who coined the phrase after seeing the “very striking” posse at three Pistols gigs in a row and asking where they came from (Bromley is a town in the south London commuter belt)… and also at me for being another member of the despised legion of journalists.

His Always-a-Punk gene is really kicking in now. “In actual fact, only two of us — me and Steve [Bailey, aka Severin] — came from Bromley. Siouxsie [Susan Ballion, later singer with the Banshees] was from Chislehurst. Billy [Broad, later Idol] lived in Bickley. And Jordan [born Pamela Rooke] came up from Seaford.

“For me and Steve, living in that bit of suburbia, Bromley had the best connection into London — 20 minutes by train. Any further away and it wouldn’t have been so easy to visit for gigs, sex, Louise’s…”

Aha, the location-location transport solution! A recurring theme, because in a surprisingly cooperative interview in 2002 Six did admit that his reason for moving to the Czech Republic “was its location. It is the heart of Europe and a great base to travel from.”

Six was either being pure-punk cussed by splitting hairs about his posse, or possibly was having a bit of a hashtag_Senior_Moment. Bickley is after all the next stop down the line from Bromley, only 2,000 metres away, and Chislehurst another 1,000 metres further on. But fair enough, he’s got a point. Even if you include Sioux and Idol and Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, who lived three doors away from Bowie’s mum in Bromley, five out of a posse of 12 does not a “Bromley” Contingent make. So last night, we witnessed history being rewritten.

WHO waS WHO in the “Bromley” Contingent

Bromley Contingent, Soo Catwoman, Jordan, punks

Ray Stevenson’s classic 1976 pic of some of the Bromley Contingent, plus Soo Catwoman who came from Ealing

According to Wikipedia: Siouxsie Sioux, Jordan, Soo Catwoman, Simon “Boy” Barker, Debbie Juvenile (née Wilson), Linda Ashby, Philip Sallon, Alan Salisbury, Simone Thomas, Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, Tracie O’Keefe, Steve Severin, Billy Idol and Sharon Hayman.

Caroline Coon’s 1977 book The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion remains a fresh and pro-fan account of the movement’s origins, less prone to mythologising than later histories

➢ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

➢ Simon Barker chats to Dazed about the anarchic punk era

➢ Another epic Stevenson picture of the Bromley Contingent, 1976

Simon Barker, Six, Punks Dead, Jordan, photography, exhibition

Jordan then and now: the Queen of Punks with Simon Barker’s 1977 photo showing for a month at Divus Temporary Gallery, London E1 6QF © Shapersofthe80s

❏ Mind you, the true superstar present in the Spitalfields gallery was Jordan herself, Queen of Punks, artfully positioned in front of Six’s truly iconic portrait of her on the wall, priced at £300 a pop. There wasn’t a moment all evening when she wasn’t surrounded by a buzz of fans and old stars of punk and she was such easy company, chatting away without airs or graces. She said: “I’m a veterinary nurse now and I breed Burmese cats. Look at the number of photos here of me and Siouxsie with cats.”

She has returned to live in Seaford but loves telling the 70s stories about travelling up to London from the south coast resort, being harangued by commuters for her spiky hair and outrageous bondage clothes from McLaren and Westwood’s Chelsea shops Sex and Seditionaries. To keep her out of trouble, one British Rail guard told her to go sit in first class. “The day I came up to apply for a job at Sex, it was shut, so I wandered over to Harrods and applied there in my blonde spikes and green face foundation. They gave me a part-time job in Way In” (their trendy top-floor fashion department).

As the single most inventive pioneer of definitive punk looks, Jordan soon joined Sex, however, becoming their totemic house model and honorary fifth member of the Sex Pistols, all too willing to flash her tits for the press at their ninth gig in Andrew Logan’s loft. In 1977 she briefly managed Adam & The Ants in their hardcore phase, but most notoriously starred in Derek Jarman’s dystopian fantasy movie, Jubilee, singing a raunchy version of Rule Britannia.

