Tag Archives: punk

➤ Elms the storyteller on why some stories are ‘too good to check’

Dalston, books, London, talks, Robert Elms, London Made Us, 5x15, slums, Canongate,

Robert Elms with fire in his belly: Talking last night in a 5×15 event at EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney). (Photo: Shapersofthe80s)

SENTIMENTAL AS EVER, onetime Blitz Kid now broadcaster Robert Elms – the professional cockney not born within the sound of Bow Bells – marshalled his gorblimey vowels and glottal stops at a 5×15-minute live talk last night in Hackney, in trendy east London, to argue for a return to the down-at-heel west London he was born into 59 years ago. He invoked postwar bomb-sites as instructive playgrounds, the punk explosion as his most life-enhancing event, the squats in disused houses with freezing outside WCs that characterised his upbringing in Notting Hill and still more squats for fostering the creativity of his teenaged peers who dreamed up the New Romantics movement. . . He poured scorn on the developers who have transformed sectors of London into swish modernity and urged the need for new slums to teach flaky young millennials the facts of life.

Bob, once an amiable young man, has matured into an Angry Old Man yet the fire in his belly aimed to persuade us that deep-down he actually loves this contradictory city. An interview he gave to last month’s GQ signals the flavour of his new book, London Made Us: A Memoir of a Shape-Shifting City (from Canongate Books):

“What I certainly wasn’t hoping to do was out-Peter-Ackroyd Peter Ackroyd,” laughed Elms [referring to our capital city’s most distinguished historian]. What he did do – “because I’m not a proper historian and this is not a textbook” – was focus on the stories that seem too slight, or too fanciful, for the grander almanacs. “Some of them might not bear taking apart. My theory with all the stories in the book is: they’re too good to check” . . . Other sections are filled with incidents that are unique to Elms after decades living around London, from Burnt Oak to Holborn to Camden. There’s the incident when money rains from the sky near the soon-to-be British Library, or the story of the monkey jazz band in Notting Dale, “a troupe of 13 simian swingers to entertain the happy flappers” who escaped their captivity, some of them ending up as far away as Rugby…/ Continued at GQ online

Last night’s event was all about plugging new books. In Bob’s case it provided an excellent incentive to attend his next performance, much longer than 15 minutes on April 2.

➢ An Evening with Robert Elms at Waterstone’s in
Tottenham Court Road

➢ Nostalgic protest against the sanitisation of London – review by Nicholas Lezard in the Evening Standard

➢ Elms isn’t afraid of nostalgia in this part memoir, part cultural history. Is he pining for his youth? asks Fiona Sturges in the Guardian review

➢ Elms has written about one of London’s most successful,
and most forgotten, mass murderers
: Interview with David Levesley from the March issue of GQ

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➤ 45 years of soothing egos and arresting our attention by portraitist Ridgers

Derek Ridgers Photographs, book, launch, party, pop-up exhibition,Sherrone,

“My favourite mid-80s muse”: Derek Ridgers signs his book for singer Sherrone from the 1988 band Savajazz

◼ DEREK RIDGERS BLAMES PUNK for turning him from a self-confessed pop fan who photographed performers into a considered photographer in 1976. “Almost overnight,” he writes, “the audience became more photogenic than the bands.” He didn’t stop shooting Jagger, Clapton, Richards, Ringo, Diana Ross, James Brown, the Pet Shops, Johnny Depp and their showbiz pals who are of necessity brazen exhibitionists. But this softly spoken London-born art-school graduate did then develop the knack of persuading life’s everyday misfits, clubland weirdos and sexual eccentrics to pose for uninhibited and seductive portraits that came to sum up the essence of their individuality.

Ridgers says his latest book, with its understated one-word title Photographs, is “my masterwork – my best photographs from the last 45 years”. In large-format hardback, exquisitely printed so that the ink provides the sheen on otherwise matte paper, its 240 pages capture an astonishing spectrum of moods and lifestyles.

