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.

➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.

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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2021 ➤ The man called Seven offers his skills to the next generation of music students

Rock music, education, Business, Seven Webster, IMCP, BA (Hons),

Seven Webster: probably the nicest guy in rock


❚ THE LAST TIME Shapers of the 80s mentioned Seven Webster, we described him as “probably the nicest guy on the entire UK music scene” and it’s with great pleasure we can now reveal his new role championing entrepreneurship in that industry.

He said yesterday: “I am extremely honoured to have been appointed an ambassador for the first ever BA (Hons) Music Business Degree in the UK. Encouraging fresh entrepreneurial spirit is the very essence of what is going to help shape, strengthen and sustain the future of music. To lend my support to future generations of creative like-minded spirits is wonderful.”

Announcing his appointment, The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) declared: “Seven is a successful and well-respected music industry professional, who has worked across various parts of the sector. The kind of entrepreneurial spirit he embodies is at the heart of our course and his insight and experience will be an invaluable asset for our students.

“His 7pm Management company has launched and managed the careers of numerous established top 40 artists and DJs over the last 30 years. This includes the likes of superstar DJs Sasha, John Digweed and Carl Cox through to the multi-million selling singer-songwriter Dido and rock band Skindred.”

Other ventures have included running music publishing companies and organising live music events. In 2015 which Seven described as “a very buoyant time for rock”, people were actively signing rock acts and wielding what he believed was “a cumulative fist”.

7pm Management, Swinging 80s, Rock music, Seven Webster, Geschlechts-Akt, Padded Cell, nightclubbing,

Seven Webster when we first met, 1983 at the Padded Cell… and as guitarist in postpunk band Geschlechts-Akt, 1984


His outfit launched a new music conference at the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Shoreditch. RockComm London described itself as “the first UK-based international rock music conference aiming to unite everyone from labels, publishers, managers, distributors, agents, promoters, manufacturers, digital aggregators, the lot”. RockComm was as an appetiser for the UK’s biggest rock music event, the Download Festival.

Seven is one of a seemingly small band of brothers who is determined to assert his creative ideals. He draws on a lifelong love of music, saying “it’s my heart and soul”, having kicked off playing guitar in a post-punk band called Geschlechts-Akt (a messy German mouthful meaning Sex Act). He is also intensely sociable and has a quip ready to account for most eventualities. As he told us at the age of 20: “I just hate staying in. I’ll go to ice-cream and jelly parties, anything.”

➢ IMCP breaks the news of Seven’s appointment

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 2015, Seven’s easy stages – from jelly parties to saviour of the rock scene

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1983, Deciphering the code of the Padded Cell

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2021 ➤ New photos to rekindle the spirit of Brummie icons Kahn and Bell

Fashion, Swinging 80s, Gary Lindsay-Moore, Kahn & Bell, Birmingham Rag Market, Damien,

Photographed by Gary Lindsay-Moore for his show It’s Not Unusual: Damien models a vintage Kahn and Bell dress


❚ ART PHOTOGRAPHER Gary Lindsay-Moore was a teenager when he caught the bus from Tamworth to Birmingham city centre to search out a boutique he had been hearing rumours about. Heading on to Hurst Street, he stepped into the emporium created by designers Patti Bell and Jane Kahn – and discovered a whole new world.

“I had no money,” he says, “but went in and there was Patti although I didn’t know it was Patti at the time. I just saw this seven-foot Amazon with massive blonde spiked hair, a massive set of heels and leather and chains. And it was ‘Oh, my goodness, this is amazing’. I felt I’d found my cultural home – this was the kind of excitement I was looking for. The significance for me was profound.”

Together, in the late Seventies, Kahn and Bell revolutionised the city’s fashion scene. They were at the vanguard of punk and new romanticism, creating hand-made clothes for a host of pop icons including Birmingham’s own Duran Duran, Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz and music and dance group Shock.

Talked of as Birmingham’s Vivienne Westwood, Kahn and Bell gave people the opportunity to dress to express. And now, 45 years after their shop opened in 1976 in the city’s emerging Gay Quarter, Gary is paying homage to their innovation with a photography exhibition featuring some of their original flamboyant clothing. The exhibition is called It’s Not Unusual as a nod to Patti’s close relationship with music stars of the era including her friendship with singer Tom Jones.

Gary set about capturing the spirit of experimentation and freedom which Kahn and Bell encapsulated in a series of new images of their creations worn by some equally dramatic models. Between July 27–30 the free show runs at Birmingham’s Rag Market, where Patti also ran a stall.

i-D Magazine,Fashion, Swinging 80s, Gary Lindsay-Moore, Kahn & Bell, Birmingham Rag Market,

Kahn and Bell profiled in i-D Magazine No 5, while Shock’s Tik & Tok are seen modelling


One challenge lay in the clothes themselves. “A minor issue was that all these clothes were quite small, like sizes six or eight,” Gary says. “A lot of the photography I do is about body positivity, acceptance and individuality and I didn’t want to just use a skinny model. I wanted people who were modelling them to have the Kahn and Bell spirit.”

