Tag Archives: photography

1978–87 ➤ British nightlife snapped by Ridgers as it came out of the closet

London, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,  Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Underground publicity: Derek Ridgers with lavish poster treatment for his photo-book published jointly by Damiani and Transport for London. (Pic by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ THIS FRIDAY AT THE V&A MUSEUM, London photographer Derek Ridgers will try to explain the power of his touching yet confrontational images of London youth taken in the transformational decade of the 1980s. His newly published book 78–87 London Youth can be viewed online. He is best known for these documentary portraits taken on the streets and in the clubs by night, though he has also snapped celebs from James Brown to The Spice Girls, Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp, as well as Tony Blair, gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, artist Julian Schnabel, writer Martin Amis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and more.

The recessionary 70s had precipitated a drone age of rocketing unemployment in the UK, threatening no jobs for school-leavers, ever. Yet from this black hole burst a passionately tribal youth culture that was to create the Swinging 80s, an era of optimism, marked by hedonistic good times and a flair for exhibitionism that played up to Derek’s camera. Ambition and self-improvement were the ultimate goals of the young then, in sharp contrast to the cynical narcissism of today’s lost children.

➢ Derek Ridgers talks on photographing the 80s at the V&A’s late evening, 6.30pm Friday July 18, with yours truly in the chair. Derek will be signing his book afterwards

London,Sacrosanct,  Billie Madley , Twinkle Bunty, Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Twinkle Bunty comments on this Sacrosanct club pic by Ridgers posted at Facebook: “Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.” Another from ‪Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.

❚ IN OCTOBER 1982, I INTERVIEWED DEREK RIDGERS while writing the massive survey of London’s newly exploding nightlife phenomenon which became The Face’s cover story, The making of UK club culture in February 1983. Direct from my original notes, here is Derek’s perceptive analysis which helped inform my thinking about the turmoil that was transforming British youth culture…

Derek talking: “The depression of the late 70s made the future oh so inevitable. But from the Blitz club period onward [1979], the feeling has been different. A reaction of ambisexual kitsch. It’s an honesty with the way you look and what you want to do. There’s an enthusiasm to investigate the possibilities. There’s no sense of inevitability.

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since.”

In 1980 the Blitz leaders had moved on to another Covent Garden club called Hell which Derek said “was similar but more decadent because they tried to keep it to themselves. In its final weeks, only out-of-towners were going to the Blitz, because by then the media had blown away the furtiveness”.

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In 1982 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began fronting the 1,600-capacity Camden Palace and the Pose Age went public. Ridgers said then: “At the Palace poses are adopted, yet it’s probably more interesting than the Blitz or Billy’s because it’s more honest… 90% are regulars, 9% out-of-towners, and 1% could be any type of person who’ll choose to go clubbing there, but go nowhere else except their own pub. Sometimes they’re out of their depth and try to dress as they think is expected – they bring with them an unconsidered primitiveness.

“Men are wearing dresses now but not pretending to be women. They are proud to be men – that’s fairly modern.” In autumn 1982 Boy George was in the charts with Culture Club’s first single. “George wants to look pretty, rather than handsome. He asks me whether I find him attractive and I have to pretend he’s a girl and give him an appraisal – which I don’t mind. I don’t feel threatened.”

“What’s important at the Palace is feeling special, being noticed – in a sea of other people. A good club has become a place to go for the right social reasons, rather than just to hang out.”

➢ View more Ridgers portfolio at his website

ESSENTIAL READS

➢ Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics – my overview for the Observer Music Magazine

➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture
– for The Face magazine, here at Shapersofthe80s

Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Cover star Tuinol Barry photographed by Derek Ridgers in 1983. Sadly, Barry was to die young.

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1963 ➤ With The Beatles the day Kennedy was shot

Beatles, UK tour, 1963, Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,  Beatlemania, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, CBS News, video, JFK, assassination, President Kennedy, Nov 22,

Beatles live onstage in Stockton, Nov 22, 1963: George Harrison at the microphone on the night Kennedy was shot

❚ WHERE? LIVE, ONSTAGE IN STOCKTON-ON-TEES. Count the simple Vox amps behind the band and note how one is perched on a chair! This picture was taken on Friday Nov 22 1963 at the 2,400-seat Globe theatre when the Beatles played the art-deco venue on their first nationwide tour. The band’s half-hour set during twice-nightly performances at 6.15 and 8.30 was supported by seven other acts with tickets priced from 6 shillings to 10s 6d, when a workman’s weekly wage might be £7.

