Tag Archives: Evening Standard

1980 ➤ Rik and pals detonate a timebomb beneath another kind of strip for Soho

On this autumn day 30 years ago, a handful of comics in their twenties broke free from the bear-pit formula of the Comedy Store, which had opened in London in 1979, modelled on its Hollywood precursor. These soon-to-be-famous clowns were angry with Britain’s complacency in the face of recession and decided to define a new kind of comedy. First news of the breakaway faction that would eventually make household names of French & Saunders, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson and Alexei Sayle appeared in the Evening Standard’s On The Line page …

Comic Strip, Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle,Michael White

First published in the Evening Standard, October 2, 1980

❚ SOHO HAS LONG ENJOYED A GOOD GIGGLE and now, cheek to cheek with the king of strip Raymond’s Revue Bar, the Comic Strip opens on Tuesday in the tiny Boulevard Theatre off Brewer Street. Billed as London’s “newest anarchic cabaret”, it could be called Son of the Comedy Store, a nightspot already well established as a Gong Show for would-be comedians.

“The Comic Strip’s going to feature the best of the Comedy Store and more,” explained Peter Richardson, one of a comedy duo called The Outer Limits, who are launching the enterprise with West End impresario Michael White (the man behind the musical Annie). “There was too much experimentation in the Comedy Store. We want to establish a certain standard at the Comic Strip.”

alternative cabaret,comedy, Soho, Comic Strip,1980,Rik Mayall

Angry Feminist Poet: Rik Mayall at the Comic Strip, Nov 1980. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

He and the comedians he has brought with him — including the Comedy Store’s acerbic compere, Alexei Sayle —believe the traumas of the 1980s have brought a sharper cutting edge to comedy comparable perhaps to the satire Germany fostered in the 30s. “Who wants to see Kafka on a stage when it’s all round us in real life? People want to laugh,” said Rik Mayall, one half of an act called 20th-Century Coyote. “There’s a growing interest in political cabaret too.”

This self-styled “alternative” comedy isn’t all heavy social comment by any means, its roots going back more to clowning. What these comics are attempting is deliberately to shake off the influence of the Footlights clan who have shaped British humour for the past 20 years. Mayall himself has a talent for the merciless lampoon. One of his sketches, a punk commuter lamenting his daily lot, is the funniest invention since John Cleese’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

Last weekend he and The Outer Limits were playing to packed houses at the Three Horseshoes, a pub theatre in Hampstead, as if to prove that alternative humour is booming. The Comic Strip promises a varied line-up which this month includes Pamela Stephenson from BBC-tv’s Not The Nine O’Clock News. Entrance will cost a flat £3.

➢ 1980, A new decade demands new comedy
— Birth of the Comic Strip


➤ Anna declares McQueen a pioneer of dreams and drama

St Paul’s Cathedral, McQueen, ceremony, Anna Wintour,Hilary Alexander

A hint of gold from the doyennes attending St Paul’s Cathedral for the McQueen ceremony: Anna Wintour, Vogue editor, and Hilary Alexander, Daily Telegraph fashion director. Photographs © Glenn Copus/PA/Getty

WITH LONDON FASHION WEEK IN FULL SWING, hundreds of leading fashionistas gathered in St Paul’s Cathedral today for a ceremony in memory of Alexander McQueen. A taxi driver’s son who grew up in London’s East End, he became Britain’s most confrontational, unfettered and theatrical designer. He died in February aged 40, having been appointed a CBE and named British Designer of the Year four times by the British Fashion Council.

St Paul’s Cathedral, Alexander McQueen, London Fashion Week, ceremony,  tributes,

Alexander McQueen: enfant terrible of the runway

The world’s most powerful arbiter of fashion, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, led today’s tributes. Models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, muse Daphne Guinness and designer Stella McCartney were among the congregation, which also included relatives and former colleagues of McQueen.

Anna Wintour is the English-born daughter of Charles — editor of the Evening Standard during the Swinging 60s when his London paper achieved international acclaim. After removing her sunglasses, something she rarely does in public, Anna paid a moving tribute to McQueen: “He was a complex and gifted young man who, as a child, liked nothing more than watching the birds from the roof of his east London tower block.

Bjork, Alexander McQueen, memorial,

Bjork performing Gloomy Sunday

“He had an 18-year-long career of pioneering his dreams and dramas. He cared what people thought of his clothes but not of him. He never appeared at ease with himself and hated to travel away from his beloved London.”

