Category Archives: swinging 60s

➤ A personal tale about the genius staring out from a painting expected to sell for £30m tonight

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Photography, painting, auction, Christie's London,

Being auctioned tonight at Christie’s: Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott by David Hockney (1969, acrylic on canvas). Private collection. © David Hockney

THIS MESMERISING HUGE CANVAS TITLED Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott was painted by David Hockney in 1969 and is expected to sell at Christie’s tonight for at least £30million and today is the public’s last chance to view it until 4pm. It creates an intense dialogue between Hockney and his soulmate Henry, whose hairline is the picture’s vanishing point. By chance I got to know Henry in 1977, later stayed at his house in Greenwich Village and of course had to try-out the by then fabled pale mauve sofa pictured here.

We’d met during the best holiday of my life that summer at a house party hosted by the painter Teddy Millington-Drake at his vast 17th-century villa on Patmos, the Greek Island where St John had his apocalyptic Revelation. Two dozen guests, several with their kids, had arrived either like me on the weekly boat from Athens or on their own yachts (there were no direct flights to Patmos) for what proved to be a conclave of amusing, clever and influential movers and shakers from across the international art scene who utterly changed my understanding of life, the universe etcetera.

Henry himself, a three-in-one wit, wag and Svengali, undoubtedly changed the course of modern art by shifting its centre from Paris to New York, and affirmed the credibility of the term Pop Art. While only in his 30s he became the Metropolitan Museum’s first curator for 20th-century art and in 1969 mounted the landmark exhibition of 408 contemporary American works executed between 1940 and 1970 by artists he called “deflectors” of prevailing trends, such as Warhol, Gorky, Pollock, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Stella, Johns, Hopper. It was an immediate sensation. A new canon.

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, Irving Penn, Photography, painting, Andy Warhol

My photo of Henry Geldzahler in 1981: taking receipt of Irving Penn’s new portrait of him, in his NYC cultural commissioner’s office

I met Henry again in 1981 the very day he took receipt of a new portrait of him by photographer Irving Penn. I was in NYC that May during the First Blitz Invasion of the USA when I accompanied the 21 Blitz Kids who included the synth-led Spandau Ballet and Jon (Mole) Baker’s Axiom design collective who played a gig and staged a runway fashion show to introduce Manhattan to the new stars of Swinging London.

By then Henry had become New York’s first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, appointed by the mayor Ed Koch. I visited his office at Columbus Circle and he played along when I suggested taking a souvenir snap so that my portrait of him cunningly captures him four times over: Henry in life reclining on his chaise, holding the Penn portrait, in the glass of which we see reflected the Warhol lithograph of him from 1979. Behind on an easel stands a further 1973 head-and-shoulders by Hockney (savagely cropped to maximise impact in this post).

Henry, who died in 1994, was described as the world’s “most powerful and controversial art curator”. He must also have been one of the most painted and photographed curators ever. “There are lots of pictures of Henry,” said Hockney. “He didn’t have many mirrors in his home. He knew what he looked like just by asking people to make portraits of him.”

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler, Christopher Scott, art, painting,

Masterpiece of pictorial drama (detail): the central subject in Hockney’s painting of Geldzahler and Scott stares back, evaluating the painter’s every move. (My photo)

➢ Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott is Lot 8 in the sale An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection at Christie’s London, 6 March 2019, from 7pm. Update: the painting went in three minutes flat for £33million.

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➤ Bowie TV trilogy triumphs thanks to candour and a few tears

David Bowie,pop music, TV documentary, review,

Bowie’s search for identity: the hippy look for the Hunky Dory sleeve 1971 and red-haired alien for Space Oddity 1972. (Photos by Brian Ward and Mick Rock)

WHAT AN EYE-OPENER! Nine failed bands in eleven years of struggle before David Bowie emerged as a star. “He was no Marcel Marceau,” said his mentor and lover Lindsay Kemp of David’s attempts at mime. Saturday’s TV doc Bowie Finding Fame directed by Francis Whately was chock-full of jaw-droppingly frank evaluations by all his pals and workmates from his earliest days in music. Among the kindest was his girlfriend in 1968 Hermione Farthingale who said: “He was actually 21 and looked about eight. . . He wasn’t lost, but he wasn’t found either”. For 90 minutes Bowie’s own voiceover was disarmingly full of insight too and this episode proved probably the‬ most moving of the three.

And today comes a thorough and informative appreciation of this the latest landmark documentary about Bowie’s early life in a review published by Andy Polaris, Eighties singer with Animal Nightlife, at his website APolarisView. As a fan utterly in thrall at a formative age to Bowie’s charisma, Andy brings personal insights to the final doc in Whately’s consummate trilogy for the BBC, following on from David Bowie: Five Years (2013) and The Last Five Years (2017), both being repeated live tonight from 11.15pm (despite the confusion in newspaper listings guides), and subsequently viewable on iPlayer.

