STYLE HISTORY CULTURE
AUTUMN 2013 A FREE QUARTERLY
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 9
“Music is a spiritual force.”
Occupation Market Stall Owner Location M. Manze Pie & Mash Shop Islington ◆ London ◆ N.1
Contemporary British Menswear peterwerthâ—†com
BROOKS. UNQUESTIONABLE BRITISH TRADITION.
EENJOY N JOY EEVERY V ERY M MILE IL E
s P i t s B E rG E n - n orway 78°41’ N - 16°24’ E eu.elementbrand.com short film online now @elementeurope #wolfeboroauthentech Karsten Kleppan Photos by Element advocate Brian Gaberman
STYLE HISTORY CULTURE ©
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 9 Cover star: Afrika Bambaataa photographed by Janette Beckman Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director Marcus Agerman Ross email@example.com Commercial Director Andrew Chidgey-Nakazono firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Editor Chris Tang email@example.com
Advertising Manager Chris Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Assistant Edward Moore email@example.com
Financial Director Marcus Bayley firstname.lastname@example.org
Designer Colin Christie Sub Editor Rosie Spencer
Publisher Johanna Agerman Ross email@example.com
Intern Felipe Esteban Associate Editor Chris Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Fashion Editor Marcus Love New York Editor Janette Beckman email@example.com
Staff Writers Paolo Hewitt, Chris May, Andy Thomas, Mark Webster Staff Photographer Ross Trevail firstname.lastname@example.org Original Design Phil Buckingham Subscriptions email@example.com Contributors Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala, Mark Anthony, Savannah Baker, Paul Bradshaw, Alan Clarke, Pelle Crépin, Adrian JW Darby, Kevin Davies, Orlando Gili, David Goldman, Tim Hans, Robert Harper, Adam Howe, Karen Mason, Mattias Pettersson, Linus Ricard, Miss Rosen, Juan Trujillo Andrades, Paul Vickery, Kasia Wozniak, Robert Wyatt Special thanks to Mark Baxter, Sam and Gary Haughton, Mark Lebon, Keiko Nemeth, Lui Nemeth, Riyo Nemeth, John and Tea Pollock, Ian Thomson at the Warrington, Michelle Wade at Maison Bertaux, Judith Walters at Peckham BMX Correction: Issue 8 Erika Rodin should have been credited as the photographic assistant on the ‘Why New York?’ fashion story Jocks&Nerds Magazine, Tack Press Limited, 283 Kingsland Road, London E2 8AS Telephone +44 (0)20 7739 8188 jocksandnerds.com facebook.com/jocksandnerds Twitter: @jocksandnerds Instagram: @jocksandnerdsmagazine Jocks&Nerds is a free magazine published four times a year, printed by Park Communications Ltd parkcom.co.uk If you would like a copy delivered to your door contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Postage prices UK £5, Europe £10, North America £12, RoW £14 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in the magazine are that of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. Jocks&Nerds is published by Tack Press Limited ©2013 s
41425 PERFORMANCE COTTON 3L WITH PRIMALOFT速 INSULATION TECHNOLOGY HOODED JACKET IN PERFORMANCE COTTON 3L, A LIGHT COTTON POPLIN BONDED TO AN ALL-WEATHER PERFORMANCE MEMBRANE. ENTIRELY THERMO-TAPED SEAMS. INSIDE, THE GARMENT FEATURES THE EXCEPTIONAL PRIMALOFT速 INSULATION TECHNOLOGY SUBSTRATE, AN EXCLUSIVE BLEND OF SMALL DIAMETER FIBRES LENDING TO THE PIECE SUPERIOR THERMAL PERFORMANCE. PRIMALOFT速 IS DEVELOPED TO STAY DRIER EVEN WHEN WET. IT DELIVERS THE HIGHEST WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO OF ALL SYNTHETIC INSULATIONS. IT IS WATER REPELLENT, BREATHABLE, ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPRESSIBLE. POCKETS WITH FLAP AND SNAP FASTENING. VERTICAL CHEST POCKET WITH SNAP FASTENED FLAP. RIBBED INNER CUFFS. HOOD WITH ADJUSTABLE REAR DRAWSTRING. ZIP AND SNAP FASTENING.
FLAGSHIP STORE: 79 BREWER STREET_LONDON_W1F 9ZN
70–75 MUSIC: Lonnie Liston Smith
is still inviting us to expand our minds
Contents 12–17 SEEN: Peckham BMX is a club
76–83 STYLE: Only The Gentle
Photographs Marcus Agerman Ross Styling Salim Ahmed-Kashmirwala 84–89 CINEMA: Robert Mitchum
138–145 STYLE: Modern Makers
Photographs Kasia Wozniak Styling Savannah Baker
146–151 CINEMA: Moondog wrote
some of the most important modern classical music
in south London creating some of the best riders in the UK
drank hard, smoked harder and brawled hardest… He also found some time for acting, writing and singing
152–155 MUSIC: The Beatles. All These
18–32 NEWS: Get stuck into your winter
90–101 CULTURE: Christopher
156–157 BULLETIN: Patagonia
34–41 PEOPLE: Look like you mean it
Nemeth was a unique fashion designer whose work influenced Comme des Garçons, John Galliano and Kim Jones
42–45 DETAIL: Wicklow Mountains
102–107 COVER STORY: Afrika
gear, books, music, etc.
Photographs Marcus Agerman Ross Styling Johanna Agerman Ross
46–51 SPOTLIGHT: Fragrance excites
our most primal sense
52–55 BULLETIN: William Fox
& Sons is a traditional British label lovingly brought back to life by the guys behind Present 56–61 STYLE: Clapton Park
Photographs Alan Clarke Styling Mark Anthony
62–69 HISTORY: Paris in the 1920s
was a place of hedonism, excitement and unrivalled creativity p186
Bambaataa is the hip hop pioneer working with Cornell University to create the largest hip hop archive in the world 108–119 STYLE: Dewi Griffiths
Photographs Robert Wyatt Styling Adam Howe
Years is the most comprehensive book on the band that began it all
continues to pioneer socially responsible business after 40 years 158–161 HISTORY: Eden Ahbez wrote
‘Nature Boy’ for Nat King Cole and set the template for the hippie movement 162–169 STYLE: Dan Cook
Photographs Mattias Pettersson Styling Marcus Love 170–177 SPORT: Sonny Liston was
120–125 CULTURE: Ken Garland wrote
his First Things First manifesto 50 years ago. He continues to rage against the machine 126–131 MUSIC: James Lavelle
started the Mo’Wax record label when just a teenager 132–137 CINEMA: Kenneth Anger is
still making beautiful, thought-provoking short films
a boxing great who attracted trouble throughout his short life 178–184 GALLERY: American
Sports in London are becoming increasingly popular 186–188 PROFILE: Rin Tanaka is the
world expert on motorcycle jackets and runs Inspiration in Los Angeles 190–191 ICON: The Duffle Coat was
the staple of the proto-youth rebels, the trad jazzers
“ GOOD CLOTHES ARE LIKE
LIVE THE AUTHENTIC WOOLRICH EXPERIENCE ON THE NEW WOOLRICH.EU
Peckham BMX Photographs Orlando Gili
2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of Peckham BMX â€“ an important landmark for a project that fights against the odds and definitely punches above its weight. Not that founder, local DJ and ex-BMXer CK Flash is resting on his laurels. Last August, a new track opened, replacing the original quarter12
size one. Starting with just four members, the club has grown to become one of the largest in the UK. In that time four of its members have gone on to become part of the Olympic team. Tre White is now ranked third in the country, while Quillan Isidore has been UK champion three times despite being
only 16. A film, 1 Way Up: The Story of Peckham BMX, is currently in production. 1 Way Up: The Story of Peckham BMX, directed by Amy Mathieson shineglobal.org peckhambmx.co.uk
Blaine Ridge-Davis, 14, BMX racer, wears trainers by Nike Describe your style. Casual. What’s so special about Peckham BMX? It’s like a family which helps and supports one another. Describe Peckham BMX in three words. Hard. Funny. Determination. Who’s your favourite musician? Justin Bieber. What’s your favourite movie? Rush Hour 3.
SEEN | Peckham BMX
Harvey Hutson, 18, student, wears top by Adidas Describe your style. I wear a variety of styles blended into one. What’s so special about Peckham BMX? The people running it are so hardworking and caring, steering us in the right direction. Describe Peckham BMX in three words. Tough. Determined. Special. Who’s your favourite musician? Jay-Z. What’s your favourite movie? Lawless.
SEEN | Peckham BMX
Kye Zion Whyte, 14, student, wears top and tracksuit bottoms by Adidas Describe your style. Trendy. What’s so special about Peckham BMX? It has got me where I am today. Describe Peckham BMX in three words. Fun. Hard work. What’s your favourite music? Anything from hip hop to R ’n’ B. What’s your favourite movie? The Fast and the Furious.
Paul Bradshaw, Bob Jones and Swifty
The Sound of the Drum
It began, as DJ extraordinaire Bob Jones explained recently, “in the 1980s as a potential project for Touch magazine. They had done a kind of London Underground map of record labels, and I had the idea of extending it to genres of music. I did a rough sketch ages ago and it’s gone on from there.” And finally, The Sound of the Drum, a beautifully crafted flowchart-style graphic illustration, mapping the history of black music and its myriad developments is ready. Renowned artist Swifty is responsible for working Jones’s idea into something both magical and visually literate. As he pointed out, not only was the actual music a heavy influence on his work. “It was as much about my inspirations in graphic design, from wherever that might be. Be it the sounds of soul and jazz or the visual references I’ve taken over the years. And reinterpreting those”. But The Sound of the Drum is so much more than a piece of artwork to be admired. (Although fans are able to buy copies.) Which is where Paul Bradshaw, who started Straight No Chaser magazine, comes in – as he is man in charge of kickstarting a range of exhibitions and activities around the concept over the coming year. stereophonic-supply.co ancienttofuture.wordpress.com Words Mark Webster Photograph Chris Tang
Llareggub: Peter Blake illustrates Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood As the world gears up for the centenary celebrations of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the National Museum Cardiff unveils a series of illustrations inspired by Thomas’s Under Milk Wood by celebrated pop artist Peter Blake. First hearing the play as a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s, Blake has been creating these illustrations as an ongoing project, seen together for the first time at this exhibition. Llareggub: Peter Blake illustrates Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood is on show at National Museum Cardiff until 16 March 2014 museumwales.ac.uk dt100.info peterblakegallery.com Words Edward Moore
Fujifilm x Millican
Lake District-based bag company Millican has teamed up with Fuji to create a range of special bags designed to hold the Fuji X-Series cameras. Together they have created a campaign, Freedom Through Photography, which invites photographers to showcase their imagery. homeofmillican.com fujifilm.eu #freedomthroughphotography Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Snapper Jonathan Daniel Pryce 100beards.tumblr.com
Dawson Denim Jeans
The denim jean – the most ubiquitous item of clothing in the world – is now clattered out by every pile-’em-high high street store. So, how do you make ones that are special? Well, Kelly Dawson and Scott Ogden from Dawson Denim pride themselves as stalwarts of what great denim can be. Which is why it’s taken them a couple of years to produce their first jean. During that time they have been sourcing machinery and creating denim made on 100-year-old Toyoda looms. More importantly, it is Dawson’s own hand in the construction that really sets them apart. What this gal doesn’t know about denim would fit onto a grain of sand. These lovingly produced, handcrafted jeans each come with their own logbook and can be sent back to them for repairs. dawsondenim.com
Kelly Dawson and Scott Ogden of Dawson Denim
Photograph David Goldman Words Edward Moore
NEWS Hackett x Cooper Bikes
“I’ve always thought cycling a very British and very stylish mode of transport,” says Hackett owner Jeremy Hackett. “And who better to partner in their production than the Cooper family, who came up with the Mini Cooper back in the 1960s.” Thus two dual-designed and branded bikes have emerged triumphant – a chrome, single-speed and a green tourer. Both bikes come with Brooks leather saddles and bar tape as standard. Fittingly, Hackett has made a range of apparel to look and feel dandy whilst on the bikes. hackett.com cooperbikes.com Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Chris Sullivan Cyclist Jeremy Clements stperegrinevc.co.uk
Top and jeans by Hackett x Cooper Bikes; trainers by New Balance.
The Roses Grow Wild
Annette Kellow’s experiences as a burlesque performer and actress has allowed her an insight into the characters and adventures that occur in London after dark. Set in east London, her book The Roses Grow Wild explores the highs and lows of the early stages of adulthood amongst a seemingly lost generation. Charting the troubles of an aspiring young writer who finds herself in a turbulent love affair, Kellow’s writing taps into the psychology of a young twenty-something and explores the mental landscape of a world that expects easy recognition and success. chipmunkapublishing.co.uk Old Favourites. From Blitz no 49, January 1987, by Robert Ogilvie
You’re Ugly and Your Mother Dresses You Funny
Following on from the recently published book As Seen in Blitz: Fashioning ’80s Style, Iain R Webb, the magazine’s fashion director, has curated an exhibition alongside designer Paul Smith. You’re Ugly and Your Mother Dresses You Funny brings together a collection of imagery and ephemera from the magazine as well as five Paul Smith denim jackets customised by Webb that reference the Blitz magazine Designer Denim Jacket project of 1986, for which he commissioned 22 designers, including Smith, to reimagine a Levi’s denim jacket. You’re Ugly and Your Mother Dresses You Funny is at Paul Smith, 9 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London until 13 December 2013 paulsmith.co.uk Words Edward Moore
Photograph Chris Tang Words Edward Moore Location Maison Bertaux, 28 Greek St, London W1 maisonbertaux.com
Dennis Stock: American Cool
Most famous for his friendship with, and intimate portraits of, James Dean, Dennis Stock photographed much of what might now be termed “iconic” in America in the 1950s and ’60s, from film stars to jazz musicians to young presidents. Reel Art Press has brought together the first anthology of his work with complete access to Stock’s archive. reelartpress.com Words Edward Moore
Gavin Watson Dr Martens T-Shirts
Photographer and Jocks&Nerds contributor Gavin Watson took the most recognised and revered images of the skinhead movement of the 1970s whilst barely into his teens. Fast forward 30-plus years and Watson is one of the most respected photographers working in the UK today. It seems only fitting that Dr Martens, the boots of choice for said skins, should recognise his legacy with a series of T-shirts emblazoned with some of those great photographs. drmartens.co.uk shootgroup.com
Mohan is the brainchild of Tony Smith and Donna Sibley. Smith has worked in production and design for a range of brands over the past 15 years. His experience Photograph Chris Tang Words Edward Moore has put him in contact with the best manufacturers, Skins Andreas, Bill and Tyrone suppliers and skilled craftsmen around the world. Location Oi! Oi! The Shop, 410 Stables Market, London NW1 Sibley, his girlfriend, designs jewellery and remodels facebook.com/oioi.theshop high-end vintage clothing. Pooling their skills, they have created a range of six bags, which they plan to expand over the coming 12 months. mohangoodsco.com 47 Brand Available at Anthem, 10 Calvert St, Founded by the Italian-born D’Angelo London E2 anthemstore.co.uk twins, Arthur and Henry, 47 Brand has Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason continued to produce its iconic headwear Words Edward Moore and apparel collections, with the brand Store owner Simon Spiteri now at the ripe age of 65. In 1947, the twins arrived fresh off the boat with an entrepreneurial spirit and started off selling handmade felt pennants to sports fans in their hometown, Boston. From these humble beginnings, the twins expanded their operation and started selling souvenirs to baseball stadiums across the country. In 2005, 47 Brand joined Banner Supply Company, a small upstart apparel brand that produced highquality, sports-licensed apparel, and formed a strong partnership based upon their similar values. Today, through focusing on quality, comfort and durability, they extend far beyond the world of sport and produce premium headwear and apparel for the discerning consumer. 47brand.com
Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Graphic Designer Ross Aitken ross-tb-aitken.com
The No. 258 BAG.
A long-lived design requiring a year or two to break in, and three or four decades to wear out. Made in Seattle. Filson.com/258Bag
NEWS Hobo Hats
Historically, the hat was seen as the mark of a gentleman, but it also had a range of functional uses for cowboys, nomads and hobos. More than a mere hat, it was like a companion, used to protect against the elements, shade the eyes for sleep and catch drinking water, for example. It is this relationship with one’s headgear that has inspired Hobo Hats, created by Tony Conigliaro and Nicolas PayneBaader. The collection includes both new and old hats, shaped entirely by hand. Each hat is smoked with cedarwood, which protects them from moths. facebook.com/hobohat Tony Conigliaro and Nicolas Payne-Baader, founders of Hobo Hats
Photograph Juan Trujillo Andrades Words Edward Moore
Lewis Leathers Iggy Pop Jacket
John Dove and Molly White’s leopard head Wild Thing jacket was immortalised by Iggy Pop when he wore his (one of only five ever made) on the back cover of his Raw Power album in 1973. To mark the 40th anniversary of the album, Dove and White have collaborated with Lewis Leathers to replicate the jacket using the original screens. lewisleathers.com wonderworkshop.co.uk Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Punk Tom Kiblawi
“Little is known about William Onyeabor, and that’s the way he likes it.” So begins Vivien Goldman’s sleevenotes to a new compilation of music from this cultish African electronic music pioneer. After studying cinematography in Russia, Onyeabor returned to Lagos in the mid1970s to set up the Wilfilms label, releasing eight revolutionary LPs before his exile as a born-again Christian. Even David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label was unable to get him to talk about how he came to record incredible LPs such as Atomic Bomb and Body & Soul. Thankfully they were eventually able to get his agreement to this compilation of his prescient Afro electro funk, recorded from 1978-85. Who is William Onyeabor? is part of Luaka Bop’s World Psychedelic Classics and is a worthy addition to this excellent series. The fact that Onyeabor remains a reclusive figure might add to the mystique of his music, but let’s hope one day he allows us to hear his story. luakabop.com Words Andy Thomas
Universal Works x John Smedley
Congrats to Pellicano menswear, which celebrates its first birthday this month, having spent its first year offering a wide range of pre-Mod clothing exclusively online. Although the brand carries great buttondown floral numbers, Mick, the owner, is much more attracted to clothing that harks back to the late 1950s – as evidenced by his coloured, knitted ties, penny collar cotton shirts, and insistence that all his clothing is made in Italy. Hence the great company logo – “British Style. Italian Swagger”. Believe it. pellicanomenswear.com
Universal Works’ David Keyte plied his trade for several years working at Paul Smith before creating his own brand. And it’s this experience working in the heartland of British manufacturing that has been carried thorough to his own label, which is based in Nottingham. It is therefore fitting that Universal Works has collaborated with John Smedley this season with a small range of simple but highly prized knitwear. universalworks.co.uk johnsmedley.com Photograph Chris Tang Words Edward Moore Shop manager Tom Beete
Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Paolo Hewitt Snapper Toby Lewis Thomas candyblackdesign.com
Bushwick, Brooklyn 2005 by Boogie
Ska by Matthew Murray
Among the many exciting things that the first wave of Jamaican immigrants brought to the UK was great music, a dress sense and a whole lot of attitude. In a word, ska. It’s hardly surprising that it was adopted and celebrated by locals looking to up the ante. And like all these things, as they say, what goes around comes around. Matthew Murray has been documenting the current crop of ska acolytes and has finally published his direct portraits in a neat little book. matthewmurray.co.uk Words Edward Moore
Henri Cartier-Bresson pioneered street photography when he took the newly invented Leica 35mm camera out with him onto the streets of Paris. Yet, today, thanks to photographers such as Bruce Davidson, Joel Meyerowitz, Mary Ellen Mark and Jamel Shabazz, we tend to see the unmistakable New York backdrop in the most important street photography of the last 50 years. These important social diarists are recognised in Cheryl Dunn’s illuminating document Everybody Street, which captures the allure of New York itself as well as interviewing these key protagonists. everybodystreet.com Words Edward Moore
NEWS Jigsaw x Sanders
Still family-owned, Northampton-based Sanders Shoes is perhaps best known for protecting the feet of the foot soldiers in the first world war, at one time producing 6,000 pairs a week. Recognised for its sturdy, classic style, it has recently tied up with newly relaunched Jigsaw menswear to create a collection of shoes for the brand. jigsaw-online.com sanders-uk.com Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Merchandiser Jackson Burke
Boots by Jigsaw x Sanders; suit, shirt and belt by Jigsaw.