Beatles, UK tour, 1963, Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,During the first house in Stockton, England, the assassin’s bullets killed John Kennedy in Dallas, USA. At 43 he was the youngest man elected to the US Presidency and during the cold war era as the Soviet Union threatened world peace the hopes of the West rested on his shoulders. In Britain TV programmes were interrupted to break the dramatic news just after 7pm.

In those days we’d seen nothing as electrifying as the Beatles and while their audience at the 18th date on their first serious tour were discovering the power of The Scream, these fans remained respectfully seated throughout the show. Even so, personal accounts say the second house in Stockton was distinctly more subdued. Shocked by the news about JFK, Lynda Richardson, a fan travelling back to Redcar by coach, said: “No one spoke a word all the way home.”

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Also on this day the Fab Four’s second album With The Beatles was released on Parlophone eight months after their chart-topping debut LP and it immediately broke sales records. Lennon’s raw vocals barked fresh life and sexual danger into the Motown covers Please Mr Postman, Money and You Really Got a Hold on Me. With its eight original compositions, this was the album that moved William Mann, classical music critic of The Times, to write that Lennon and McCartney were “the outstanding English composers of 1963”.

 With The Beatles , album ,vinylEarlier in the year three Beatles singles had gone to No 2 and to No 1 twice in the UK chart and now another with advance sales of a million copies – I Want To Hold Your Hand – was racing up the chart to become the Christmas No 1.

This November, too, the Daily Mirror coined the word Beatlemania to describe the tour’s first gig, a phenomenon really triggered with the release of the single She Loves You in August. During the tour, The Beatles had also stopped the Royal Variety Performance – playing four numbers and watched by half the nation in a TV show of recorded highlights – when John Lennon famously quipped: “Will those in the cheaper seats clap your hands. The rest of you can just rattle your jewellery.” The group guest-starred on BBC TV’s flagship Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, while their own Beatles’ Christmas Show was to run at London’s Astoria Finsbury Park for 30 performances (100,000 seats) featuring the Fab Four in comic “skits” with six pop acts in support including Cilla. By this stage the Fabs could go nowhere without a personal police escort. [See, How does a Beatle live? – at Shapersofthe80s]

Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,

The Globe, Stockton, 2009: a glorious interior in art deco style

Today the Globe in Stockton, a small market town in County Durham, is a disused shell which is Grade II-listed. Built in 1935, its facade is enlivened with fluted plaster and the interior retains riotously colourful art deco features typical of the period. As a “super-theatre” the Globe hosted opera, ballet and an annual pantomime, together with touring variety, musicals, and pop concerts by Tommy Steele, the Rolling Stones, Searchers, Seekers, Billy J Kramer, Herman’s Hermits, Animals and Swinging Blue Jeans. It closed as a theatre in 1975, eked out the role of bingo hall until 1996 and then closed its doors.

The Theatres Trust describes the Globe as “an excellent example of its kind” and it is one of 68 buildings on its At-risk register. In 2009, Stockton-based Jomast Developments Ltd announced plans to restore the Globe and recruited theatre expert David Wilmore to the task. He called the Globe “a real Sleeping Beauty”. Finally last month Jomast reported that the Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked £4m towards an £8m project to transform the Globe into a live entertainment venue for music, comedy and other events, with a capacity of 2,500 and the potential to create 64 jobs. The new venue is likely to open in 2016.

THE DAY AMERICA’S CAMELOT FELL

❏ View The Beatles on CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace on November 22, 1963 (despite the erroneous date on the video), the day JFK was shot … In old-school TV style Alexander Kendrick reports grudgingly on Britain’s energetic threat to The American Way under the title, The Beatles, New Phenomena In Britain. Asked about the band’s future Paul McCartney says: “We could have quite a run.”