Andy also adds further essential points of reference to the Bowie story omitted from the new biopic, possibly because, as its series consultant and Bowie chronicler Kevin Cann has explained this week, the production team ultimately had to exclude masses because of time limitations: “Sadly there are a few fabulous interviews we made that we couldn’t fit in – all important in their own way. . . At one point we had close on a three-hour edit. We were basically overwhelmed with options at times – and that’s exactly why future generations, I’m sure, will never be bored of this man’s immense talent. He will never cease to impress.” Another gem they discovered was the complete Russell Harty TV interview from 1973: “. . . the whole Bowie section, interview and song performances. Even though ITV erased their original master a year or two after original broadcast, the recording we have still belongs to them, so its immediate future is yet to be decided.”

➢ Meanwhile here’s an excerpt from Andy’s blog
APolarisView where he reviews Saturday’s superb doc,
Finding Fame, which starts in the mid-Sixties:

Swinging 80s, Andy Polaris,TV review, David Bowie Finding Fame,,singer,pop music,

Polaris: surprised

I came away admiring Bowie more as an artist due to his single-minded pursuit to achieve his goal and establish a career in the arts. Eleven years (which brought massive cultural changes generally) and nine different bands failed to launch his career. With such limited rewards most people would have fallen at the second or third hurdle and contemplated a different choice of career. A lot of the bands I had heard of, but the film surprised me by exhuming the music of Riot Squad (a name sounding more like a later oi/skinhead band) where he spent eight weeks as their singer in 1967.

Bowie learned quickly to jettison anyone or thing that stood in the way of his mission and made sure that he was front and centre of the action. Early associates talk of how he was the driving force behind stage performances, style and presentation and how to stand out from the crowd.

Whately’s biopic marks the first time I can remember hearing about the inspiration for Letter to Hermione (a beautiful song on Space Oddity) in a filmed interview where his former girlfriend talks candidly about their love affair and the aftermath of their break-up. In a rare moment of personal confession it reveals the crushing effect it had on David at the time and he wanted her to forever realise the hurt. . . / Continued at APolarisView

➢ Bonus clips at the BBC’s programme website:
Of the surplus footage researched for Finding Fame, Kevin Cann reports that My Death survives in full, as does the whole interview. As also does probably 90% of the 1970 Glastonbury set. “Just in case you haven’t seen them, here are some of the brief edits that came out along the way. There are many more and I hope, over time, more is made available.”

WHAT THE TV CRITICS SAID OF FINDING FAME

➢ “Whately arguably does get closer to who the flesh and blood David Jones really was than anyone has previously, largely thanks to securing interviews with an elusive cousin and a just as elusive first love” – The Arts Desk

➢ “Still think of Bowie as the last word in cool? You’ve obviously forgotten his novelty single about gnomes, his dire mime days… and his cover of Chim Chim Cher-ee” – Guardian TV review

➢ “The BBC’s ‘talent selection group’ had dismissed Bowie as ‘devoid of personality’ (ah, the irony). Yet Bowie doubled down and worked harder” – The Times review

➢ “One of the most miraculous things about Bowie is that he didn’t wind up as a drama teacher in Bromley” – Sunday Times Culture

➢ “Fascinating insight into the young singer’s quest for fame and his evolutionary struggle to burst out of suburbia” – The Telegraph review

➢ View David Bowie: Five Years (2013) at the iPlayer

➢ View David Bowie: The Last Five Years (2017) at the iPlayer

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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 David Levy, 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 David Levy. 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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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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➤ Double drama of the 60s pop dream by Ray Connolly

film, Ray Connolly, Swinging Sixties ,Radio 4, drama, That’ll Be the Day, David Essex , Ringo Starr

Now a radio drama: Poster for the 1973 film

HERE ARE TWO RADIO 4 DRAMA TREATS this Saturday 23 Sept and next at 2.30pm – first an adaptation by former Evening Standard pop columnist Ray Connolly of his 1973 film, That’ll Be the Day (which starred David Essex and Ringo Starr with cameos from Billy Fury and Keith Moon). It’s a very British coming-of-age story that keenly captures the vicissitudes of postwar austerity prevailing in the provinces as the Swinging Sixties dawned.

BBC sell: “It’s 1959 and young Jim Maclaine seems to have it all. He’s good looking and destined to go to a good university. But he’s haunted by the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was small. Is he ready for the normal life mapped out for him? Or is he restless like his old man?”

➢ That’ll Be the Day at R4 – catch up online at the iPlayer for a month

Jim’s story is followed through on Saturday 30th with Stardust. Sell: “Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar. In this sequel to That’ll Be the Day, it’s the early 1960s and Jim Maclaine is now an aspiring pop musician. He seeks out his old mate Mike, because every pop star needs a road manager. Performing to bored audiences in seedy clubs, the Stray Cats live on dreams of becoming as famous as the Beatles…” Based on the film of the same name which featured David Essex, Adam Faith, Larry Hagman and Keith Moon.

➢ Stardust at R4 – also online for a month

ALSO AVAILABLE AS PAPERBACKS

Ray Connolly, books, films

Ray Connolly’s books as spin-offs from their films

➢ Buy That’ll Be the Day as a Fontana paperback

➢ Buy Stardust as a Fontana paperback

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