Riders of Phanom by Luke Moran-Morris Punk 45: The Singles Cover Art of Punk 1976-80
The typically insightful and erudite introductory essay from Jon Savage sets the tone for what is not just a study of Punk 45 cover art, but of the DIY aesthetic of punk itself. “These kind of singles and sleeves revelled in the freedom brought by independence, and its survival as a viable market for difference and dissonance,” he concludes. The essays and interviews that follow, with key designers and label owners, reveal much about this multi-faceted worldwide movement and, in fact, make a perfect accompaniment to Savage’s weighty England’s Dreaming. souljazzrecords.co.uk Words Andy Thomas
Jocks&Nerds contributor Luke MoranMorris has spent the last year travelling in the east through various countries including Thailand. An avid social documentary photography, settling in the Phanom Sarakham district for a few months, Moran-Morris was struck by the ubiquity of the humble scooter and its central role in everyday life here, from taking the kids to school, to shopping to socialising. His series of images have been brought together in this book, accompanied by a text by Leah Tannehill in both Thai and English. “There are no traffic jams here,” writes Tannehill. “At rush hour the traffic is fluid like water.” lukemoran-morris.co.uk Words Edward Moore
I Used to be in Pictures: An Untold Story of Hollywood
It’s a story more fantastical than any of the movies the actors in this book were in. Twin brothers in quaint England with a love of old Hollywood films write a fan letter to Lillian Gish, star of the silent, golden era of Hollywood. Not only does she respond, she invites them to stay. And so begins a unique friendship between the young boys and a wealth of Hollywood greats – Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart for starters. Their experience is captured through the letters and recollections of their encounters over cups of tea. It’s a truly remarkable and invaluable insight into a bygone era of celebrity and cinema. accpublishinggroup.com Words Edward Moore
Sandast bags use only organic materials, crested using handcrafted techniques. Broken into three ranges, the Limited Collection consists of one-offs, the Black Collection incorporates details such as premium horse hides, tweeds and solid brass buckles, while the Territory Collection has more accessible, rugged, all-purpose bags. sandast.com Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Location Curio Cabal, 258 Kingsland Rd, London E8 facebook.com/curiocabal
“Boys Club: Actors on the set of All Quiet on the Western Front 1930. Back row: Russell Gleason, Slimm Summerville, Lew Ayres, William Bakewell. Front row: Ben Alexander and Walter Browne Rogers”
Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop
As one third of pop trio Saint Etienne, Bob Stanley has a personal insight into the life of a pop star as well as maintaining a successful music writing career. Yeah Yeah Yeah posits the idea that pop music began with the first 7” singles of the 1950s, coming to an end with the dawn of the digital download. Stanley takes a literal and unique approach to documenting this era by reviewing each hit with anecdotal stories along the way. fabersocial.co.uk Words Edward Moore
RALPH LAUREN Pink Pony
Pink Pony is Ralph Laurenâ€™s initiative in the fight against cancer.
Our mission is to reduce disparities in cancer care in medically underserved communities and ensure that treatment is available at an earlier, more curable stage.
25% of the purchase price from Pink Pony products will benefit The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. TO LEARN MORE, PLEASE VISIT
The Fabulous Rock ’n’ Roll Songbook
Paying tribute to the heroes of rock ’n’ roll, such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, Cliff Richard’s 100th studio album acts as a reflection on what he and many others feel was one of the most progressive advances in musical history. The Fabulous Rock ’n’ Roll Songbook features 15 tracks from the genre’s heyday, and was recorded live at the Blackbird Studio and the Parlor in Nashville, Tennessee. rhino.com Words Edward Moore
Cliff Richard at the Chiswick Empire 1959
Element Wolfeboro Collection
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, a picture postcard example of the beautiful American great outdoors, is regarded as America’s oldest resort. It is also home to a lakeside cabin built in 1926 by the great-grandfather of Johnny Schillereff, founder of Element. Schillereff has fond childhood memories of the town and the surrounding wilderness. So, it felt apt to name Element’s new range, which utilises the highestquality and most technical fabrics, after this idyllic spot that symbolises both the comfort of home and the awe of nature at its most epic. elementbrand.com Photograph Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Graphic Designer Phil Bedford dripbook.com/philbedford
Jacket by Element; jeans by Edwin Jeans; sweater by Oliver Spencer; boots by Red Wing Shoes.
One of the year’s more interesting books has to be Roger Dean’s self-published Esoteric London. An ex-fashion photographer, Dean has spent many years photographing unexpected images of London – pub signs, graffiti, doorways etc – and then used text from old London literature to accompany the photos, thus making the connection between the past and the present. esotericlondon.com Words Paolo Hewitt
Film After Film
Acclaimed film critic J Hoberman posits the question of what has, and what will, happen to cinema in the 21st century, post the digital age. A fascinating read, the book discusses the various elements that are shaping modern cinema. And the good news for movie buffs: the future looks positively rosy according to Hoberman. versobooks.com
Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip
There’s nothing conventional about the way these two British music makers go about their business. Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip both come from the same small town in Essex, Stanford-le-Hope, yet that has pretty much nothing to do with their partnership. No matter how it gets done, they are now three albums in, the latest of which, Repent, Replenish, Repeat, has recently been released on Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best Recordings. Although Dan moved away from Stanford-le-Hope, “I don’t think we either saw each other or talked there, anyway,” Pip told me, as he and Dan sat backstage at the Garage before a London date on their UK Tour. They had, in fact, become friends working at HMV in the sprawling shopping centre, Lakeside, near their Essex home. But Dan ultimately moved on and was doing “Stuff. Noise in general”, he calls it – productions and remixes inﬂuenced by his love of “Joy Division, New Order, Gary Numan. But of course Afrika Bambaataa was into Numan, too”. In the meantime Pip – named after a character in an Edward Lear poem – started to develop his spoken word and rap skills solo, mainly because “I didn’t know any producers”. Eventually he became aware that his old friend was working and sought him out, but says: “I didn’t really know anything about his background musically. But I think that’s what made it click.” Their first collaboration together, ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, had an immediate impact, and was played as a demo by John Kennedy on XFM (where Pip now has a weekly show, The Beatdown, on Sunday nights). Although that word “together” seems to be something of a relative one. “I think we’ve only worked on music directly perhaps three times together in our whole career,” says Dan. “We are mainly bouncing ideas over email. If he took his beard off, I’d never even know him!” Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip are on tour in January lesacvspip.co.uk Photograph Orlando Gili Words Mark Webster
Saxophonist and composer Archie Shepp was the jazz establishment’s biggest bogeyman until well into the 1970s. He shared the Black Nationalist-informed ideas championed by John Coltrane and his collaborators, and in 1965 he recited a Malcolm X tribute on his album Fire Music. His latest release, I Hear the Sound, is a rerecording of his oratorio Attica Blues, written in response to a rebellion at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York State in 1971, during which 39 prisoners and hostages were shot dead. “It’s still relevant,” says Shepp. “Having an African-American president has sanitised US society. It suggests equality has arrived. Obama aside, it hasn’t.” archieshepp.net Photograph Linus Ricard Words Chris May
“I’ve always been in the film industry, apart from the first 10 years after leaving school of continually trying to be. I was hell bent,” says Paul Cotgrove. The latest manifestation of his obsession with cinema will be his second Horror-on-Sea film festival, in Southend in January. His passion for that particular genre began as a kid. “I discovered the Universal films of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi,” he tells me at the Park Inn Palace Hotel, which overlooks the town’s famous pier and is home to Horroron-Sea. “Then I started collecting Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, Outer Limits bubblegum cards, and in the late 1960s I’d be hanging down the stairs, sneakily watching horrors on TV.” He eventually got his break in the heart of the business at the time, Soho, as a negative cutter working on “everything from TV commercials to feature films, and stuff for the BFI”. He’d planned to go into editing but “film dried up. And video came in”. Nevertheless, his skills with film were utilised by the National Film Archive “restoring early Chaplin and Pathé”, and his knowledge in the library of the British Council for Film & TV. In recent years he has been responsible for the Southend Film Festival through his production company the White Bus – named after the 1967 short film by Lindsay Anderson. Cotgrove is secretary of Anderson’s Memorial Foundation. The festival celebrates British filmmaking in particular, and in its time has premiered Eran Creevy’s directorial debut Shifty, and assembled cast and crew for the 30th anniversary of classic London thriller The Long Good Friday. Of his latest project, Cotgrove says it’s resolutely “contemporary and independent – a home for people with their first foot on the ladder. There’s everything from short films from Canada to full-length features from Spain. A unique UK event”. The Horror-on-Sea film festival takes place from 17-19 January at the Park Inn Palace Hotel, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2AL horror-on-sea.com thewhitebus.org.uk Photograph Robert Wyatt Words Mark Webster
Mulatu Astatke’s album Sketches of Ethiopia is the first the father of Ethio-jazz has released as leader of his own band for 40 years. The composer and vibraphonist’s career stalled just as it was taking off, when a military junta seized power in Ethiopia in 1974. During the Derg’s oppressive 17-year rule, many musicians were jailed or forced into hiding. Astatke survived, but the Derg closed down the country’s record business and opportunities to play live were much reduced. Astatke’s break came in 1998 when Buda Musique launched its outstanding archive series Ethiopiques. Volume 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale (1969-1974) was an Astatke album in all but name. Sales were limited, but among the buyers was Jim Jarmusch, who featured it on the soundtrack of his 2005 film Broken Flowers. In 2010, Astatke released Mulatu Steps Ahead, made with Boston’s Either/ Orchestra and London’s Heliocentrics. Step Ahead, the band Astatke formed in London last year, is a fierce 10-piece built around A-list jazz and funk musicians and players of traditional Ethiopian instruments. Astatke now divides his time between London and Addis Ababa, where he has opened a 400-seat club, the Jazz Village. After 69 years, things are getting better. strut-records.com budamusique.com Photograph Mattias Pettersson Words Chris May
Originally from Thailand, Manrutt Wongkaew, or ‘Manny’ to his friends, arrived in England 13 years ago to study fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design before he moved on to study dance. This education has afforded Manny a unique opportunity to work across both disciplines. Currently he is studying for his doctorate at the University of Surrey, exploring the use of contemporary dance in fashion advertising. He has just completed a season performing in Madame Butterfly with English National Opera. artsonlocation.net/manrutt.html Photograph Paul Vickery Words Edward Moore
Growing up in Binghamton, New York, John Ahearn and his brother Charlie were known as “twin” or “the twins”. “Charlie and I were kind of primitive and alienated,” says John. Childhood alienation, though, has been followed by creative recognition. Today both John and Charlie are now respected names in their chosen fields; John as an artist and Charlie as a film director, responsible for 1983’s Wild Style, the first feature film to shine a light on the then underground hip hop movement. John arrived in New York City in 1974 where he and his brother became involved with the Collaborative Projects, aka Colab, the New York-based art collective. While Charlie started making films, John, through preparation for a monster movie, learned to make face castings. At Fashion Moda, the famous artists’ run gallery in the Bronx, John would publicly face-cast people to create portraits in plaster, a process that often attracted crowds from the street. One of these was the artist Rigoberto Torres, then 18, who also had experience working at his uncle’s statuary factory in the Bronx. In 1981, they initiated a series of permanent neighbourhood sculpture murals featuring local members of the community, including the Double Dutch girls. After 30 years, their professional and creative partnership is still going strong. Most recently, they completed a two-year residency at the Inhotim art museum in Brazil. alexanderandbonin.com Photograph Janette Beckman Words Edward Moore
PEOPLE Smutty Smith
The first neo-rockabilly act to rise out of the dying embers of punk was Levi and The Rockats, managed by photographer Leee Black Childers. Childers had previously worked with David Bowie and Johnny Thunders and was a key member of Warhol’s inner circle. As such the band comprised a measure of rockabilly, a bucket of Elvis, great gobs of glam and liberal lashings of eyeliner; Southend teddy boy Levi Dexter on vocals, Dibbs Preston on guitar, Lewis King on drums and, last but not least, Smutty Smith who, tattooed from neck to toe and with a penchant for standing on his double bass, was the star of the show. “We kinda started after the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy tour in ’77,” explains Smith. “We were the Speakeasy house band [London’s seminal rock after hours club]. We played in front of Joe Strummer, Billy Idol, Sid Vicious, Iggy, Bowie, Ferry, Lemmy and The Who. And jams with Johnny Thunders were frequent.” In 1978 the band moved to New York and became superstars of the underground Mudd Club/Danceteria scene. “When we went with Leee we were treated like rock stars from the very first gig, opening for The Cramps on Halloween 1978 at Max’s Kansas City. The press loved us. I was photographed by the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mick Rock and Bob Gruen. We took the English Teddy Boy scene, added glam, added youth; and it worked.” This year the band released a new album, Rockin’ Together, on Lanark Records and headlined the Viva Las Vegas festival with Little Richard and Dick Dale in front of 30,000 people. Today, Smith lives in Reykjavik where he has his own Friday night radio show playing rockabilly, old ska, glam and punk. It’s broadcast in the UK on Saturdays on Smokestack Radio. Furthermore, he has recently launched a line of gentlemen’s grooming products, JS Sloane, featuring a rather superb light pomade. And what next? “As Joe Strummer said, ‘The future is unwritten.’ I like to keep my possibilities open but when I grow up I want to be a Teddy Boy!” jssloane.com smokestackradio.com Photograph Janette Beckman Words Chris Sullivan
The Mudd Club, Tribeca, New York
As a founder member of new-jazz band Robert Glasper Experiment, Casey Benjamin faces firmly forward. But on stage and off, there is more than a touch of retro to his modernism. With Glasper, Benjamin is heard on the vocoder as well as the saxophone, reinventing classics such as John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’. Between gigs, he collects vintage muscle cars. “I got heavily into 1970s culture in my teens,” the Brooklyn-born, Queens-raised 34 year old explains. “The slick suits and shoes, the cars, and the music; Roger Troutman and Herbie Hancock particularly. I couldn’t get enough of it. I built my own vocoder when I was 18 and bought my first muscle car soon after. Right now I’ve got a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am and 1977 Chevy C10.” Benjamin used to be a hardcore participant in illegal, small-hours road races along Queens’ South Conduit. He is now officially retired. “Whatever I was making on the road was going into my cars,” Benjamin says. “Also it’s dangerous. You’re racing for money and people have guns, and there’s violence. That isn’t my thing, so I stopped. “But every now and again, y’know, a little tricked-up Honda Civic pulls up next to me at the lights…” acebook.com/caseybenjaminakastutzmcgee robertglasper.com Photograph Janette Beckman Words Chris May
1977 Chevy C10 “Jackie Mae”
Alongside label mates Toy and Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs, Temples are the latest psych pop band to emerge from Heavenly Records. From San Francisco’s Moon Duo to Leeds’ Hookworms to Australia’s Tame Impala, psychedelic music is enjoying something of a renaissance. It is perhaps Temples who have provided the most infectious song of this new wave, with the beautifully crafted ‘Colours to Life’. Fronted by charismatic lead singer James Bagshaw, who has drawn as many comparisons with Syd Barrett as Marc Bolan, the band’s cosmic pop is matched by a penchant for liquid light shows and kaleidoscopic videos. Their forthcoming album for Heavenly, out in February, is set to round off one of the most exciting periods for Jeff Barrett’s London label since its early years during the fallout of Acid House. templestheband.com Photograph Pelle Crépin Words Andy Thomas
Simon wears jacket by Gant Rugger. Conor wears jacket by Carhartt WIP.
Photographs Marcus Agerman Ross Styling Johanna Agerman Ross Rangers Simon Ball, sound designer soundsdivine.com and Conor Donelan, dancer psactorsagency.com
Simon wears jacket by Penfield.
DETAIL | Wicklow Mountains
Conor wears jacket by Filson.
