Tag Archives: Simon Barker

1980–2014 ➤ Ten inspirational reminders from the 80s to stir today’s young to action

Waldorf Hotel, Spandau Ballet, Blitz club, New Romantics, youth culture,Blitz Kids , To Cut a Long Story Short, London, clubbing, DJs,

Waldorf Hotel 1980: seated at centre, Spandau Ballet, house band of Covent Garden’s Blitz club, home of the New Romantics movement, plus support team of Blitz Kids who helped put their first single To Cut a Long Story Short into the UK singles chart at No 5, on 6 Dec 1980. Average age 20, everyone had a specific role to play in staging and promoting the band: seven musicians, six designers, three media and management, three club-hosts, two DJs, one crimper and 22 egos. Photographed for the Evening Standard © by Herbie Knott

◼ TEN OF THE MOST POPULAR POSTS visited here during 2014 confirm Shapers of the 80s as an “invaluable website” in the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook. Grounded in the 1980s – the most explosive decade for British youth culture since the Swinging 60s – our eye witness reports and monthly reviews of British nightlife were originally published in magazines such as The Face, the “style bible” of its day. Our recent commentaries monitor fresh interest in the revival of 80s music and attitude during the past five years. Year-ending visit figures at Shapers of the 80s during 2014 have increased year-on-year by 16% to total 210,000.

Much unseen vintage video footage was discovered by the producers researching Spandau Ballet’s biopic, Soul Boys of the Western World, which proved an eye-opening slice of social history when it was released this year. Every frame reveals the sheer energy and commitment to hedonism and creative self-expression that characterised a generation of school-leavers who in the economic gloom of 1979 faced the threat of no jobs ever in their adult lives. The parallels with Britain’s protracted austerity today are obvious and we might hope the lessons of the 80s will again inspire the young to take their fate into their own hands.

TEN BENCHMARKS FROM THE SWINGING 80S

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

Click pic to open a Top of the Pops performance of Wham Rap! in another window … In the original music video (no longer viewable in the UK !!) “man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the video, pictured, by reading our landmark Face cover story on The Making of UK Club Culture, now reproduced at Shapers of the 80s. (Screengrab © Sony BMG)

➢ Read: 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture

Blitz Kids, No Sacrifice, Chenil gallery,Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy, Stephen Jones, fashion, London

No Sacrifice was an alternative fashion show in 1980 organised by Iain R Webb and mounted for art-school refusés: outside Chelsea’s Chenil Gallery, Kim Bowen as ever sports a hat by Stephen Jones (right), Jeremy Healy at centre. Photographed © by Mick Hurd

➢ Who’s who among the Blitz Kids: 50 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade

Terry Doktor , Carmel Johnson, Rhonda Paster, Axiom, fashion Underground club, Spandau Ballet, gig

New York 1981: Before Spandau Ballet introduced America to electro-diskow at Manhattan’s Underground club, the Axiom fashion cooperative staged a runway show of New Romantic outfits. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, first Blitz invasion of the US by Spandau/Axiom

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

➢ 1983, Who’s who in the new London nightlife boom

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road in London by Steve Johnston

➢ 1980, ‘Your own i-D counts more than fashion’

Blitz club, London 1979, Iain Webb, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,

Real Blitz Kids versus the TV version: George’s boyfriend Wilf and Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy

➢ 1983, Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace

➢ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

➢ 1982, “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

➢ 2014, Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW


➢ 2009 till now – Index of all posts at Shapers of the 80s

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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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➤ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

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

Reunited: a plonker from Six for Jordan at Divus Gallery © Shapersofthe80s

❚ OLD HABITS, EH? A day in the spotlight and Simon Barker, aka Six, starts rewriting history! There we were last night in a Spitalfields gallery, chatting for the first time in 20 years at Punk’s Dead, his new show of early photographs of the now fabled Bromley Contingent, the posse of a dozen fashionistas who helped put the Sex Pistols on the map back in 1976. Having staked his claim to fame as the only person clapping at the end of the Pistols’ sixth gig (Dec 9, 1975, at Ravensbourne College) and being one of four fans with the band during the infamous “Filth & Fury” TV interview (Dec 1, 1976), Simon today works as a photographer in Prague.

