Tag Archives: Gaz Mayall

2020 ➤ Gaz still rockin’ those blues a lifetime later


Gaz himself as his Thursday Rockin’ Blues rocketed to success in the 80s – today his is the longest running one-nighter in London. (Photo: Sheila Rock)


❚ TODAY IS THE DAY Gaz Mayall launched Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues in 1980 at the legendary Billy’s nightspot in Soho. Astonishingly, this remains London clubland’s longest running one-nighter.

Tonight Gaz celebrates 40 years with a live stream party from a secret location, from 8pm-midnight Friday 3 July. With deejays Gaz Mayall & The Cumbia Kid plus Rockabilly crew Red Hot Riot!

➢ Click here for Gaz’s party as a live stream till late

Gaz Mayall, Rockin' Blues, anniversary, party, live stream

Tonight’s live stream as at 9:30pm: Gaz Mayall’s 40th anniversary musical party in the back garden, with one of his acts unnamed at right. Sound a bit shonky, vision slightly cranky

Gaz's Rockin' Blues, Gaz Mayall, Soho, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s

Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, 40 years later – Celebrating with a live stream party tonight

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Private worlds of the new young – Gaz’s first appearance in the Evening Standard

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture


Gaz Mayall then and again: As Gaz Vincent in 1980 snapped by Shapersofthe80s for the Evening Standard, and painted by the British realist Lucian Freud in 1997


➤ Index of posts for January

Boy George, John Themis, Bishop Porfyrios , icon,

Two-way exchange: Bishop Porfyrios reclaims his church’s 300-year-old icon of Christ in London, while as a thankyou, Boy George receives a modern version of Christ Pantokrator (right) from composer John Themis. Photo © AP

➢ George Michael celebrates his golden years of Faith

➢ Reliving the Blitz: two pocket fanzines and a request from Rusty Egan

➢ “Too posh for pop” — Grandpa Waterman condemns two decades of musicmakers

➢ 1981, Why naked heroes from antiquity stood in for Spandau on their first record sleeves

➢ Ferry backed by three bass players, Roxy back on the road — how cool is that?

Japan pop group, Mick Karn, Hammersmith Odeon , 1982, Sounds ,Chris Dorley-Brown

Karn onstage at Hammersmith Odeon, November 17, 1982: Japan’s final UK tour. Photographed for Sounds © by Chris Dorley-Brown

➢ 1981, The day they sold The Times, both Timeses

➢ George makes saintly gesture over stolen icon

➢ 1981, How Adam stomped his way across the charts to thwart the nascent New Romantics

➢ Life? Tough? At the Blitz reunion, Rusty delivers a message to today’s 20-year-olds (TV news video)

➢ The unknown Mr Big behind London’s landmark nightspot makes his return to the Blitz

➢ Va-va-vooom! goes the world’s smallest portable record player

➢ F-A-B! Thunderbirds stamps are go!

➢ Julia and Gaz share their secrets for ageing disgracefully

Return To The Blitz , Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Red Rooms, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Motormouths back in action: Strange and Egan interviewed on BBC London news in the club where they once reigned. Such were members’ powers of self-promotion at the Blitz, Egan said, that it was the 80s equivalent of Facebook Live!

➢ 2011, Strange and Egan return to the Blitz to kick off the 20-tweens

➢ 200 new acts tipped for the new year in music

➢ Most popular bits of Shapersofthe80s during 2010

➢ Farewell Mick Karn, master of the bass and harbinger for the New Romantics

➢ Prescott says Postlethwaite’s Brassed Off speech inspired New Labour in 1997

➢ Discover Ubu while Christopher Walken takes flight to Fatboy Slim

➢ Happy New Year from Frosty The Snowman and The Ronettes — and hear the smash that changed the sound of 60s pop

➢ List of posts for December 2010

The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Frosty the Snowman, Be My Baby, Wall of Sound, 1963

