Tag Archives: 1970s

➤ Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 890,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly being read here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — This much-recycled account originally penned by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved. Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp responded: “A superb piece. It will be referred to historically.”

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

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Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after this heavily fictionalised life story was broadcast in 2010, Shapers of the 80s canvassed this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George myth and in doing so reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually run the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty musical Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates Slade from Bowie, the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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➤ Essential pop-cultural landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 720,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly seen here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — The much-plundered story originally researched by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved.

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after its broadcast in 2010, this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George story reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually host the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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➤ Deejay Sullivan declares war on the “Wayne and Shirley” jazz-funkers

 Blue Rondo a la Turk, Chris Sullivan

Back in the day: Zoot-suited Chris Sullivan high-stepping with his Latin band Blue Rondo a la Turk, Glasgow 1981. Christos Tolera is seen hitting a cow-bell. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ A CRACKLING EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS has given Facebook some edge this week. Legendary Wag club host, the deejay Chris Sullivan poured scorn on the term “jazz-funk” and its followers, igniting a barrage of responses from 70s fans of the Gold Mine, Caister and the Lacy Lady, sampled below.

➢ Chris Sullivan at Facebook, Nov 15: A friend of mine asked me what I played at Novikov every Sunday. I replied “jazz and funk” and he said “jazz-funk” and so horrified was I that anyone would think I play that rubbish, I recorded the start of my set for him and here it is…

♫ Listen to Sullivan’s mix – Solid funk that we love to love ♫

COMMENTERS ARE STILL LOCKING ANTLERS

Paul Carter: Nuthin wrong with jazz-funk at all – was the soundtrack to many young Londoners’ lives… The Gold Mine was one of the best clubs ever… When everyone was obsessed with punk and post punk, the really cool kids (black and white) were groovin to jazz-funk and soul. Just sayin.

Chris Sullivan: When I went to the Gold Mine it was funk but later came jazz-funk like Brazilian Love by George Duke and jazz-funkers started getting their hair permed and wearing dungarees and going to Purley All-Dayers… bloody horrible… Most true funk I love and jazz, especially Blue Note, is impeccable but jazz-funk is shite… and its emergence ruined a good little scene –  remember the Cortinas with the car stickers “Wayne and Shirley” for example, and the furry dice.

Paul Carter: Bit of snobbery there I think… and it is an opinion Chris, no more… I remember some incredible nights down the Gold Mine with Chris Hill, Pete Tong, and the rest of them – a lot of wedges but not a perm in sight – just great music – I think it’s a real shame that it’s been written out of club culture in favour of Northern soul (dull dull dull) and the West End scene in which you played such a large part. I was in both scenes and I always loved that the suburban scene was just about the music, not about the width of your turn-ups (much as I loved Le Beat Route and the rest). Oh and it was far more racially mixed too… / Continued at Facebook

FOR YOUR FUNKING PLEASURE FROM 1971:

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➤ Stomping like the 70s but with Nutter style

Nutters of Savile Row, Peter Werth, London Collections Men,fashion,Cafe de Paris,

Dance-off Wigan fashion: The finale to the Nutter-Werth men’s collection at the Café de Paris. (Videograb from milavictoria)

❚ EXTRAVAGANT AND OVERSTATED could readily describe both the whole-body dance moves of Northern Soul fanatics, and the rock-and-roll men’s tailor Tommy Nutter, the Savile Row rebel who favoured gigantic hand-rolled lapels and Oxford bags. Last week the fashionistas attending a Café de Paris “runway” show during the London Collections for men certainly caught the uninhibited exuberance of the 1970s, as the videos here show.

An unexpected collaboration between high-street retailer Peter Werth and Nutters of Savile Row produced a show of two halves. It opened with regular jackety models in skinny pants who were upstaged by an explosion of casual soulboys in knitwear and baggies. The Café’s dancefloor suddenly became the fabled Wigan Casino, about 1975, climaxing with a jack-in-the-box dance-off to the stomping beats of Luther Ingram’s If It’s All The Same To You Babe.