Why Prague, I ask, as a big fan of the Bohemian medieval city? He groans: “Oh no! Why Prague? Why does everyone ask me the same question?” You’d never guess Simon and I used to natter away as if we liked each other back in the 80s when I’d pop into Viv’s Worlds End shop after going for a haircut next door at Smile. OK then, Six, why *Bromley*? As in Bromley Contingent. What was in the water in Bromley that produced his posse of poser punks?

“Ah, excellent question!” he replies. “We hated the name. It was created by the media — that woman Caroline Coon.” This is a double-edged dig at both the middle-class, ex-hippy Melody Maker writer who coined the phrase after seeing the “very striking” posse at three Pistols gigs in a row and asking where they came from (Bromley is a town in the south London commuter belt)… and also at me for being another member of the despised legion of journalists.

His Always-a-Punk gene is really kicking in now. “In actual fact, only two of us — me and Steve [Bailey, aka Severin] — came from Bromley. Siouxsie [Susan Ballion, later singer with the Banshees] was from Chislehurst. Billy [Broad, later Idol] lived in Bickley. And Jordan [born Pamela Rooke] came up from Seaford.

“For me and Steve, living in that bit of suburbia, Bromley had the best connection into London — 20 minutes by train. Any further away and it wouldn’t have been so easy to visit for gigs, sex, Louise’s…”

Aha, the location-location transport solution! A recurring theme, because in a surprisingly cooperative interview in 2002 Six did admit that his reason for moving to the Czech Republic “was its location. It is the heart of Europe and a great base to travel from.”

Six was either being pure-punk cussed by splitting hairs about his posse, or possibly was having a bit of a hashtag_Senior_Moment. Bickley is after all the next stop down the line from Bromley, only 2,000 metres away, and Chislehurst another 1,000 metres further on. But fair enough, he’s got a point. Even if you include Sioux and Idol and Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, who lived three doors away from Bowie’s mum in Bromley, five out of a posse of 12 does not a “Bromley” Contingent make. So last night, we witnessed history being rewritten.

WHO waS WHO in the “Bromley” Contingent

Bromley Contingent, Soo Catwoman, Jordan, punks

Ray Stevenson’s classic 1976 pic of some of the Bromley Contingent, plus Soo Catwoman who came from Ealing

According to Wikipedia: Siouxsie Sioux, Jordan, Soo Catwoman, Simon “Boy” Barker, Debbie Juvenile (née Wilson), Linda Ashby, Philip Sallon, Alan Salisbury, Simone Thomas, Bertie “Berlin” Marshall, Tracie O’Keefe, Steve Severin, Billy Idol and Sharon Hayman.

Caroline Coon’s 1977 book The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion remains a fresh and pro-fan account of the movement’s origins, less prone to mythologising than later histories

➢ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

➢ Simon Barker chats to Dazed about the anarchic punk era

➢ Another epic Stevenson picture of the Bromley Contingent, 1976

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

Jordan then and now: the Queen of Punks with Simon Barker’s 1977 photo showing for a month at Divus Temporary Gallery, London E1 6QF © Shapersofthe80s

❏ Mind you, the true superstar present in the Spitalfields gallery was Jordan herself, Queen of Punks, artfully positioned in front of Six’s truly iconic portrait of her on the wall, priced at £300 a pop. There wasn’t a moment all evening when she wasn’t surrounded by a buzz of fans and old stars of punk and she was such easy company, chatting away without airs or graces. She said: “I’m a veterinary nurse now and I breed Burmese cats. Look at the number of photos here of me and Siouxsie with cats.”

She has returned to live in Seaford but loves telling the 70s stories about travelling up to London from the south coast resort, being harangued by commuters for her spiky hair and outrageous bondage clothes from McLaren and Westwood’s Chelsea shops Sex and Seditionaries. To keep her out of trouble, one British Rail guard told her to go sit in first class. “The day I came up to apply for a job at Sex, it was shut, so I wandered over to Harrods and applied there in my blonde spikes and green face foundation. They gave me a part-time job in Way In” (their trendy top-floor fashion department).

As the single most inventive pioneer of definitive punk looks, Jordan soon joined Sex, however, becoming their totemic house model and honorary fifth member of the Sex Pistols, all too willing to flash her tits for the press at their ninth gig in Andrew Logan’s loft. In 1977 she briefly managed Adam & The Ants in their hardcore phase, but most notoriously starred in Derek Jarman’s dystopian fantasy movie, Jubilee, singing a raunchy version of Rule Britannia.