The Ronettes in 1963: beehive hair-dos and producer Phil Spector


➤ Julia and Gaz share their secrets for ageing disgracefully

Gaz Mayall host of Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues

Gaz Mayall: no more splits on the dancefloor. Photographed © by Chris Floyd

❚ TWO STARS OF LONDON’S CLUBLAND are invited to consider their age in today’s Sunday Times Style magazine. Jessica Brinton asks a bunch of 50-plus celebs if they view ageing as a barrier and believe growing old is something different from growing up. She reports that the British midlife crisis has slipped back from 50 to 35, and senses there is a new spirit of agelessness in the air… Brief extracts here, more at The Sunday Times online

Princess Julia, Blitz Kid

Princess Julia: naive, indefatigable spirit. Photographed © by Chris Floyd

❏ Gaz Mayall host of Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues clubnight in Soho admits to being fiftysomething:
“My secret is a good diet. I’m teetotal for the early part of the year and that’s when I crack on and do all the things that most people do all year round. Then when summer starts, I’m flat out deejaying and partying. Although since I hurt my hip, I know it isn’t a smart idea to do the splits on the dancefloor. I don’t think I’m any less revolutionary than I was, but I’m less naive now.”

➢ View a brief history of Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, a short film by Leo Leigh and Zaid Mudhaffer, which celebrates the legacy of London’s longest running one-nighter with interviews with Gaz and unsung Soho celebrities and music junkies

❏ Princess Julia, ex-Blitz Kid, now deejay and writer, is described as fiftynothing:
“I can’t say I’m enjoying the ageing process physically, but I stave it off as much as I can. I’m even more inspired than I used to be. There are so many more tools for expressing yourself nowadays, and there’s a lot of conversation going on between the generations, which is a good thing. If you get on with someone, you just click in. It’s a case of retaining that naive, indefatigable spirit. I like throwing a pack of cards in the air and seeing where they land.”

➢ More about the world of Princess Julia and her blog


1980s ➤ So many shapers shaped the decade that people think was all down to Margaret Thatcher

A handful of key books this year have added to our estimations of that much demonised decade, the 1980s, and to our understanding of its cultural shifts. Shapersofthe80s has of course always drawn a distinction between the youthful creativity of the earlier Swinging 80s, and the ethos that finally took hold in Britain and earned the name of “Thatcherism”

Loadsamoney, Harry Enfield, Thatcherism1980s

Emblem of the 80s: Harry Enfield’s yob character, Loadsamoney. © Rex features

➢ Rejoice, Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s,
by Alwyn W Turner (Aurum Press, 426 pages)

Alwyn Taylor, Rejoice!,1980s,book❏ A SHARP AND WITTY ANALYSIS of the 80s came this year from cultural historian, Alwyn Turner. Its savage title Rejoice! Rejoice! echoes the triumphal cry that burst from the lips of prime-minister-turned-warrior-queen Margaret Thatcher in 1982 when victory was declared over Argentina in the Falklands War (910 dead, 1,965 casualties). Reviewing the book in The Sunday Times, Dominic Sandbrook wrote: “One of the pleasures of Alwyn Turner’s breathless romp through the 1980s is that it overflows with unusual juxtapositions and surprising insights. Who knew, for example, that not only Alan McGee’s Creation Records but the bawdy magazine Viz were set up with money from Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme, dismissed at the time as a feeble attempt to disguise the horrors of mass unemployment?

“Where this book really shines is on the intersections between politics and popular culture… For Turner, the defining characteristic of the 1980s was its obsession with size: big money, big hair, big issues, big politics. But what also emerges from his account is the sheer, unashamed nastiness of public life during the Thatcher years. This was a time, after all, when Thatcher’s cheerleader [disc-jockey] Kenny Everett publicly joked about kicking [the elderly opposition leader] ‘Michael Foot’s stick away’, while thousands chanted ‘Ditch the bitch’ at anti-government demonstrations.