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All very sporty for AW13 with classy fabrics and jaunty tailoring bringing a gentlemanly vibe to the look, described by designer David Mason as “Studio 54 meets Wigan Casino” (which closed in 1981). The dancers in fact turned out to be from the cast of a debut feature film titled Northern Soul, written and directed by Elaine Constantine, about two lads swept up in the subculture when they discovered uptempo American soul music. Creating a wardrobe for the film forged the alliance between the two London design houses. The current incarnation of Nutters decided it had to reach out to a ready-to-wear audience, and Peter Werth, today owned by JD Sports, is strong on working-class savvy.

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➢ Northern Soul, the film due for release this summer
➢ Britain’s got talcum – Guardian backgrounder on training up a generation to dance in the film
➢ Soulboy, the 2010 film directed by Shimmy Marcus

THE MAN WHO GLAMORISED SAVILE ROW

❏ Tommy Nutter, the charmer and dandy whose father ran a North London caff, would no doubt have voiced some self-deprecating witticism at today’s move to widen his market. The young Nutter wanted to work for the 60s designer Michael Fish and when he bumped into him said, “Can I do something with you?” Fish said, “Don’t be silly. You’ve got your own style. Do something yourself.” Nutter died in 1992 aged 49, having designed for Elton John, David Hockney, both the Jaggers, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie (Pinups), and for three of the Beatles who wear his outfits on the Abbey Road record sleeve, likewise Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman, the 1989 film. Nutter shook up Savile Row by injecting softer cuts and bold fabrics into the bespoke man’s suit while respecting classic tailoring. His was the first shop on the prestigious Row to design for women such as his backer, the pop singer Cilla Black.

Tailor Timothy Everest concludes: “Tommy’s was a brand that people wanted to buy into but within that you could be an individual and I think that’s a very modern approach. That’s what bespoke is all about.”

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➤ Riddle of the train Bowie could not have taken in Where Are We Now?

Divided Berlin: the wall shown in black places the U-Bahn station (blue) at Potsdamer Platz inside the Soviet sector, along with the S-Bahn station (green)

Divided Berlin: the wall shown in black places the U-Bahn station (blue) at Potsdamer Platz inside the Soviet sector, along with the S-Bahn station (green)

❚ THE NEW MUSIC VIDEO for Where Are We Now? raises challenges during David Bowie’s nostalgic Berlin city tour that his fans expect to decipher. Lesser mysteries were quickly cracked this week:
1 – The woman’s face on the cuddly toy is the video director’s wife Jacqueline Humphries.
2 – The T-shirt slogan “m/s Song of Norway” refers to both a retired and renamed cruise ship (Royal Caribbean has used Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life in its commercials), and an operetta that was made into a film starring Bowie’s onetime girlfriend Hermione Farthingale who inspired a song.
3 – The closing shots of the Siegessäule (Victory Column) resonate also as the title of Berlin’s gay community magazine.
4 – The lyric’s curious non-idiomatic phrase “walking the dead” coincidentally references the title of an American drama about a transgendered person.

But the real Poirot Puzzler raised by the opening line of the song is this: *How* did Bowie “get the train from Potsdamer Platz” (incidentally, or deliberately, misspelt on screen) to reach his Berlin haunts in the 70s? Today any of us can easily take the U2 towards Nürnberger Strasse, the lyric’s next destination, where once, he sings, he would sit in the cool Dschungel nightclub frequented by assorted popstars (his favourite seat was on a balcony overlooking the bar). We can also take the S1 line south from PP to the trendy Schöneberg district where Bowie used to share rooms with Iggy Pop.

But not when Bowie lived in Berlin, during the years now identified with his Berlin Trilogy of albums, 1976-79. Why not? Because of the 12-ft high Wall, fortified with minefields, anti-tank defences and ruthlessly guarded, the symbol of communism which had divided the city since 1961. As we see from the map (above) both the stations for the S-Bahn surface train line and the U-Bahn underground line lay on the East side of the wall within the Soviet sector.

In the late 70s the site of Potsdamer Platz was a wide-open wasteland on the East of the Wall, a No Man’s Land chillingly known as the Kill Zone, where guards could gun down the continuing stream of desperate East Berliners courageous enough to make a dash for the West.