Fragrance Words Chris May Photographs Linus Ricard
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in want of a wife has a better chance of winning one if he is in possession of a good fragrance. As Jane Austen might have said. More to the point, wearing a good fragrance makes you feel better about yourself. The difficulty comes with the definition of good. There are over 2,000 decent fragrances on the market, but there is only one that appeals to almost everybody: bacon on the grill. If you are looking for something more nuanced, the multiplicity of choices can be daunting, and it is further burdened with notions about “masculinity”. Men have only recently been presented with a large and varied fragrance menu. In the Victorian era, they were discouraged from wearing anything but “masculine” colognes, as sold by gentlemen’s barbers and perfumers such as Geo F Trumper, founded in the late 19th century in Curzon Street, where the company still has a salon. Two world wars reinforced the idea and, with the addition of an antiseptic, colognes morphed into aftershaves, the name emphasising the product’s functionality and masculinity. Hello Old Spice, an American fragrance launched in 1937, and Brut, launched by Fabergé in 1964. Classic Old Spice advertising had a muscular, nautical flavour, evoking turn-of-the-century windjammers and surging seas. More recent reassurances about the brand’s masculinity have included the tagline “If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist”. Fabergé took a similar route with Brut. In the 1970s, Brut was represented in Britain by Henry Cooper, a rough-hewn, blokeish, heavyweight boxer. Under the tagline 46
“The essence of man”, Cooper urged men to “Splash it all over”. Significantly, Old Spice was originally launched for women, but it bombed and was relaunched for men a year later. When it comes to fragrance, gender specification is dodgy science. As are age and season specification. (But if you think Old Spice and Brut smell best on women, you are not alone). Colognes and aftershaves were, for much of the 20th century, as far as most British men ventured into fragrances. In the 1990s, the field expanded to include “sports fragrances”, most of them little more than deodorants. The recent proliferation of more complex and interesting fragrances targeted at men grew partly out of a crisis that threatened to destroy high-end “niche” perfumery in the 1990s, but which ultimately revived it… The consumer boom of the late 1980s and ’90s demanded ever-bigger marketing budgets from brands wanting to maximise their market share, which in turn demanded ever bigger sales levels to return a profit. The trend spawned a slew of celebrity-hyped “multi-entry” fragrances designed to appeal to the widest possible tastes. In the new business model, “specific” niche fragrances became too risky. A fragrance that pleased everybody was the goal, and when that proved unattainable, a fragrance that offended nobody would do. Frédéric Malle, Etienne de Swardt and Ben Gorham are among a wave of niche perfumers who in the early 2000s set up their own brands as a reaction against this dumbing down. They are not, strictly speaking, artisan perfumers because they do not make the fragrances with their own hands. Instead, they
work with specialist “noses” (olfactory chemists), who they brief through a process known as “storytelling”, using words and visual images to describe the mix of mood, volume, fragrance combinations and cultural resonances that they want a fragrance to project. “Executive artisan perfumers” is a more accurate description. Storytellers need noses and vice versa because perfumery is part art, part science. Modern perfumes average around 20 per cent natural ingredients and 80 per cent synthetics. Natural materials are not innately better than synthetics, which have vastly expanded the olfactory palette available to perfumers and whose development has led to new extraction and compounding processes. The first synthetics arrived in the late 19th century as by-products of other processes. In 1888, for instance, a chemist who was experimenting with nitroglycerin discovered a derivative that was useless as an explosive but smelled great, remarkably like the phenomenally expensive natural ingredient extracted from Himalayan musk deer. So how do you negotiate the abundance of potential purchases and find the ones that smell great on you? You could start by working through Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s authoritative, and luminously written, 620-page compendium Perfumes: The A-Z Guide and see what catches your eye. But sooner or later, you will need to get out there, face the relentlessly perky sales assistants eager to sell you the latest miracle, and sample some products. When you do, heed Sanchez’s advice: “Do not be seduced by celebrities, by clever ad campaigns, by beautiful bottles and boxes, by high price tags, by exclusivity, by lush official >
Etienne de Swardt
SPOTLIGHT | Fragrance descriptions, by exotic ingredients, by promises. Believe your nose only.” Frédéric Malle When Patrick Süskind wrote Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, he gave the novel’s protagonist the same birthday, 17 July, as Frédéric Malle, the savant of French niche perfumery. It is, rather disappointingly, only a coincidence. In 1985, when the book was published, Malle was still three years away from entering the fragrance business. Elegant and urbane, a nephew of the late film director Louis Malle, anyone less like Süskind’s anti-hero would be hard to find. Malle’s family, however, does have form in the business. His grandfather, Serge Heftler, founded Parfums Christian Dior, and trained under François Coty, generally considered to be the inventor of modern perfumery. Malle’s mother worked at Dior and was involved in the launch of Eau Sauvage. Born in 1962, Malle joined the industry in 1988, having studied art history in New York and worked for three years in advertising. He spent six years with the high-end French fragrance manufacturing and wholesaling company, Roure (founded in 1820, and now part of the Givaudan group). “I’m always suspicious of people who say they had epiphanies,” says Malle, “but I had one when I walked through the door on my first day. For the first time, with complete conviction, I knew this was what I wanted to do.” When Malle launched Editions de Parfums in 2000, he wanted to revive the spirit of perfume’s belle époque and put fragrance itself back at the centre of things. The most radical of his several departures from prevailing practice was putting the names of the noses on his bottles and boxes along with his own (he even gave the noses top billing). Malle sensed that discerning fragrance users did not trust brands any more and wanted a relationship with the creators. Thirteen years later, most serious fragrance launches include at least a walk-on part for the nose. “I thought the business had become obsessed with trivia,” says Malle. “It was always some beautiful person saying ‘My life is so different because now
I’m wearing this and everyone is running after me.’ There was no room for the perfume itself any more. I thought hiding the noses was not only disrespectful, it was also incredibly dumb, because what these guys do is fascinating. That’s why I prefer to call myself an editor rather than a perfumer.” As editors go, Malle is highly interventionist. He can read a chemical formula, which some say is the test of a real perfumer, and he may tweak and revise a nose’s draft compounds a couple of hundred times before he is satisfied. Why does Malle think perfumery took such a wrong turn in the 1990s? “You have to understand that I am French,” says Malle, “so I always think France is the centre of the perfume world… But when I started to work in the industry there were about 2,500 independent perfumeries in the country, mostly run by families. In the 1990s
‘I SET IT UP WITH NO FOCUS GROUPS AND NO TABOOS’ almost all of them were taken over by chains. And the whole point of these chains was to have a unified look, to display fragrances in alphabetical order, and leave people to serve themselves. Customers would no longer be bullied by sales people. It was sold as something progressive, a mark of freedom, but it was a gross lie. “The minute fragrances started being sold like things in a supermarket, like a detergent, with big names given the most prominent display, the system became different. The brands invested more and more in advertising and to stand a chance of getting the money back the fragrances had to become the lowest common denominator, to please as many people as possible. It was all about multi-entry. Plus, in the 1990s, fragrance people in the major brands were increasingly replaced by
marketing people, who applied the techniques they’d been using for toiletries and detergents.” Globalisation, says Malle, made things even tougher. “Because it is now a world market,” he says, “and because everyone knows everything around the planet in 24 hours, a big new fragrance, like a new phone, has to be in every single store worldwide within about a week. So from the 1990s, when companies launched a new product, they had to take much bigger financial risks; they had immediately to advertise internationally and they had to produce a huge amount of product to stock all those shops globally. I heard that the first batch of Dior’s J’Adore in 1999 was three million pieces. “The kings of the industry went from Guerlain and people like that to Procter & Gamble. They created the kind of fragrances that, if they were people, would be everybody’s best friend. And as you know, everybody’s best friend never gets laid.” When Editions de Parfums was launched, Malle decided not to roll the brand out to any of the chains and department stores. He began with his own store. “I realised that a fragrance by Frédéric Malle, even with a little press, would not survive in self-service shops. Furthermore, if someone was curious enough to buy one – we started the company with nine fragrances – they had only one chance out of nine to put their hands on the right one, and eight chances to be disappointed. So having my own store, staffed by people who really knew perfume, was a must. It was a slower route, perhaps, but a more reliable one.” A feature of Malle’s stores is his patented “smelling columns”. These glass and steel contraptions resemble the Orgasmatrons in Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi movie Sleeper, and improve on the standard method of in-store sampling on small strips of blotting paper or plastic. Malle got the idea from the “shower booths” Roure used to test fragrances. “The smelling columns are to perfumery what mirrors are to garments,” says Malle. “Blotters have flourished in self-service perfumeries but they do not give > 49
you the full picture. They are useful for professionals in the lab, when you are experimenting with particular details, but that’s all. The columns allow people to smell a fragrance in its complete state and in an otherwise odour-sterile space.” In London, Editions de Parfums is now sold by Les Senteurs and Liberty. But sadly, no smelling columns. Etienne de Swardt Etat Libre d’Orange (ELO)’s recently opened Shoreditch store is the edgy antithesis of a typical niche perfumery, a stark, metal-floored space with unforgiving lights. The brand’s fragrances, and the storytelling around them, aim to be disruptive too. Among the collection are Je Suis Un Homme: Imperial Testosterone, Putain des Palaces (tagline: “Release Your Inner Slut”) and Don’t Get Me Wrong Baby I Don’t Swallow. Then there is Sécrétions Magnifiques, which successfully reassembles post-coital odours – all body fluids, twisted sheets and damp patches. Before launching ELO in Paris in 2006, Swardt – born in Pretoria to a South African father and a French mother – spent six years in the perfumes and cosmetics division of Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH). Among his suggestions for the company was a canine perfume. When LVMH turned it down, Swardt set up his first brand, Dog Generation, and launched Oh My Dog! in 2000. Oh My Cat! followed in 2001. He later sold the company to a group of Korean investors. Next, Swardt developed a fragrance for the American boxingsupplies brand Everlast – attracted, he says, by the brand’s tagline, “Nothing soft comes out of the Bronx.” “I was trying to take perfume on the road less travelled,” says Swardt. “But it is hard to do that with a well-established brand like Vuitton or Everlast. I wanted to create trends rather than follow them, to depart from consensus, to be dangerous, to try to breathe a little bit. So I decided to set up a brand with a full-frontal attitude to creativity, with no focus groups and no taboos. Just a true line of sincerity, a hub 50
of emotion in the depressing land of the modern perfumery industry.” Swardt’s storytelling style – part Haute Baroque, part bordello and with an interesting line in arcane literary references – is central to ELO’s identity. “The story is where it all starts,” says Swardt. “If you want something different in the bottle, you have to give your collaborators a different story. ‘Create something different, give me a different formulation, go the other way round, get some sex on the canopy, give me a different note because we are in the boudoir.’ My job is mostly using storytelling to make things happen. ELO is a machine of fun and sincerity. The rest is just eclecticism.” Swardt’s latest release, La Fin du Monde, references the early-20thcentury writer Blaise Cendrars and
‘THERE ISN’T MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BASKETBALL AND MAKING PERFUME’ his modernist novel, La Fin du Monde Filmée par l’Ange Notre-Dame, published in 1919. Alongside the more familiar sandalwood, freesia, pepper and cumin notes is a distinct whiff of gunpowder. Taglines include “This Way To The Apocalypse”, “Countdown To Eternity” and, more optimistically, “There Will Be Survivors”. Ben Gorham Six foot five inches and heavily tattooed, Stockholm-born Ben Gorham looks like the basketball pro he used to be. After playing in Canada and Italy, he retired 10 years ago, and returned to Stockholm to study art. A chance meeting with the Swedish perfumer Pierre Wulff sparked an interest in making fragrances and, in 2006, Gorham set up Byredo.
As an ex-jock and a Swede, Gorham had to fight for acceptance in the perfume business, particularly in France. “What gives you the right to do perfumes?” a French journalist asked him at a press conference in Paris. Gorham just laughed. “I don’t think there is that much difference between playing basketball and making perfume anyway,” he says. “One appears to be very physical and the other appears very cerebral, but both are actually about mental strength and determination. Even as a jock, it’s only about 10 per cent physical. And I’ve always been extremely competitive.” Byredo’s first fragrance, Green, aimed to recreate the olfactory presence of his father, who left the family when Gorham was five years old. It was followed by Encens Chembur, which evokes a picnic spot outside Mumbai that Gorham’s Indian mother often took him to as a child. The “redo” in Byredo is a contraction of “redolent”. “Early on I understood,” says Gorham, “that smell is the sense with the closest ties to memory. It was just my instinct. Later I learnt that there is a physical connection in the brain between smell and memory. So I decided to make smells that people could relate to, that might trigger memories or spark imagination. It’s not about you smelling Green and saying that reminds you of your father, but punching into things that can start the story. It’s very much about simplicity, letting people smell things that they can understand.” Some observers cite the clarity of Byredo’s fragrances as a factor in their appeal to male users. “I think men and women do approach perfume differently,” says Gorham. “Women have been wearing fragrances longer, so it has become a natural ritual for them. I think women buy the dream of it and men buy much more of the function. It hasn’t been able to evolve among men as fast as sartorial style because it is so abstract. It’s not tangible. But it’s changing. Forty per cent of our customers are men, buying for themselves.” byredo.com etatlibredorange.com fredericmalle.com
SPOTLIGHT | Fragrance
William Fox & Sons Photographs Chris Tang Styling Karen Mason Words Edward Moore Musician Afrikan Boy afrikanboy.com Location Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 birthdaysdalston.com
The squealing overexcitement of so-called ‘British heritage’ brands mostly results in an unwanted stabbing of the eardrums, so it’s important to edit the wheat from the chaff. As William Fox & Sons celebrates its centenary, it’s worth noting that today it is owned by Eddie Prendergast,
owner of Shoreditch menswear store Present and, prior to that, one of the most important menswear labels of the past 30 years, the Duffer of St George. Prendergast’s pedigree confirms his understanding of both historical and contemporary men’s clothing. Beyond the range of clothes and accessories
originated by William Fox all those years ago, the brand is currently collaborating with Christys’ Hats and G.H. Bass & Co. shoes. williamfoxandsons.com
BULLETIN | William Fox & Sons
Joe wears jacket by Paul Smith; trousers by Original Penguin; sweater by Levi’s Vintage Clothing; shirt by Plectrum by Ben Sherman.
Alex wears coat by Sandro; zip jacket and shirt by Paul Smith.
Alex wears jacket by Parka London; trousers by Sandro; shoes by Mr Hare. Joe wears jacket and shirt by Sandro; trousers by Sopopular; shoes by Mr Hare.
Photographs Alan Clarke Styling Mark Anthony Photographic Assistant James Rawlings Grooming Khandiz Joni at August Management using Bumble and Bumble Art rockers Alex Rolich and Joe Sanders-Earley
STYLE | Clapton Park
Alex wears jacket by Tourne De Transmission; trousers and shirt by Paul Smith; sweater by John Smedley; boots by Marc Jacobs; jewellery, model’s own. Joe wears jacket by Levi’s Made&Crafted; trousers by Original Penguin; sweater by Edwin; shoes by Mr Hare.
Joe wears jacket and shirt by Sandro.
Alex wears jacket by Parka London; shirt by McQ by Alexander McQueen; tie by Paul Smith.
Alex wears vintage jacket by Veronique Branquinho, stylist’s own; shirt by Marc Jacobs; tie by Paul Smith; jewellery, model’s own.
STYLE | Clapton Park
Joe wears leather jacket and blazer by Paul Smith; trousers by Sandro; shirt by Soulland; shoes by Mr Hare. Alex wears coat by Sandro; trousers by Original Penguin; zip jacket and shirt by Paul Smith; shoes by Dr Martens; jewellery, model’s own.
Paris in the 1920s Nancy Cunard. Jazz. Harry Crosby. Bricktop. Shakespeare and Company. The Stein Salon Words Chris Sullivan
Viewing the imagery in a recent Man Ray exhibition, I was struck not only by the diversity and idiosyncrasy of the people he had photographed in Paris in the 1920s, but also how they collectively defined arts and culture for the coming century. Drawn from his immediate circle of friends and associates, his cast of characters includes, among others: James Joyce, whose book Ulysses was the first word in modernist literature; Marcel Duchamp, who created the blueprint for art as we now know it; two of the greatest composers that ever lived, Igor Stravinsky and Erik Satie; two of the 20th century’s most influential and important artists, Picasso and Matisse; the architect whose ideas shaped the modern world, Le Corbusier; and the fashion designers who forever changed the way women looked, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. These individuals not only moulded the world in which we live but were also chewing the fat in the same cafés and parties, at the same time in the same city. It was like an artistic Stella Street. A few months after the Man Ray exhibition ended, I could think of no 62
better gift for a friend’s birthday than the book that accompanied the show – Man Ray Portraits – and so toddled off to the gallery’s bookshop and bought one. “I’m just reading that,” said the girl behind the till. “Can you imagine what it must have been like living in Paris in the 1920s?” I pondered out loud. “I can’t honestly think of a better place to have been in the history of the world,” she replied. On the tube home, I gave her comment some thought and duly agreed, but still had to ask myself why? What caused this city to play host to this huge explosion of creativity, the like of which has not been seen before or since? Why then? And why Paris? A great, boisterous, heaving genius that never slept, Paris in the 1920s was the hub of the artistic world, where debate, single-mindedness, sexual experimentation and liberty ruled the roost. Its ambience encouraged the crosspollination of the avant garde, whose protagonists were not only indulged but celebrated, and as such the city attracted the greatest artists, writers and adventurers into its hedonistic bosom. The French capital had been bubbling away creatively and politically since 1850. Revolutionary painter
Gustave Courbet had, with an almost punk ardour, thrown the baby out with the bath water and rejected Romanticism in art, instead painting the ‘real world’, featuring prostitutes, peasants and the poor. He also asserted that anyone could paint and championed freedom of speech, artistic expression and political anarchy. In 1869 he declared: “I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: ‘He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any regime except the regime of liberty.’” Courbet’s ideas resonated with realist writers of the day such as Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, Gustave Flaubert and his pupil, Guy de Maupassant. All described a world that was hitherto regarded as ‘untouchable’. And the authorities weren’t happy. Accordingly, freedom of speech, art and literature was a very hot topic in 19th-century France. Unsurprisingly, the establishment thought that reading about prostitutes, alcoholics and drug addicts or seeing paintings of them in a gallery was simply unacceptable. On the other hand, the likes of Courbet (whose maternal >
Nancy Cunard Harry Crosby
grandfather fought in the French Revolution) believed such censorship unconstitutional and that the Napoleonic dynasty had tainted the ethos of the magnificent French Revolution of 1789 to serve their own personal gain. And they were not wrong. Indeed, Napoleon III, after his famed coup d’état, had declared himself Emperor, adopted a distinctly authoritarian bent and repressively censored drawings, caricatures, the press, books, art and the theatre to avert the opposition’s rise. Parisians were not pleased. They wanted not only freedom of expression and a democratic republic but demanded that Paris should be selfgoverning with its own elected council. When Napoleon lost the FrancoPrussian war, his empire was overthrown. After a period of civil unrest in the city, the regime that followed, the Third Republic, was marked by not only social stability but status quo. ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ became the official motto of the administration. Thus, by the 1890s, with insurrection out of the way, the city was in full swing – dining on a sea of liberty and the all-consuming decadence of La Belle Époque. Epitomised by the work of 64
the post-Impressionist, hooker-loving alcoholic Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris flung caution to the wind and floated on a virtual sea of mind-altering absinthe, opium and cocaine. Subsequently in 1900, the city held the Exposition Universelle, a world’s
GAY AND BISEXUAL CONGRESS, DRUGS AND CHAMPAGNE WERE THE ORDER OF THE DAY fair seen by millions that exhibited such mind-boggling inventions as magnetic tape recordings, talking movies, diesel engines, Ferris wheels and escalators. The city, with its recently constructed boulevards and new metro system, was making its mark as the most modern,
forward-thinking, libertarian city in the world. Soon it would prove it. In the decade that followed, Paris expanded culturally and geographically, its citizens embracing the new century with the zeal of a religious convert testing the waters with new ideas, throwing out the rulebook and making up the future as they went along. Cubism – coined after art critic Louis Vauxcelles described the works of Braque and Picasso as “bizarreries cubiques” (cubic oddities) – sprung to life in this atmosphere and flummoxed a generation. As good an example as any of the progressive attitude of Parisians at the time, Cubism evolved from a marriage between Cézanne’s experiments with angles, facets and perspective and African art. Picasso, having been shown a mask of the Fang tribe from Cameroon at the ethnographic museum in the Palais du Trocadéro in May 1907, was so taken that he repainted the faces of the two figures on the right of his seminal Cubist work, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, in the mask’s style. The cubist die was cast. And then came the first world war – four years of carnage the like of which the world had never seen or even dreamt of. Sixty-five million
HISTORY | Paris in the 1920s men were mobilised, 8.5 million were killed, 21 million were wounded, 7.7 million were made prisoners of war and Paris came close to falling. Hostilities ceased in 1918 and the city, an infant in 1900 and now a teenager, kicked into action, positively throbbing with unique creativity, decadence and flair. The citizens, having seen their mortality up close, lived as if every day was their last, while foreigners (such as the White Russians) flocked there to escape death and persecution. Others, particularly black American soldiers, simply stayed on after the war. Most of Harlem, New York’s 15th Heavy Foot Infantry Regiment – the most highly decorated American combat unit in the Great War – remained, along with former members of James Reese Europe’s military band. They loved Paris and Paris loved them. At home, coloured folk were still being lynched down south. No wonder they stayed. The French capital, with its burgeoning egalitarianism and fascination with African arts, was the destination for these AfricanAmericans. They brought jazz to the party and the Parisians loved it. Certainly, no hip party was complete without such a band. Appropriately, American jazz musicians flooded Paris, Harlem moved to Montmartre and a community emerged of young, itinerant, unmarried male musicians. One such was Louis Mitchell, who led the white band at the infamous Casino de Paris. So popular was Mitchell that the club’s owner, Leon Volterra, said: “We Parisiennes want the black musicians not the French,” and sent him back to New York to bring 50 black musicians back to the capital. He came back with five, headlined the Casino for a few more years and in 1921 opened his own restaurant club, which, a combination of Harlem and Paris, featured a jazz band in the corner and all-night American breakfasts. There were queues around the block. Other clubs opened to cater to the city’s love for ‘Le Jazz hot’. One such establishment was Le Bal Nègre, where fashionable young Parisians danced the Black Bottom or the Charleston to the house band led by Caribbean musician
Ernest Léardée. Another was Chez Bricktop, opened at 66 rue Pigalle in 1924 by Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith (aka Bricktop), who, initially a singer and dancer from Virginia, became the doyenne of Parisian café society and entertained the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and F Scott Fitzgerald. Another haunt, Le Grand Duc, was owned by Eugene Bullard of Columbus, Georgia, and served up jazz and soul food in equal proportions. By the mid 1920s, you could almost hear the vibrant jazz rhythms emanating from Paris all the way across to New York, prompting more to follow. On 15 September 1925, the first great jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet sailed
to Paris along with 19-year-old Josephine Baker, going on to star in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées. The incorrigible young singer and dancer Baker became the toast of Paris – often dressed in an outfit consisting only of fake bananas, and appearing on stage with her pet cheetah dressed in a diamond collar. As Ernest Hemingway said: “She was the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” But it wasn’t just black Americans who settled in Paris after the first world war. A lot of rich white folk came in search of a conurbation where anything and everything went. The outrageously camp Cole Porter, composer of such standards as ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ > 65
and ‘Night and Day’, was all over Paris like a rash. A thorough-going hedonist, he lived in a palatial house with platinum wallpaper and chairs upholstered in zebra skin and threw wild, fabulous parties for Europe’s rich and famous alongside arty ne’er do wells. Cross-dressing, exotic musicians, oodles of gay and bisexual congress and much imbibing of cocaine, opium, absinthe and absurdly expensive champagne were the order of the day. Porter was not alone. In 1920, there were an estimated 8,000 American expats living in the city, but by 1925 they numbered 40,000, and then there were the hundreds of thousands of US tourists who descended on the city annually. Prohibition of alcohol in the US had come into force in January 1920 and creative sensualists were, quite literally, jumping ship. Many of those who ended up in Paris were wealthy heirs and heiresses desirous to sip at the cup of this creative maelstrom created by the financially inferior. One such was shipping heiress Nancy Cunard, who arrived in the city in 1920 and immediately set about writing poetry and designing jewellery whilst allying herself with the surrealists and modernists, her obsession with all things African immediately sated. The muse of, among others, Tristan Tzara, Ezra Pound and Louis Aragon, she could count Hemingway, Constantin Brancusi 66
and Man Ray amongst her lovers and embraced the bohemian affectation of an eccentric heiress, dressing in a mixture of mannish clothes and ethnic jewellery – dubbed by the fashion world as the ‘barbaric look’. But soon her love of alcohol and narcotics got the better of her and she descended into mental illness and poverty. She died in 1965 at the Cochin hospital, Paris, aged 69 and weighing just 26kg.