“It is a refreshing surprise, however, to read a book on the 1980s in which Thatcher, while naturally dominant, does not entirely drive out all other voices. As Turner admits, the Iron Lady cast a larger shadow over national life than any other prime minister since Churchill: the style magazine i-D, a quintessential product of the decade, called her ‘almost a fact of nature’. But the results of her revolution were mixed at best, and the irony is that in many ways her policies had the opposite effect from what she hoped.”

Turner is not alone in presenting Harry Enfield’s comic character Loadsamoney as the emblematic figurehead for Thatcherism, a swaggering slob waving a fistful of banknotes while yelling, “Look at my wad!”. In the Financial Times Francis Wheen follows through: “Even if many Britons eventually accepted [Thatcher’s] economic remedies, Turner infers in his history of the 1980s, Rejoice! Rejoice!, ‘culturally the country was unconvinced’. Ideals of enterprise were all very well but winning at all costs, with no thought for the loser and no care for the way one played the game, ‘seemed somehow wrong’. The British still sided with heroic failures and doomed underdogs such as the hopeless ski-jumper Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards.”


➢ Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues: The First 30 Years,
by Gaz Mayall (direct from Trolley, 280pp)

Gaz Mayall, Jarvis Cocker, Radio 2,

Gaz Mayall on 6Music: celebrating his 30th clubbing anniversary talking with Jarvis Cocker on The Sunday Service in October. © BBC

❏ GAZ MAYALL IS one of UK clubbing’s national treasures, and the paperback Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues is a nostalgic first-person collection of great club photos and comic-strip flyers that tell their own tale of London’s oldest continuous club-night, where Tracey Emin was once the cloakroom girl. The lad in the hat, who has kept his tiny nightspot jumping since July 3, 1980, supplies a brief but breathless string of anecdotes about live guests such as Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker and Joe Strummer. Gaz was one of the pathfinders who perfected the then brilliant notion of throwing a party every Thursday and playing his favourite rebel dance-tunes. As the 22-year-old Gaz told Shapersofthe80s that year: “People come here for good music”, which essentially meant his own heritage as a kid raised amid rock royalty and steeped in ska, reggae, rockabilly, rock and R’n’B.

Gaz's Rockin Blues, book, 1980sOn his club’s 30th anniversary, Kate Hutchinson wrote in Time Out: “It’s still going strong: you’ll find throngs of people swinging to guest live bands and DJs every Thursday night at the Soho basement dive St Moritz. It’s also the kind of hangout that keeps new generations coming, so the crowd always stays fresh. Those who aren’t old enough to go yet can mingle with everyone else at Gaz’s sound-system at Notting Hill Carnival, where he’s been causing a roadblock since 1982, or at his stage at Glastonbury, which he has run for the past three years.”


➢ The Music Instinct : How Music Works and Why We Can’t Do Without It, by Philip Ball (Bodley Head, 464pp)
➢ Listen to This, by Alex Ross (Fourth Estate, 400pp)

The Music Instinct, Philip Ball, books❏ TWO IMPRESSIVE BOOKS THIS YEAR have dissected how music works its magic. They are not posited on the 80s at all, though they may well be emergent phenomena of our era of musical diversity. Critics heaped praise on Philip Ball’s The Music Instinct, an engaging survey by a popular science writer. Bee Wilson in The Sunday Times called it a “wonderful account of why music matters, why it wrenches our souls and satisfies our minds and sometimes drives us crazy”. In The Guardian Steven Poole praised Ball’s “deft analyses of the limitations of attributing ‘emotion’ to music, or considering it as a ‘language’ (Lévi-Strauss: if music is a language, it is an ‘untranslatable’ one)”. And the Amazon reviewer Steve Mansfield liked the author’s scope “by drawing his examples from across the spectrum of music, equally comfortable discussing and occasionally comparing music as diverse as J.S. Bach, John Coltrane, Eliza Carthy, gamelan orchestras, ragas, Schoenberg, and the Sex Pistols”.