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six explains the magic at 7:15 in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT doc, The Year of Punk, 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

FRONT PAGE

➤ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

Punk’s Dead , Derek Dunbar ,, Jordan,

Jordan the queen of punk: pantone matched first samples fresh from the printers on Derek Dunbar’s Facebook page today

❚ HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO KNOW ABOUT PUNK? Not much, you might think. Yet today Derek Dunbar — the King’s Road fixer, model, singer, Jarmanite and McLaren acolyte, now styling himself as project manager — announced on Facebook that he is producing some T-shirts emblazoned with Jordan’s image (Jordan the queen of punk, immortalised in Derek Jarman’s movie Jubilee). “These are the first samples we will produce once Six has finished at his exhibition in London so I hope to start in 3 weeks or 4 weeks.”

Exhibition? Six? Who? Those in the know know that Six is aka Simon and Simon was the quiet one in among Susan Dallion (later Siouxsie Sioux), Steve Severin, Debbie Juvenile and Soo Catwoman in those seminal 1976 snaps of the Bromley Contingent — first followers of the Sex Pistols and the Chelsea retail outlets of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Some of the Contingent became headliners in the punk explosion, Simon playing his part by appearing with the Pistols on the infamous teatime TV show that lost television journalist Bill Grundy his job. More discreetly, as a resident of the St James’s Hotel in Westminster, Simon provided a refuge for punk’s suburban protagonists.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Jordan

1976: Jordan and Simon Barker aka Six (from Derek Dunbar’s Facebook album)

Under his pseudonym Six, he now reveals: “In 1976, I bought myself one of the cheapest pocket cameras available. Fully automatic, with no controls or settings… Subconsciously I concentrated on the women and artists at the heart of what would later be known as punk in London. The photos you see were spur-of-the-moment shots taken by myself for myself and, up until now, I used to think they weren’t good enough to show people.”

Far from it. A quick google reveals these early snapshots to be “a rare and intimate account of punk’s ability to mint newness” and they evince “the cool stillness of seeming to live beyond the end of history.” Ohhhhh!!! Orgasmic! And you’re asking, Who said THAT?

Michael Bracewel,books9,England is Mine, Pop LifeGoogle, please tell. The verdict comes from Michael Bracewell (author of England is Mine: Pop Life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie, 2009), one of those writers whose cultural observations you know are worth the effort to read, wrapped though they are in ripely purple prose. And in a recent article about Six, he announces what these days is the official line, that “Punk lasted in the UK for little more than 14 months, between 1976 and the Jubilee summer of 1977.” Anything later was accounted an offshoot of punk, or dubbed simply New Wave!!!

You raise an eyebrow, salivating for more. And more is delivered in his Independent piece from last March when he defined punk once and for all…

➢ In essence, beneath the headline Anarchy in the UK,
Bracewell declares:

  • To some, punk was primarily political in its energy, carrying class war or a reclamation of the Situationist desire to ‘wreck culture’ to the brutalist Britain of the pre-Thatcher 1970s.
  • To others, it was an avant-garde fashion parade: a damply British reclamation of the Zurich Dada or the Ballets Russes.
  • And to yet others it was the gleeful desecration of rock music’s Church of Authenticity, in which had been worshipped the sanctity of the Blues.
  • Speaking with Malcolm McLaren – arguably punk’s architect – shortly before his death in 2010, the case was put more simply: if punk could lay any claim on historic status, he said, it would best be remembered as ‘like doing the Twist in a ruin’.

Sensational, whichever way you take your pick! But he’s warming to his own conclusion:

  • Punk … appeared to confront the stagnation of cultural consumerism – by describing, in a language of self-parody, the notion of modernity itself reaching critical mass and unsurprisingly imploding. Hence, perhaps, the slogan above the door of the SEX boutique at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea: ‘Modernity Killed Every Night’.

