WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer was there and these words and pictures tell the tale.

David Bowie

◼︎ As a decade, the 1970s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
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Swinging 80s, London, history, blitz club, blitz kids, theblitzkids, theblitzclub, cult with no name, billy’s, gossip’s, nightclubs, fashion, pop music, steve strange, rusty egan, boy george, stephen jones, kim bowen, stephen linard, chris sullivan, robert elms, perry haines, princess julia, judi frankland, darla-jane gilroy,fiona dealey, jayne chilkes, derek ridgers, perry haines, terry jones, peter ashworth, lee sheldrick, michele clapton, myra, willy brown, helen robinson, stephane raynor, melissa caplan,Dinny Hall, Kate Garner, rachel auburn, richard ostell, Paul Bernstock, Dencil Williams, Darla Jane Gilroy, Simon Withers, Graham Smith, Graham Ball, christos tolera, sade adu, peter marilyn robinson, gaz mayall, midge ure, gary kemp, steve dagger,Denis O’Regan, andy polaris, john maybury, cerith Wyn Evans, iain webb, jeremy healy, david holah, stevie stewart, worried about the boy,Yet from this black hole burst an optimistic movement the press dubbed the New Romantics, based on a London club called the Blitz. Its soundtrack was a pounding synthesised electro-pop created for the dancefloor by a studio seven-piece called Visage, fronted by the ultimate poser, Steve Strange. He and other fashionista Blitz Kids were picked by Bowie to represent their movement in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes (above). But the live band who broke all the rules were five dandies with a preposterous name: Spandau Ballet.
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As the last of the Baby Boomers, the Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
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For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop music and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.

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“From now on, this will become the official history”
Verdict of a former Blitz Kid.

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Below: View Blitz Club host Steve Strange in all his poser glory in the promo video for Fade to Grey (1982), also starring the club’s cloakroom girl, Julia Fodor, aka Princess

CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant:

nightlife, st moritz, club for heroes,le kilt, wag club, beat route,hacienda, cha-cha, holy city zoo, rum runner, camden palace, scala cinema, studio 21,crocs, le palace, white trash, fac51, Dirt Box, mud club, batcave, barbarella's, croc's, electro-pop, synth-pop, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife, visage, duran, depeche mode, ultravox, human league, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, wham!, mclaren, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, phil oakey, jay strongman, Martyn Ware, martin fry ,altered images, 20th-century box, vivienne westwood, PX, axiom, body-map , foundry, sue clowes,demob, seditionaries, acme attractions, i-D, the face, new sounds new styles, Korniloff, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,

July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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➤ Rusty Egan: next stop, St Leonards-on-Sea?

Rusty Egan

Egan onstage at the Palladium in 2019: video grab by Willy Billiams

David Johnson, editor of Shapersofthe80s, writes:

❚ OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS the musician Rusty Egan has aimed a stream of potentially defamatory abuse against me publicly online and in emails, questioning my motives as a journalist, all fuelled by his imagination rather than fact.

In order to protect my professional reputation in the eyes of colleagues in the national media, I had, in correspondence with him and his manager David Japp of Lookbook Ltd, demanded Egan withdraw his accusations and apologise by midday today. A simple apology at Facebook would avoid consequent legal action via the courts, yet no such undertaking has been received. Both men have rejected my emails, while Egan has blocked me at Facebook.

Never mind… We’ve had a glorious bright autumn morning here in London with the trees finally stripped of their canopies and the grass bright green underfoot… So it would be a shame to spend another penny on this dismal dispute. Contrary to his recent observations, Egan’s contribution to the Eighties as a clubland innovator is well documented here on this website. As for recent years, let’s say that recollections differ, and you can gauge for yourself his progress on his page at Wikipedia.

Only the other day he was feeling wistful about taking a comfy retirement in St Leonards-on-Sea with a Rusty dog for company. Who knows…?

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2013 – Visage: out of the 80s frying pan into the 21st-century fire

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2019 – Ever wondered how Rusty Egan does what he does?