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six explains the magic at 7:15 in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT documentary, The Year of Punk, 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

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➤ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

Punk’s Dead , Derek Dunbar ,, Jordan,

Jordan the queen of punk: pantone matched first samples fresh from the printers on Derek Dunbar’s Facebook page today

◼ HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO KNOW ABOUT PUNK? Not much, you might think. Yet today Derek Dunbar — the King’s Road fixer, model, singer, Jarmanite and McLaren acolyte, now styling himself as project manager — announced on Facebook that he is producing some T-shirts emblazoned with Jordan’s image (Jordan the queen of punk, immortalised in Derek Jarman’s movie Jubilee). “These are the first samples we will produce once Six has finished at his exhibition in London so I hope to start in 3 weeks or 4 weeks.”

Exhibition? Six? Who? Those in the know know that Six is aka Simon and Simon was the quiet one in among Susan Dallion (later Siouxsie Sioux), Steve Severin, Debbie Juvenile and Soo Catwoman in those seminal 1976 snaps of the Bromley Contingent — first followers of the Sex Pistols and the Chelsea retail outlets of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Some of the Contingent became headliners in the punk explosion, Simon playing his part by appearing with the Pistols on the infamous teatime TV show that lost television journalist Bill Grundy his job. More discreetly, as a resident of the St James’s Hotel in Westminster, Simon provided a refuge for punk’s suburban protagonists.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Jordan

1976: Jordan and Simon Barker aka Six (from Derek Dunbar’s Facebook album)

Under his pseudonym Six, he now reveals: “In 1976, I bought myself one of the cheapest pocket cameras available. Fully automatic, with no controls or settings… Subconsciously I concentrated on the women and artists at the heart of what would later be known as punk in London. The photos you see were spur-of-the-moment shots taken by myself for myself and, up until now, I used to think they weren’t good enough to show people.”

Far from it. A quick google reveals these early snapshots to be “a rare and intimate account of punk’s ability to mint newness” and they evince “the cool stillness of seeming to live beyond the end of history.” Ohhhhh!!! Orgasmic! And you’re asking, Who said THAT?

Michael Bracewel,books9,England is Mine, Pop LifeGoogle, please tell. The verdict comes from Michael Bracewell (author of England is Mine: Pop Life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie, 2009), one of those writers whose cultural observations you know are worth the effort to read, wrapped though they are in ripely purple prose. And in a recent article about Six, he announces what these days is the official line, that “Punk lasted in the UK for little more than 14 months, between 1976 and the Jubilee summer of 1977.” Anything later was accounted an offshoot of punk, or dubbed simply New Wave!!!

You raise an eyebrow, salivating for more. And more is delivered in his Independent piece from last March when he defined punk once and for all…

➢ In essence, beneath the headline Anarchy in the UK,
Bracewell declares:

  • To some, punk was primarily political in its energy, carrying class war or a reclamation of the Situationist desire to ‘wreck culture’ to the brutalist Britain of the pre-Thatcher 1970s.
  • To others, it was an avant-garde fashion parade: a damply British reclamation of the Zurich Dada or the Ballets Russes.
  • And to yet others it was the gleeful desecration of rock music’s Church of Authenticity, in which had been worshipped the sanctity of the Blues.
  • Speaking with Malcolm McLaren – arguably punk’s architect – shortly before his death in 2010, the case was put more simply: if punk could lay any claim on historic status, he said, it would best be remembered as ‘like doing the Twist in a ruin’.

Sensational, whichever way you take your pick! But he’s warming to his own conclusion:

  • Punk … appeared to confront the stagnation of cultural consumerism – by describing, in a language of self-parody, the notion of modernity itself reaching critical mass and unsurprisingly imploding. Hence, perhaps, the slogan above the door of the SEX boutique at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea: ‘Modernity Killed Every Night’.

Divine! We can go to our graves sure about the meaning of punk, once and for all. Or rather, five times and for all.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker,Little Nell, Adam Ant

1977: Little Nell with Adam Ant at a Butler’s Wharf party. Photographed by Six

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

1977: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel. Photographed by Six

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker

Six in Prague: Barker demonstrating with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek who has become the zeitgeist interpreter of social phenomena in the 20-tweens

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six explains the magic at 7:15 in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT documentary, The Year of Punk, 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

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