PARIS WAS THE HUB OF THE ARTISTIC WORLD The undisputed king of excessive American expats in 1920s Paris, however, was Harry Crosby. The son of one of the richest banking families in New England and the nephew of JP Morgan Jr, Crosby had been an ambulance driver in the first world war and saw more death than any 18 year old should. As a result, he was the youngest recipient of the ‘Croix de Guerre’ (Cross of War) in 1919. That year he went back to America, only to return to Paris in 1922 with his new
wife Polly – whom he renamed Caresse – who invented and patented the first bra. Ensconced in Paris, the pair embarked on an infinitely decadent and bohemian lifestyle, financed by Crosby’s huge trust fund. They were so far ahead of their time – indulging in exotic African holidays, religious flirtations, spectacular bacchanals, an open marriage, seven-in-a-bed orgies, ominous tattoos, airplane joy rides, gambling sprees, opiates, cocaine and hashish – that they’d make today’s brightest young reprobates feel distinctly pedestrian. Crosby, stunningly handsome in that clean-cut, allAmerican sense, had a mop of blonde, greased-back hair and sported black suits, black-painted fingernails and a black flower in his buttonhole. “He seemed to be more expression and mood than man,” wrote Caresse. “Yet he was the most vivid personality I’ve ever known, electric with rebellion.” They established the Black Sun Press and published each other’s rather accomplished books of poems (with illustrations by Max Ernst), and were instrumental in getting the likes of James Joyce, Hemingway and TS Eliot published. Crosby was found dead in 1929, aged 31, with a bullet in his right temple next to his mistress, 20-year-old Josephine Noyes Rotch, who had a matching hole in her left temple – apparently a suicide pact. The day before, Crosby wrote his final entry in
HISTORY | Paris in the 1920s
Ezra Pound Samuel Beckett
his journal: “One is not in love unless one desires to die with one’s beloved. There is only one happiness, it is to love and to be loved.” Crosby certainly epitomised a generation of writers who Americanborn author, heiress, rabid art collector and Picasso patron Gertrude Stein called “the Lost Generation”. This referred to a disaffected group of young men who had fought, lived through and often witnessed first hand the atrocities on the front line of the first world war and were now adrift and writing in Paris. Among others, they included Hemingway, Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and Erich Maria Remarque. By 1922, the city had already seen Proust write the last words of À la recherche du temps perdu, Joyce had published Ulysses and Ezra Pound was working on The Cantos, while Parisian writers such as Francis Carco were penning the likes of Perversity, which told of 1920s Parisian slum life written in underworld slang. The first wave of writers (many of whom are still household names) who settled in Paris lasted roughly from the end of the first world war to the onset of the second, but reached its peak
in the 1920s. None of them were particularly stable, but, troubled or not, all gravitated around Gertrude Stein. An advocate and critic of artists of every kind, she held gatherings every Saturday at her sumptuous home at 27 rue de Fleurus. On any given night, there might be Picasso, poet and erotic novelist Guillaume Apollinaire, Matisse, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Braque and Rousseau sitting around discussing culture with the esteemed harridan. As Hemingway, a frequent visitor, states in his book A Moveable Feast: “She [Stein] was angry at Ezra Pound because he had sat down too quickly on a small, fragile, and, doubtless, uncomfortable chair, that it is quite possible he had been given on purpose, and had either cracked or broken it. That he was a great poet and a gentle and generous man and could have accommodated himself in a normal-size chair was not considered. The reasons for her dislike of Ezra, skilfully and maliciously put, were invented years later.” However manipulating and critical Stein was, she did encourage and help her charges, as did many residents of Paris in the 1920s. Many writers hung out at Sylvia Beach’s (another American
expat) Shakespeare and Company, on the Left Bank – an informal writers’ club, bookshop and dosshouse where literary types hung out and crashed if they were broke. More than a shop, it was also the best-stocked library in Paris. “When I first visited,” explains Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, “I had not enough money to join the library but she gave me a membership card and told me I could borrow what I wanted for free. It changed my life.” Joyce nicknamed the shop “Stratford-onOdéon” and used it as his office while Beach bravely published Ulysses. It caused a scandal and made her reputation. Certainly, it appears that this sense of community, the pooling together of resources, was another overriding facet that provoked the prodigious artistic output of 1920s Paris. It was the norm for a writer or artist to come up with a concept, form a group, present a manifesto and thrive. It gave the papers something to write about, created a buzz and could be enormously beneficial. One group that epitomised not only this ethic, but also the progressive, libertine abandon of the era, were the Surrealists. > 67
HISTORY | Paris in the 1920s
Via the auspices of poet André Breton, Surrealism was created on the back of Dadaism, as seen through the eyes of the great Duchamp. The latter had caused a big stink in 1917 when he submitted a porcelain urinal signed “R Mutt” for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York. Breton saw the importance of Duchamp, but, describing Dada as a “ship in distress”, used his interest in Freudian psychology – especially the role of the unconscious and dream analysis – to steer the form into Surrealism. As lunatic a bag of extrovert oddballs as one might ever encounter, the Surrealists hailed from all over the world and descended on the city like a swarm of mad-arsed wasps. They rallied to Breton’s assertion that the movement would break with “things as they are”. Amongst their number were some of the most interesting and influential names in the lexicon of modern art: Parisian-born Yves Tanguy who, with his spiky, punk-rock haircut, painted other-worldly, globular forms; Frenchman André Masson, whose automatic linear works still excite; Catalan Joan Miró, a total one off by anyone’s measure; and the aforementioned Man Ray, a Pennsylvania-born, Russian Jew who, allied to Duchamp and Dada
F Scott Fitzgerald
in New York, moved to Paris in 1921, became a leading light in the movement and captured them all on film. Since its inception, Surrealism has taken a lot of flack from the art cognoscenti, with its visual puns considered as cheap jokes that have meagre artistic merit. In some instances I would agree, but, even
THE SURREALISTS DESCENDED ON THE CITY LIKE A SWARM OF MADARSED WASPS by contemporary standards, who can criticise the films of Luis Buñuel, the sensual sculptures of Jean Arp or the outrageously contemporary, sexually charged dolls of Hans Bellmer? Surrealism’s greatest impact on the world, however, was in photography – in particular fashion photography. Norman Parkinson was an advocate
of the movement, as was Henri CartierBresson, Horst P Horst and later Erwin Blumenfeld and Martin Munkácsi who, together following in the footsteps of Man Ray, created the blueprint for all fashion photography to come. And the same might be said of much of the creative outpourings of Paris in the 1920s. The city was home to highly influential art movements, was the hub of the ever-growing photographic community and the epicentre of a massive fashion movement that revolutionised not only how people dressed but also how they behaved. Chanel opened her first boutique on 31 rue Cambon in 1921, while the city’s film directors, Jean Renoir, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Abel Gance, led the world with cinematic innovation. Of course, the common denominator between all of the above is encapsulated in the maxim ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’, without which none of this might have occurred. Indeed, if the phrase every dog has his day rings true, then it comes to pass that every city has its decade. Vienna had its golden age from the ‘fin de siècle’ until the first world war, Berlin from the late 1920s until Hitler and his jackbooted pals came and squashed it, and from the end of the first world war until the mid-1930s, Paris had it all. 69
Lonnie Liston Smith Cosmic Jazz. The Harmonizing Four. Jazz Messengers. Expand Your Mind. Rahsaan Roland Kirk Words Mark Webster Portrait Mattias Pettersson Photographs courtesy of Lonnie Liston Smith
His band is called The Cosmic Echoes. The tune he chose to launch his band-leading career was his composition ‘Astral Traveling’. And the track that became his anthem – indeed a multi-generational call to arms – beseeched all to ‘Expand Your Mind’. Lonnie Liston Smith is the keyboard player, composer and enduring talent who was integral to the creation of – and has remained faithful to – an area of jazz that is often described as “ethereal”, or perhaps even “spiritual”, but is always most definitely “cosmic”. LA-born vibraphone player Roy Ayers managed to embrace the spirit in a crossover way with his dance floor classic ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ – a much played, and much sampled, tune across decades and genres. Similarly, Robert Bell’s Jersey City jazzers Kool & the Gang have seen their epic tune ‘Summer Madness’ reappear constantly in all the right places. And Chicago’s jazz-turned-disco pioneers Earth, Wind & Fire were never afraid to evoke sounds and 70
images of the genre in their early fusion-heavy years. They certainly all emerged from an area of jazz that made it easy to take that vibe up a notch and make it accessible. But the song that remains the very pinnacle of that idea is Lonnie Liston Smith’s ‘Expansions’ from 1975. From David Mancuso’s legendary Loft sessions in New York in the 1970s to all points “soul” across international clubs, this tune came to define a new dance floor sound that was, to simplify the matter, the new-fangled “disco sound”, with jazz sensibilities. Or, at first, jazz fusion; then more familiarly, jazz-funk. BBC Radio’s Worldwide maestro Gilles Peterson did his growing up during that period and knows just how important ‘Expansions’ is in the pantheon of black music in the clubs. “It was outrageously ahead of its time,” he tells me after a recent Worldwide party on London’s South Bank. “But only because it was not trying to be in time.” “I didn’t realise how important the man was until really studying him recently,” continues Peterson. “Because
he was such a huge part of my growing up. As I got older, I thought he wasn’t relevant somehow, because he’d caught me so young. That he wasn’t as weighty as artists I’d caught later in life. But in fact he was probably the most relevant of the – clichéd quote, I know – ‘cosmic jazz artists’.” Cliché it may be, but that cosmic jazz sound had to start somewhere… Lonnie Liston Smith was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1940. His family had some genuine musical pedigree, as his father had been a member of renowned gospel quartet The Harmonizing Four. They had even been invited to take the journey up the interstate to Washington DC and the White House, where Eleanor Roosevelt had asked them to sing at husband Franklin D Roosevelt’s funeral. Fellow gospel harmony group The Soul Stirrers were also frequent visitors chez Smith, which put the young boy within earshot of Sam Cooke. It was during high school that his piano playing took on a jazz influence; something that turned into a fledgling career in Baltimore, where he was >
MUSIC | Lonnie Liston Smith
With Guru and Donald Byrd
majoring in music at university, and supporting singers such as Betty Carter when they came to town. He continued working with the celebrated vocalist when he moved to New York to pursue his career – something that became an entirely serious proposition when he was asked to become part of a genuine, great jazz dynasty. He became the latest in what would be a long line of Jazz Messengers for seminal bebop drummer Art Blakey. “The thing with being with Art that was so interesting, was that it made you strong,” recalls Smith, as we sit above the stage at London’s Jazz Cafe, where he and the latest incarnation of The Cosmic Echoes band are set to play a Jazz FM Live gig for the Londonbased radio station. “Art didn’t write his own music. So everyone had to bring their own songs. And the amazing thing was, he wouldn’t even come to rehearsals. So you’d learn everybody’s songs, then call Art and say, ‘Right, we’ve got it together.’ And I tell you, he could come in and play the song as if he’d been there from the start. And you can hear it, that spontaneity, on some of his recordings. In the background, talking to them, pushing his musicians on.” Blakey’s incredible drumming and leadership qualities ensured that the bebop sound remained vital throughout his recordings and performances. Smith’s next major move was to place himself in the company of a bandleader whose freeform playing and free-styling spirit would give him 72
With Marvin Gaye
the seeds of what was to become the piano player’s own signature sound. Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s flute playing will be familiar to a remarkably vast range of people. On a rare outing as a sideman, it was he who played the solo on Quincy Jones’ 1960s crossover recording ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ – later to become, effectively, Austin Powers’ theme tune. But that was not the whole Kirk. Born in Ohio, he went blind at a young age. It did nothing to temper the creative instincts of this most vital of musicians. For a start, he would play more than one saxophone at a time. And his music embraced a field as wide as early New Orleans jazz to the pitch perfect pop of Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach. He was also given
to plenty of political polemic while, at one point, comedian Jay Leno was his support act. You can hear the young Smith on two mid-1960s albums of Kirk’s – Now Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith and Here Comes the Whistleman. Thom Jurek’s review of the album for Allmusic states: “his band for the occasion is stellar… this is the hard jump blues and deep R ’n’ B Roland Kirk Band.” Up until now, Smith had been playing regulation acoustic piano. But after he left Kirk’s band, he joined up with another man whose music would feed directly into the path Smith would ultimately take. Farrell Sanders was born in the same year as Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas. But unlike that other
Lonnie Liston Smith
saxophone player associated with the town (one Bill Clinton), Sanders took up the horn and a new first name, Pharoah, to develop the free jazz style he had nurtured in the company of Sun Ra and John Coltrane. Smith, along with bassist Cecil McBee (who would go on to be a crucial member of The Cosmic Echoes) joined up with Sanders in the late 1960s, an experience Smith describes as “so organic”. “He was doing different things with his horn, I was trying to do different things with the piano,” says Smith. “And Leon Thomas was yodelling! We didn’t even have to rehearse. We were making such creative music. And it worked. But whenever Pharoah said, ‘Let’s go out’ musically, I’d say, ‘Yeah, but let’s always bring it
back’. So that people could relate to it. I’ll tell you though, naming no names, we had young guys who’d join the band and just quit! They’d be saying, ‘Y’all going to kill me!’”