Björk sang the haunting hymn Gloomy Sunday, which reflects on the horrors of modern culture, and there were also addresses from jeweller Shaun Leane, model Annabelle Neilson, McQueen’s nephew Gary Hulyer and milliner Philip Treacy. Composer and pianist Michael Nyman and the London Community Gospel Choir gave musical performances.

➢ Fuller Evening Standard report of the McQueen service, plus gallery

➢ Backstage with Hilary — Cheek and effervescence spice the Telegraph doyenne’s videos and reports of the autumn shows in New York, London and Milan

➢ “My father really decided for me that I should work in fashion” — Anna Wintour in The September Issue. Out this week on DVD, the most gripping movie ever about editorial decisionmaking, OK, on the world’s most powerful fashion magazine, but for that very reason, junking $50k’s worth of photography is a measure of that power. [“Knocks All the President’s Men into a cocked hat” — Shapersofthe80s]


2010 ➤ Is it goodbye or merely au revoir? Spandau’s questions, questions give us no answers

Spandau Ballet, Heaven club, London, New Romantics

London’s Heaven club, Dec 29, 1980: the tenth of Spandau Ballet’s selected dates, as they were known in those days to avoid the rockist words “gig” and “tour”. Note Gary Kemp, far left, on synth. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

❚ TONIGHT AT A SWANK EVENING BASH Spandau Ballet bow out from the Reformation Tour which reunited the five former schoolmates from the Angel, Islington, for one year, one album, one single, one tour, one DVD and umpteen vintage remixes. They headline the second of this year’s Newmarket Nights at the summer racecourse near the Suffolk market town renowned as the birthplace of thoroughbred horse racing.

Tomorrow the mobile knives climb back in the drawer and who knows whether they will ever be sharpened again as a team? Tony Hadley in particular hits the road on July 3 with his own band alongside ABC and Rick Astley. It’s the first of a series of Heart Radio picnic concerts, starting at Borde Hill Garden in Sussex.

Reasons reasons were there from the start, so each member of Spandau returns to his own art. Shapersofthe80s, too, was there from the start, corralling the 22 Blitz Kids who put the show on the road in 1980 for a now-nostalgic team photo at the Waldorf Hotel. Robert Elms even smuggled a copy of my Evening Standard column into the picture in his right hand, sentimentalists as we were at the outset of the big adventure. Blue sing la lune, sing lagoon.

Instead of a traditional retirement clock, here’s a bespoke souvenir of their heyday for the Angel Boys, courtesy of the E4 TV series Skins. It’s a slideshow of Spandau’s biggest No 1 hit True, rendered very poignantly with ukulele backing . . .


1966 ➤ When John Lennon became US public enemy number one

Beatles, burnings, Alabama,more popular than Jesus

Birmingham, Alabama in 1966: a warm welcome awaits The Beatles

Beatles, tour, USA 1966, burnings, Shea Stadium,more popular than Jesus

From the extreme right to another: God-fearing fans burn Beatles records in the Bible Belt in 1966 . . . while 45,000 more pack Shea Stadium in New York City. (Picture by AP)

❚ FAME FASCINATES NOW NO LESS THAN IT DID THEN. Interest in John Lennon intensifies this year because it brings the 70th anniversary of his birth and the 30th of his murder in New York. There, a prestigious 70th birthday celebration is being held at Radio City Music Hall on September 25 starring The Fab Faux, a premier-league tribute band. Soon after, Liverpool goes into overdrive for two whole months of Lennon worship.

Lennon Naked, BBC, drama, Naoko Mori

Lennon Naked, an unflattering new drama-doc: Christopher Eccleston stars as John Lennon with Naoko Mori as Yoko Ono. © BBC

Tonight and tomorrow BBC4 steals a march with Lennon Naked, a robust drama-documentary charting the musician’s activities from 1967 to 1971, a turbulent period which included the dissolution of The Beatles as the most popular group in pop history, huge enough to have pioneered the stadium concert. The sudden death in 1967 of gifted Beatles manager Brian Epstein was devastating for each of the Fab Four – Lennon most of all. He leaned ever more heavily on the bewitching catalyst for change in his own fortunes, the artist Yoko Ono, whom he had met the previous November in London.

With Beatlemania at its height, and the Fabs the coolest ambassadors for Swinging London, 1966 had precipitated its own trauma. Not only was Lennon taking his first steps exploring the not-yet fashionable halucinatory drug LSD, but in July a bombshell exploded in his lap, as The Beatles’ world tour was about to descend on 14 cities in North America.

