Category Archives: Chronology

2017 ➤ “It may be false, It may be true” – The life and times of Christine Keeler

Christine Keeler, John Profumo, politics, sex, scandal, obituary, Lewis Morley, Terry O’Neill, Swinging Sixties,

Immature? Alternative unused shot of 21-year-old Christine Keeler from the famous 1963 photo session in Lewis Morley’s Greek Street studio. . . Right, in 1990, a fully-clad Keeler returned to the pose she made famous for a photograph taken by Terry O’Neill

“THEY NEVER STOPPED CALLING ME A PROSTITUTE.” So said the notorious “showgirl” who helped bring down a Tory government, quoted in today’s impressively well rounded Times obituary of Christine Keeler who has died aged 75. Despite posing naked for a now definitive photograph on a plywood chair in 1963, she fell victim to the mores of those times in the whole sex-and-spying soap opera enacted by a cast of deeply sleazy characters. Found guilty of perjury, she was sentenced to nine months in prison.

“Her only real crime was immaturity,” according to The Times obituarist. The war minister John Profumo lied “again and again” throughout the scandal, also according to The Times, whose own editor back in the day thundered that adultery “is a moral issue”. Well worth reading as a comprehensive slice of social history just as the Sixties began to swing.

Christine Keeler, John Profumo, politics, sex, scandal, obituary, Lewis Morley, Terry O’Neill, Swinging Sixties

Telling her own story – News of the World from June 1963

➢ The Telegraph has a moving tribute from Keeler’s son, Seymour Platt – He says: “I don’t think there is any celebrity or star or interesting person from that era who she didn’t meet.”

“IT MAY BE FALSE,” SINGS DUSTY

❏ One sympathetic reappraisal of Keeler’s reputation came with the powerful 1989 feature film Scandal directed by Michael Caton-Jones who created an even-handed and realistic evocation of the saga, with an immaculate cast. Best of all for pop-culture fans was its title track by the Pet Shop Boys who had the brilliant notion of bringing Sixties icon Dusty Springfield out of retirement and she rendered the vocals beautifully. Among a classic collection of tunes for the soundtrack, Chubby Checker even re-recorded The Twist because his original had been embargoed for rights reasons.


This video compilation intercuts clips from the film Scandal with authentic news footage of the rum cast implicated in the Profumo affair of 1963, all overdubbed with Dusty who sings the film’s soundtrack, Nothing Has Been Proved. And yet, nothing about the story was fake by today’s standards.

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2014 ➤ Spandau together again as their ‘surprise’ movie is slated for Texas premiere

Spandau Ballet, Botanic Gardens, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Birmingham.

Kilted leaders of the New Romantics in 1980: Spandau Ballet plus their entourage of Blitz Kids travelled to Birmingham’s Botanic Gardens to play their eighth live date. (Photograph by Shapersofthe80s)

[Updated Feb 12]

❚ WITH A TITLE AS ZEALOUS AS any of their New Romantic songs from 1980, Soul Boys of the Western World is the documentary movie about the time Spandau Ballet became the musical leaders of London’s underground clubland. For two years they were the trendiest creatures on the planet as they reshaped British music and fashion, believe it. The 102-minute biopic is to be premiered on March 12 in the 24 Beats Section of the prestige new-media conference SXSW in Austin, Texas, running March 7–16. To complete the first reunion of the whole band since their 2010 tour ended, singer Tony Hadley will be flying out to join Gary, Martin, John and Steve at the screening.

Fans who imagine they can gate-crash, however, will be seriously stymied by the price of registration for the film programme which increases to $650 the later you book. Before travelling to Austin, Spandau fans are advised to ensure they have secured a ticket. Hints from the Spandau team suggest there may be more news soon.

Spandau Ballet, New York, Underground club, 1981

1981 footage found: Spandau’s first New York performance recovered after this cameraman was traced. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

The film contains no present-day pontificating from the band’s famously garrulous entourage of talking heads, only through vintage film footage telling their story as it unfolds. Steve Dagger, Spandau’s manager and its sixth member since the band was created and now the film’s co-producer, is impressed and excited by the extensive research which has been fanatically pursued for the past three years. Initiated by archive producer Kate Griffith, this has turned up many true gems of previously unseen footage even of the landmark “First Blitz invasion of America” with the Axiom fashion collective in 1981 which was located in only the past three months. Offcuts from footage of the band’s followers shot in Le Kilt club for BBC Newsnight were also discovered in a box that remained unopened for 30 years. There are also clips from the band’s home movies.