Come to the party: click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

As an outsider looking in, his photographer’s eye sets out to find people whose appearance is uniquely striking or simply different, yet his instinct is to bring about “a moment of stillness and quiet contemplation” before his camera. By contrast, his book’s printed pages set unfamous showoffs (starting with cover-girl Michelle Carr) in competition with international celebrity egotists. This can create witty juxtapositions of subject yet there’s not an ounce of banality or cynicism. The most powerful images nail the internalised apprehension of the homeless and of some Quite Important People too: study the faces of Peter Cook, Don McCullin and Dennis Hopper; and unknowns such as the Deadhead, the Skin women, Sofia Staks and assorted skinheads.

As Ridgers tactfully navigates all extremes of id and ego, you’re likely to be surprised by how so many individual portraits, such as those of NWA and Snoop Dogg and even Kylie, arrest your attention, as the tragic Tuinol Barry’s has done in earlier books, and likewise Babs, the skinhead girl spotted in Soho in 1987. Ridgers says now of Babs, who had been through a children’s home: “We hardly spoke. Somehow I think we had a connection – even if it was only for 1/125th of a second. We were probably both outsiders.”

Across these varied social camps, note how few people smile at the Ridgers camera: across all these camps, the next page can reveal a real tear-jerker.

More partying: click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

A FOUR-DAY POP-UP EXHIBITION

The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QR, is displaying selected images from the Ridgers book, curated by Faye Dowling to include an archive of original magazines such as i-D and The Face. It is open from 5 to 7 October, and our slideshows record an amazingly retro book launch party when faces from Derek’s past caught up with him. Derek Ridgers Photographs is published at £34.95 by Carpet Bombing Culture

➢ In one of Ridgers’ best interviews yet, this week’s Huckmag asks: What’s changed? – “About the only thing that’s changed during my lifetime is that there are different platforms now, mainly the internet. Once upon a time, when you bought a new outfit, you couldn’t wait to get out and show yourself off in it. Nowadays you never have to leave the house; you have Instagram.”

➢ This week’s London Live TV interview

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Ridgers casts an honest spotlight on the birth of punk

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➤ Is the sun setting on Westwood’s Worlds End?

Worlds End , shop, fashion, London

430 King’s Road: the crazy Worlds End clock slips from sight

◼ IF I WERE THE V&A, I’d be eyeing up that fairytale frontage at 430 King’s Road and hoping to buy it up for our national collection, along with its crazy 13-hour clock that turns time backwards. Today the nursery-rhyme cottage façade with slate roofing and wonky door frame vanished behind a builder’s hoardings. For 34 years the Worlds End shop has played home to savages, witches, pirates and other Vivienne Westwood fantasies, but can demolition be imminent?

The shop has stood empty for weeks, “closed for refurbishment until further notice”, according to its blog, which adds that more space has been acquired in the basement of the listed 19th-century building. Viv’s son Ben has given one deadline after another, promising that Worlds End would reopen in October, then “further into November”, and last week “the beginning of December”. A council notice on the hoarding validates it until 30 Jan 2015, so this could mean all promises are off until February.

Click any pic below to launch slideshow


Viv’s Mayfair flagship store heads her chain of 12 UK retail outlets with Ben supervising Worlds End and devising between them clever ways to reinvent mum’s vast repertoire of silhouettes from squiggle shirts to mountain hats. Following her former partner Malcolm McLaren’s death in 2010, Viv asserted her rights to the various shop names and retail trademarks from their 13 years together and has adroitly capitalised on their sales potential since.

Ben has wittily related the freaky tale his father Malcolm told him about how he acquired 430 King’s Road, when the owner gave him the keys one day in 1971 and never came back.

A dynasty of subversive shops have mythologised this Chelsea address which is today one of Britain’s youth-cultural tourist magnets. The hippie boutique Hung on You of 1967 was followed by Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage, and in 1971 Let It Rock, the first of five retail ventures pursued by McLaren and Westwood, after meeting at Harrow School of Art. Next came Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, then the most notorious, Sex, the home in 1975 of punk and the Sex Pistols, Malcolm’s creation wearing his Svengali hat. Here too Jordan (née Pamela Rooke) became the female face of punk as both sales assistant and living mood board who single-handedly turned the safety pin into a fashion statement.

