Tag Archives: We Can Be Heroes

➤ Essential pop-cultural landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 720,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly seen here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — The much-plundered story originally researched by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved.

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after its broadcast in 2010, this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George story reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually host the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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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.

CLICK ANY PIC TO LAUNCH CAROUSEL:

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➤ Another knees-up while Amazon discounts We Can Be Heroes second edition

The reviewers said: “A gorgeous history of 80s London clubland” (Alex Petredis, Guardian) … “fascinating and definitive” (Robert Spellman, Sunday Express)

Graham Smith,Chris Sullivan, books,photography, youth culture, We Can Be Heroes , Swinging 80s, clubbing❚ TOMORROW SEES ANOTHER launch party, this time at 1980’s breakaway New Romantics nightspot St Moritz in Soho to celebrate publication of the second (unlimited) edition of the 320-page coffee-table photobook that chronicles the creation of 80s clubbing through Graham Smith’s eye-witness photography, and racy commentary from Wag club host Chris Sullivan. Read the full background to the characters behind the book We Can Be Heroes at Shapersofthe80s. On sale for £35 from its publisher Unbound, or discounted to £25.50 at Amazon (an even cheaper pre-publication offer has finished).

➢ View Shapersofthe80s’ videos of Chris Sullivan telling his “Ribald tales of excess” from the Blitz era

➢ More 80s yarns on video from Robert Elms

➢ Catch-up list of links to all last year’s publicity shenanigans

Making up the rules of 80s clubbing: Robert Elms, Phil Dirtbox and Chris Sullivan at last year’s exhibition of Graham Smith’s nightlife pictures. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

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➤ Rolling Stone puts Ziggy on its cover but has nothing new to say about ‘How Bowie changed the world’

❚ THERE’S A BREATHLESS FOUR-PARAGRAPH teaser online at Rolling Stone magazine’s website in an attempt to sell the February 2 issue. It’s headlined How David Bowie Changed The World. Yet it promises nothing we haven’t read a million times before. Instead, try our own tribute on Bowie’s 65th birthday, linked further down this post.

Rolling Stone magazine, David Bowie,Bowie changed the world, Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock, Major Tom,We Can Be Heroes,Angie Bowie, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Bowie's Bequest, ➢ Here’s the best Rolling Stone can find to say about Bowie:

He phoned Angela in London, asking for her help: witches intended for him to impregnate one during Walpurgis Night. He later said Satan was living in his indoor swimming pool. David needed an exorcism (“I really walked into other worlds,” he later said), and Angela got him one – though it was by way of a long-distance phone call. “David was never insane,” Angela wrote. “The really crazy stuff coincided precisely with his ingestion of enormous amounts of cocaine, alcohol and whatever other drugs.” In any event, the rite may have helped break Bowie’s fear of a fiend possessing him. “It was time to get out of this terrible lifestyle I’d put myself into, and get healthy,” he later said. “It was time to pull myself together … / Continued online at Rolling Stone

❏ Update Feb 8: Now this Bowie issue has reached the UK, Mikal Gilmore’s account of the Ziggy phenomenon proves a workmanlike retelling of the familiar, but is oh-so relentlessly downbeat. He even cites an alleged quotation from 1998: Bowie is supposed to have said that, “Without Iman, I’d have put my head in the oven by now”. It’s a cheap shot because the quote has never been attributed, so counts for nothing more than hearsay. Rolling Stone claims a circulation of 1.45m.

David Bowie, 65th birthday, New Romantics, Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock
➢ Here’s what Shapersofthe80s had to say on his recent birthday:

As a cultural lightning rod Bowie has bequeathed insights into the realm of the imagination. As a performer he has delivered a repertoire of life-skills through a cast of mythical personalities invented for himself as a popstar, from the self-destructive Ziggy Stardust and the amoral Thin White Duke, to his romanticised “Heroes” (his own quote marks added to emphasise self-awareness). Through their formative years, Bowie invited his acolytes to do A…. and B…. and C…. / Read on to discover what

➢ With 12 early videos, Shapersofthe80s asks where each of these turning points in Bowie’s career might otherwise have led him

➢ Try also Strange Fascination by David Buckley (2005) — “One of the most authoritative Bowie books you’re ever likely to read” (Mojo)

➢ The Complete David Bowie, by Nicholas Pegg (2011) — “I can’t imagine how this book could be better… the definitive read for Bowiephiles” (Uncut)

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2012 ➤ If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie what would have become of the rest of us?