‘EXPANSIONS WAS SO AHEAD OF ITS TIME’ However, it was during his last recording in 1971 with Sanders that Smith discovered what I describe to him as “finding his voice”. The remarkably
laid back and affable septuagenarian chuckles and says, “Now that you put it that way, that was it. Because I kept going from there.” How he got there in the first place is one of those fatalistic moments that Smith himself would most certainly describe as karma. “We were in LA to record Thembi and when you play the grand piano, you never have to do anything. It’s just sitting there. So everyone’s doing their unpacking – Cecil’s getting his bass together – and I saw this instrument in the corner. So I asked the engineer, ‘What’s that?’ He points me to it, and I just start messing with knobs and this sound just came out. If anyone wants to hear the beginning of me as far as the Fender Rhodes is concerned, they should > 73
and things hooked up to his trumpet. So I thought I’d hook them up to my Rhodes. And that was it, I guess, the ‘cosmic sound’.” To get his new sound out there, Smith signed a deal with a label that was almost a mirror image of its new artist in terms of its free spirit and desire to allow people to do things differently. The three groundbreaking Smith albums – Astral Traveling (reprising that magical moment he’d created with Pharoah Sanders), Cosmic Funk and Expansions – were recorded for the independent label Flying Dutchman. It was started by a former jazz radio DJ from Brooklyn by the name of Bob Thiele. He had spent time
‘WE HAD DIFFERENT RHYTHMS, DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS’
With Marcus Miller
listen to that record. We’re playing it right then! “And I also decided to write a new song for it, and the guys said, ‘OK that’s great, but what are you going to call it?’ I was studying astral projections in space at the time, so I said, ‘Let’s call it ‘Astral Traveling’.” But before he took the leap to frontman recording artist, Smith decided to take a gig working with the man who was to really give him the confidence to put his own name above the title. It was in 1973 that Smith got the call from Miles Davis to record on two albums – On the Corner and Big 74
Fun – and he often talks about it being the most important chapter in his career. “Hanging out with Miles,” Smith ponders. “He was so strong, and so candid. And nothing bothered him. Because, man, when he did Bitches Brew he broke all the rules. And people went crazy. But what people didn’t realise – and what I didn’t realise until I’d got with Miles – is that we had different rhythms, different instruments, but Miles was still playing Miles. “I tell people the same spirit is there, but the surroundings are a little different. And I kept going from there. When I did Expansions, I’d just left Miles – and he’d used all these pedals
at one of the great jazz labels of the era, Impulse, and overseen some of John Coltrane’s most important recordings. He also recorded an album of Jack Kerouac poetry, and co-wrote the Louis Armstrong hit ‘What a Wonderful World’. Flying Dutchman recorded a wealth of great musicians that Thiele had met along the way, including a couple of previous Smith collaborators – vocalist Leon Thomas, and the Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri, whose band Smith joined after Barbieri had heard him playing with Pharoah Sanders. Also, significantly, it was where Gil Scott-Heron first found a home as a recording artist. Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Pieces of a Man and Free Will were all recorded for the label. And it was the nature of Thiele as a boss and a producer that gave Smith the licence to go on and create his signature sound. “Bob Thiele was a great producer because he never got in your way,” says Smith. “He recorded each artist
MUSIC | Lonnie Liston Smith
With Pharoah Sanders
because he liked what they did. So he’d get you in the studio and let you do what you do. No dictatorship. Although sometimes he’d come up with these crazy titles. He’d be like, ‘Lonnie, why don’t you call this song ‘Dumpy Mama’?’ And I’d say, ‘That’s not cosmic, Bob. I can’t do that.’ And he’d just laugh.” There is plenty of recorded music out there with the Smith stamp on it. He played on Guru’s brilliant Jazzmatazz project (“I did it because I wasn’t doing anything. And they did it properly. Decent salary, good hotel. Then I’m on MTV!”) He was sampled by Jay-Z, then a wealth of others, from
his solo piano recording ‘A Garden of Peace’. (“That really blew my mind. Through ‘Dead Presidents’, young people have found me.”) He’ll be a featured artist on the next Basement Jaxx release, scheduled for Spring 2014. And during my conversation with Gilles Peterson, he tells me how surprised and delighted he was when electronica artist/producer Toro y Moi cited the influence of Smith and, as even Toro called it, his “cosmic jazz”. Even though Lonnie Liston Smith is now in his seventies, it’s this constant rediscovery by a new generation of fans that has inspired him to stay out there – even when that discovery comes from
within his own band. “I’d gotten a little disillusioned,” he tells me. “But I heard this young drummer, Lee Pearson, and he wanted to join the band. And when I heard him, I thought: ‘Uh-oh, he wants to play some music!’ “And that’s why I have to stay busy. Because everybody’s calling him!” Lonnie Liston Smith’s Flying Dutchman recordings have been reissued by Ace Records. Cosmic Funk is released in early 2014 acerecords.co.uk
Only The Gentle
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Robert Mitchum The Night of the Hunter. Hell’s Kitchen. Hopalong Cassidy. Marijuana. Horse Shit Words Chris Sullivan
“He was a man of great charm yet there was this sense of evil lurking beneath the surface.” So said Hollywood film producer Paul Gregory, describing the intriguing character of screen legend Robert Mitchum. It was exactly this quality that made him so perfect for the part of twisted psychopathic evangelist Harry Powell in the 1955 film classic The Night of the Hunter, produced by Gregory and directed by English thespian Charles Laughton. Mitchum, who later credited Laughton as the best director he ever worked with, had a ball with The Night of the Hunter, putting in a menacing, highly accomplished performance that defined one of the most daring and controversial films of the 1950s. Laughton allowed him free rein with his character, which was based on the real-life serial killer Harry Powers, who romanced and killed two widows he met through lonely-hearts ads, slaughtered three children and was hanged in 1932. Mitchum’s Powell is an explosive Molotov cocktail sweetened with molasses and laced with strychnine. Mitchum courted drama off camera as much as on. “Mitch said all this shit 84
about how he loved Charles, but he was on drugs and drink and what have you and there were times when Charles could not get him in front of the camera,” recalled Gregory. “Things came to a head one day when Mitchum arrived on set late, staggering about, but insisted on working. He was puffy eyed and could hardly see. So I said, ‘Mitch sweetheart, you’re in no condition to go on camera.’” Mitchum considered the suggestion. “Then,” continued Gregory, “he opened his ﬂy and whipped out his dick, then staggered behind my Cadillac’s door, which was open. I thought he was hiding behind it for modesty’s sake, but I looked back and saw him pissing on the front seat of the car where I’d been sitting. And it went on and on filling up the seat with piss. I could not believe it. And then he put his cock back in his pants with a look on his face that was as if this was the dearest thing he had ever done in his whole life. And then he staggered off.” “But he was a charmer and an evil son of a bitch,” said the producer. “He scared me to tell you the truth. I was always on guard. He was often in a state and you never knew what he would do next. He’d be drunk and fighting with
this ﬂunky he kept around, kicking him all over the place. I’d always worked in the theatre and I’d never met anyone like him.” I doubt if anyone had ever met anyone like Robert Charles Durman Mitchum. His modus operandi was to take the piss, josh, lie and tie people up in knots. In one interview for the BBC in 1972, Michael Parkinson asked Mitchum, “When was the last time someone took a swing at you?” Mitchum replied: “I was in Colorado and a fella came over and threw a piece of used toilet paper on my plate and said sign that, so I picked up my fork and ran it up through his chin and into his upper palette and said, ‘Take him to the hospital.’” “It’s a great story,” replied Parkie, “but I didn’t believe word of it.” “Did you always want to be a movie star?” continued Parkinson. “No,’’ said Mitchum, looking at him with measured derision. “I wanted to be the Queen.” He had little respect for journalists and not a lot for most actors. He disliked Steve McQueen (“He sure don’t bring much brains to the party, that kid”), didn’t think much of the method guys – Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson (“They’re all >
CINEMA | Robert Mitchum so small”) – while John Wayne simply irritated him (“He had four-inch lifts put in his shoes… they probably buried him in his goddamn lifts… And sure, I was glad when he won the Oscar… I’m always glad to see the fat lady win the Cadillac on TV, too!”). But, as he said later, “The only difference between me and my fellow actors is that I’ve spent more time in jail.” Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on 6 August 1917 to Ann Harriet Mitchum (née Gunderson), the immigrant daughter of a Norwegian sea captain, and James Thomas Mitchum, of ScotchIrish and Blackfoot Indian descent. His tough guy father died while working on the railroad when the actor was just a toddler, leaving behind his pregnant wife and Robert’s older sister Annette too. Things were never easy. A boisterous child both physically and intellectually, young Bob wrote poems – some of which were published in the Bridgeport local paper when he was seven – but, after moving to a farm in the country shortly after, he and his younger brother John found themselves fending off the local hick bullies, putting a few in hospital. They earned the nickname “them ornery Mitchum boys” – a phrase that brother John would later use as the title of his autobiography. In 1927, his mother Anne married former English soldier Hugh Cunningham Morris and they had their own child. Two years later Bob was expelled from school, Wall Street crashed, the farm went under and the family moved to a tiny tenement apartment in the tough New York City slum, Hell’s Kitchen. Now it was the brothers who were the hicks and had to fight the local gangs to survive. But young Bob fought all comers, earned the broken nose he later attributed to a boxing career (and then denied) and became known as a young man best left alone. Two high school expulsions followed and, aged 14, he left home to work as a deck hand on a salvage vessel. A year later, in 1933, in the midst of the great Depression, he left home for good and headed for California. When Parkinson asked him why he’d left home at such a tender age, he 86
replied, “Suddenly I came home and there was no place at the table, so it was time to split. I got the message and took off and so I became a hobo knocking on doors asking the kind for a crust of bread, never offering to mow the lawn, just dealing with the kind lady. I just kept moving. No purpose.” His sister Annette begged to differ. “He didn’t run away. Mother packed his bags for him. He was so, so eager to see all these places he’d read about and so he went.” In truth, Mitchum had been entirely engrossed by the literature of Jack London and Jim Tully, whose memoir of life as a vagabond, Beggars of Life, young Bob read until it fell apart. Tully, the son of an Irish immigrant ditchdigger, had been forced to the road
WITH HIS JIVE TALK, WEED INTAKE AND CASUAL DRESS, HE WAS A PROTO BEATNIK from the age of 12, had been a boxer and a tree surgeon, but turned to poetry. A heavy drinker and a notorious brawler, he moved on to LA and wrote books about his life on the road and the American poor as well as novels on prostitution, boxing, Hollywood and travel. He is considered the daddy of hard-boiled, no nonsense US writing. The young Mitchum was entirely enamoured, but unlike Tully, was not forced to the road but embarked on a trip fuelled by romantic idealism, wanderlust and books. But Mitchum never denied his abuse of the truth. “I learnt early in life that by telling a story far more colourfully than the truth, one’s truth would be left alone,” he declared. “I like to be left alone.” And then when a journalist asked if all the stories
he’d read were true, the actor replied. “Yep they’re all true – booze, brawls, broads, all true. Make up some more if you want to.” As a 15-year-old itinerant, Mitchum’s intention had been to get to California and join his sister, who’d married a Navy medic and settled in Long Beach. Unfortunately, he was arrested for vagrancy and ended up on a chain gang on another charge. “The judge accused me of robbing a shoe store on a Wednesday,” he told talk show host Dick Cavett. “But, as I told the judge, I’d been in jail since the Sunday before… so he threw me in the can anyway… I was busted for mopery with intent to gawp. I was only 15. They categorised me as a dangerous and suspicious character with no means of support.” Some claim he was in for a week, his brother claimed 90 days. How his incarceration ended is also shrouded in the mists of fabrication, as are the majority of his teenage years. He often claimed he escaped. “I just didn’t turn up one day and they didn’t miss me and I ran so they fired a few warning shots over my head,” he told Cavett. What is certain is that he returned home with a badly lacerated ankle infected by the leg irons, and his mother refused to allow the doctor to amputate. As soon as Mitchum recovered he was off again and made it to LA, sleeping in the downtown Midnight Mission. But, soon back on the hobo express, he was imprisoned for a short while in Texas and ended up working in a coalmine for a week in Delaware. Along the way he’d fallen for a young lady called Dorothy Clement Spence and elicited a promise from her that she would marry him just as soon as he found a proper job, after which he left again for California. Meanwhile, his sister had started working with a theatre group in Long Beach and, in an attempt to keep him out of trouble, persuaded her errant brother to tread the boards. It was 1937 and he was now 20 years old. The following year he starred as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest and was writing material for comedians and singers (he had learned to play the saxophone whilst in NYC), including
an oratorio for the 22-year-old Orson Welles. Another writing job followed for astrologer Carrol Righter. Consequently, he accompanied her on a tour that included Philadelphia, where Dorothy was now living. They married in March 1940 and stayed together until his death almost 60 years later. They moved to LA where he found work at the Lockheed aircraft factory, assisting a skilled worker named James Dougherty – whose young wife Norma Jean soon became known as Marilyn Monroe – and found his first paid job as a film actor in the Hopalong Cassidy series of westerns, in which he played the bad guy in Border Patrol. “They paid me a hundred bucks a week and I could take all the horse manure home I wanted and a free lunch,” he was oft to say. When America joined the war, Mitchum’s brother and brother-in-law were drafted while he was deferred, firstly because his job at Lockheed was classified and secondly because
he was the only breadwinner for his ever growing clan, who now all lived in the same street and included his mother, sister, sister-in-law and all their respective offspring. As time moved on, just as surely as Mitchum’s reputation as a reliable actor increased, so did his reputation as a drinker, lothario and brawler. On the set of the war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), he’d battered a real life army sergeant who had the temerity to proclaim that all film actors not in the services were draft-dodging queers. Although managing to avoid the gossip columns, he gained a reputation for tupping many a young secretary and starlet. Thus, Mitchum became a pin up for the bobby-soxer crowd who loved his bad boy image. Smelling the dollar, RKO Pictures signed him up in May 1944, but the studio execs were not happy with his name and told him he was now to be known as Robert Marshall. “Screw that,” responded Mitchum. “What the fuck? Forget it.
Tear up the contract.” He did however agree to use the name Robert instead of Bob, and the studio caved. Next up Mitchum was given the role of Lt Walker in the anti-war picture The Story of GI Joe. He received an Oscar nomination for what is a stunning performance. But still trouble followed him around. After an altercation on 6 April 1945, whereby he broke a policeman’s nose, he received 180 days incarceration. Luckily, he was offered the chance to join the army instead of serving the sentence and was marched to the enlistment centre by the two cops who had beaten the crap out of him. By that summer he had graduated from boot camp and was made drill sergeant, until a medical officer told him his talents were wasted and moved him to the wards. “I was a pecker checker checking recruits’ genitals for venereal disease,” he said. “But my specialty was rectal examinations… searching soldiers’ asses with a torch > 87
for abnormalities – piles, haemorrhoids, bananas, dope – you name it.” He must have done a fine job as he was honourably discharged as a Private First Class and received the second world war Victory Medal. Bottoms up. Soon Mitchum was back at RKO as a jobbing actor, and they threw everything at him. “RKO made the same film with me for ten years,” he said. “They were so alike I wore the same suit in six of them and the same Burberry trench coat. They just changed the title of the picture and the leading lady. Only two pictures in that time made any sense whatever. I complained and they told me frankly that they had a certain amount of baloney to sell and I was the boy to do it. At one point I was doing four films at the same time and working 20 hours a day.” But something had to break and the following year he notched up two landmark low budget film noirs. The first, Crossfire, dealt with the murder of a Jewish GI, while the second, a superlative classic of the genre, Out of The Past (aka Build My Gallows High) co-starred Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. It lifted the actor to another level. Calamity struck however on 31 August 1948, when the cops charged into a rented house in Laurel Canyon and found the actor, his best friend Robin Ford, Hollywood starlet Lila Leeds and her friend Vickie Evans sharing a reefer. Mitchum was sentenced to two years of probation and 60 days behind bars. He later said he hadn’t slept so well in years. Mitchum had picked up his lifelong hemp habit as a young hobo. In 1948 this was a huge deal and Hollywood scandal, but the man was simply ahead of his time. In many ways, with his jive talk, weed intake and casual dress, he was a proto beatnik. But perhaps the furore was a good thing. He was now contracted to RKO, whose boss Howard Hughes not only didn’t give a hoot about the marijuana but also saw that there was money in this bad boy. Whether out of ignorance or mischief, the first film Hughes sent Mitchum to do, The Big Steal, co88
starring Jane Greer, was shot in Mexico in a region famous for its high quality cannabis crop. “The locals worshipped Mitch because of the marijuana,” explained Greer. “And would come up and force samples on him, slyly putting it in his pockets or cuffs.” As Mitchum said in the 1970s, “I was a jobbing actor. All I looked for in a script was a few days off in a nice location. I think when producers have a part that’s hard to cast, they say, ‘Send for Mitchum, he’ll do anything.’ I’ll play Polish gays, women, midgets, anything. In 1946 I worked with Greer Garson in Desire Me, which was when I gave up being serious about making pictures. She took a 125 takes to say no. As for me, I got three expressions: looking left, looking right
‘HE WAS A CHARMER AND AN EVIL SON OF A BITCH’ and looking straight ahead. I’ve still got the same attitude I had when I started. I haven’t changed anything but my underwear.” But, all misgivings aside, Mitchum was still on the up. As he once said, “I came back from the war and ugly heroes were in.” Here was a new and altogether attractive entity for the general public – an actor who wasn’t that enamoured of the task at hand, was a drinker, brawler and anti-hero. Men, boys, girls, women… they all loved him. As he said, “When they see me up there on the screen they think if that bum can make it, I can be president!” He was the imperfect, down-to-earth everyman with two kids and a ‘stable’ relationship (Dorothy ignored his dalliances as long as they were kept on the road), who didn’t parade the glamorous movie star trip and was unimpressed by Hollywood in general.
Unfortunately, for a while Mitchum’s nonchalance and disinterest showed and little he did between 1952 and 1955 – including the Monroe vehicle River of No Return – is worth mentioning. And then came The Night of the Hunter. Mitchum’s performance, even though the film had bad reviews and an even cooler reception from the public, was highly lauded. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times said that he “plays the murderous minister with an icy unctuousness that gives you the chills. There is more than malevolence in his character. There’s a strong trace of Freudian aberration, fanaticism and iniquity”. Most critics regard it as the best performance of his career. Mitchum continued working until he died of lung cancer in 1997. He even recorded a calypso album in 1957 and a country album ten years later, while his rendition of ‘Little Old Wine Drinker Me’ reached number nine in the country charts. But, even though he made some fine films, only his renderings of Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962) and ageing Boston hoodlum Eddie in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) came close to his psychotic parson in The Night of the Hunter. When asked about what his career meant to him, he said: “Years ago, I saved up a million dollars from acting, a lot of money in those days, and I spent it all on a horse farm in Tucson. Now when I go down there, I look at that place and I realise my whole acting career adds up to a million dollars worth of horse shit… But people make too much of acting. You are not helping anyone, like being a doctor or even a musician. In the final analysis, you have exalted no one but yourself… and these days young actors only want to talk about acting method and motivation; in my day all we talked about was screwing and overtime.” As Charles Laughton said: “He’s one of my very favourite people in the whole world. I can’t praise him too much.” The Night of the Hunter is in cinemas from 17 January 2014 parkcircus.com
CINEMA | Robert Mitchum
Christopher Nemeth The House of Beauty and Culture. John Moore. Buffalo. Post Sacks. Japan. Deconstruction. Recycling Words Andy Thomas Photographs Mattias Pettersson
Christopher Nemeth was a true English original whose work resonates as loudly today as in the mid-1980s, when his deconstructive aesthetic first made waves. Talking to i-D magazine in 2009, a year before his passing, he explained the roots of his craft. “I had this pair of trousers that I’d picked up in a jumble sale, which I really liked the shape of, but after wearing them endlessly they had completely worn out. So I took them to bits, laid them flat, and made my own new version of them. That was how I made my first pair of trousers – as a way of getting back those trousers that I loved but had worn out.” Graduating from Camberwell College of Arts in 1982, the Birmingham-born designer began experimenting with textiles, creating art from old clothing. His innovative use of salvage materials and artful deconstructions of fabrics would prove 90
hugely influential. Mixing the DIY innovation of punk with classic English tailoring, Nemeth created a body of work that was both raw and beautiful. It was through the House of Beauty and Culture that Nemeth built his reputation for pioneering design and craftsmanship. Set up by cult shoe designer John Moore in an old building off Kingsland Road in east London, the store was home to a collective of likeminded free thinkers. The collaborative environment and creative freedom resulted in brilliantly crafted and highly original clothes that worked perfectly together – a pair of dropped crotch trousers from Nemeth above Moore’s toe-strap boot; a Nemeth post sack jacket set off by Judy Blame’s salvage jewellery. The collective reached beyond the cultish pages of i-D and Blitz magazines, with international buyers and designers such as New York’s
Suzanne Bartsch and Martin Margiela scouring the store for inspiration. In June 1986, Nemeth met his future wife Keiko at a John Galliano show and later that year moved to Tokyo, where they set up their first shop, Sector. With the help of Keiko, Nemeth continued to develop his craft, creating a huge archive of designs and a cult following across Japan. His vision continues to be realised today thanks to the tireless work of Keiko, and a Tokyo store that has become a mecca for Nemeth fans worldwide. We hope we go some way to capturing his influence and inspiration through these recollections from those touched by his humble genius. > Christopher Nemeth, 4-13-5, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0001, Japan christophernemeth.co
Harris Elliott “When I wear his pieces today, people are always like ‘Where is that from?’ That’s across the board whether it’s fashion or nonfashion people, they will always comment on the pieces because the cut is so different. He crafted his own silhouette, whereas a lot of other designs are rehashes of styles from yesteryear.” Jacket, 2007; jeans, 1998.
CULTURE | Christopher Nemeth “My dad hated the image of fashion. He just put his art on wearable things. So fashion was a way for him to present his art.” Lui Nemeth, Christopher’s daughter and co-founder of Primitive London primitivelondon.co.uk “I learned loads from my dad as an artist, but maybe the most important thing was that he didn’t like to have something that he hadn’t made. He just wanted to have everything that was his. He made clothes, furniture, even notebooks; that is something I really respect as an artist – to be surrounded by your creative objects. I think that creates your self, your space and world.” Riyo Nemeth, Christopher’s daughter and artist riyonemeth.com “When he left art school he had no money and he couldn’t afford canvas. He was a practical sort of guy, so the old style post sacks, they are basically like a duck canvas. He’d stretch them and paint on them. But he made his own clothes too. He’d get a suit from Oxfam and take it apart and lay it flat to see how it was made. That’s how he learned to pattern cut.” Adam Howe, stylist webberrepresents.com “He was just a fucking genius. When I saw his clothes I was blown away. I was impressed and gutted that it wasn’t me that found him. That was the most exciting thing in those days, you know, finding the latest clothes and the latest designer. And he was the man.” Mitzi Lorenz, member of the Buffalo collective “I became aware of Chris through Judy Blame, who I had known for years. It must have been about 1985. And I remember Chris had started working with him and was all excited, and he and Mark Lebon were doing stuff together. Judy loaned me a jacket to wear to Japan on a modelling trip I was doing at the end of ’85. It was one of his post sack jackets but it had a gold leather collar – it was fabulous.” Scarlett Cannon, healer, model and writer heavenlyhealer.blogspot.co.uk
“I first met Chris around 1985-86 when I was staying in Camden, through people I was hanging out with like Judy Blame and Neneh Cherry. His clothing was just absolutely unique and I felt it was like he had designed it just for me.” Howie B, musician and producer howieb.com “He had this collection made from discarded post sacks. It was fantastic, just genius. Mark Lebon did a shoot for i-D magazine using Buffalo models and Judy Blame styled it. Then Chris, Judy and Mark became good mates and got involved in the House of Beauty and Culture. And I just remember the arrival of this genius new designer. I guess it was around the time when we were beginning to become aware of recycling and the importance of waste. So I particularly loved the fact that he was making pieces out of postbags and that they really looked great too. His designs were just amazing.” Mitzi Lorenz
‘HE WAS THE SWEETEST GUY YOU’D EVER WANT TO MEET’ “He was stretching any kind of fabric you could paint on, the thicker the better, like a canvas. And when his clothing took off he started cutting his paintings up. At his graduation show he’d actually cut his paintings up to make clothes. It was amazing. He’d gone from cutting clothes up to make canvases to cutting canvas up to make clothing. I was just mesmerised.” Adam Howe “I first met Chris in the mid-1980s and he was just this incredibly humble, sweet, quiet, funny man. He was an absolute gentleman; the sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet. And he just had his own complete style. It was, like, ‘Wow, look at him.’” Barry Kamen, member of the Buffalo collective, artist and stylist barrykamen.com
“I used to do some work for John Moore at the House of Beauty and Culture. That was my connection to Nemeth. There were a lot of waves that came out of that place. What Nemeth did was to extend the DIY ethic that had come from punk into a whole new area of fashion.” John Marchant, director of Isis Gallery isisgallery.org “I was the Saturday girl at House of Beauty and Culture when it first started. The shop wasn’t open every day. Back then Dalston was like a no man’s land but the one day the shop was open was Saturday. It was totally a cult shop. You’d have people who were on the edge who had made this brave trip to come and visit the shop.” Scarlett Cannon “What was going on with Chris and the House of Beauty and Culture was just different. It was very edgy – we used to call it recycling, so he was very much into this reclaiming kind of thing.” Jazzie B, DJ, producer and founder of Soul II Soul soul2soul.co.uk “I was buying Chris’s stuff along with shoes from John Moore. Both of them had a really good hand and the stuff worked really well together. Handmade shoes and handmade clothing that were totally unique; it was not gimmicky but just full of style. They had the same attitude, taking something that was essentially British: really good craftsmanship.” Howie B “I had started doing stuff at Blitz magazine around 1982-83, and basically I started to use my friends in the magazine. About 60 per cent of the stuff in the magazine came from charity shops and then people like John Moore, Judy Blame or Chris were making things especially for a shoot.” Iain R Webb, fashion journalist and fashion director of Blitz magazine hopeandglitter.wordpress.com “At the time, we were all just doing what we wanted to do. His work was very much in that feeling and spirit.” Scarlett Cannon >
Adam Howe Jacket, 1986; belt, 2000; handkerchief, 2003; badges.