Simon Barker, Six, Punks Dead, Jordan, photography, exhibition, London, Berlin

Reunited at the 2012 Punk’s Dead exhibition: a plonker from Six for Jordan at London’s Divus Gallery. Photograph © Shapersofthe80s

This week from Berlin Jordan expressed concern about the rumours surrounding the shop: “Really shocked, has it closed or is it being redesigned? Surely Vivienne hasn’t closed it, it is iconic!” Jordan was in Berlin, coincidentally, for the latest leg of the Punk’s Dead touring exhibition of Simon Barker’s photos of the movement’s earliest flowering. Simon, of course, aka Six, was one of punk’s feted Bromley Contingent who himself went on to front the Worlds End shop for many years. He piped up: “The problem is it is lined with asbestos. Plus Malcolm wouldn’t have cared about Worlds End being redeveloped – a ‘dance in the ruins’.”

Time for a check-call to the Westwood HQ. A spokeperson there purred soothingly: “What’s happening is a major renovation. To remove what’s in the walls and floors will take one or two months. Worlds End is definitely not in danger of being closed.” Sorry, Malcy: your dance has been postponed.

Punk’s Dead,exhibition, books,photography, Simon Barker , Siouxsie Sioux

In the Punk’s Dead show: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel in 1977. Photographed by Six

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2012, Punk’s Dead – Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1983, The day Vivienne and Malcolm realised the end was nigh

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2013 ➤ A ‘blistering’ picture hoard from punk’s formative years

The Clash,book, exhibition,Photography, Sheila Rock

The Clash in 1976. Photographed by Sheila Rock

❚ FOR THOSE WHO SURVIVED the mid-70s, punk was the anti-fashion UK phenomenon that transformed contemporary culture. Now “a blistering 1976-80 photo-hoard” of mostly unseen pictures has been published as a 272-page photobook. Punk+ by Sheila Rock – an American in London – chronicles both designer and street styles that impacted on fashion, society and politics, including Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX as well as BOY, Robot and Acme Attractions. The collection, which had been stored in a box in Rock’s garden shed, includes formative images of The Clash, Chrissie Hynde, Paul Weller, The Jam, Generation X, Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Sex Pistols.

Paul Simonon of The Clash says: “This book is a great photographic record of a major shift in British street fashion.”

Sheila Rock arrived in London in 1970 to join the David Bowie circle, and it was her friend and Patti Smith guitarist, Lenny Kaye, who took her to a gig by the then-unknown Clash. “That was the first time I was introduced to the punk scene,” she says. “I decided to take my Nikon camera with me and my photography career began.” Her photographs of showbiz performers and musicians have been published in titles from Vogue to The Sunday Times and can also be found in London’s National Portrait Gallery. This month her pix will also be showing in the Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Mick Jones,,book, exhibition,Photography, Sheila Rock

At the Brown’s party tonight: Sheila Rock with Clash guitarist and vocalist Mick Jones. Photograph © by Beki Cowey

Rock’s career took off in 1980 in The Face, the 80s style bible published by Nick Logan, who describes Rock as “self-effacing but sweetly persuasive” in the preface to PUNK+. He notes how she refined her images to capture a style that portrayed what her subjects wanted to personify. She often achieved this better than they understood themselves.

Tonight the book was launched with a two-week exhibition of Rock’s photographs at Brown’s high fashion store in London, and a further show runs for a month from May 28 at Rough Trade East, where there’s also a book signing.

Mojo Magazine reports: “Sheila Rock’s PUNK+ book presents a blistering 1976-80 photo-hoard. The striking and fascinating photo-book collects almost 200 images of groups including The Subway Sect, Eater, Buzzcocks, The Clash and the Sex Pistols, plus documentation of the rapidly changing fashions of the late 70s. She estimates 90 per cent of the shots have never been seen, and that 85 per cent were self-motivated experiments rather than work commissions. Those enthralled by shifts in vintage youth styles will also delight in the images of unselfconscious punks, such as the young Jam fans who mixed the Weller look with the safety-pin aesthetic.”