What, me, pensioner? David Bowie and his wife the supermodel Iman attend the DKMS Annual Gala in New York City last April. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty)

David Bowie, 65th birthday, New Romantics, Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock
❚ HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR BOWIE. And thanks for the boggling, inspirational, poptastic ride so far —140 million albums sold and the rules of rock rewritten. You will be the genie waiting at the end of time. Boy George has this to say in his foreword to Graham Smith’s new book on 80s clubland, named after David Bowie’s song We Can Be Heroes: “Of the New Romantic moment I have always said, It was all Bowie’s fault.” What he refers to is the Bowie bequest to the teen generations he entertains. As a cultural lightning rod he has bequeathed insights into the realm of the imagination. As a performer he has delivered a repertoire of life-skills through a cast of mythical personalities invented for himself as a popstar, from the self-destructive Ziggy Stardust and the amoral Thin White Duke, to his romanticised “Heroes” (his own quote marks added to emphasise self-awareness). Through their formative years, Bowie invited his acolytes:

✰ to explore identity, androgyny, the primacy of the visual.

✰ to adopt stances: individualism, alienation, decadence, transgression.

✰ to follow his principles for living amusing lives: disposable identities, portable events, looks not uniforms, tastelessness “on purpose”.

David Bowie, Heroes,His signature tune, “Heroes”, still echoes today as a heart-stirring anthem because he was passionate and optimistic and musically this number is brimming with awe. He sang about intimacy and love triumphing over the horrors of the outside world. Finding joy in simple pleasures could make heroes of us all, “just for one day”. As a creed to live by, it has underpinned his own life. “I’m an instant star,” he said. “Just add water and stir.”

Were he still living in the UK, today’s birthday would designate him, in the idiom, “an old-age pensioner”, and the state would pay him slightly more than the five shillings a week handed over when the scheme began 100 years ago. He can’t be 65, you’re saying as you inspect the picture of him and his wife Iman [above] at a leukemia charity gala in New York last year. He looks too good for 65. “Waddayamean?” he’d be bound to snap, flinging back the old feminist line, “This is how 65 looks in the 21st century.”

True, if you start young, break the rules and push yourself to the max, as all geniuses do. While in short trousers, the little suburban Londoner David Jones was nothing if not prolific. At 11 he was playing a skiffle bass, buying and collecting the NME for future reference, learning the sax at 13 and soon moving up through a succession of bands: Konrads, Hookers, King Bees, Manish Boys, Lower Third, Buzz, and Riot Squad.

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At school he fell under the spell of an art teacher, Owen Frampton, whose own son Peter went on to musical fame. Bowie has said: “I went to one of the first art-oriented high schools in England, where one could take an art course from the age of 12. Three-fourths of our class actually did go on to art school.”

Everybody knows how this liberal education shaped his outsider stance, how he redefined glam-rock, and how his incarnation as Ziggy Stardust made him an international star and one of the most iconoclastic forces in 70s music. How much more fun though to celebrate a grand milestone by looking back to the earliest expressions of that genius and to wonder aloud how else might the talents of the young David Jones have developed? Today, we find whole chapters of his formative experiments on video online, from mime artist and music-hall hoofer, to actor and fin-de-siècle soothsayer. In all the springboard moments pictured in the slideshow above, Bowie is no older than 24. At any moment the fickle finger of fate could as easily have pointed in any number of directions…

➢ VIEW a dozen video turning points
in David Bowie’s early career 1965–1974

INSTEAD, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED

In 1969 Bowie’s manager Kenneth Pitt proposed to showcase his talents by producing a half-hour film called Love You Till Tuesday. The compilation showcased tracks from his 1967 debut album, plus a spanking new song, Space Oddity, which introduced Major Tom and became his first hit. Cleverly anticipating the first Nasa Moonwalk in 1969, the filming for this number pastiches Stanley Kubrick’s cine-epic premiered the previous year. It effectively proposed what today we call the promo video which, as Kevin Cann reveals in his exhaustive 2010 Bowie biography Any Day Now, remained substantially unseen by the public until its release as a clip in 1984. The whole half-hour showreel went online for the first time only yesterday…

THEN HE MET WILLIAM BURROUGHS

David Bowie , William Burroughs

1973: Bowie is interviewed for Rolling Stone with novelist Wiliam Burroughs and photographed by Terry O’Neill

THEN HE MET LIZ TAYLOR

David Bowie , Liz Taylor, Terry O'Neill

1975: Bowie meets Hollywood legend Liz Taylor. Photographed by Terry O’Neill

THEN HE WROTE A SONG WITH JOHN LENNON

David Bowie , Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Grammys

1975: At the Grammys, Bowie upstages Yoko Ono and John Lennon — one day he gets jamming with David in a studio and turns a lick into the song Fame

AND THE REST IS, WELL, BOWIE…

➢ Radio 2’s clips from Inspirational Bowie at iPlayer — Marc Almond: “I climbed over the orchestra pit and David Bowie took my hand. He sang Give me your hand in Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide and it was an epiphany”

➢ Happy 65th Birthday Bowie: BBC 6Music audience curates a playlist of favourite tracks, on iPlayer until Jan 13

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