Alex Ross, Listen to This, books❏ IN 2008 ALEX ROSS, music critic for The New Yorker, landed an unlikely bestseller with his gripping survey of 20th-century music, The Rest is Noise, plus a torrent of highbrow praise. This year he packages some choice essays under the title Listen To This, which David Smyth in the London Evening Standard said “ranges even more widely, making century-spanning, triple-jumping connections in the same way his shuffling iPod leaps from Stravinsky to Louis Armstrong. Coming from a background of listening to nothing but classical music in his teens and discovering rock’n’roll in adulthood, Ross can explain the brute appeal of, say, Radiohead’s Creep in a way that makes you feel your mind enlarging as you read”.


➢ I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau,
by Gary Kemp (Fourth Estate, 320pp)

➢ If I Was, by Midge Ure with Robin Eggar
(Virgin Books, 288pp)

Gary Kemp, I Know This Much❏ FOR A MUSICIAN, the music really tells the life story. It’s rare for many of them to try to flesh out the story in prose, let alone as autobiography. Two who starred centre stage in 1980 were Ultravox’s Midge Ure and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, and though their accounts of the early transformative years of the decade weren’t actually first published this year, their paperback reprints continue to act as intelligent correctives to the hyperbole that accompanies some of the 30th-anniversary air-punching.

Songwriter Gary Kemp surprised many when last year’s autobiography, I Know This Much, proved so eloquent, encouraging rock writer Paul Du Noyer
to claim that it “sets a new standard for rock memoirs”. One of Amazon’s top reviewers, Mr Steve Jansen, believed that Kemp’s perceptive memories of a London now transformed make a “a touching testament to spiritual growth”. He wrote: “Kemp is able to reflect with great poignancy on a young man’s journey into, and through the shining city of dreams. In Kemp’s case that city, metaphorically, but more often literally — and literary in its evocation — is unmistakably London, and the metropolis is ever present like a ghost, framing his actions and attitude.”

The prominent journalist Robert Sandall of The Sunday Times, who died in July, had made Kemp’s his book of the year: “A sharply observed account by a quintessential London musician. Kemp exudes confidence, candour and a keen appreciation of the capital’s club culture.” This year’s paperback edition brought the story up to date with a postscript on his band’s reunion.

Midge Ure, If I Was❏ MIDGE URE IS THE OTHER eye-witness to the birth of Blitz culture, and his memoir, If I Was, hasn’t been out of print since published in 2004, and a revised edition is slated for next summer. Here, the musician tells with exceptional vigour a no-holds-barred story of his own journey from impoverished Glasgow childhood to new-wave superstar .

Amazon reviewer Lisby writes: “Ure writes fluidly and conversationally, imparting the kind of tactile detail that takes readers to the place and time of which he speaks. Ure is astonishingly honest, yet never vindictive. He is, in his prose, much as he is in his lyrics, a good person trying to be a better one while hoping the same for us all.” Another Amazon regular called thedouses adds: “Midge’s autobiography is a very well written, frank and honest book, which offers a fascinating insight into his own career and life but also other notable musical figures of the 80s and 90s music scenes in Britain, as well as providing background to the Band Aid and Live Aid events. He doesn’t use the opportunity to settle scores as so many of his contemporaries have done.”

Apart from being a busy wizard stirring the magic cauldron from which emerged many musical innovations in the 80s, Ure here establishes his central role in the production of Band Aid’s charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which led to Live Aid, the globally televised rock concert in 1985 which raised millions for famine relief.


David Bowie, 1975 ➢ Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years (1947-1974), by Kevin Cann (Adelita, 336 pages) was reviewed here on Dec 11. “Being a Bowie fan for almost 40 years I am flabbergasted. Many, many never before seen pictures” — Amazon reviewer Peter Gooren