➢ PUNK+ is published by First Third Books Ltd (London and Paris): 272 pages, size 20 x 27cm, limited edition of 300 copies signed and numbered, £99; standard edition of 1,700 copies, £49. The book includes illuminating conversations with Chrissie Hynde, Tony James, Don Letts, Jeanette Lee, Glen Matlock, Chris Salewicz, Jon Savage, Steven Severin, Paul Simonon, Jah Wobble and more.

➢ Sheila Rock celebrates punk at Brown’s Men’s dept,
London W1K 5QG, April 25–May 7, Vogue preview

➢ Another exhibition of photos by Sheila Rock runs May 28–June 30 at Rough Trade East, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL. On May 29 at 7pm Sheila will be joined by Don Letts and Jeanette Lee plus special guests for a Q&A event and afterwards a signing session for her book Punk+.

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➤ Searching for that last kiss
 on the third anniversary of McLaren’s death

My lips are open wide
Stretched so far apart
Searching for that last kiss
With my hands pressed tight to my heart

A thousand hungry flowers
Loving you for hours and hours
Soon smothers me so tenderly

A thousand kisses say goodbye
And then they say you’ll never die
A lonely fanfare blew
And then they sing to you

A thousand kisses say goodbye
And then they say you’ll never die
A lonely fanfare blew
And then they sing to you

– Revenge of the Flowers
© Chrysalis Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Revenge of the Flowers,Malcolm McLaren, Françoise Hardy, video,album, Paris,◼ MALCOLM McLAREN died three years ago today and is remembered on his website by his partner Young Kim with these lyrics from Revenge of the Flowers, a track from the concept album Paris… In 1994, he recorded his own music and words through performances by such prominent French stars as Françoise Hardy, seen above in the Duncan Ward video of 1995 singing Revenge of the Flowers. The album was essentially a love letter to the city he was to make a home in his final years. At AllMusic Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s verdict is: “The heavily orchestrated cabaret jazz backdrops tend to accentuate the sleaziness of McLaren’s words. And that’s what makes the record perversely fascinating: every element is so poorly conceived and executed that the entire thing appears to be an intentional joke.”

Punk, From Chaos To Couture ,New York, Metropolitan Museum , exhibition

A Chanel punk-inspired look from 2011. Photo © David Sims courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

➢ Punk: From Chaos To Couture is the next Costume Institute exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 9–Aug 14 – British photographer Nick Knight is the creative consultant on a show that examines punk’s impact on high fashion from its birth in the early 1970s, including a Couturier Situationists section dedicated to Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. All presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes will be animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques. Wow.

UPDATE APRIL 2013: A DEATH MASK FOR MALCY

Malcolm McLaren, Highgate Cemetery, bronze, death mask , Nick Reynolds

McLaren bronze death mask by Nick Reynolds

McLaren’s ostentatious memorial in Highgate Cemetery, unveiled this month, is inscribed “Better a spectacular failure than a benign success”. The black granite headstone holds a bronze death mask commissioned from Nick Reynolds, the sculptor, harmonica player and former Royal Navy diver, who has captured McLaren’s “trademark sneer”. Update 2017, in a Radio 4 programme about his trade the sculptor claimed: “I didn’t put that on. He actually had the sneer in death. Defiant to the end. . . I did meet McLaren when he was alive and asked him if I could do a cast of his head and he in his own inimitable style told me to F– O–.” Reynolds added: “I did him in the end.”

Reynolds has also cast masks of his own father the Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds, fellow robber Ronnie Biggs, gambler George “Taters” Chatham, journalist William Rees-Mogg, actor Peter O’Toole and composer Pat Castange. He also owns the death masks of many famous people from Ned Kelly and Napoleon to director Ken Russell. They decorate every wall in his flat.

➢ 2010, What a tear-jerker! McLaren mashes up his own musical ‘Requiem to Myself’ – exclusive to Shapers of the 80s

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