An interview was published in an American teen magazine in which he boldly asserted of The Beatles’ fame: “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” Across the American Bible-belt and beyond, God-fearing Christians were outraged. Anti-Beatle demonstrations and public burnings of their records ensued, the Ku Klux Klan – a right-wing hate group – vowed vengeance and death threats were reported. Such was the pressure on the whole entourage that when a fan threw a lit firecracker onstage in Memphis and it went off, the Beatles’ press agent Tony Barrow recalls: “All of us at the side of the stage, including three Beatles on stage, all looked immediately at John Lennon. We would not at that moment have been surprised to see that guy go down.”

Though repeated apologies were issued at press conferences across the States, after the San Francisco concert on August 29, 1966, the whole furore persuaded the band to stop touring ever again.

The now notorious “Jesus” quote had arisen in conversation with the British journalist Maureen Cleave, a clear-sighted interviewer on the London Evening Standard where it had been first published without raising an eyebrow in the increasingly secular UK. Today, Shapersofthe80s republishes her riveting account of her tour of Lennon’s Weybridge home, which set out to explore the then novel phenomenon of four popstars who were so famous they couldn’t set foot in public without being mobbed. Thanks to the trust the Fab Four placed in her, Cleave sought to put Beatlemania under the microscope by interviewing John, George, Paul and Ringo separately and successively, under the series title How Does a Beatle Live? Lennon, for one, would ask when you rang, “What day is it?” – with genuine interest.

➢➢ Click to read the original article on Lennon,
How Does a Beatle Live?

Maureen Cleave, The Beatles, Evening Standard,more popular than Jesus

Maureen Cleave recalls: “Ringo used to say the only place he felt safe was in the lavatory; so the Standard once took a photograph of them all there, with Paul sitting on the washbasin.” She never mentions that she was sitting in the middle.

➢➢ Beatles pics from 1966 – Daily Mirror slideshows


1980 ➤ Birth of The Face: magazine that launched a generation of stylists and style sections

❚ WHEN NICK LOGAN, A FORMER EDITOR OF THE NME, launched The Face in May 1980 little did he realise it would become the decade’s “style bible” and one of the six great postwar magazines to change the course of British journalism. The Face married music, popular culture, politics and street style with radical art direction and new fonts by Neville Brody. It paid peanuts to a select bunch of savvy and passionate writers, photographers and “stylists” who gave the word a fresh meaning (almost entirely lost today) and inspired an avalanche of imitators in mainstream media, retail, advertising and beyond.

The Face, magazine, 1984, men in skirtsItself dubbed “the world’s best-dressed magazine”, The Face broke with mainstream complacency by actively inventing or giving focus to entire movements that combined clothes, music and attitude. Many came to define the 80s – from The Cult With No Name which was eventually rechristened New Romantics, the Hard Times ripped Levi ensemble, the Burberry-loving Casuals, and the “bad boy” Buffalo silhouette created by Ray Petri and Jamie Morgan. This, if any, became the urban male uniform of the mid-80s, and was celebrated only last winter by an issue of Arena Homme + magazine, art directed by Brody who designed for the occasion two custom typefaces called Buffalo and Popaganda.

At its peak The Face sold 100,000 copies monthly. Brody moved on in 1986 and Logan in 1999, though the title endured until 2004. Logan launched Arena in 1986 as a men’s monthly, soon edited by Dylan Jones, who today edits GQ UK. The British edition of Arena endured until 2009.

➢➢ The birth of The Face — Read the first article introducing Nick Logan’s new magazine, in the Evening Standard on May 1, 1980


The Face, magazines, July 1983, New Order, Art on the Run❚ NICK LOGAN, publisher of The Face, was a working-class journalist from East London “People said you couldn’t then call a magazine anything as obscure as just The Face… I didn’t see why Tatler should have good paper and good photography and it should be denied to people like me.”

❚ NEVILLE BRODY on art-directing the early Face “It was a big laboratory. The New Order cover was a picture of the lead singer, and it wasn’t that great, a bright blue background. I said to Nick this picture was so shit and he said, Why don’t you crop it off the corner of the page? All you saw was the top left-hand corner of his face – immediately so commercial, and no other commercial magazine would have done anything like it. Great courage is what set his magazine apart.”

➢➢ Launching the style decade Lively social analysis in BBC Radio 4’s anniversary documentary starring all the usual suspects: on iPlayer until May 13