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2022 ➤ Martin Kemp on a life full of love but lacking two vital apologies

Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet, Los Angeles, pop music, live concerts,

Golden years: Martin Kemp escaping fans after Spandau Ballet played at The Palace, Los Angeles, in 1983

❚ MARTIN IS THE YOUNGER BROTHER of the two Kemps, the good-looking one with the easy charm that has opened doors into a television career that included EastEnders. Gary is the older one with such a strong sense of self that as recently as 2017 it wrecked the last of several reunions for Spandau Ballet, by shedding their talented and popular singer Tony Hadley who now thrives with his own band. In 1978 Gary had invited Martin to learn to play bass then join his former school band the Makers 18 months before it was renamed Spandau Ballet and went on to international success.

Today The Guardian interviews Martin Kemp aged 61 about his third book, Ticket to the World: My 80s Story (HarperCollins £11), which sounds more cosy than you might expect following Kemp’s distressing surgery to remove two brain tumours during the 1990s. He can’t stop telling us how much he loves everybody in his life, even after fist fights with Gary. What does he have to say about why Tony Hadley left the band in 2017, after several previous break-ups? ➢ The interviewer Paula Cocozza reports:

“It’s something that I’d never spoken to him about. But I do feel guilty when I look back.” In the book, Kemp stops short of an apology. “Oh, listen,” he says immediately. “I would apologise to Tony, absolutely, for the way that he was treated. I think it was really poor.”

Why doesn’t he pick up the phone and say all this to Hadley? He really sounds as if he wants to. But he says: “I haven’t spoken to Tony for ages. I reach out to him, but I rarely hear back. I send little messages” – he mimes texting – “if I get two words back, I’m happy.

“Tony is lovely,” he says. “He is a lovely man. I will always, always love him, in the same way I love all the rest of the band. But you drift apart, don’t you?”

Nowhere in the interview does the name of Ross William Wild get mentioned, the singer who succeeded Hadley during 2018 following Martin Kemp’s recommendation, and was silently dumped after a trial series of concerts and subsequently contemplated suicide. When might he, too, expect an apology from the band who blanked him?

Spandau Ballet, Ross William Wild, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, pop music,

October 2018: What proved to be vocalist Ross William Wild’s last outing with Spandau Ballet at the Hammersmith Apollo

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2020, Singer Ross reveals how Spandau drove him to try ending it all

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2022 ➤ After the op, Judi Frankland gets her boxing gloves on

Judith Frankland, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, fashion, cancer,

Judi Frankland at home again in Whitley Bay: at rear, the staircase in her bungalow. . . to the fore, Judi in black-and-lime kaftan (“a snip at £10.99 from E-bay”), plus some lippy at last! © Shapersofthe80s

❚ DROPPED IN FOR AFTERNOON TEA THIS WEEK with the lovely Judi Frankland, after a rattlingly fast ride to Newcastle on one of LNER’s new Azuma trains, seemingly built without any detectable suspension. You may recall Judi recently left hospital after a major cancer operation which proved very successful and had her walking 1km a day straight afterwards! She told me: “What an amazing team at the RVI hospital. I cannot thank them enough. They were a proud team and I had plenty of time to watch how brilliant they were with everyone. It makes me emotional to think about them.

“I’ve been told the road to recovery will not be short but with their continued support I will stay positive and, as you can see, I have finally put some lippy on! The question is, Who left the fabulous flowers on the doorstep? I love them and thank you.” Her neighbours in the seaside resort of Whitley Bay lavish attendance and affection on the eccentric woman with vibrant red hair who they know appeared in that David Bowie video for Ashes to Ashes. The rest of us remember her from the Blitz Club’s heyday and her all-black degree-show collection from 1980, the wedding dress from which was worn by clubland leader Steve Strange in that video.

By now I’m sitting on Judi’s sofa where she has thoughtfully supplied a bottle of Merlot to help down my cheese and biscuits, while she slurps some taramasalata aided by two smooth crackers. “You would think I’d eaten a three-course meal quickly, grrr!” No solids is the current rule while she adapts to life without much of a stomach. Ironically, her stomach remains “the size of a football” so, having been forewarned, I’d brought with me supplies of houmous and baba ganoush and tzatziki.