Divine! We can go to our graves sure about the meaning of punk, once and for all. Or rather, five times and for all.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker,Little Nell, Adam Ant

1977: Little Nell with Adam Ant at a Butler’s Wharf party. Photographed by Six

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Siouxsie Sioux

1977: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel. Photographed by Six

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker

Six in Prague: Barker demonstrating with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek who has become the zeitgeist interpreter of social phenomena in the 20-tweens

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six first up in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT doc on punk in 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

FRONT PAGE

1981 ➤ How Adam stomped his way across the charts to thwart the nascent New Romantics

Adam Ant, 1980,Kings of the Wild Frontier

Not really Romantic: Adam Ant in his 1980 guise as a warrior-hussar

❚ THE ELEPHANT IN THE NEW ROMANTIC ROOM in January 1981 was Adam Ant. The previous autumn Spandau Ballet and Visage had ignited the ambitions of other clubland bands (Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell) who were to splash romance across the charts by the spring. Yet on this January day 30 years ago Adam and the Ants had, incredibly, two singles and two albums in the UK pop charts: on Jan 17, Antmusic hit the No 2 spot while Young Parisians was at No 23. In the album charts Kings of the Wild Frontier was at No 3 (rising to top the chart next week), while Dirk Wears White Sox entered at No 67 (a re-release from the first Ants lineup of 1979). This isn’t all. In the charts for week beginning Jan 24, TWO MORE SINGLES arrived to exploit demand, Zerox and Cartrouble at Nos 68 and 69 (reissues from the Dirk album).

The Ants had six records charting in the same month!!! January very much belonged to Adam.

Now, Shapersofthe80s has always drawn a clear distinction between Adam Ant and the New Romantics. As does Marco Pirroni, the Ants guitarist and co-writer of many of their hits. “Adam is glam-punk,” he told me emphatically at the bar of the Wag when Ant’s first solo single Puss ’n Boots was storming the chart in Oct 1983. “Americans don’t understand he was never a New Romantic.” In fact right now on his perambulation through our capital city billed as “The Good, The Mad And The Lovely World Tour Of London 2010/11”, Adam declares himself from the stage to be “the last punk rocker”.

What we have here is a re-run of the old dispute over differences between Bowie versus Slade, glam versus glitter. While true glam tends to fuel as much a fashion revolution as a musical one, Adam does tend to sit atop rock’s glittery party-music tree.

Adam and the Ants, AntmusicIn spite of Adam’s flash and camp and dressing up in daffy costumes and wearing tribal facepaint that every kiddie from six upwards wanted to copy, his roots were firmly in rock, whatever Wikipedia seems to think (wrong again). If anybody was advertising rock as pantomime in the aftermath of punk, it was Adam, who raided the wardrobes of the past for his colourful swashbuckling outfits.

In his first life in Adam and the Ants 1977-79, he was styled as hardcore punk, hooded in a rapist mask, by Jordan (née Pamela Rooke) who virtually singlehandedly invented the uniform for punk with her many shockers such as rubber stockings. She was an inspiration as well as a natural sales assistant and model for Vivienne and Malcolm’s boutique, Sex, and for a year or so actually managed Adam’s band until she grew disllusioned with punk.

Malcolm McLaren himself was adrift after the Sex Pistols imploded, and Adam tells the tale: “He said, Everybody’s wearing black, boy. Colour, heroicism, that was what it was about. Look at Geronimo, boy. Look at pirates, boy. Go. He said, Give me a grand [£1,000], don’t tell no-one, and I’ll manage ya. And he gave me an education.”

Things backfired when McLaren stole the Ants to create Bow Wow Wow. So Adam regrouped with the trusty Marco Pirroni and a new lineup, and on the back of an “Antz Invasion” tour of the UK, May-June 1980, they signed to CBS and released the single Kings of the Wild Frontier which charted humbly in August.

Yet despite its heavy Burundi-style tribal drumming, Kings [above] was not a dancefloor record, that’s the point. War-dance, maybe. Watch the hopelessly uncoordinated video where the band lurches shambolically around a studio, and just gawp at the way Adam goes hoppity-skippiting in circles for heavensake!!! Like the proverbial embarrassing dad getting on down at your party.

