Category Archives: History

➤ Still more unseen pix from the 1980 Blitz Club up for sale next week

ONE WEEK UNTIL YET MORE unseen Blitz Club pix by Terry Smith – this time in black and white – go on show at the Lucy Bell Fine Art gallery in St Leonards, Sussex. All for sale, various sizes, contact Lucy (pictured here) about the 7 June PV.

Blitz Club, Blitz Kids, Terry Smith, New Romantics, clubbing, Swinging 80s, fashion, history, journalism, nightlife, photography, Lucy Bell Fine Art,,
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Days 1 + 2 of Terry Smith’s unseen Blitz Club pix in colour

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Days 3 + 4 of Terry Smith’s unseen Blitz Club pix . . . plus the resulting Time magazine feature in September 1980

➢ Visit the Lucy Bell Fine Art gallery website

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1980 ➤ Day Four of Terry Smith’s unseen photos inside the Blitz Club – exclusive

Nik & Trick Photo Services, Folkestone

A New Romantics keynote was your invented image: startling make-up and a towering hat complete Blitz superstar Peter Probert’s wicked witch of the west

➢ DAY FOUR:
CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR
GALLERY OF TEN MORE FAB IMAGES
OF THE BLITZ CLUB IN 1980

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EVEN AMONG THE UK ROCK PRESS, few of its music historians have conceded that the New Romantics amounted to an ambitious subculture that changed the rules of the game – largely because the rockists completely missed the boat by idolising guitar idols, never went to nightclubs, and what’s more, couldn’t dance.

The most audible consequence of the clubbing underground was to fundamentally change the rhythm of the pop singles charts within a year – from the rock guitar to the bass-and-drum, namely, to dance music. After 1981 scarcely any significant new rock groups made the singles charts, only the old dinosaurs, if at all. Rock was relegated to the album chart and new dance-music stars such as Madonna and Prince transformed the pop music of the new decade.

The other New Romantics keynote was the central role of image with the dawn of MTV as a platform for music videos. A band became the leaders of fashion, while their style-conscious nightlife followers collaborated in promoting them through the clubbing grapevine. As synth-pop pioneers during 1980 Spandau Ballet pushed a button for the fashion-conscious young. They were signalling that the language of pop called for new styles as much as new sounds.

During the first five years of the decade, more than 100 “image bands” and acts entered the UK charts – most of them new, led in the South-East by Ultravox, Linx, Spandau Ballet, Visage, Landscape, Depeche Mode, Kid Creole, Blue Rondo a la Turk. Many more emerged from clubland across the UK: Duran Duran, Soft Cell, Heaven 17, Altered Images, Imagination, Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, ABC.

During Spandau’s North American tour in November 1983, alongside their hit True among the Billboard Top 40 singles in the USA, there were 17 other British bands – more than the Swinging 60s ever knew. Insolence and narcissism lit a torch that led a generation of school-leavers through what threatened to be Britain’s dark age of unemployment. As clubs became workplaces and nightlife the essential engine of cultural evolution, they liberated music, design and, especially, ambition for the young.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Spandau Ballet create a new template for pop success

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1968 ➤ Why Ogdens was little Stevie Marriott’s ejector seat out of the Small Faces

Small Faces, pop music, Swinging 60s

Small Faces 1968: Ian McLagan, Steve Marriott, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane, plus producer Glyn Johns

➢ As the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
turns 50 today, Ron Hart at Billboard invites stars
to pay tribute – 24 May 2018:

There was one album from 1968 that distilled all the bombast and buffoonery of the singularly themed song cycle in pop music, housed in a round LP jacket miming the vintage tobacco tin it was named after. Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was the fourth LP by East London’s Small Faces, a mod quartet who set themselves apart not only by their uniformly demure stature among its members — guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones — but their heavy influence on the grittier end of the R&B/soul spectrum that was propelling many of the British Invasion bands.

Small Faces, plaques, pop music, Swinging 60s

Green commemorative plaque to the Small Faces erected in 2007 by Westminster council in Carnaby Street

Under the recording guidance of the great Glyn Johns – who had also spent ’68 already working on a ton of other albums including Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones, the second Traffic LP and the debut from The Pentangle – the group pushed their art beyond the pop charts and toward a more adventurous strain of their signature sound. The sense of raggedness exhibited by the band upon their return from an Australian tour opening for The Who is quite palpable in the mix as well. . . / Continued at Billboard online

❏ Stevie went on to join Peter Frampton in Humble Pie – he writes in Billboard: “Ogdens’ was the best Small Faces album for me. It was just after its release that I first met Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, and there was talk of me joining the band as the fifth member as well. They were always one of my most favourite bands from Whatcha Gonna Do About It onwards. This album’s great material and concept are what made it their finest work. Its eye-catching round cover made it unique before you even heard the music. Love this record.”