“All of us were creating an alternative to the mainstream. I didn’t want to be a stylist on a big magazine, we wanted to create our own thing. And I think that was really strong through their work and through Chris’s work especially.” Iain R Webb “All the people at the House of Beauty and Culture, they were just really skilled artisans. That is something I felt had been missed a bit since the days of Arts and Crafts. John Moore was like an old school cobbler. He’d make handmade shoes, and Chris was an incredible tailor. All the stuff was made to a really high standard. So it wasn’t just a punk aesthetic, where it was safety-pinned together, it was really well made.” Adam Howe
“It sounds more professional than it was, the idea of them forming a collective. Because at that time, most of the stuff that went on was quite organic in the way that things just happened. It was likeminded souls coming together. It was a response to what was around us, but that raw aesthetic also reflected the environment and life we were leading.” Iain R Webb “My older sister had some Nemeth stuff and she lived near the House of Beauty and Culture. It was something I was aware of from old copies of The Face and i-D magazines. I would also see people like Nellee Hooper wearing it. And I just loved that Hard Times look but also the way it was timeless.” Kim Jones, artistic director, Louis Vuitton menswear louisvuitton.co.uk
“That whole world wasn’t really meant for mass consumption. It was meant for people who got it. And that was quite a small amount of people. If you saw Chris’s clothes around in clubs and so on then you knew you were amongst your own crowd. The same with Bodymap clothes, for example. If you saw a print in the far end of the street then you knew there was somebody else that was into the same thing as you.” John Marchant
‘HE WAS AN AMAZING PATTERN CUTTER; HE HAD A VERY LOGICAL MIND’ “I had an amazing collaboration piece – a Nemeth and Judy Blame coat. It was almost 1920s, hitched up at the back, made out of old velvet curtains and hessian, and hundreds of buttons, tassels and rope. I wore it so much it was like a comfort blanket. The feeling of that – to put that on was just so special. You could just pop it on with something casual or with something dressy and it just felt and looked amazing.” Scarlett Cannon
“Stevie Stewart and I, as designers, wanted to make a difference; we tried to create and invent in a modern way, taking “I’ve got two beautiful jackets that are the inspiration from the world around us. It post sack ones. I think they are some of was a time of change; designers, musicians, the first things he ever made. The thing I filmmakers and choreographers were have that is really spectacular is Scarlett inspiring each other in a modern Cannon’s old coat. It’s really amazing revolution. Christopher Nemeth and because it almost feels like a Paul Poiret, Bodymap were a leading force in this that’s how beautiful it is. It’s so heavy. I creative revolution.” have it in a box because I don’t want it to David Holah, designer and co-founder get ruined. It’s just an object that I of Bodymap davidholah.com absolutely love.” Kim Jones
“As with Westwood’s stuff, people would do anything to acquire Nemeth clothes. A pair of Nemeth jeans was the ultimate thing you could possibly have. So people would starve to get them, because they were never cheap.” John Marchant “I met Chris through Nellee Hooper and a lot of his style and everything just really connected with me.” Jazzie B “He has his own theory. He always said to us, ‘Original, original, original.’” Lui Nemeth “I really remember my dad’s studio next door to the shop and the house where we grew up. It was a big studio with a really high ceiling. I always remember the smell of the studio, the cigarettes, dust, fabric and paper. I also just remember it being really messy and it had two tiny birds flying around everywhere. He always used to come home with bird shit on him and all over the patterns.” Riyo Nemeth “I used to hang out with him in the studio all the time. He was obsessive, he would literally sleep there. Keiko would complain because he wouldn’t come home. He would get under the table and sleep there and then wake up and start again. He would do this week in, week out.” Howie B “Craftsmanship is a good point. He was a really good maker. If he needed clothes, he’d make them. If he needed a table he’d make it. He’d always figure out a way. He was totally practical. He was self-taught to the extent that when he had his first big store in Tokyo, Keiko got these quite expensive shop fitters in to kit it out. And Chris was like, ‘That’s all wrong’, he didn’t like it so he ripped it all out and remade it.” Adam Howe “It was craftsmanship and design. And of course recycling, which we loved. I’d always loved Judy Blame’s work and it was like a clothing extension of that but it had its own thing going on. Nothing like that had been seen before. Designer clothes were very fitted and couture. I always think the same about Bodymap as well, the way they were making things out of Lycra. People weren’t making things out of old post sacks. So it was the use of materials, the way it was put together, the shaping, the tailoring and really the whole work was just fabulous.” Scarlett Cannon
CULTURE | Christopher Nemeth
“It was incredibly raw with that patchwork of fabrics, the undyed hessian and the sacking and stuff. He was using really raw materials, but then those things juxtaposed with traditional men’s suiting and wools. A lot of those jackets were like deconstruction with the insides out. It was as if the innards of the garment were almost spewing out. It had that raw energy.” Iain R Webb
Claire Pringle Jacket, 2003; trousers, 2006. Septimus T-shirt, 2005. Bayode Oduwole Jeans, 2003.
“He was the person at the forefront of deconstruction as a movement in the 1980s and that obviously is a significant thing. But that is only one very small part of what he did. He was a master cutter, self-taught; he was just an amazing pattern cutter, which started from this very logical mind and great intelligence he had.” Claire Pringle, co-founder of Pokit pokit.co.uk >
“The stuff was just so shapely and the materials were always so beautifully layered. There was just something very eccentric, very British about it. There was also a punk thing. You could wear it anywhere – to pick up the rubbish or to a ball.” Jazzie B “I guess that was the thing – he was punk. All of his ethics were punk. That’s why we all loved it. It was timeless. It’s like that post sack jacket – I would wear it today as much as I would when he first came on the scene.” Mitzi Lorenz “He literally went around London at a certain time of the day and took the post sacks off the street and turned them into his material. I had a jacket and a pair of trousers and they had the original hooks on, he’d left all the bits on it so there was no disguise at all. That was what was so special about Chris. That was punk.” Howie B
“Punk had set the whole tone, everyone was ripping stuff up and turning it upside down and inside out. But then it was the way Chris pieced it together, the quality of the workmanship. And of course he started off as an artist rather than a clothes maker, so he would make these amazing jackets and then frame them and put them on the wall. It wasn’t just about wearing it, so it becomes something else. Every bit of detail on Chris’s clothes was considered like a painting.” Barry Kamen
“I guess from a romantic point of view, it always had that sort of Fagin vibe. I just really liked that kind of Dickensian thing.” Jazzie B
“Punk was very much about creating things from things around you and usually stuff that people had thrown away. I think that aesthetic then fed through to the Blitz club and that culture that started with the New Romantics. The House of Beauty and Culture – even though it was quite desolate, very urban and gritty and reflected the decay of what was around us – was still quite a romantic ideal.” Iain R Webb
“In Buffalo we used him a lot. He fitted perfectly in that. What Chris did was very English as well because he was taking bespoke and tailoring and Englishness and flipping it on its head.” Barry Kamen
“You can see the lineage and the progression. It’s one view but through a kaleidoscope of different techniques. It’s almost Dickensian but also very modern. It’s a work with soul so deep. So time doesn’t really matter.” Bayode Oduwole, co-founder of Pokit pokit.co.uk
“It’s really amazing that here his work is treated as art work rather than clothes, with galleries such as the V&A and the ICA.” Lui Nemeth “I always saw Chris as an artist who was very much into the purity of fashion design – the craft aspect and tailoring and how to reshape the body. All the discussions we’ve had over the years were much more about the idea of craft and how to somehow also make that central to your creative being. He was only interested in the practice itself.” Norbert Schoerner, photographer and filmmaker clmus.com
Norbert Schoerner Socks and rug, year unknown.
Norbert Schoerner Socks; rug.
“I came to London initially to study fashion. But the idea of fashion that I had in mind, looking at my dad and how he does it, felt a completely different thing when I went to the foundation course at Saint Martins. So I thought, ‘I want to do art first.’” Lui Nemeth “It’s scientific and rational but at the same time artistic. There is nothing like it. There are very few genuine original concepts. Chris had the talent do that. For me, Chris represents the essence of what English fashion and London style is about. There are so many lenses you can look at it through, from the gentleman to the ragamuffin.” Bayode Oduwole “My dad was wrapping his body with duct tape and making it flat. He always worked with a flat surface; he never used draping. I think that is because he has a love of painting and a love of canvas.” Lui Nemeth
CULTURE | Christopher Nemeth
Barry Kamen Jacket, 1980s; jeans, shoes and socks, 2003; T-shirt, year unknown. Scarlett Cannon Jacket and trousers, 2013. Judy Blame, jewellery designer Waistcoat and shirt, year unknown; trousers, 1980s; shoes and socks, 2003. Mitzi Lorenz Shirt and apron, 2003; shoes, year unknown.
“There was a certain cut of his threequarter-length jeans with that overlocked stitching, so it was a look that was easily identifiable as Chris. He has a silhouette that is very unique and identifiable as him. There are very few stylists that have something you can say is clearly them.” Harris Elliott, stylist, art director and founder of H by Harris harriselliott.com “He was mashing up and twisting jeans 25 years ago. And now the cut of Chris’s jeans has really inspired loads of people without them even realising. I think he had a big impact on denim.” Barry Kamen
“While he was very matter of fact about things, he was also a very, very bright “There was no compromise. I’ve been man. And he applied that intelligence to with him when he’s been walking around his work and that is what is so interesting. looking for material whether it’s here Whilst he maybe made things look easy, in London or Tokyo. He spent an awful his cutting was so advanced and has been lot of time researching, even looking copied by so many different designers.” into history books and finding out Claire Pringle materials. There was a lot of effort and research even before he started “He had such a big impact on designers making the things. His attention to like Comme des Garçons and Martin detail was just outrageous.” Margiela and they were really taking his Howie B stuff and remaking it. And then obviously other designers would look at them and “I even wear his badges on non-Chris take from them and then the high street pieces and friends can tell right away and would finally take from these other say, ‘Oh, you’re wearing a bit of Chris.’ designers. So nobody quite realises the So because of his mark-making on his source of so much of the way things have badges, even if they are really simple, they been broken down and turned inside out are identifiable as Chris statement pieces.” comes from Chris.” Harris Elliott > Barry Kamen 97
Kim Jones â€œWhat he really brings to my work is that mix and match feel. And I love that Hard Times look and things that are very normal then becoming very luxurious. The beauty was in the imperfection almost.â€? Jacket, 1984.
CULTURE | Christopher Nemeth “I’ve got a few pieces of his. It was actually a bit of a joke between us because his designs are very much for skinny people and I have quite a solid build. So he always sort of joked of making a special square edition for me. He actually made a jacket for me that I still wear.” Norbert Schoerner “It went hand in hand with what we were doing at the time. The shapes were just phenomenal. And obviously with dreadlocks and the tone of our skin it just kind of worked. So we were always wearing something Nemeth in our videos. In 1990 we literally wore all his stuff on tour.” Jazzie B “I’m not that well versed on the history of clothing being used as art objects. But there are a number of people who have done that sort of thing, going back to Sonia Delaunay. And then there were others who have deconstructed clothing and turned it around, such as the Left Bank Letterist movement. Nemeth’s clothes would absolutely be a connection to that.” John Marchant “We helped put his window display up in menswear boutique Bazaar. We were carrying one of his spaghetti paintings. It was made out of a deconstructed jacket that he’d stretched out like a canvas and then thrown glue, paint and spaghetti on it. We had no money, so we’d taken it all the way on a bus to put in a Mayfair window. It was like, ‘Is this how its meant to be?’ It was all a very DIY aesthetic so to infiltrate Mayfair – it felt like subterfuge.” Adam Howe
“There was also the Hungarian furniture and books that were an inspiration. Our granddad is Hungarian. Dad had this book of furniture and used the patterns to make wallpaper for the shop.” Riyo Nemeth “It was totally intuitive, auto-didactic, and completely devoid of all the pomp you get in fashion. To be that fulfilled and to be that genuinely independent; that to us [Pokit] is what fashion is about. It’s about doing things your own way without the trend forecast. That’s what Chris represents to us.”
“He seemed quite shy and quiet but the clothes said it all. They were just like nothing you had seen and what everyone wanted.” Mitzi Lorenz “He had an aesthetic but he didn’t try and define that and box it, and to put it into something he could cleverly market. He was always incredibly modest, he never wanted to be the personality designer.” Claire Pringle “My best memory of him was during an i-D event in Florence. He helped hang the exhibition I organised during a very noisy one-night party in the Palazzo Corsini. He could hold his drink and more.” Terry Jones, founder of i-D magazine i-donline.com
‘HIS WORK INFLUENCED “When we said we wanted to move to EVERYONE east London from Tokyo, he moved with us. He was scared and wanted to protect FROM LEVI’S us. When we mentioned Kingsland Road he was like, ‘No, no.’ It took us three TO COMME years to convince him. We had to take to Broadway Market. And then he DES GARÇONS’ him lived with us for three months. But he Bayode Oduwole “When we first saw his designs we were like, ‘Wow, there’s someone else on the same wavelength as us.’ And then we got to know him and discovered he’d been doing if for over 20 years already. When it came to clothing he used to say, ‘Well, the body isn’t made up of tubes is it? So why would you cut like that?’” Claire Pringle
liked London after that.” Riyo Nemeth
“It’s so important to tell the proper Nemeth story beyond what happened in the 1980s. Unfortunately, people only get a very narrow slice of it because much of it is only available in Japan. But to be cool in Japan for 25 years, that is the pinnacle of success. They are very discerning. Whenever I am in Tokyo in Nemeth, everyone goes to pay homage. It is amazing that all these really big designers are genuinely humbled by this man’s talent.” Bayode Oduwole
“What came about seven years later of “In the beginning, he made a proper course in the early 1990s? Deconstruction. collection with Mark and Judy, but But Chris was doing that in the middle he stopped doing that. He just made of the 1980s. That all owes a great deal to what he wanted to wear. He only wore “Every time my mum comes to London what he was doing for no other reason his clothes. I remember he hated his people always know the history. The than he wanted to do it. Back in those socks so he made some; or shoes or recent exhibitions at the V&A and ICA days you made things out of rubbish a portfolio case.” prove that and she was really happy about because you didn’t have any money.” Lui Nemeth that. She says people respect history more Scarlett Cannon here than in Japan, where they are more “He made everything. We went surfing interested in having the newest clothes. “He influenced everyone from Levi’s to once. A crazy idea; Chris Nemeth surfing. But I think there is something in both.” Comme des Garçons to the Antwerp Six. But he embraced everything. We drove Riyo Nemeth Recently, I saw a student I teach and she down from London to Cornwall and the said everything I taught her class about day before he was like, ‘I haven’t got any “The Japanese just embraced him with a Nemeth and the House of Beauty and swimming trunks.’ The only fabric he had fanatical zeal. They totally went head-toCulture all made total sense now. So even were post sacks. So he made a pair of post toe in Nemeth. The only person I knew 20-year-old fashion students are getting sack swimming trunks. No elastic and who dressed like that was Chris, and that it.” a big leather belt.” was because he didn’t buy any other clothes.” Adam Howe Adam Howe Adam Howe > 99
“I worked with Judy Blame on a project back in 2000 and it was him who told me about Chris. And then I went to Tokyo and met Chris around 2005, having become a bit of a fan of his. I went to the store, got on well with him – really lovely guy. And now whenever I go to Tokyo I always pop to the store and see his wife and buy a pair of jeans or shoes. It’s almost become something of a mecca when I go to Tokyo. There is kind of like a cult for Chris over there.” Harris Elliott “Japan is maybe more about buying the style, but I don’t think they go as deep as here. I feel people here look at the history more and put it into the context of that time.” Lui Nemeth “He had a big following in Japan. Also the craftsmanship, with people helping him make stuff – there was an attention to detail where he got his clothes made that he would never have had here. That whole cottage industry stuff that was going on in Japan in the 1980s and ’90s was really taking off and he was part of that.” Howie B “Our parent’s shop is really unique. I think it’s because everyone goes there to hang out. My mum brings out wine for friends and customers. They always kept things small and beautiful.” Lui Nemeth “It’s not about being nostalgic because his work was so progressive. When we discovered him around 1997, all that deconstruction and recycled stuff was still there. You could still see that lineage but it was much leaner, much sharper. People tend to focus on his older work, which is utter genius; you look at the cuts and shapes today because Keiko [his wife] still uses all the patterns. It’s still fresh, but you also need to look at his contemporary stuff.” Bayode Oduwole
“There are maybe 200 patterns in his archive. And they keep reproducing, using different fabric. My mum buys off-cut fabrics from a tailor’s in Regent Street.” Lui Nemeth
“For me it’s his staying power in terms of his hallmark. What he did was so unique. Fashion kind of teaches you that you always need to do something new to be relevant, but if you have something that strong, it’s about style and not fashion. And I think that is where Chris’s influence lies. I would always want more people to be aware of him.” Harris Elliott
“In Japan, we’d always spend time at his studio and hang out with him. He’d always just get on with stuff, drawing something or cutting and sewing in mid-conversation. “His legacy is very important. I collect it He very much had his own rhythm.” and would like to give it to a museum or Norbert Schoerner something in the end so there is a proper archive. They did a really amazing archive “I still think he is really relevant today, in in one of the Comme des Garçons stores the same way as that era of Buffalo is. in Japan with all these pieces that were That whole aesthetic in the way people wear clothes and the way stylists and style just so incredible. The fabrications and the way he mixed and matched. And you magazines create stuff today; Chris was would imagine it came from chaos, but definitely part of the movement that when you went to his studio it was so influenced that. So I think there are a lot immaculate and organised. Every pattern of people who will be replicating his style was in a box around the room and and won’t even know that’s where their everything was so perfect and orderly. reference points are coming from.” There was a real method to it that I Harris Elliott thought was just so incredible.” Kim Jones
‘HE’D WORK WHILST CHATTING; HE HAD HIS OWN RHYTHM’
“You look at it now and it still stands up. I think his legacy of course is just coming into the fore now with all this 1980s stuff that is prevalent. So I think that is what will inspire and influence the young ones – I hope. He was quite an unsung person here and I think it’s really important he’s now being recognised.” Scarlett Cannon
“He was one of my all time favourite designers and we had talked about doing something together. And then sadly he died shortly after. He has that cult following in Japan and people like Rei “The point about his contemporary stuff Kawakubo [Comme des Garçons] still is that he used to rework ideas obsessively. support his legacy. He’s an influence on If he had an idea he wanted to get to, he so many people.” would rework and rework to hone down Kim Jones that idea to a point he was happy with. And I’m not sure how many designers “It’s such a shame that Chris has died. actually put that much time into it.” Now the ICA show has put a lot of those Claire Pringle things in their historical framework.” John Marchant
“He used to just cut the patterns and throw them on the floor. There were piles of pattern scraps and fabrics all over the floor. But when he moved, he suddenly got clean and tidy. It was strange but he started making his portfolio with files and started organising all his drawings and pictures. Not by dates but very ordered. I was talking to my grandma, my dad’s mum, last week and she was saying, ‘Don’t you think when he got tidy it felt like he was archiving and getting ready to pass it down.’” Lui Nemeth “Keiko [his wife] was 50 per cent of the brand; she just hasn’t put her face forward. They were always a team. While Chris was about the designs, she was about the fabrics and the one who actually put them into a collection. Keiko was a buyer when she first met Chris. She bought the first Galliano collection and took it to Tokyo. She’s got an amazing eye and she has always put the Nemeth collection together. Chris died tragically young but his brand is still as important and directional as it’s always been. As long as she is there to curate the work, it will be true to what it was.” Claire Pringle “He kept loads of drawings, books that he made and paintings just for himself; not intended to be seen. And I think that’s really beautiful. It’s easy to misunderstand the point of making something. When he died, Riyo and I went into his studio and we saw thousands of works we’d never seen.” Lui Nemeth
CULTURE | Christopher Nemeth
Jazzie B “When I am in Japan, I always go to the shop. Sometimes I say you don’t know the prophet until he’s gone.” Shirt, trousers, shoes and socks, 1988-2012.