The video to Antmusic was just as eye-watering. There was his group, playing live in a “disco”. (London’s first uplit starburst glass dancefloor betrays the location as Yours or Mine in Kensington, where back in the early 70s it was the coolest glam haunt on Sundays, frequented by Ossie Clarke, the Bowies and the Jaggers. But by 1980 disco was not cool, at all.) The rent-a-crowd extras in this video must have been the least stylish Londoners within earshot of the Blitz club. Gawp again at how these kids can’t dance either! Not one person in this video would knock Ann Widdecombe off Strictly Come Dancing.
➢ View ♫ original video for Antmusic

Contrast these two with the carefully art-directed videos of Visage and Spandau Ballet in 1980 and Adam’s efforts score 5 points for energy, 5 points for fun, by all means. But for creative content, Nul points, and for style, Nul points! Where’s the artsy pretension, where’s the wordly irony? Where is style? These videos reveal exactly how Adam’s crew didn’t have a handle on the New Romantics ethos at all, which was about the ineffable pursuit of glamour. And their bass-heavy music was totally danceable — by diehard clubbers.

Of course Adam wasn’t a New Romantic. Nor did he tick the register by dropping into any of their clubs. Romantics were clubbers, the Ants were rockers. Yes of course Kings of the Wild Frontier went on to become one of the great slapstick albums of its time. No dispute. And with characters like Prince Charming and Puss ’n Boots, Adam treated us to year-round pantomime. If he left the rest of us all humming a bunch of glorious rumpty-tump tunes, actually living the buccaneering life affected Marco the guitarist more deeply. Last year he told Uncut magazine rather mystically: “I’m still untouched by the ordinary world, thanks to Kings of the Wild Frontier.”

ONE REALLY INTERESTING FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY

Charge of the Light Brigade,David Hemmings,Tony Richardson,film

Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968: David Hemmings rides into the Valley of Death in the gilded hussar jacket later to become Adam Ant’s. © MGM

Adam Ant, Jordan, Jubilee, 1977

Instinctive punks, 1977: Adam and Jordan at the premiere for Jubilee

❚ IT WAS a post-punk Jordan who returned to style Adam’s second life with the new-wave Ants in upbeat 80s mode, but as the most iconic punkette of all, her roots lay in anarchy. Look at the pair of them in this picture from the premiere of the 1977 film Jubilee with Jordan showing her actual knickers — facepaint and no hint of coordination spell pantomime, in capital letters. Commedia dell’arte this is not.

The one stroke of genius about his revamp was Adam’s own — it was his choice to adopt the gilded hussar’s jacket that branded his reincarnation for Kings of the Wild Frontier. It saw him right through his first year, on stage and in videos, until he turned into a highwayman. This dashing 19th-century cavalry uniform had a heritage all its own. He found it in the London costumiers Bermans & Nathans who had acquired it in 1968 from Tony Richardson’s scathing anti-Establishment movie, The Charge of the Light Brigade. It was worn by the romantic young star David Hemmings, as the ill-fated Captain Nolan who carried the order to charge in one of the most careless tragedies in British military history. The poet laureate Tennyson’s phrase “someone had blunder’d” was prompted directly by the eloquent eye-witness report by William Russell of The Times. It makes a thrilling read still.

Adam Ant, 2011,World Tour Of London

“The last punk rocker”: Adam Ant on his World Tour Of London, 2011, photographed © by Alex Alexander

❚ TONIGHT ADAM’S NEW SHOW WAS BEING FILMED at Madame Jojo’s Club in Soho, with tickets priced at £75. His outings before Christmas have impressed some critics, by various accounts being underpinned by wayward sexuality and bad taste, but none the less galvanising for that. His message has long been raunchy and savage and tonight one fan declared on Facebook that “Madame Jojo’s was on fire!!” A two-night stand has yet to happen at the 100 Club on January 26-27.

FRONT PAGE