ANOTHER LEGEND IN THE MAKING

➢ At the Northern Echo in 1963 its young editor was Harold Evans, who went on to build the international reputation of The Sunday Times. On Nov 22, after putting the Echo to bed, he was being driven to Stockton for the annual press ball when news of JFK’s assassination came over the car radio. He immediately returned to his Darlington office and produced an entirely new paper. Evans decided The Beatles were worth a few downpage column inches squeezed into the Teesside edition only.

PHOTO UPDATES

➢ Ringo Starr’s lost Beatles photo album, Nov 2013 – “All anyone could talk about when we came to America was our hair. The boots were famous. The jackets were famous. The pop songs were famous, but they came in about third. The hair was first.”

➢ Fab finds: Never-before-seen Beatles photos, Nov 2013

➢ Five wild JFK conspiracy theories still troubling Oliver Stone

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➤ RIP Lou Reed… Today we lost another legend

Lou Reed, Velvet Underground

Lou Reed on his bare-bones guitar style: “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz”

“He was a master” – David Bowie today
on his old friend

➢ Lou Reed, Velvet Underground leader and rock pioneer
who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music
– Rolling Stone tribute, Oct 27:

After splitting with the Velvets in 1970, Reed traveled to England and, in characteristically paradoxical fashion, recorded a solo debut backed by members of the progressive-rock band Yes. But it was his next album, 1972’s Transformer, produced by Reed-disciple David Bowie, that pushed him beyond cult status into genuine rock stardom. Walk On the Wild Side, a loving yet unsentimental evocation of Warhol’s Factory scene, became a radio hit (despite its allusions to oral sex) and Satellite of Love was covered by U2 and others. Reed spent the Seventies defying expectations almost as a kind of sport. 1973’s Berlin was brutal literary bombast while 1974’s Sally Can’t Dance had soul horns and flashy guitar. In 1975 he released Metal Machine Music, a seething all-noise experiment his label RCA marketed as avant-garde classic music, while 1978’s banter-heavy live album Take No Prisoners was a kind of comedy record in which Reed went on wild tangents and savaged rock critics by name… / Continued at Rolling Stone

“Lou Reed… said that the first Velvet Underground
record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years.
But that was such an important record for
so many people, I think everyone who bought one
started a band!” – Brian Eno, 1982

➢ Alexis Petridis says Reed was capable of writing perfect pop songs – in Monday’s Guardian:

Their 1967 debut The Velvet Underground And Nico is the single most influential album in rock history. Certainly, it’s hard to think of another record that altered the sound and vocabulary of rock so dramatically, that shifted its parameters so far at a stroke. Vast tranches of subsequent pop music exist entirely in its shadow: it’s possible that glam rock, punk, and everything that comes loosely bracketed under the terms indie and alt-rock might have happened without it, but it’s hard to see how…

… the four gruelling songs that make up side two of his 1973 concept album Berlin are quite astonishing expressions of coldness and cruelty… [but] he could write songs that were impossibly moving, that spoke of a tenderness and sensitivity: the lambent, peerless Pale Blue Eyes; Halloween Parade’s heartbreaking lament for New York’s gay community, devastated by Aids; his meditation on death, Magic And Loss… / Continued at Guardian Online

➢ Reed’s own website with his last portrait
taken earlier this month

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➢ In this firey Telegraph interview from 2011, Reed and Metallica defended their controversial collaboration album Lulu to Neil McCormick

➢ “Lou Reed is to 1970s New York as the poet Baudelaire was to 1850s Paris” – ft.com

➢ Wide-ranging 1995 conversation between novelist Paul Auster and Lou Reed, who reveals his rarely seen good-humoured side – online at Dazed & Confused

SINGING ABOUT WARHOL ON TRANSFORMER

+++
➢ Punk old-timer Legs McNeil on how, despite acting like a grump, the Velvet Underground front man was beloved – The Daily Beast

➢ “Second only to Bob Dylan in his impact on rock and roll’s development” – Variety

Lou Reed, Mick Rock,photography

Lou Reed and his favourite British photographer Mick Rock in 1975

➢ Lou Reed and Mick Rock were a great double act: The Quietus talks to them about their enduring relationship and a new book of photos, 2013