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Peter Frampton on how Bowie changed my life at Bromley Tech

THE DAY WE MET OUR ICON LITTLE STEVIE

California ,pop music, Steve Marriott , Martin Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Dagger, Sam Brown

Backstage after his San Fernando gig 1983: Steve Marriott at centre of his admiring fans, clockwise, Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, John Keeble, record-company dude, Steve Dagger, Sam Brown – plus Yours Truly holding the camera

IT WAS MARTIN KEMP WHO’D HAD ENOUGH of the schmoozy dinner laid on by his record label while Spandau Ballet were touring the USA on the back of their chart-topping True in November 1983. They had a package of TV shows and other promos scheduled in Los Angeles which made a trip to join them on the West Coast more fun, but this dinner was yawning a bit. “You won’t guess who’s playing a gig tonight at a country club just up the Valley,” said Martin: “Steve Marriott!” Well you couldn’t have offered any better temptation to those of us with Mod sensibilities than our hero from the Small Faces, who back then had settled in the States and never stopped working the club circuit with his own dedicated band, however humble the venue. Since impresario Don Arden had defaulted on the Small Faces’ unpaid royalties, Stevie had moved to California to escape monstrous tax liabilities in the UK.

Within minutes Martin had inquired how far the venue was and had laid on a limo for all who were keen to zoom off to Stevie’s late-night show. These amounted to the ultimate Mod, Spandau manager Steve Dagger, drummer Johnny Keeble, Sam Brown (providing backing vocals on the tour), plus yours truly and the local record company hand-holder. The rest of the Spands had made other arrangements so our party of six squeezed into the limo and roared off up the Valley for a truly exceptional bonus to a long day.

The sad truth was that the big-name Reseda Country Club was a yawning cavern containing 1,000 seats, and the Marriott band’s audience numbered literally about 20 people including ourselves. Nevertheless, the minute his quartet hit the stage they made a sound so tight it could have thrilled a stadium, while Stevie the consummate pro delivered that oh-so-fabulous voice, albeit slightly rasping at the ripe age of 36, and brought full value to a good few piquant hits from the Small Faces and Humble Pie, including All Or Nothing.

Martin Kemp ,John Keeble, Steve Marriott, band, pop music, live, Spandau Ballet

Utterly chuffed: Martin Kemp and John Keeble stumbled by chance across this Steve Marriott gig in 1983 – that’s him live onstage here in the San Fernando Valley

I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of going down to the stage to shoot off a sentimental roll of film but the biggest surprise came at the end of easily one of the 10 best sets I’ve heard in my life. Sam Brown said since we were here we really ought to go backstage and say Hi to Stevie – whereupon the Spands all revealed the genuine humility of real fans and mumbled stuff about not dreaming of barging in on him. Whereupon Sam announced she knew Stevie very well through her dad, the 60s legend Joe Brown, who of course knew Marriott of old.

The result you see above: a fab souvenir photo of our chirpy hero who was tickled pink to hear some authentic British vowels while on the road. The pow-wow was a blast all round. Eight years later, little Stevie Marriott, one of the greatest talents in British pop, died in a blaze at his Essex cottage.

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1980 ➤ Unseen photos inside the Blitz Club, exclusively at Shapers of the 80s

Nik & Trick Photo Services, Folkestone

Never before published: Steve Strange, co-founder with deejay Rusty Egan of the legendary Tuesday night at the Blitz in London

➢ DAY ONE:
CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR
GALLERY OF TEN FAB IMAGES
OF THE BLITZ IN COLOUR

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AN ENORMOUS NEW CACHE of photographs of the Blitz Club in colour has been discovered from the spring of 1980 when the UK media started to take an interest in the Tuesday-night antics of the nightlife posers at Covent Garden’s Blitz Club. They were to become celebrated as the Blitz Kids by some and as New Romantics by others. Until this moment it has been easy to count the number of surviving professional pictures ever taken inside the Blitz during its 20-month life – all of them in black-and-white – and the total doesn’t even approach 100.