Gary tracked down local models with an individual sense of flair including some of the region’s best-known drag artists such as Birmingham’s Twiggy, who had a personal reason for wanting to be involved, having worked for Kahn and Bell in the past.

“I’m not trying to update pictures of Kahn and Bell which already exist,” Gary says. “It’s about putting my spin on the show, so all the models I’ve pictured did their own make-up although we talked about it beforehand to make sure it reflected the make-up of the time. There is lots of make-up, glitter and stick-on gemstones. They all look amazing.”

“I like pictures that work with sub-levels, so I’ve included some references people might spot. Patti and I are both big fans of the film Blade Runner and in one of my favourite scenes in that film there are lots of mannequins so I’ve added mannequins to some of the pictures as a tribute.

“I’m going to be there in the Rag Market and am happy to chat to people, especially those who don’t already know Kahn and Bell who can ask questions and then do a bit of research themselves. We have so much information at our fingertips now but 45 years ago it was all word of mouth.”

Gary has created a book around the project and has already presented Patti with her copy as a recent birthday present.

Birmingham, Fashion, Swinging 80s, Kahn & Bell,

Kahn and Bell in their early years, courtesy of Patti’s son Dylan Gibbons


➢ Prints of his images will also be available to buy on Gary’s website

❚ It’s Not Unusual runs July 27–30, 9am–5pm, at St Martin’s Rag Market, Edgbaston Street, Birmingham B5 4RB (tel 0121 464 8349)

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2021 ➤ Who can identify the face in this Bowie painting up for auction next week?

David Bowie, Cowley Abbott, discovery, Dead Heads,auction, paintings,

David Bowie’s collage DHead XLVI: portrait of an unidentified person… and the characteristic Bowie signature on the back

Updated on 25 June 2021
❚ A PAINTING BY SUPERSTAR DAVID BOWIE was found last summer in a thrift store for household goods and bought for just five dollars. Today it was put up for auction online and its top estimate of £7,200 was soon exceeded by four times that amount [19 June update]! After more than a week of bidding it sold on 24 June for £63,269 – a nine-fold increase on the upper estimate. The Canadian auction house hosting the online sale has not been able to identify the subject who is likely to have been among Bowie’s circle of friends during the Ziggy Stardust era as well as the mid-1990s when the painting was made. Take a guess and mail contact [a t] shapersofthe80s.com if you know who the friend might be. (Early guesses by a former UK Blitz Kid include Dana Gillespie and Lindsay Kemp – the gender of the subject is ambiguous.)

➢ Toronto’s local newspaper BayToday reports on
how the bargain was discovered. . .

Jeff Turl writes It’s every bargain hunter’s dream… paying next to nothing but scoring big time. The buyer picked up the treasure, left in a pile of discarded goods in a thrift store, for just $5. The painting is valued at $12,000 (£7,200 GBP), its upper estimate, at Cowley Abbott’s International Art Online Auction from June 15-24.

The painting is titled, D Head XLVI and is a small 24.8 x 20.3 cm acrylic and computer collage on canvas, dated 1997. “The consignor of the painting was astonished upon viewing a label which read David Bowie and realized it was the signature of the artist inscribed on the reverse,” says Andrea McLoughlin, Cowley Abbott spokeswoman. The painting’s female owner has not been identified.

David Bowie, Cowley Abbott, discovery, Dead Heads,auction, paintings,

Bowie’s DHead XLVI as Lot 27 in the Cowley Abbott sale – its top estimate well exceeded within four days

“Many people may not know that Bowie enjoyed painting, and between 1994 and 1997 he created a series of approximately 45 works on canvas which he titled Dead Heads (or D Heads), each with a different non-sequential Roman numeral,” explains McLoughlin. “The sitters ranged from band members, friends and acquaintances and there were also some self-portraits. It has been suggested that, for some of these important paintings, Bowie drew inspiration from the Ziggy Stardust era. With long hair and a pronounced profile, this energetic and enigmatic portrait is truly a rare representation from a celebrated artist.”

Paintings by the late music icon are rarely seen at auction, with the most recent sale of artwork from the D Head series fetching $32,000 USD ($38,861CDN) at an auction in the United Kingdom in 2016… / Continued at Baytoday.ca

➢ Cowley Abbott’s International Art Online Auction
ran from June 15–24 when bidding for Lot 27, Bowie’s DHead XLVI, closed at 02:15 PM EDT. The painting achieved an astonishing $108,120 CDN (£63,269 GBP). This echoes Sotheby’s 2016 sale of Bowie’s own modern art collection, when most established artists’ prices were inflated by a substantial “Bowie premium”.