Judi is living now in her late mother’s home which is jam-packed with her own artsy objects and pictures occupying every inch of space, not to mention mum’s Welsh terrier Betty who has quite an appetite for attention and is today a rare breed possibly for that reason. (Runs in the family?) Ironically for a bungalow, a staircase leads to a loft. “That is the stairway to my heaven, my sewing area. When mum was doing her fairs selling antiques she wanted a place to keep her stock so she did a no-frills loft conversion which is now my sewing room, though I’ll not be going up there for a while sadly.”

Judi Frankland 1981: queuing to check her coat behind Nick Trulocke before Spandau Ballet’s Sundown concert. © Shapersofthe80s

Earlier this day a nurse had already visited to whip out a stitch. Judi said: “The nurse is taking the dressing off tomorrow, yikes, but don’t worry I won’t be showing anyone my scar – oh the thought! I can’t go far but I did go to Tesco earlier in my kaftan and compression stockings, very slowly. Hospital just rang to check on me and told me to take it one day at a time. “Dumplings? I pleaded. No not yet she said, ha!” We’re still awaiting results for my lymph nodes. They said it’s going to be a long recovery and as you can imagine I am antsy but doing as I’m told. I’ve been told to get my boxing gloves on and fight so I will do just that. Meanwhile. I’ve spoken with Macmillan, they are wonderful and are in the process of getting me a Macmillan buddy.

“I do believe I’m adopting a different attitude to life that’s more positive and healthy and I intend to make it a very creative one. Can’t wait to be well enough to start sewing.”

Before she went into hospital Judi put out a request for anyone to mix her a CD with their choice of music – “as long as it’s not jazz or Gary Barlow, I’m up for owt!” Lots of nice friends have responded so this week, she says: “I’ve been playing old punk music – that’s my mood right now and thinking of a new punk look for me when I’m finally unleashed on the world again.” Shake Some Action, Judi!

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2021, So what’s the Bowie premium as Judi’s Ashes hat goes for sale?

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2022 ➤ Steve Norman relives Spandau’s Glory days

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, Journeys To Glory Tour, TheSleevz, Pop music, live concerts,

TheSleevz live onstage at Pizza Express Holborn, Steve Norman in banter mode

❚ FOLLOWING ON THE HEELS of last month’s buzzy comeback gigs at the Pizza Express Holborn, sax-player Steve Norman announces dates for his Journeys To Glory Tour with his own band The Sleevz. They will celebrate Spandau Ballet’s debut album from 1981 whose tracks include the band’s first hit single, To Cut A Long Story Short, plus Musclebound, Reformation, The Freeze, Mandolin, Age of Blows, Confused and Toys. At that time Steve was displaying his skills as a guitar-player.

This week Steve declared: “I’ve been reminiscing about last weekend’s Holborn shows. They were two of the most joyful, exciting and yet relaxed gigs that myself and The Sleevz have performed in the past six years that we’ve been together.
I adore this venue as it’s only a stone’s throw from where I lived and grew up. And more and more, the love and participation from the fans, family and friends ensures that the basement remains our spiritual home.”

Not only did he demonstrate his supreme talents on saxophone and percussion, but his performance as lead singer has gained in strength and impact, backed by his very tight band featuring his wife Sabrina on vocals and son Jaco on bass. His medley of pop covers and a second half of Spandau classics all enjoyed fresh energy while, as ever, he shared banter a-plenty with his audience, many of whom he knows by name.

Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, Journeys To Glory Tour, TheSleevz, Pop music, live concerts,
➢ The Journeys To Glory Tour by TheSleevz offers 14 UK dates between Wokingham 30 Sept and Lancaster on 31 October

Steve Norman, David Johnson,

And after a superb gig at Pizza Express: Yours Truly set upon by an over-enthusiastic Steve Norman

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2021, Steve Norman returns with TheSleevz and a surprise royal send-off!

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