➢ Mick Rock talks to Galore magazine about the limited edition of Transformer, his photobook of Lou Reed pix from 1972 to 1980 (Genesis Publications)

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1983 ➤ A turning point in David Hockney’s vision of the world

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Hockney wielding his Pentax in London, July 10, 1983: having devoted two years to photography, in this his second week on a trip to Britain, a further new canvas in the studio confirms a return to painting. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

❚ 30 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK the British painter David Hockney made a discovery so monumental that he called it “a truer way of seeing”. I’d gone to interview him about the education cuts Margaret Thatcher was inflicting on British art schools and found myself receiving an exhilarating tutorial while the artist tested his new ideas.

“Have you been to the cubism exhibition at the Tate?” Hockney enthused during a trip to London from his home in Los Angeles. “I’ve been seven times! Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly… That’s what I’m only starting to grasp. Cubism is about another way of seeing the world, a truer way. But the moment you grasp it, you can’t give it up.”

Photography had preoccupied Hockney for the previous couple of years and in the week of his 46th birthday, we’d met at a Cork Street gallery during the hanging of his show New Work With A Camera, fresh from its Los Angeles run. Yet on two visits to his Kensington studio that week, fresh canvases on the easel signalled that Hockney had returned to painting. He said: “I had to deal with the ideas that are bubbling away. Cubism is hard enough to grasp, but it’s even harder to do, which actually is why not many people have been able to do anything with it. Starting to paint again is very refreshing.”

Four days later when the resulting interview appeared in the London Evening Standard, he’d been again to the Tate and said on the telephone: “Your article is pretty much the first time I have talked about this – of course I’ve discussed these things with friends but the article does make it clear to people.”

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Hockney with fresh paintings in his London studio, July 3, 1983: so keen to deal with his new ideas, he reads aloud from a book about Marcel Proust’s theories of vision. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

He added: “You must go to the Tate retrospective [The Essential Cubism], it’s marvellous. You go from one cubist picture to another and another. In other galleries, like Moma, you might have one cubist room but go to the Tate show because you’ll never see so many cubist paintings together again. I found I began to develop this way of seeing them, it’s very rich. You do have to stand in front of the Picassos and spend time looking. When you’re physically in front of a cubist painting, once you start looking, especially the early analytical ones, it slowly reveals itself. It doesn’t pounce off the wall.”

The next day, when I returned to his studio with a camera, Hockney had begun yet another huge cubistic canvas which seriously took the breath away. It was a privilege to view the unfinished paintings with their images outlined in charcoal and he remarked that few people get to see inside the studio. I made sure to snap the 1,001 mementoes and influences scattered throughout the space suggestive of a restless imagination. The three substantial conversations I was fortunate to enjoy that week remain a turning point in my own appreciation of art. By a stroke of fate, my presence had provided the artist with a sounding board at the very moment when he urgently needed to kick around some bold new thoughts.

➢ Click through to read the full fascinating interview with Hockney, in an elision of two pieces first published in the Evening Standard, July 8, 1983, and The Face, Sept 1983

David Hockney,New Work With A Camera, photography, London, 1983

Fresh from its Los Angeles run: Invitation to Hockney’s latest show of three-dimensional photo collages in London, 1983

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➤ Another eyeopener from always-there Ridgers

photography,exhibition, Derek Ridgers

Natassia Doubleoseven, Las Vegas 2012 – photography © Derek Ridgers


❚ PUNK AND CLUB PHOTOGRAPHER Derek Ridgers has a new show titled Afternoon At The Seven Palms And Other Stories which opened this week at The Society Club in Soho.

At his blog Ridgers writes: This is my first foray into the world of a very mild form of erotica. It’s really more like naked portraits. I’m not at all sure how it’ll go down but Babette and Carrie have been very encouraging. The above photograph is of the mysterious and exotic secret agent Natassia Doubleoseven. There are two photographs of her in the show (I’d better not tell you her real name in case she has me eliminated)… The Society Club is a small but trendy cafe/ bookstore/ gallery and it’s run by Babette and Carrie, who have both been very supportive. Some afternoons I go there and have a chat and a coffee and stare out of the window … / Continued online

➢ The Society Club is at 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F OJF

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