Potsdamer Platz in 1961: the postwar wasteland is divided by the Wall and was to become known as the Kill Zone

Potsdamer Platz in 1961: the postwar wasteland is divided by the first low-rise Wall and was to become known as the Kill Zone

Bowie’s workplace, the Hansa Studios where he recorded Low and Heroes, actually overlooked the Wall from the American sector, in Köthener Strasse a few yards south of Potsdamer Platz. Catching sight of two lovers near the Wall inspired the theme for the number, Heroes, in 1977, one of his most creative song-writing periods.

But Bowie could not have taken his train from either of those stations because they had been closed and barricaded when the Wall was built. Western trains continued to cross East Berlin along lines which emerged in the West but they passed through without stopping at many such stations which became known as Geisterbahnhöfe (ghost stations). Concrete collars at tunnel entrances scraped the sides of the trains to deter escapees from clinging to them. Half a lifetime later, on March 3, 1992, the S1 stop in Potsdamer Platz was the last ghost station to reopen after the reunification of Germany.

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Shock and awe verdicts on
Bowie’s born-again masterpiece

Perhaps Bowie departed from some other station? What about the 19th-century regional railway terminus called Potsdamer Bahnhof, you say? It fed ritziness into the heart of the metropolis and Potsdamer Platz became one of Berlin’s busiest traffic intersections where famously Europe’s first traffic lights were installed in 1924. The whole area was, however, laid waste during World War Two and the last trains you could have taken from this station ran in 1945.

Ah, yes but what about the innovative M-Bahn, the Magnetic Levitation line which powered south from the Philharmonie, skirting the Wall by Potsdamer Platz as it headed down to the river? Sorry, this didn’t open until 1989.

So how on earth did David Bowie take his train from Potsdamer Platz?

Is our hero indulging some romantic fantasy on behalf of an East Berliner during the 70s, making a wistful trip to the freewheeling delights of Schöneberg and the KaDeWe department store that became an attainable dream only after the fall of the Wall – as he sings, by crossing the Bösebrücke on November 9, 1989?

And why the first word of the song? Why *had* he to get this train at all? He was well-known for cycling everywhere in Berlin, such was the personal freedom he enjoyed there. And why from Potsdamer Platz?

Potsdamer Platz in 1910: looking south towards the Potsdamer Bahnhof

Potsdamer Platz in 1910: looking south towards the Potsdamer Bahnhof

JAN 16 INSIGHT FROM THE NME

❏ Bowie producer Tony Visconti says of Where Are We Now?: “To me, it’s not about the three-years he spent in Berlin in the 70s. It feels like just one day he had an epiphany walking in the street.” So there we have it. A walk in the street. Puts our post above out with the trash. Still, it painted a picture of an era that is probably unimaginable for anybody who hadn’t visited the divided city between 1961 and 1989.

When Bonn became the capital of West Germany in 1949, the war-ravaged city of Berlin grew ever more desolate, despite the handful of nightclubs where hedonism was very much defined as the antidote to the privations of daily life. The Western sectors felt like a minor provincial city with a population of 2 million, mostly consisting of the elderly, because everybody else had left to make new lives elsewhere. Just turning 30, Bowie and Iggy were among the city’s youngest inhabitants and their work as musicians was one of the few productive industries in an enfeebled economy.

Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Berlin

Nightclubbing 1977: Bowie and Iggy enjoy the Berlin nightlife

The Soviet sector, which we Westerners were privileged to visit, unlike its citizens wishing to make the opposite journey, felt tragic: rundown beyond the point of dilapidation, with high-rise Tower blocks in the brutalist Soviet style built to ease the pressure on a crowded population and signal the “modernity” of the East. As with visits to the Soviet Union, tourists were usually conscious of being followed or at least monitored by East German security personnel, and woe betide any local who behaved in an inappropriately friendly manner toward visitors! With the Stasi (state security service) relying on family members to inform on each other, the East became a society of subterfuge, with a black economy built less on cash than barter and influence at all levels of daily life.

➢ Take The Guardian’s complete tour of Bowie’s Berlin

➢ Jan 13 update: The Observer recounts his “unrepeatable time of Sturm und Drang in the shadow of the Wall”

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