Songwriter Gary Kemp is over the moon at the painstaking finesse of the production led by Scott Millaney, one of the iconic producers of 80s pop videos. Kemp said last week: “People should be really knocked out by some of the material we’ve discovered.”

Director George Hencken aims to takes audiences through the cultural, political and personal landscapes of Britain as the Swinging 80s burst from the recessionary gloom of the 70s. Soul Boys Of The Western World explores life inside the bubble of global superstardom when British pop music ruled the world. Spandau Ballet themselves believe the film to be “a brutally honest story of how friendships can be won, lost and ultimately regained”.

documentary, film, Soul Boys of the Western World, Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Texas, premiere, pop music, Swinging 80s, London, fashion, nightclubbing, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,

Nomad warriors on the streets of north London, 1981: Spandau Ballet dressed for their Musclebound video. Martin Kemp called his the Mad Monk outfit. (Promotional pic for the documentary film, Soul Boys of the Western World)

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➤ Index of posts for January

Boy George, John Themis, Bishop Porfyrios , icon,

Two-way exchange: Bishop Porfyrios reclaims his church’s 300-year-old icon of Christ in London, while as a thankyou, Boy George receives a modern version of Christ Pantokrator (right) from composer John Themis. Photo © AP

➢ George Michael celebrates his golden years of Faith

➢ Reliving the Blitz: two pocket fanzines and a request from Rusty Egan

➢ “Too posh for pop” — Grandpa Waterman condemns two decades of musicmakers

➢ 1981, Why naked heroes from antiquity stood in for Spandau on their first record sleeves

➢ Ferry backed by three bass players, Roxy back on the road — how cool is that?

Japan pop group, Mick Karn, Hammersmith Odeon , 1982, Sounds ,Chris Dorley-Brown

Karn onstage at Hammersmith Odeon, November 17, 1982: Japan’s final UK tour. Photographed for Sounds © by Chris Dorley-Brown

➢ 1981, The day they sold The Times, both Timeses

➢ George makes saintly gesture over stolen icon

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

➢ Life? Tough? At the Blitz reunion, Rusty delivers a message to today’s 20-year-olds (TV news video)

➢ The unknown Mr Big behind London’s landmark nightspot makes his return to the Blitz

➢ Va-va-vooom! goes the world’s smallest portable record player

➢ F-A-B! Thunderbirds stamps are go!

➢ Julia and Gaz share their secrets for ageing disgracefully

Return To The Blitz , Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Red Rooms, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Motormouths back in action: Strange and Egan interviewed on BBC London news in the club where they once reigned. Such were members’ powers of self-promotion at the Blitz, Egan said, that it was the 80s equivalent of Facebook Live!

➢ 2011, Strange and Egan return to the Blitz to kick off the 20-tweens

➢ 200 new acts tipped for the new year in music

➢ Most popular bits of Shapersofthe80s during 2010

➢ Farewell Mick Karn, master of the bass and harbinger for the New Romantics

➢ Prescott says Postlethwaite’s Brassed Off speech inspired New Labour in 1997

➢ Discover Ubu while Christopher Walken takes flight to Fatboy Slim

➢ Happy New Year from Frosty The Snowman and The Ronettes — and hear the smash that changed the sound of 60s pop

➢ List of posts for December 2010

The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Frosty the Snowman, Be My Baby, Wall of Sound, 1963

The Ronettes in 1963: beehive hair-dos and producer Phil Spector

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2010 ➤ Index of posts for December

Duran Duran, 80s, pop

The early Duran Duran: discovered by invitation in 1980

➢ 80s shapers win 2010 New Year Honours for fashion, music and walking in space

➢ 1980 secrets revealed about the SAS, arming Afghanistan and death of the tanner

➢ 1980, As Spandau play in Heaven, all around we can hear the new sounds of 1981

➢ 1980s, So many shapers shaped the decade that people think was all down to Margaret Thatcher — key books of the year

John Lennon death, Daily Mirror, people magazine, 30th anniversary
➢ What larks! Festive fun and games and British ways to make merry

➢ A jolly festive tree by Andrew Logan

➢ 2010, Duran no turkey: here’s the Bacofoil video and two new tracks premiered at East Village Radio

➢ 1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

➢ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices

➢ Whatta they like? Essex reality stars shake their vajazzles in the face of Hollywood

