Tag Archives: Soho Radio

➤ My own Rondo moment immortalised by Sullivan, the grand Wag of Soho

portrait painting,

Immortalised on canvas: Chris Sullivan’s portrait of the face behind Shapersofthe80s

ONE OF THE BRAVEST things I’ve ever done – apart from disagree with a newspaper editor – was to pose for my portrait, as mine is the kind of family who can’t boast even one ancestor committed to oil on canvas. So when Eighties uber-Wag Chris Sullivan offered to paint me in the style of one of his band Blue Rondo’s wittily cubistic 12-inch record sleeves, I jumped at the chance to look like any of those cool guys on Me And Mr Sanchez in 1981.

So here I am [up top] and the result is strangely hypnotic, if not actually cubistic – “More vorticist than anything else,” says Chris, though we agreed perhaps closer to the audacious David Bomberg’s later work and that suits me down to ground, a rebel 20th-century style that veers towards abstract and also hints at dynamism. Chris posted the portrait at Facebook and amazing numbers of people said he’d caught the eyes very well, and going by this photo that he took when he handed the canvas over to me last week, I am bound to agree!

Blue Rondo à la Turk, Chris Sullivan, artwork, sleeve,

The Sullivan style on a Blue Rondo sleeve from 1981, itself a convincing echo of Picasso’s Tres Musicos of 1921

How it came about was through his new book Rebel Rebel which comes out in April (after a gestation lasting about four years!). He invited friends to crowd-fund the project through Unbound Books and when I saw that the prize offered for the topmost pledge was a Rondo-esque portrait, I snapped it up (never forget Sullivan switched from fashion onto the fine-art course while at St Martin’s and turned out a lot of visual material right through the 1990s, quite apart from designing the dreamworld interior of his Wag Club in Soho).

We discussed all this and more when he asked me onto his Soho Radio show last month for nearly an hour and a half. Somewhere between Bowie’s TVC15 and Was Not Was’s Wheel Me Out, I dared to ask whether the approaching deadline for his book being published and finishing this portrait had provided a trigger for his recent return to painting and drawing. We’ve seen a sudden outpouring of witty caricatures of his friends in a mix of paint and pencil and ink flying around on the web. He almost agreed, saying: “It certainly got my chops together, put it that way. . . I’m not trying to be Rothko or Caravaggio, but I’ve always been a big fan of George Grosz and even Picasso did some caricatures.”

My A3-sized portrait is much more fully worked up in acrylic and crayon on canvas than Sullivan’s fun drawings on paper and even though he started chortling sarcastically when I said I’d wanted him to paint me not out of vanity but for love of Rondo, the fact is I’m chuffed to bits to own an image that makes a substantial statement about his talent. It certainly raises an eyebrow when friends come visiting.

JAWING on ART AT SOHO RADIO (@55 MINS)

Chris Sullivan, Sullivan’s Suits, Soho Radio, interview, DJ,

Chris Sullivan: spinning the discs on his show Sullivan’s Suits at Soho Radio while interviewing me on January 30. (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)


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➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Sullivan the wag changes hats at the touch of his paintbrush

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➤ Launching tomorrow, Soho’s new radio station gives Sullivan the wag a place in its shop window

Wag club, London, nightclubbing, Chris Sullivan,1980s,

On TV in 1984: Wag club host Chris Sullivan talks of his love for jazz (BBC)

❚ DEEJAY AND FORMER WAG CLUB HOST and reinventor of the zoot suit Chris Sullivan writes today: “My first radio show on Soho Radio tomorrow from 4 till 6pm …. Tune in online for an afternoon tickle…. and please like the page if you can. I’d be most grateful.”

➢ His Presenter page at Soho Radio reads like his job app to me:

Soho Radio, online,London, UK The show would be called Sullivan Suits and would cover all the music I come across each week on my quest as a DJ that might be Scorpio by Dennis Coffey, You and Me By Slave, Hustlers Convention by the Last Poets or re-edits by Joey Negro such as Same Old Scene by Roxy or stuff that I refind such as Manhattan Fable by Babs Gonsales, Light My Fire by Erma Franklyn. These would be backed up by old favourites such as A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash, Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Kooks by David Bowie. Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Aretha etc etc.

I’d throw in odd facts, stories and hoaxes. All in all it would be whatever suits me and the listener that day. I would also get a guest from time to time and get them to pick a few tracks – Mark Powell, Phil Dirtbox, Kevin Rowlands, Bernie from Groucho, Mark Hix etc and perhaps discuss Soho and swop stories.

❏ Launching at 2pm Weds May 7, Soho Radio is a new independent radio station with 24/7 live streaming and pre-recorded programming from its own shop/cafe in Great Windmill Street, next to Paul Raymond’s Windmill Club. Wave to the Cuban Brothers and later to Sullivan through the studio’s large shop window onto the street. The station says it aims to provide an eclectic mix of the vibrant and diverse which this district of central London is renowned for – breaking underground acts and bringing together musicians, artists, film makers, chefs, poets and local piano tuners. Nowhere does the website says who’s behind the radio station, so until it proves itself we’d better assume it’s some Russian oligarch, as usual these days.

TALKING OF THE WAG, HERE’S A RARE OLD VIDEO

❏ Newly posted at YouTube, here’s a supercool glimpse inside Chris Sullivan’s Wag club on Wardour Street when it was London’s landmark nightspot during 1984. Monday nights were given over to the clubland’s most fashionable music craze – jazz! This segment comes from the BBC2 Whistle Test music programme on the Jazz Room when David Hepwoth ventures into the Wag to meet clubland’s jazz deejay Paul Murphy, old-timers Slim Gaillard and Will Gaines, Jerry IDJ, Dr Bob Jones, Robert Elms, among others. While club dudes complain “There’s no good pop music around at the moment” we see the American vocalist and true legend Slim Gaillard boogeying on the Wag’s dancefloor and also in a great vintage clip from 1946 singing his “groovy orooney” number, Dunkin’ Bagel.

Chris Sullivan comments: “I’ve never seen this … but then again I really didn’t like the interviewer hence my lack of enthusiasm in our chat.”

Wag Club, London, 1980s,  Paul Murphy, nightclubbing,Slim Gaillard

At the Wag in 1984: jazz deejay Paul Murphy, and American trouper Slim Gaillard (BBC)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: When the Wag club shaped the New London Weekend

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