Afrika Bambaataa The Black Spades. Universal Zulu Nation. Cornell University. Kool DJ Dee. The Breaks Words Miss Rosen Photographs Janette Beckman
“I am older than the sun, moon and stars; and as young as a newborn ﬂower.” So says Afrika Bambaataa, hip hop and electro funk pioneer and a man of spirituality and depth. Born in 1957, a child of the once ghettoised Bronx neighbourhood of New York, today Bam (as he is known to his friends) is an important figure within his local community as well as an inspiration globally. In the 1970s, Bambaataa created the Universal Zulu Nation, a wide-ranging organisation that, in his own words, “uses music to bring the people together for political and spiritual progress, uniting people together in the principles of Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Peace, Unity, Love, Respect, Work, Fun, Overcoming Negativity, 102
Economics, Mathematics, Science, Life, Truth, Facts, Faith, and The Oneness of God”. Bambaataa has always been inspired by music. At school in the Bronx he played trumpet and piano, but it was the magical delights of vinyl that really got him excited. He began collecting records of all types, from R ’n’ B to rock ’n’ roll, from a very young age. (Malcolm McLaren once said that he first experienced hip hop after meeting a man in the street wearing a Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ T-shirt, who invited him to a block party that evening – that man, he claimed, was Afrika Bambaataa.) By 13, Bambaataa was DJing his collection of records at house parties. He soon became aware of figures such as Kool DJ Dee and Kool DJ Herc,
who were isolating the breaks on R ’n’ B and disco records to create a new style of music. At this time Bambaataa ran with a street gang called the Black Spades, in an era when the Bronx had little or no police presence and the gangs both broke and upheld the law. A trip to Africa had a profound effect on the young man, who then empowered his gang to act as a force for good, and, in doing so, created the Universal Zulu Nation. The Zulu Nation is now 40 years old and Bambaataa is a visiting scholar at Cornell University in New York. He recently donated more than 40,000 records to the university library’s historical hip hop collection, the largest of its type in the world. Here, he speaks to us about some of his favourite subjects. >
New York 1986
With Zulu Nation members, Bronx 1983
We, the black people, whose real name is the Moors, are soul people. We are into music from birth to the end of the life. We are in frequency with the earth. In the black and Latino communities, you’re born into music. In your mother’s belly, you’re already feeling the vibrations of what they’re feeling. The rhythm of life comes and hits you. So when you’re born and take that breath of air, calling the Creator’s name, you already feel the vibrations of music. By one or two, we have already started shaking something, by five 104
we are in full swing. Getting older, in learning to dance, we mimic adults and then we start to do our own thing, make our own steps and dances that then come into our community. Music is in our blood. I always give credit to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and the great kings and queens of black funk: Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton, Motown, Stax, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, The Isley Brothers and Dionne Warwick, as well as rock groups like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater
Revival, and folk singers like Joan Baez. Music is what reaches into our bodies and snatches our souls. It is something that reaches into your inner self and touches your Goddess or your God Self. It makes you understand things and takes you to a higher level. Like Sly Stone said, “I want to take you higher.” Music is definitely a spiritual force. Music can get you to bring about peace, love and unity, or it can bring you war and hate – it depends on your style and what you are playing at the time. Sometimes you can hear music as if it’s background noise while you’re shopping and you don’t pay attention, but you’re paying more attention than you think because it’s in your subconscious mind, and you might hear something that gets in there while you’re doing what you’ve got to do. Many take the deeper levels of music into account and many don’t. Many just like the beat and are looking for what’s going to move their bodies, move their feet. And then you’ve got people who listen for lyrics or words, the sounds and vibrations of different frequencies – so you’ve got the people who might use it for spirituality, people who might use it for other levels like getting high, or rock artists who think they can’t play with a regular mind and think they need things that make them
COVER STORY | Afrika Bambaataa write serious lyrics or play the guitar. Some people use music to try to reach different beings in the universe, extraterrestrials – like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when they play the different tones and frequencies to reach out to another planet and see what’s out there. I give a lot of credit to the great Sly and the Family Stone. There was the music before Sly, and the music after. Sly changed the whole black music industry and rock ’n’ roll. He was the first to have an interracial band, to have a woman in the band, and at Woodstock, you could see he was the most dynamic. And the style was just crazy. He was telling you ‘Stand!’, that we are ‘Everyday People’, ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ and ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’. We were deeply into what we were teaching and doing to the mind, body and soul at a time when there was so much civil unrest and hate between the so-called black people and the so-called white people. Universal Zulu Nation
The inspiration to start the Zulu Nation came from seeing a great movie called Zulu. It was inspiring to see these indigenous people fight against the imperialist British who were trying to tell them what to do in their own country. They had great leaders like Bambaata, who was born in 1865 and died in 1906 and was one of the last chieftains to get it on with the British before the takeover. What was happening with the Zulu in Africa was like what was happening with the indigenous folks in America, fighting for civil rights and for human rights, fighting against the takeover that happened – going back to ancient days, through the Louisiana Purchase, fighting with the Native Americans. It was the same struggle going on from place to place. There was politics – those trying to change life in certain parts of the Bronx – the fighters, the warriors for the community. You had people that were against the police – the radicals and revolutionaries that were part of the Black Panther Party, part of the Young Lords Party, some were even part of the crazy radical
With the Rock Steady Crew, London 1982
group that was blowing things up, the Weathermen. You had certain radical street gangs, some were more political and others were just selling drugs or causing destruction. Then you had a street gang within the police department called the Purple Mothers that was out to destroy the street gangs. It was ex-veterans, out to assassinate them. They would take one group and stick you in an area with a group that
‘WE ARE IN FREQUENCY WITH THE EARTH’ hated you, or in a white area and drop you off, and you had to make your way home – almost like the way it was in the movie The Warriors. That was a time when people were fighting for their civil rights and their human rights. We had great leaders who were waking us up – Malcolm X, Minister Farrakhan, the most honourable Elijah Muhammad, Huey P Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Richie Perez, Pablo Guzman. They showed all of the things that the
community was going through, the life and times of the struggle. So when the drug epidemic hit, messing many of our people up, people unified against it. They were together to move the drug dealers out of the community. Hip hop saved a lot of lives, and brought the unification of many different people together under the banner of hip hop culture. There was my group, which became the Zulu Nation, and we went out and started organising the people. I used to speak to the different leaders, the gang leaders, and the warriors for the community, and asked them to join this thing I was making. Once you get the leaders in, you start getting the followers and the members behind you, and that’s how we started getting larger than the Bronx, stretching into Manhattan and the rest of the city, then to other states and the rest of the world. Hip hop
Hip hop is a whole culture movement. Most people, when they say hip hop, don’t understand what they’re talking about – they just think of rap. They don’t think of the b-boys, the b-girls, the DJs, the aerosol writers, and the fifth element that holds it all together, which is knowledge. We use it with everything. It’s the fifth element that gets people from different nationalities > 105
COVER STORY | Afrika Bambaataa and places to speak about different subjects – mythologies, AIDS, diseases, politics, the universe, subterranean worlds. That’s the interesting part, changing different views, the ideologies, respecting all of the different religions. It’s something where we can, whether it’s right or wrong, sit and talk to each other – and not kill each other. It’s about using ideologies from around the world to reach out to a global community of people. Music played a big role in crossing over all barriers. I started getting heavily into DJing for different audiences. You had your rock group promotion that was strictly downtown, and I was more open-minded. I started playing more of the rock clubs and getting more audiences to follow me up to the Bronx. It was great, seeing all these people changing with the culture, seeing punk change to new wave, seeing hip hop coming out. They were trying to see what hip hop was, coming to our events and seeing worlds come together through music. The Roxy, and all the little clubs we played before we got there, had a big role in bringing people together. Even people who think they’re racist, when you look into their music selection, they’ve got something by somebody they say they don’t like. Most people around the world, they might not know someone else’s culture, but they’ve heard music from that culture. For example, you wouldn’t think people in the ghetto would know anything about classical music. But they’ve heard it by watching Bugs Bunny and The Road Runner. Or they hear the soundtrack to a show like The Music Man or My Fair Lady, so they hear all these different things. Lots of people have seen The Wizard of Oz and, although they’re not from that era, they’re in love with ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ – especially after Patti LaBelle performed it. The DJ
There are different types of DJs. You’ve got your radio DJ who will take you all over the place if they want to. You’ve got your stabilised DJs, who will say they only play soul or pop or rock or jazz, and then you’ve got other DJs that 106
come from the street, and you’ve got DJs who just mix everything, with different feels and forms. There is certain music that people came to see me for, and all these other DJs started getting spies sneaking around to try to find out, “What’s that sound he’s playing?” So I crossed out the tracks on the records and the sleeves so no one could read it and no one would know until I was ready to release it. I made so many people become stars just from playing a song that it opened up many stores, like Downtown Records. I could take a record nobody had ever heard before and it would become a hit because I made it happen. I used to look for a lot of obscure records as well as try to get bootlegs of live stuff. I would pay attention to people that no one else would pay attention to. I could have a party slamming and I might jump into a Mountain Dew commercial or
‘HIP HOP SAVED A LOT OF LIVES’ The Pink Panther theme song, or play ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and tell people, “We’re getting ready to take you back to when your momma and your poppa used to dance,” and we might start throwing on ’50s and ’60s music just to see people have some fun. Most people go to clubs because they want to have fun, but they never think about what was going on musically before them. Mostly it’s what I liked and what I wanted to educate my audience with; that was the biggest thing, trying to break a song, or break a new sound, like Kraftwerk. When I started playing Kraftwerk, people were like, “What the hell are you playing?” This industrial sound, it was funky to me so I kept playing it until people caught on and were vibing with it. ‘Planet Rock’ brought more people into the Zulu Nation. It was the birth of the electro funk sound and that
brought a lot of people together. They didn’t care what nationality or race anyone was, they just wanted to hear the new sound and have fun. So it did its job of spreading Zulu Nation around the world and it changed a lot in the music industry. When ‘Planet Rock’ comes on, you swear the record just came out and you see the new generation with the old, the mommas and the poppas out with their kids. That’s an interesting thing when you see generations mixing together in clubs, and you see the music bringing them out and bringing them together from country to country and town to town. Vinyl
I still buy vinyl 45s when I have the time, and I’m also heavily into the digital selection now. You hear a totally different type of music these days, as people can create straight from their ear and put it right out, and we can say, “Whoa, that’s funky.” But nothing sounds as great as vinyl, because you touch it, you play it, you have your instruments, and you definitely hear it differently with the sounds of the crackles and pops. I always liked vinyl – the album covers were easier to read; looking at CDs, you might go blind. Digital music has no posters, no pictures, all that. It’s a whole different game when you’re DJing with MP3s. With vinyl you’ve got to know the sound, the cover, the pictures, the label, whereas with digital, you just throw the name in and they put it up there and then you really have to think of what you’re going to play for your audience. With vinyl you pick the different vibe. The only thing with digital that beats vinyl is that you can have a greater variety of categories of music on your laptop and hard drive. It’s interesting with vinyl, you can see the pictures, the stories and the thank yous. I was one of the first to include the long, special thanks in the back. It’s interesting to be doing certain things and giving credit to a lot of people you want to give credit to. These are the things that touch your life. zulunation.com cornell.edu
Sweater by Paul Smith; trainers by Puma.
Jacket by Rains; shorts and trainers by Puma; hat by South Wales Electricity (SWALEC).
Jacket by Leviâ€™s; vest by Puma; hat by SWALEC.
Dewi Griffiths Photographs Robert Wyatt Styling Adam Howe Photographic Assistant Giorgio Murru
All clothing by Puma.
STYLE | Dewi Griffiths
STYLE | Dewi Griffiths
Sweater by Barbour Beacon Heritage by Norton&Sons; tracksuit bottoms, T-shirt, and trainers by Puma.
Top by Uniqlo; tracksuit bottoms and trainers by Puma; hat by SWALEC; gloves, stylistâ€™s own.
Jacket by A.P.C.; sweater by John Smedley; trainers by Puma; hat by SWALEC.
Poncho by Paul Smith; sweater by Uniqlo; trainers by Puma; hat by Carhartt WIP.
Jacket by Billionaire Boys Club; tracksuit bottoms, sweater, shorts and trainers by Puma.
STYLE | Dewi Griffiths
Jacket by Billionaire Boys Club; tracksuit bottoms, sweater and trainers by Puma.
Jacket by Paul&Shark; trainers by Puma.
Top by Penfield; shorts and vest by Puma.
Trainers by Puma.
STYLE | Dewi Griffiths
Jacket by Patagonia; jeans by Leviâ€™s Vintage Clothing; hat by SWALEC.
Ken Garland First Things First. Occupy Movement. CND. Last Things Last Words Chris May Photographs Robert Wyatt
On 29 November 1963, the young graphic designer Ken Garland made his way to the original Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in Dover Street, Mayfair, to attend a meeting of the Society of Industrial Artists (SIA). It had been called to discuss why so many designers were failing to join the professional association, known today as the Chartered Society of Designers. Garland was there reluctantly – he was not a member of the SIA, nor was he in sympathy with its prevailing designas-a-servant-of-consumerism ethos. As he took a seat near the back of the hall, he was not planning to make an intervention, much less make design history. But towards the end of the meeting he read out a dissenting manifesto, written on the spur of the moment, which was received with wild applause and rapidly became the talk of the design world and beyond. This manifesto, First Things First, continues to excite 50 years on. As Garland listened to that discussion in 1963, he grew increasingly frustrated by its direction and by the uncritical embrace of big business and advertising. His 300-word cri de coeur expressed dismay with what he saw as the hijacking and trivialisation of graphic design by the advertising
industry, and proposed an alternative direction, in which design was valued more for its ability to communicate than its power to persuade. When the chairman invited comments from the audience, Garland stood up and read out what he had written. The manifesto observed that graphic designers, photographers and art school students “have been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents… we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise… there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world…” Garland explained that he was not advocating “the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising”. That was unfeasible. Nor did he want “to
take the fun out of life”. What he was suggesting was “a reversal of priorities in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication”. Following the meeting, Garland and 21 co-signatories distributed 400 copies of the manifesto. Two months later, Tony Benn reproduced it in his weekly column in The Guardian. Garland was invited on to the BBC’s nightly current affairs programme Tonight to discuss it. Among design students, First Things First became required reading and, for some, a rallying point, as widely read as Garland’s later works Graphics Handbook (1966), Illustrated Graphics Glossary (1980) and Mr Beck’s Underground Map (1994). It also divided opinion. Business organisations, brand specialists and many, if not most, designers who were doing well out of the 1960s consumer boom decried it. To them, the idea of social responsibility in graphic design was subversive nonsense. In his monograph Ken Garland: Structure and Substance (2012), Adrian Shaughnessy quotes the response of Richard Negus, a prominent British designer of the 1960s and ’70s: “The designer, as a designer, has responsibility to clients for good design but no responsibility for the social ramifications or the effect of an >
advertisement or promotion.” They were only obeying orders. Or to put it more charitably, they were only trying to make a living. In 1999, in one of the manifesto’s many continual reappearances, another group of signatories, including Garland, produced an updated version, First Things First 2000, published in Eye magazine and reigniting the debate. First Things First has at times threatened to upstage Garland the designer. Among much other luminous and enduring work are his commissions for Galt Toys, The Consumers’ Association and Which? magazine, Paramount Pictures, RCA Records, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Committee of 100, the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Science Museum, the Royal Parks Agency (Regent’s Park), St Pancras Arts Festival and Camden Committee for Community Relations. Garland designed the books of landscape photographer Fay Godwin from 1975 until her death in 2005, variously published by Wildwood House, Jonathan Cape and William Heinemann. Other publishing clients include Cambridge University Press, Alison & Busby and New Left Books (now Verso Books). I meet Garland at the house in Camden Town where he has lived and worked since 1964 with his wife, the artist Wanda Wistrich. A lean, good-humoured, razor-sharp 84 year old, Garland is still a busy designer, photographer and visiting lecturer. He stopped accepting commissions for his design agency, Ken Garland and Associates, in 2009, but has a raft of his own projects on the go. These include his self-publishing imprint, Pudkin Books, which, since 2008, has published a dozen pocket-sized collections of Garland’s photography. Titles include A Close Look at Pebbles, A Close Look at Fire Hydrants and A Close Look at the Tall Windows of Mexico. The next volume, Garland’s photography of graffiti around Shoreditch, will be published in autumn 2014. After graduating in 1952 from the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now 122
Central Saint Martins), Garland spent 18 months as art editor of the trade magazine Furnishing, before becoming art editor of Design magazine, the journal of the Council of Industrial Design (now the Design Council). He stayed with Design until 1962, leaving to set up his graphic design agency. The choice of the trading name Ken Garland and Associates was significant – the studio did not merely consist of one designer plus various assistants doing paste-ups, taking phone messages and making coffee. On his website, Garland says that “Those who worked with me between 1962 and 2009 have always been designers designing – no secretaries, no typists, no donkeyworkers. There were never more than three of them at any one time. I intend no criticism of larger, probably more illustrious design groups when I say
HIS CRI DE COEUR EXPRESSED DISMAY that, for me, an increase in size would have meant fruitless to-ing and fro-ing, more unexplained and unacceptable overheads, and less fun.” Garland was artistic from an early age. “I just moved fairly easily from the more or less universal affection children have for art, through into adolescence with that same sort of affection,” he says. “I was the artist in the family, as they say. I was supported in my grammar school by a teacher called ‘Snooker’ Smith, who every year picked out his favourite. I was his selected favourite. Deeply embarrassing in one sense, but also I was touched by his faith in me. He said, ‘You’re going to do art, maybe you’ll do commercial art, I don’t know, but you’ll do art.’ That was the main impetus. I’ve always been grateful to him for encouraging me.” Inspired by Smith and other mentors he encountered later, Garland has been a committed lecturer and educator
throughout his career. In 1945, aged 16, Garland left grammar school and enrolled at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol; born in Southampton, he had moved to the West Country with his family when he was five. He took a two-year course in commercial design. Unhappy with the narrow focus of the course, he successfully campaigned for life drawing classes to be added to the curriculum. In 1947, Garland was obliged to put further design education on hold and to undertake National Service. Until 1960, healthy males aged between 17 and 21 were required to spend around two years in the armed forces. He was conscripted into the Parachute Regiment. Unexpectedly, he rather enjoyed it, and the experience accelerated his political awakening. “When I was in the army I went more and more left,” he says. “I became both contemptuous and irritated by the officer class generally. When I left the army I came to London and went straight back to art school. I became friends with leftwing people. I went to hear Aneurin Bevan [a great orator and a prime mover in the creation of the National Health Service] a couple of times. I thought he was terrific.” Garland joined the Labour Party in 1951. “I’m still a member,” he says. “But I’m very much a member standing at the side. Ever since New Labour got in I became disaffected. It became riddled with compromises. I go occasionally to local meetings of the Labour party but I’m not particularly active now.” In the late 1950s he joined CND, of which he remains a more enthusiastic member. “I can think of very few advances in technology that I regret,” he says. “The one that I most regret is the advent of nuclear weapons. I’ve always been, still am, a firm supporter of nuclear disarmament. I think the fact that we continue to sit on our stockpile of weapons, which would have such disastrous effects if they were used, is a fool’s game.” Garland is also a supporter of the Occupy movement. “I spent quite a lot of time with the Occupy people
CULTURE | Ken Garland
at St Paul’s. I photographed them a great deal. I must have taken a couple of hundred photographs. And I’ve talked about them in various places.” Garland once wrote that “as designers we are most politically effective as voters”. Does his disenchantment with modern Labour, and his enthusiasm for CND and Occupy, mean that he now regards citizen-campaigns as more useful than voting? “You still need the vote,” Garland says. “It’s only one little cross on a piece of paper every four or five years, but it’s really important. I continue to vote for my local MP, Frank Dobson. I had some big arguments with him when he was Secretary of State for Health. There was this dreadful scandal about the guy who runs Formula One [Bernie Ecclestone]. He contributed half a million pounds to New Labour with the promise of another half a million if they got in. Meanwhile, the party appeared to look quite well on his use of Formula One as an advertising medium for cigarettes. Dear me, I had a big row with Frank over that.” As a young man developing his own style, Garland was influenced by two contrasting graphic design aesthetics, Swiss and American – the first minimal and austere, the second warmer and inviting. Two of his biggest heroes, however, are British: HC “Harry” Beck, who in 1931 designed the London Underground diagram from which today’s tube map is derived; and Alfred Wainwright, the hill walker and author of the idiosyncratic and beautifully designed books A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, published in seven volumes between 1955 and 1966. “HC Beck was the name I saw on the poster version of the underground diagram the day I arrived in London to go back to art school after National Service,” says Garland. “And I was riveted by this beautiful diagram, which for me, for a while, was the map of London. Of course, a most inaccurate map, but one that helped me to discover the city. “I wondered who he was. When I was still a student at the Central School in 1953, I asked around if anyone knew who HC Beck was. Nobody knew
except one of my teachers, Anthony Froshaug, and he said, ‘Oh that’s Harry Beck.’ I asked if he knew how I might get hold of him. He said, ‘He teaches at the London School of Printing [now the London College of Communication]. If you went along any lunchtime you’d probably find him in the canteen.’ So I did exactly that. I went up to this old geezer, I said, ‘Excuse me, are you Harry Beck?’ We talked and he said, ‘Come and talk to me any time.’ “Much later, in 1964, when I was writing Graphics Handbook, I decided that the best person I could have as my frontispiece person was Harry Beck. So I took a photograph of him – exactly
where you’re sitting now – that has been much reproduced since. He was deeply touched. I dedicated the book to him. We formed a friendship, which lasted until his death in 1974. “In 1969, The Penrose Annual published my article ‘The Design of the London Underground Diagram’. Harry was again touched. It established him, I don’t think I’m vain in saying that, as a very important figure in graphic design circles. He was very happy that I’d done this. In the 1990s, I was invited to expand the article into a book. I did. Mr Beck’s Underground Map. That has been a most unexpected bestseller. It’s gone through umpteen impressions.