➢ 1980, The Lennon we knew: unfulfilled talent with a genius for making friends the world over

Adam & The Ants, David Bowie, Swinging 80s,Top Of The Pops
➢ 1980, The week the Swinging 80s clicked into gear

➢ Live online now, mad hatter Stephen Jones

➢ This £5m iPhone has to be a spoof! Yes, that’s $7.8m or €6m or 52m Chinese Yuan or 245m Russian Rubles

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1918 ➤ War: the 20th-century way to build a new world

We Are Making a New World,  Paul Nash,Imperial War Museum,Robert Hughes, Shock of the New

We Are Making a New World, 1918: war artist Paul Nash’s ironic vision of the Western Front (Imperial War Museum, London)

❏ Robert Hughes laments the effects of war in The Shock of The New, his 1980 BBC series on modern art (6 minutes)

Robert Hughes , Sylvia Shap,Smithsonian Institute

Robert Hughes (1981): detail from portrait of the critic by Sylvia Shap (Smithsonian Institute)

❚ “IF YOU ASK where is the Picasso of England or the Ezra Pound of France, there is only one probable answer: still in the trenches.”

In 1980 the no-nonsense art critic Robert Hughes was standing in the former waste-land created in France by sustained bombardment between 1914 and 1918. He was presenting the milestone TV epic, The Shock of the New, which spanned the 20th century in eight hour-long episodes described recently by one critic as “the greatest series on art ever made”. Just as Jacob Bronowski’s powerful documentary series The Ascent of Man had transformed how new generations thought about science in 1973, so too did the Australian-born Hughes for art.  He had already been the critic for the weekly Time magazine for ten years, and the insight, wit and accessibility evident in his TV series confirmed his status as the world’s leading voice on contemporary art.

“World War One destroyed an entire generation,” Hughes maintained in episode two, titled The Powers That Be. “We don’t know and we can’t even guess what might have been painted or written if the war had never happened. As for the waste of minds, we know the names of some who died: among the painters, Umberto Boccioni, Franz Marc, August Macke; the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brezska; the poets Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen. But for every one whose name survives there must have been scores, possibly hundreds of those who never had a chance to develop.”

Guillaume Apollinaire ,Henri Rousse

Muse Inspiring the Poet (1909): Henri Rousseau’s painting of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and Marie Laurencin (Art Museum of Basle)

Today being Remembrance Sunday — the closest to “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918 when the Allies confirmed the cease-fire by signing an Armistice — the BBC not only recalled “the pity of war” through the familiar poems of England’s romantic realists Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Radio 4 also shocked us with a slice of the French poet so avantgarde as to bravely interlace his awe at the nightmare spectacle of the trenches with themes of eroticism, mechanization and other modernist speculation — Guillaume Apollinaire, the man who gave us the word surrealism. He too had sustained a serious shrapnel wound fighting in the trenches, and died just before Armistice Day.

“Ah Dieu! que la guerre est jolie,” he declared in 1915, which can be roughly translated into English as “Oh! What a lovely war” but unlike the anti-war stage musical of that name created by English Theatre Workshop producer Joan Littlewood, and the subsequent film, Apollinaire’s line was devoid of irony. His first war poem, The Little Car written in August 1914 after he’d driven into Paris to find mobilisation being announced, contained these prescient lines:

We said farewell to an entire epoch
Furious giants were rising over Europe
Eagles were leaving their eyries expecting the sun
Voracious fish were rising from the depths
Nations were rushing towards some deeper understanding
The dead were trembling with fear in their dark dwellings

Dogs were barking towards the frontiers
I went bearing within me all those armies fighting
I felt them rise up in me and spread over the regions through which they wound
The forests and happy villages of Belgium
Francorchamps its l’Eau Rouge and its springs
A region where invasions always take place
Railway arteries where those who were going to die
Saluted one last time this colourful life
Deep oceans where monsters were stirring
In old shipwrecked hulks
Unimaginable heights where man fights
Higher than the eagle soars
There man fights man
And falls like a shooting star

Within me I felt skilful new beings
Building and organising a new universe
A merchant of amazing opulence and prodigious stature
Was laying out an extraordinary display
And gigantic shepherds were leading
Great silent flocks that grazed on words
While every dog along the road barked at them

➢ Listen to Radio 4’s Oh What a Lively War — Martin Sorrell explores the work of Guillaume Apollinaire
➢ The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change
— Robert Hughes’s book updated and still on sale

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