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2021 ➤ Spandau’s Gary Kemp goes solo with a love song for the Radio 2 audience

InSolo, Ahead Of The Game, Gary Kemp, solo, Spandau Ballet, pop music,

Gary Kemp at 61: new suit too on his taster for the solo single

“Don’t you love it when your heart isn’t making sense?
Running on the power of innocence…”

❚ TODAY WE GOT TO HEAR Ahead Of The Game, the new single from singer-songwriter Gary Kemp who goes solo more than two years after his pioneering 80s band Spandau Ballet last performed live. At the age of 61, Kemp describes the song as a love-song for his wife, inspired by Yacht Rock – previously known in the 1970s-80s as West Coast AOR – in other words yuppy escapism with a lush orchestral presence. “I wanted to write a big feelgood song. I unashamedly love elements of Yacht Rock. I don’t like writing songs unless I feel they’ve got a hook in there somewhere so they’ve got hooks. There is a big sound on the album.”

The single was premiered today before Kemp was interviewed by Steve Wright during In The Afternoon on BBC Radio 2 (fast forward online to 2h40m). An album titled InSolo follows on in July on the Columbia label, only Kemp’s second since Little Bruises in 1995.

LISTEN HERE TO Ahead Of The Game


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TWEET FROM CRITIC NEIL MCCORMICK

❏ That was a really lovely dive into Gary Kemp’s very long awaited forthcoming sophomore solo album (just 26 years after the first). Shades of Steely Dan, Pink Floyd & Gary Moore mixing it up with the smooth Spandau prog soul. Lush.

InSolo, Ahead Of The Game, Gary Kemp, solo, Spandau Ballet, pop music,
➢ Pre-order Gary Kemp’s album InSolo at Amazon
➢ InSolo group at Facebook

SPANDAU BROTHERS LORD IT
ON THE HIGH STREET

Marks & Spencer, Martin Kemp, Roman Kemp, modelling

In a Marks & Spencer window: Father and son Martin and Roman Kemp model shirts

 Waitrose, Gary Kemp, interview

In the Waitrose Weekend magazine: Gary Kemp at home in his library

Posted on 21 June 2021
❚ FROM HUMBLE WORKING-CLASS BOYS to self-made taste-makers. . . Above, we see Martin Kemp looking snappy in the window of Marks & Spencer with his Capital Radio deejay son Roman, while their own unique double act finds other outlets advertising Volkswagen cars, chatting on their Weekend Best show for ITV and Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox. . . Further along the high street Mart’s brother Gary Kemp marks his 60th year with an intensely personal solo album and this interview in the current Waitrose Weekend magazine, pictured here at home in his library. . . Onwards and upwards.

GARY KEMP SEES HIS SOLO ALBUM
AS SEVERING THE PAST

BBC Breakfast, interview Gary Kemp,

Gary Kemp today: “If I write lyrics first then they’re for me”

Posted on 7 July 2021
❚ INTERVIEWED ON TODAY’S BBC Breakfast show Gary Kemp – essentially promoting his new album InSolo – explained why it’s been 25 years since his last solo album:

I didn’t feel the need to do that… I always felt connected with Spandau Ballet, and even though we went through all those troubles and fights then getting back together, everything I was writing was put away for them. And it wasn’t until I started working with Nick Mason from Pink Floyd that I really felt I could sever the past and while on that tour I started writing lots of lyrics and if I write lyrics first then they’re for me and they were about me. Then when I got back from tour I set them to music. I wasn’t going to make the album but when lockdown came it was, Right I’d better finish this.

I was at home working remotely and getting in touch with artists which no one had ever done before – Roger Taylor from Queen said Yes I’ll play on one of your tracks. So I worked remotely with him and other bass players and started to build the album and when the studios reopened in the summer we managed to get in and do a lot of stuff for real.
➢ Watch today’s nine-minute interview with
Gary Kemp on BBC Breakfast

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➤ Duran reveal secrets behind their songs

Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon, pop music, anniversary, live concerts, Radio2,

Primed for action in 2021: Roger, John, Simon and Nick

15 APRIL UPDATE: These Duran40 shows were originally
planned for broadcast in April. They are now planned
for broadcast on Radio 2 at 9pm on Saturday 8 & 15 May.

40
YEARS
ON

NEXT MONTH Duran Duran talk in depth to super-fan Claudia Winkleman about their biggest hits and best-loved tracks, to celebrate 40 years together as a band. Each member of the group reveals secrets about the songs and Simon Le Bon gives a rare insight behind the lyrics that he has penned. The guys take us through their catalogue along with chat from Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers and more. Tune into BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 8 May at 9pm and again Saturday 15th for another hour’s worth.

Duran Duran was formed in Birmingham by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor in 1978 and in 1980 happily joined the New Romantic Scene. The group have sold over 100 million records and have had over 14 singles in the UK Top 10. They recently dropped a tribute cover of David Bowie’s Five Years with Mike Garson on piano, none of them looking a day over whateva.

LIVE SHOWS THIS AUTUMN

➢ Duran Duran’s show at Scarborough Open Air Theatre has been rescheduled to Friday 17 September 2021. Original tickets remain valid for the new date and final tickets are on sale now.

➢ Duran Duran’s show at the Isle of Wight Festival has now been rescheduled to Sunday 19 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now. All existing tickets will remain valid for September so please keep hold of them. If you cannot make the new dates please contact your ticket provider for a refund.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Celebrating 40 years since Duran’s debut single Planet Earth hit the charts

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