Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman and Mike Stock in their heyday. (Photo: PA)
❚ DO CATCH THE SIZZLING NEW TV DOCUMENTARY about Stock Aitken Waterman, the three musical geniuses who only had to press all the right buttons for an unknown singer, and inject a dance beat into their music to create one Top 10 hit after another. From 1984 the writing/producing team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were to publish over 100 hit singles, producing and launching the pop careers of Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Bananarama, Sinitta, Princess, Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. International stars such as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Chic and Depeche Mode became external clients.
The detail of how SAW evolved their production line with Phil Harding at PWL Studios makes for awesome viewing in two programmes of 90 minutes each, the second going out on Channel 5 next Saturday. Pete Waterman compared their output to Motown in the 1960s: “Every five days we had to churn out a hit.”
➢ Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop – Catch up with the first episode on the C5 website now
Posted in archive, dance music, interviews, Pop charts, Swinging 80s, TV documentary
Tagged Channel5, Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Matt Aitken, Mike Stock, Pete Waterman, Phil Harding, Rick Astley
Bowie’s new look for 1976 when he became The Man Who Fell to Earth, here in a Haywain shirt. Photographed by Steve Schapiro and published on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine
David Robert Jones
8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016
Every January, two dates stir the souls of Bowie fans: the 8th being his birthday and the 10th the day he died. On the seventh anniversary of his death, Eighties Blitz Kid and pop singer ANDY POLARIS recalls the dramatic influence Bowie had on his early teens in the way that his fan base would also be galvanized by his art to inspire their own creative dreams. This extract comes from a much longer piece at his own website Apolarisview.wordpress.com … Andy writes:
“ Much has been written about Bowie’s Starman performance in 1972. I had begun a fascination with his image a little earlier after the Melody Maker interview, thanks to an older teenager who also had the album, Hunky Dory.
I began to spend the little pocket money I had on buying all the magazines and music papers that featured him, especially on the cover. Fab 208, PopSwop, Music Star, Music Scene and Jackie thankfully were relatively cheap and I began my scrapbook collection. Ziggy Stardust with his bold make-up and glamorous wardrobe (courtesy of Freddie Burretti and Kansai Yamamoto) was unlike anything seen before and blurred the line between sexes. This beautiful creature offered a world of possibilities to this youth already bored with football and the teenybop fandom that dominated our era. Clothes, style, identity – normal teenage rites of passage – all took on a greater importance over the next few years but now helped define a more alternative journey.
Seeking out Bowie’s references in lyrics opened a new door to imagination. His creative output eased my inner void of loneliness and probably kick-started my interest in science-fiction. Humdrum suburbia was replaced by the magical worlds of Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick, George Orwell and Robert Heinlein to a soundtrack of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs.
Scissors, Pritt Stick or Gloy Gum and a large desk were my 1970s iPad, and all that were needed, as I lovingly read and then pasted articles onto A4 note paper into a hard grey binder. This became a ritual that continued for my teenage life. I never liked to create collages because I hated cutting up articles too much and words were equally important. What Bowie was saying or what people were saying about him seemed as important as the visuals. That shape-shifting style (musically and visually) meant I never got bored and felt that I evolved along with him, my anticipation becoming almost tangible with news of a new release or a TV appearance… ”
➢ Read Andy’s full article on Bowie: First anniversary of his death and my teenage love is undimmed
Future singer Andy Polaris and Sue at Billy’s in 1978. (Photograph © by Derek Ridgers)
Posted in 1970s, anniversary, birthday, Blitz Kids, death, Fashion, London, Pop music, Youth culture
Tagged Andy Polaris, Billy’s club, David Bowie, Derek Ridgers, Freddie Burretti, Kansai Yamamoto, Man Who Fell to Earth, Steve Schapiro, Ziggy Stardust
Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the Wham video by reading my cover story on Club Culture first published in The Face in 1983 and in recent years the No 1 read at Shapers of the 80s!
❚ OVER THE PAST 14 YEARS Shapers of the 80s has received 2.2 million views, according to year-ending stats measured by our host, WordPress. Our 850+ published items total half-a-million words, which is several times more than most books, so it pays to explore the various navigation buttons. Here are the half dozen posts which remained among the most popular with readers during 2022…
➢ Photos inside the Blitz Club, exclusive to Shapers of the 80s
➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – evolution of the once-weekly party night (1983)
➢ Why Bowie recruited Blitz Kids for his Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 from the club-night founded by Steve Strange and Rusty Egan
➢ 20 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor
➢ First Blitz invasion of the US —
Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)
At the Underground club in NYC 1981: Melissa Caplan rehearses Bob Elms, Mandy d’Wit and Sade Adu for the Axiom runway show. Right, Ollie “the snip” O’Donnell goes to work on singer Tony Hadley’s hair. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s
➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)
Posted in Blitz Kids, Clubbing, Fashion, journalism, London, New Romantics, nightlife, photography, Pop music, readership stats, Swinging 80s, zeitgeist
Tagged 69 Dean Street, Andrew Ridgeley, Ashes to Ashes, Axiom fashion, Blitz club, Bob Elms, Camden Palace, David Bowie, gay kisses, Mandy d’Wit, Melissa Caplan, Ollie O'Donnell, Rusty Egan, Sade Adu, Spandau Ballet, Steve Strange, The Face, Tony Hadley, Wham!
Martin Creed meets Your Truly: at the London Art Fair last January (© selfie)
❚ THIS YEAR I ENJOYED a madcap chance meeting at the London Art Fair with Martin Creed, artist, musician and multimedia performer noted for his wayward dress sense as a living sculpture. Our paths first crossed in 2001 just before he won the annual Turner Prize for what some described as Creed’s “most notorious work” – Work No. 227: The lights going on and off – in an empty gallery. I had stumbled across his gentle but subversive wit in Paris in 1996 at an identical light display, and then back in London found his Work No. 140: A sheet of A4 paper torn up in the shop at the Institute of Contemporary Art. It cost me a tenner. A surefire investment.
Coincidentally, when Creed was nominated for the Turner Prize in June 2001, a similar piece titled A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball was reported being sold for £2,000. My boss at The Sunday Times, who knew I was a collector, insisted I interview him for News Review and ask him whether my piece was also worth £2,000. Here below you can read the feature that resulted…
Creed subsequently won that Turner Prize, and the years since then have been fertile for the audacious artist. Creed’s website lists his latest work during lockdown as No. 3725 Live at home, though he has also been actively touring the world this year. Heaven knows how the current economic dramas must be corroding the value of my torn-up £10 masterpiece.
Click on the image below to read in a new window
Martin Creed featured in The Sunday Times, 3 June 2001
➢ Visit Martin Creed’s website – with video discussion of the crumpled ball of paper
Over two weeks I watched fashion gurus Westwood
and McLaren go their separate ways. Daggers-drawn,
they both talked exclusively to the Evening Standard…
Mine were the final pix of them together
Their last dance, Paris 1983… Westwood says: “Malcolm has one more chance to be good.” McLaren says: “I’m not incapable of designing the next collection myself.” Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s
➢ Click here to read my enhanced version about the day
the King and Queen of Outrage realised
the end was nigh, in 1983
First published in the Evening Standard, 4 Nov 1983
➢ Obituary for Dame Vivienne Westwood 1941-2022 at The Guardian
➢ BBC’s in-depth tribute to Vivienne – the godmother of punk
Posted in BBC, Fashion, History, interviews, journalism, London, obituaries, Paris, Pop music, Swinging 80s, Tributes, Youth culture
Tagged Evening Standard, Malcolm McLaren, The Face, Vivienne Westwood, Worlds End