Now a call to Shapers of the 80s by the British photographer Terry Smith has unearthed probably 300 more images, commissioned by Time magazine. Many of them are in glorious colour, shedding extra light on the creativity of the night-owls who were in the throes of transforming the fashion and pop landscape of Britain in the Swinging 80s.

Shapers of the 80s today showcases the first of four batches of Terry’s pictures capturing the Blitz in colour, while a selling exhibition of his black-and-white images is preparing to open on 7 June in St Leonards-on-Sea.

➢ Terry Smith/Blitz and Pieces: Unseen Blitz Club Pictures
& 80s Bands runs 7 June–21 July 2018 at Lucy Bell Gallery,
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN38 0EJ.
Preview 7 June, 6-8pm

Nik & Trick Photo Services, Folkestone

Blitz Club 1980: Can you name these early New Romantics in the frilly-shirt posse?

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➤ V&A celebrates Steve Strange as the poser who put the pazazz into 80s nightlife

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, fashion, pop music, Swinging 80s, archive, nightlife, Steve Strange, Keith Lodwick, lunchtime lecture, V&A museum,

Giving this week’s V&A Lunchtime Lecture, May 2018: Curator Keith Lodwick in full flow. . . On-screen, Bowie’s Pierrot costume displayed in the V&A’s 2013 exhibition Bowie Is, with Steve Strange and other Blitz Kids pictured in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980

80S POP-STAR FRIENDS OF STEVE STRANGE turned out this week for a unique event at the V&A, the UK’s premier museum of art and design. The weekly Lunchtime Lecture was titled Steve Strange: From Blitz Club to Top of the Pops, and was delivered by Keith Lodwick, curator of Theatre and Screen Arts, to an audience that included singer Clare Grogan, ABC’s Martin Fry and his wife Julie, Jennie Matthias from The Belle Stars and Fifi Russell from Yip Yip Coyote. Steve’s mother Gillian Harrington and his sister Tanya had travelled from Wales with PR Amanda Lloyd to attend the occasion with other family members.

The talk traced Strange’s flamboyant life from Wigan Casino, through glam-rock and punk, to hosting a landmark club-night at Billy’s jointly with deejay Rusty Egan, then another at the Blitz in 1979–80. This was the club-night that Band Aid organiser Midge Ure has described as “the beating heart of the electronic dance music that led the 1980s.”

Strange said of his strict admissions policy on the door: “I wanted creative-minded pioneers who looked like a walking piece of art.” Indeed, the club became Strange’s own catwalk for sporting outrageous outfits by both the leading designers of the day and London’s budding fashion students. Lodwick said: “He once told a journalist ‘I am on stage 24 hours a day’. Steve, who died in 2015, remains one of the enduring figures of the New Romantic period.”

Click any pic below to view larger in a slideshow

Lodwick reminded us of the pop pantheon Strange was joining at the museum when he extended “a huge thank-you to Gill, Tanya and Amanda for being a link in the chain that enabled the V&A to acquire Steve’s archive and costumes two years ago. The family donated mainly clothes from the 2000s – including designs by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Steve’s costumes join those worn by Sandie Shaw, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, Jimmy Page, Elton John and Adam Ant.”

We watched two video clips which underlined Strange’s obsession with image-making: the music video for his band Visage’s hit Fade to Grey in which he is transformed into a snake; and a documentary in which milliner Stephen Jones suggests that berets he made for both Strange and for the Princess of Wales coupled them “as a fashion force together”.

Lodwick concluded: “Steve’s legacy will live on for being central to re-energising the club scene in London – pushing forward electronic music, fashion, photography and pop.”

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: Strange days, strange nights – first report on the Blitz from Yours Truly in 1980

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
2015, Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer, by Yours Truly

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, fashion, pop music, Swinging 80s, archive, nightlife, Steve Strange, Keith Lodwick, lunchtime lecture, V&A museum,

At this week’s V&A talk: Some of the women in Steve Strange’s life. . . From the left, sister Tanya Harrington, Monica Towner, Rachelle Boyle, Eve Ferrett, Kimbo at centre next to Steve’s mum Gill, Jennie (Belle Stars) Matthias (almost hidden at back), Wendy Tiger, Alison Graham, Amanda Lloyd far right

➢ Talks, lectures, conversations and pop-up events at the V&A

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