Tag Archives: punk

➤ Quietly, quietly, lensman Ridgers talks about capturing life in the margins

Derek Ridgers, Ronnie Biggs, great train robbery,Rio de Janeiro,photography

Derek Ridgers meets the fugitive Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in Rio, about 1985: “I played pool with Ronnie a few times and he was a lot better at it than I was. I suppose he had plenty of time to practise.” (Picture courtesy of Derek)

❚ WITH 35 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, Derek Ridgers is one of the UK’s leading documentary photographers, notably of youth culture, its rock stars and its street tribes. “Derek Ridgers’ compulsion to photograph London clubs over two decades was an extraordinary one,” curator Val Williams wrote in his 2004 book, When We Were Young: Club and Street Portraits 1978–1987. Here were “transient beings moving across an urban landscape, flamboyant souls who cared more than anything about how they looked and whose greatest fear was of being ordinary. But it was the ordinariness that Derek Ridgers glimpsed in these costumed characters that makes his photographs so powerful.

Witchity club, London, 1979

An era of conspicuous sexuality: clubber at Witchity, a David Claridge dive in 1979, photographed by Derek Ridgers

“Ridgers’ photographs are an undeliberate chapter in a decade of English social and cultural history which changed the way we thought about music, fashion and consumption. It was the decade of the handmade and the customised, of Oxfam shopping, conspicuous sexuality, of excess, wide success and dismal failure.” Well, that’s a point of view.

His earliest exhibitions in the 70s and 80s featured punk portraits and skinheads, and many seminal images of London’s clubland New Romantics. He has mainly worked for UK magazines and newspapers such as NME, The Face, The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, Time Out and Loaded. He now runs the Derek Ridgers Archive where limited edition prints are for sale, and he blogs occasionally though thoughtfully at Ponytail Pontifications. Derek has always been the “quiet observer”. He collaborated only once with Shapersofthe80s and his fine shots can be seen on our inside page about the 1983 Face cover story, The making of UK club culture. He also brilliantly articulated what remains today the definitive description of Billy’s, the font of all 80s clubbing. You’ll read it in the feature.

Oomska, a new UK-based online arts and pop culture magazine, today asked Derek to share his views about photography. Here are some highlights:

Other than a camera, my favourite piece of equipment, if one could characterise it as such, is the sun.

❏ The digital age has probably added several years to my life expectancy — when I think about all the wasted time and expense of having clip tests made prior to getting the bulk of my colour film processed, I think I must have been mad.

❏ I love Garry Winogrand but some of his photographs (for instance the ones taken in the Ivar Theatre) suggest that he wasn’t necessarily always thinking about the art.

❏ It’s becoming harder and harder these days to earn a living as a professional photographer … I don’t particularly care.

❏ The most popular camera used on Flickr is now the iPhone 4. The rise of the hybrid consumer appliance will probably continue.

❏ For me it’s whatever works… Photoshop has brought all those darkroom techniques that took years to learn within the reach of everyone.

❏ A static image can still have more power than a moving one because you can live with it and study it and let its whole being seep into you and fix itself into your brain.

➢ Read the full Ridgers interview at Oomska

Derek Ridgers, photographer,Beat Route, clubbing

The snapper snapped: Derek Ridgers at last December’s party at the Beat Route reincarnation to launch somebody else’s photobook We Can Be Heroes. Snapped by Sandro Martini


2011 ➤ Stand and deliver: Adam Ant versus Marco in a battle of bands

Guardian , Adam Ant,video, Stand and Deliver,pop music

➢ Click picture to run video in new window — Today at Guardian online Adam Ant gives a video interview in the strand: How I wrote … Stand and Deliver, his chart-topping hit from May 1981. When he starts strumming the tune, why not try cueing up the video below by Marco Pirroni, his onetime lead guitarist in the Ants and songwriting partner, then compare the results? Adam and Marco shared an Ivor Novello Award for this number

❏ Adam explains the song’s mix of images… “I very much like the 18th century, and the traditional sayings that everyone knows like ‘Stand and deliver’ and ‘Drop your drawers and ten bob’s yours’.” Adam says he wove together various other themes in the song: a touch of Tommy Steele’s Where’s Jack? based loosely on DickTurpin, plus Native American Indians and a bit of piracy. Result: “The lyric wrote itself. It was really a manifesto of what was to come… I knew I’d cracked it when the window cleaner round my house was singing it and changing the lyrics and didn’t know it was my flat… I was very flattered by that.”

➢ Click this link to hear Marco Pirroni’s interview with Marcella Puppini for Shoreditch Radio last Tuesday — it is still online

❏ As Adam’s songwriting partner in the Ants, Marco co-wrote five number-one singles, a further four top tens with him, their two number-one albums, plus many more songs during 20 years together. When Marcella Puppini asked about his songwriting with Adam, Marco said: “I don’t think it’s something I really want to talk about at the present time.” Of his input into the music, he said: “I don’t write lyrics generally. I work with riffs and you keep playing. You have a moment when you think I really like playing this and the person you’re working goes: ‘It’s really good’. There are no rules. John Lennon’s tragic death kept us off No 1 [in Dec 1980], then I remember doing Stand and Deliver and thinking that’s going to happen. We weren’t going to be No 1 with just anything. I thought that’s catchy, that’s going to work.”


Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni,

Early 80s: Adam and Marco in happier days

➢ Adam Ant: back from the brink— in today’s Daily Telegraph Andrew Perry listens to Adam like a respectful fan while interviewing Stuart Goddard with the care of a concerned parent…

After numerous tribulations, he’s to make a dramatic comeback to music next month, with his first full tour in more than 15 years. A couple of years ago, Goddard gradually withdrew from antidepressants, and the songwriting came back… He’s recorded a double album, which he plans to release himself in January 2012, entitled ‘Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in: Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter’.

Goddard, now 56… talks of fronting an association for misdiagnosed bipolar sufferers, and of an album he’s writing for a third version of Adam and the Ants, which won’t include Pirroni. (“He did something to me which I won’t forgive him for. I’ll never go on stage with him again in my life.”) It’s equally difficult not to worry that all this hare-brained scheming is merely a manifestation of the old “manic” self. Now he’s off the medication, can he cope with those desperate mood swings? … He says: “You’ve got to be crazy to be a rock-and-roll singer”.

➢ Tour dates for Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse — 25 stages in a stately, historic progress from Nov 10 at the 850-capacity Cheese & Grain (the 19th-century Market Hall) in Frome, Somerset… to Jan 22 at the 900-capacity former Art Deco cinema, “The Tiv” nightclub in Buckley (once famed for its brickmaking), Flintshire… while taking in on Nov 20 the 2,661-capacity Grade II listed Troxy (view online the virtual tour of this fabulously renovated Art Deco cinema, designed by George Coles) in East London… Somebody has been thinking about these things.


Siouxsie and the Banshees debut at the 100 Club punk festival, 1976: with Steven Severin, Marco Pirroni and John Ritchie (later Sid Vicious) on drums. Photograph by Ray Stevenson

❏ A lynchpin of the UK punk scene, Marco Pirroni became an integral part of Adam and the Ants in 1980 as lead guitarist and co-songwriter, until they went their own ways 20 years later. Today he is a songwriter, producer and guitarist in a rock-and-roll garage band called The Wolfmen, along with another ex-Ant, Chris Constantinou, making a sound described by Mojo magazine as “exuberant filth — Chris and Marco do growing old disgracefully with style”.

➢ Read Mark Youll’s very thorough interview with Marco Pirroni last March at Word of Noise…

“ Q: So it would have been stuff like Roxy Music that inspired you to play guitar?
A: Yeah, Roxy and Mick Ronson. Aladdin Sane made me want to play.
Q: How important would you say glam-rock was to the advent of punk?
A: It was really really important. The glam thing laid the ground rules and maybe the foundations. I know there are lots of punk fans out there that say it’s nothing to do with it, but you can see direct parallels between Ziggy Stardust and Johnny Rotten.

➢ The Wolfmen play the Georgian Theatre Stockton-on-Tees
on Feb 25, 2012


1979 ➤ Unbelievable! The voice of sweet reason in George’s TV debut

George O'Dowd, Martin Degville, TV debut, BBC, Something Else

George and Martin Degville: facing the punks on Something Else. Video © BBC

❚ IT WAS ALBERT EINSTEIN WHO SAID: “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” So listen up, kids, to the words of wisdom being expressed in George O’Dowd’s first known TV appearance at the age of 18 sporting the mauve tartan clownsuit he used to wear to Barbarella’s club in Birmingham. When this show went out nobody knew the faces in the studio crowd and as you can hear, other kids took their clothes just as seriously as George, but listen how his quiet Sarf London tones – not yet modulated into his posher popstar accent – take over the studio discussion in the face of sarcastic punks.

Punkette: “Everybody who looks different gets aggression. You always get picked on.”
George: “You don’t have to get involved in it though. I don’t fight. If you’re really into dressing up … you wouldn’t care what other people thought.”
Lad: “Yeah but say somebody hit ya?”
G: “So what? You don’t have to hit them back.”
Lad: “So are you gonna stand there and take it?”
G: “I do! It’s more cool to walk away from people.”

This newly discovered footage dates from October 1979 and the endearingly innocent freeform discussion magazine called Something Else, presented by a team of teenagers and made by the BBC Community Programmes unit, years before trendy Channel 4 was invented. Broadcast on Saturday evenings on the intellectual’s channel, BBC2, the show ran for six years until October 1982, closing down at the very moment Channel 4 launched. It is the clear inspiration for the torrent of yoof TV the new network spawned.

In this edition from Birmingham, the Coventry band the Specials had just finished playing and George is sitting beside Martin Degville, just in front of Jane Kahn, partner in the seminal outrage shop Kahn & Bell. In the spring of ’79 George was sharing Degville’s flat, an old dental surgery in Goodall Street, overlooking the Walsall market. George was earning £3.50 a day at Degville’s Dispensary, Martin’s clothes stall in the Oasis market at the Bull Ring.

George described Martin as “cool and alien” in those days, and one of his few remarks on the show nonchalantly raises the biggest laugh. A few months later, he opened a London branch of Degville’s Dispensary where he was always charming and polite and surprisingly shy for somebody who dressed to shock – only visually a precursor of the pop monster he became with Sigue Sigue Sputnik in 1986.

➢➢ VIEW VIDEO of George O’Dowd on Something Else, 1979

George O'Dowd, Martin Degville, BBC, TV debut, Something Else

George holds his own: Note the white glove four years before Jacko debuted his glove along with his signature dance move, the moonwalk, in May 1983. Video © BBC