“Harry fought a hopeless fight with London Transport to re-establish his stewardship of the diagram. He bombarded them with various updatings, which they ignored and some of which they returned and some of which they lost. He eventually gave up. I think when my article came out he relaxed a bit. He stopped bombarding them with things so much. He always regretted their treatment of him. He was always very vituperative about it, but he learnt to live with it. “The diagram has become an icon. I don’t use that word very often, but I must in this case.” Garland discovered Harry Beck by using his Underground diagram. He came across Alfred Wainwright in similar fashion. “I came to know about Wainwright’s work through being a walker,” says Garland. “I was entranced by it. I couldn’t believe that such works could be published. I later learnt they were originally more or less self-published. When I tried to contact him, I discovered that he was a very reticent man. He didn’t entertain interviews, he kept himself to himself. If I wrote to him he wouldn’t reply. Eventually I wrote to him as he wrote his books – carefully, by hand – and I think it touched him, because he wrote back. And we met and formed a friendship. “I’ve always been an admirer. I’ve lectured and written about him. When I first enthused about him, to some students at the Royal College of Art, most of them didn’t know who I was talking about. ‘Ken,’ they said, ‘this guy is an old fuddy duddy. It doesn’t look like modern graphic design to us. What’s so special about it?’ I spent a lot of time trying to explain it. Some of them understood, others didn’t. “His reputation has of course grown over the years. Originally he was just for the aficionados, accessible only to people who were walkers. Designers didn’t know anything about it. No one knew his first name, on the books he was ‘A Wainwright’. If another walker encountered him, asked if he was ‘A Wainwright’, he’d say no, he was ‘A Walker’. > 123
CULTURE | Ken Garland Given how much Garland loves the handcrafted work of Beck and Wainwright, how, as a designer, did he take to digital technology? “I wasn’t the first designer to take up the computer, I have to say,” he replies. “When the first Apple computers arrived in the mid ’80s I thought, ‘Not yet thank you.’ I didn’t get a computer until the beginning of the ’90s. I can’t imagine being without one now. It’s completely inconceivable. And digital photography is more economical, more speedy and, for me, a real asset to my work. “I understand that digital technology presents a challenge to graphic designers and photographers. The use of convenient apps that deal with design and visual manifestations generally have resulted in there being a great number of amateur graphic designers. No training, no acquired skills, just pick out the required application and bang it on. “Designers have to accept this and deal with it. Through their training they have access to knowledge and skills, which these others don’t have. These other people can find clip-on skills, but in the end, graphic design is best done by people who have been immersed in training. Those skills may, of course, become obsolete. But what trained designers have acquired is the skill to acquire skills. We always will have to do that.” “I don’t think of myself as ‘a professional’ though,” Garland continues. “I think professions are selfregarding bunches of people who are looking after themselves first and others later. By nature, they are very protective. I think what I do is a trade or craft, and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of my craft background. I was taught well and I work with a certain proficiency, and that’s really what I’ve been keen on. But I’ve never been keen on ‘professional pride’, I don’t hold with it.” Is there any aspect of digital technology that Garland profoundly dislikes? “I regret our ability to trick photographs,” he says. “To change people’s image, to clean up their spots, ‘slenderise’ their waists. I hate that. I don’t think I can say we should 124
abolish that technology – for one thing we couldn’t, for another it can do good things. But for the moment these various retouching techniques are producing a most appalling system of lies, which people in the periodical world seem to have accepted. I don’t know what’s possessed them to turn out such lies. “But the digital age hasn’t made any difference to what I said in First Things First. I can’t see that the so-called digital revolution has had any effect at all on what I thought to be valid then.” Is there anything in his manifesto that he might have changed if he had written it in 2013 rather than 1963? “I might change some of the intemperate words about some of the
‘TRAINED DESIGNERS HAVE ACQUIRED THE SKILL TO ACQUIRE SKILLS’ industries that I thought were wasting time,” says Garland. “And the thing was written on the spur of the moment. If I wrote it again on the spur of the moment, I wouldn’t write the same thing. But I don’t take back a single word. Not one. And I still feel it’s relevant. I’m particularly touched that it appears to still have relevance to students. I’m always amenable to students asking me to come and talk about it. Because they’re new faces and I want to remind them how I felt at the time and see how they feel now. And this of course relates to the Occupy movement as well. There’s a certain link between Occupy and First Things First. “There is one thing though. I was invited to give a talk about First Things First at a conference in Barcelona about manifestos. On the plane over, I decided I didn’t want to talk about
First Things First, I wanted to do Last Things Last – things that I have omitted to refer to in most of my lectures. And one of these is my indebtedness to my clients. So when I got to Barcelona I surprised them all by talking about that. Not at all what was on the agenda. I spoke about how most of my clients became friends, how they were marvellous aids in what I wanted to do, and I wanted to make it clear what a tremendous help they had been to what we did at Ken Garland and Associates. That and my indebtedness to my associates.” Last Things Last was published by Eye magazine in 2012. A roll call of Garland’s clients, associates, and some of the students and designers who took work experience at his studio, is included on his website. First Things First was written during the post-second world war consumer boom. What parallels, and what divergences, does Garland detect between that era and the celebrityfuelled consumer culture of recent years? “The thing is, we were all part of the ’60s boom,” he says. “All workers, all managers, all creative people, the music industry, everyone. It was something that was universally enjoyed. The later manifestations, the Thatcherite society of the ’80s, and then the ’90s and early ’00s, those were different. They were mainly organised, it seems to me, by the banking fraternity and sorority. I think workers as a whole tended to get left behind. And we now see that in fact they were and still are. That part of society that was enthusiastic about the boom period of 2005 to 2008 was actually a rather small bunch of people going like crazy, internationally, and a few large companies who were doing very well. “I didn’t feel much part of it then and I don’t feel much part of it now – the urge for aggrandisement, for being big, the multinational explosion. Quite a lot of those ballooning design companies of the ’80s and ’90s have shrunk or disappeared now. I don’t know what has happened to Fitch [still with us]. Wally Olins is still banging on. But quite a lot of them have disappeared. And bloody good riddance I say.”
Before I disappear myself and let Garland get back to his work, I want to mention two of my favourite Garland artifacts. One is his cover design for the March 1963 issue of Design magazine. Two white lines extend upwards from the bottom of the page, the distance between them narrowing as they approach the top righthand corner. A big bold chunk of black typography is laid on its side between them. All but the magazine name and the words “a special issue” is unreadable at that angle. The design does not make sense. But tilt your head to the side, and in a flash you get it. The white lines are railway lines and the black typography reads “railways”. It is a masterfully contrived slow burn and it always makes me smile. “That’s exactly what I wanted!” says Garland. “I didn’t want people to know what the hell they were looking at.
‘What the devil is that?’ It was in my favourite stencil lettering, which I used for Graphics Handbook a couple of years later.” The other artifact is Ken Garland and Associates’ alphabet and signage for the Paramount and Plaza cinemas on Lower Regent Street, commissioned in 1969 (and now, sadly, long gone). It mixes cool, Swiss-informed design with warm colours and is exciting, elegant and irresistibly inviting. “I was asked to do the graphic element of the redesign by an architect firm I knew,” says Garland. “Amazingly they had got permission to cover the architecture with the marquee. It was the biggest piece of graphics we ever did. Most marquees then were dreadful clumsy things, made of plywood and cardboard because they had to be able to change the lettering every week. We designed a new system and we made an
alphabet for it. Paramount Plaza were overjoyed. They used it for about 18 months and then they abandoned it. They’d fallen into a problem with planning permission. They thought they had permission to cover up the architecture, but they hadn’t. They were forced to take down the marquee and use a much smaller sign. “It was a very elaborate thing, very expensive, one of the most expensive pieces of graphic design we’ve ever done. And there it was, pulled down. I don’t regret it, that’s just the way it goes. But it’s funny. Many of the small things I’ve done have lasted for 55 years and the biggest thing I ever did lasted only 18 months.” kengarland.co.uk
James Lavelle Mo’Wax Please. UNKLE. Straight No Chaser. Holygoof. That’s How It Is
Words Paul Bradshaw Portrait Kevin Davies Photographs Adrian J W Darby
I hadn’t seen James Lavelle since 1998, at Straight No Chaser magazine’s 10th anniversary Great Day in Hoxton photo shoot. He worked for me at the magazine in the early 1990s, and an interview felt like a positive opportunity to renew a lapsed friendship and see whether he remains as animated and driven as he was back then. We meet to discuss his plans for a 21st anniversary retrospective of one of the most important record labels of the 1990s, Mo’Wax, which Lavelle founded in 1992. The fedora-sporting man from UNKLE arrives at his manager’s Camden HQ a touch late, apologetic and inevitably juggling a dozen commitments. He is fresh from a mentoring session in Thailand where he shared a platform with other international DJs and Lady Gaga’s producer, White Shadow. It seems like business as usual. We make our initial greetings and it feels good. He grabs a fresh T-shirt and heads off to the photo shoot, promising to be back promptly. Thinking back to that day in Hoxton in 1998, I recall being really glad that he’d shown up for the shoot. He was family. My first encounter with Lavelle was at the Straight No Chaser office in Coronet Street at the back of Hoxton Square. It was the early 1990s and the radical Talkin’ Loud And Saying Something session, put together by Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge at Dingwalls, had just finished. Lavelle was 17 and commuting between Oxford and London. He had worked at the Bluebird Record store in Paddington and was working at another, Honest Jon’s, in Portobello Rd, and he arrived at Chaser with the intention of hustling a column. His final salvo at the end of our conversation was, “You need me!” I asked Swifty – Chaser’s art director – 126
what he reckoned, and his response was immediate. “Get him in.” The Chaser column was titled ‘Mo’Wax Please’ and it was to provide James ‘The Holygoof ’ Lavelle with a calling card that would help carry his Mo’Wax vision worldwide. The 1990s were hectic – an endless cycle of clubbing and unfettered creativity. Swifty moved into his own space on the first floor in Coronet Street and it was there that the initial visual trajectory of Mo’Wax records was conceived. It was down to late nights, a lot of weed and crazy energy. Lavelle was totally stoked on Star Wars, kung fu, New York subway graffiti, hip hop and all things Japanese. Add Swifty’s collection of toys as another source of inspiration and you get UNKLE. The momentum attained by Mo’Wax was rapid and it evolved within a scene around club and radio DJ Gilles Peterson – who was doing Talkin’ Loud records – and Straight No Chaser. Over a four-year period Lavelle cajoled a host of fresh, dynamic, genre-busting artists to the label – Repercussions, Raw Stylus, RPM, Palm Skin Productions, La Funk Mob, Attica Blues, DJ Takemura, DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Luke Vibert, Money Mark, Andrea Parker, Dr Octagon, Air, Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra. It was impressive. What Mo’Wax offered was more than music; it offered a lifestyle. But to build on that it required infrastructure, management and a deal with a major record company. In 1996 Lavelle signed a deal with A&M Records, and during an interview with Cynthia Rose for the book Trade Secrets he declared: “From a record company, here’s what I need: support, faith, money, and distribution. But we also don’t even go through A&M. We’re independently distributed.
We have our own rules and regulations, so we’re unique there. We can basically do whatever we want.” The future looked good. That same year Rolling Stone Magazine shunned the pioneering efforts of Bristol’s Smith & Mighty, Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack and introduced Mo’Wax to its US readers as the label that gave birth to trip hop – a genre that replaced “rapping with a headtripping spaciness, creating a sound in which hip hop, experimental rock, jazz, ambient and techno vibrantly co-exist”. The record that cystallised the Mo’Wax vision was released in 1993. It was a 12" single by DJ Shadow, aka Josh Davis, called ‘In/Flux’. Josh had initially captured Lavelle’s attention with his ‘Shadow’s Legitimate Mix’ remix of a Zimbabwe Legit 12”, ‘Doin’ Damage in My Native Language’. Lavelle flew to the States to meet him and one of the most important Mo’Wax relationships took off. Prior to one European tour, I can vividly recall DJ Shadow – who was still a student at the time – and his Tokyo-based Mo’Wax label mate, DJ Krush, mesmerising a packed house in the Blue Note club in Hoxton with a serious display of turntablism. The sound had definitely arrived and, following two years of painstaking work in his San Francisco studio, DJ Shadow’s skillfully crafted Endtroducing album finally dropped to universal critical acclaim. Shadow’s commitment to crate digging and the Akai MPC60 sampler paid off. Voted one of best albums of the year, Shadow’s offering has proved a landmark in instrumental hip hop and sold over a million copies. Life was about change. Shit happens. People move on. By the time of that Great Day in Hoxton photo shoot, Lavelle had moved on from the >
MUSIC | James Lavelle Chaser family and started one of his own. The combination of his personal relationships, and a constant search for like-minded collaborators of his own generation, saw Lavelle morph from our jazz-orientated world to another parallel dimension on the London club scene. It was his girlfriend of the time and the mother of his daughter, Janet Fischgrund, who introduced Lavelle to the London fashion and Brit Art scenes. “Janet was a massive catalyst,” says Lavelle. “She discovered Alexander McQueen. I would consider her fundamentally one of the most important people in Mo’Wax. Mo’Wax could have just been this cool thing, just very musically driven, but suddenly it was like you’re dealing with the birth of that generation of London’s art scene. You’re dealing with Damien Hirst, you’re meeting all these people… you met all the best photographers, all the best designers. Lee McQueen, he was just a mate. It was just a mass of information and for me that’s just grown.” Lavelle hasn’t flinched from incorporating a visual dimension into his activities at all levels. The Psyence Fiction tour with The Scratch Perverts introduced complex projected backdrops that have since become the norm for large-scale DJ sets. He regularly joins forces with imagemakers Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones – best known for their fashion imagery and work with the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack and Alexander McQueen. Over the last year he has been working on a project with Stanley Kubrick’s wife and is enthused about another venture with conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. In theory the deal with A&M was to take the whole Mo’Wax experience to another level, and it made sense that UNKLE would be the Mo’Wax Starship Enterprise. UNKLE as an actual recording project surfaced in 1994 via the ‘The Time Has Come’ EP. The cover introduced graffiti artist Futura 2000’s ‘pointmen’ to the world at large and the liner notes proclaimed it “a tribute to Sun Ra and all things fucked up”. Based on the success of Entroducing, A&M entrusted the production duties for UNKLE’s debut LP to DJ Shadow, and it was something he took very
seriously. Lavelle, on the other hand, was intent on creating his homage to Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. The end result was three turbulent years in the studio and UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction – a sample-rich album that featured the cream of the UK indie rock scene and provided the essential post-club listening experience for the discerning college kids of that generation. However, behind the scenes Mo’Wax was caught up in a major record company meltdown – the dissolution of A&M records – and the hammer blow came when the exec who had signed Mo’Wax to A&M called Lavelle into his office, put UNKLE’s ‘Lonely Soul’ on the stereo and told him he was resigning. Mo’Wax was about to be become history.
LAVELLE IS OBSESSED WITH THE COLLISION OF MUSIC, FASHION AND ART “I think there was a moment when the success was massive,” reflects Lavelle. “But the money wasn’t what people would like to believe. I didn’t walk out with millions of pounds. I walked out with a couple of hundred grand. It was a lot of money when you’re 21 years old. I’ll always remember the deal breaker with A&M was a Basquiat, a drawing, and it said, “Cowards will get rid of you, the sky is the limit.” That will always resonate. I had to sell it when things were falling apart. How apt is that? I got the painting for a minute but what did I sell my soul for to get it? And now I’m having to sell it? I think it was quite funny in a weird way. I’ve had an amazing journey but in certain ways you make your own bed…” He might have sold the Basquiat but he seems to have collected and
saved pretty much everything else. Seeing him in his lock-up on the Kickstarter video to raise finance for the forthcoming anniversary exhibition surrounded by the vinyl, flyers, artworks, trainers, toys, etc he’s amassed over the years was mind blowing. The video clearly worked as he received 457 backers and crowd-funding of £33,828 to fund the Mo’Wax retrospective. “Doing the book now is wonderful but I kind of just threw everything in a room and locked the door. And now I’ve opened the door and it’s like Pandora’s Box,” declares Lavelle. “I’m finding pictures of my daughter when she was a baby as well as everyone I’ve ever hung out with. There’s every termination notice, every legal letter, every love letter… it’s just like, ‘Wow.’” He admits that going through the archive in order to create what will be a serious book and exhibition is also akin to going through a stress-inducing form of therapy. Doing Mo’Wax and UNKLE has been a rollercoaster ride that has had highs and lows. After rereading one interview he’d done in The Face magazine, he says: “It wasn’t an easy ride. I was only 21 when I did that and they already had the knives out.” One is confronted with the seemingly premature task of processing the achievements and life lessons of someone who is still in their prime. Lavelle is 40 next year and such a venture begs the question: “Where do you go when you’ve already done all this?” “On one level it’s a beautiful thing,” says Lavelle. “You’re looking at all the work you’ve done and the way the music industry has changed and you think, ‘Wow, it’s just incredibly artistic.’ There’s another side that’s just, “Fuck me, it’s mental, the amount of stuff that we did in such a short period of time.’ And there’s another side that I can’t believe I just walked away. I’d just had enough. The world changed, the industry changed.” I’d given a lot of thought to this meeting beforehand, and the period post Psyence Fiction – post Mo’Wax – was something of a mystery. I wanted to understand the journey that Lavelle and UNKLE had taken. Psyence Fiction was UNKLE’s first success story but there were some hard lessons when it came > 129
to royalties. From a collaborative point of view it was an incredible success. Lavelle has never been afraid of pursuing an idea, no matter how impossible it seemed, and having the dons of the UK indie scene – Richard Ashcroft, Thom Yorke and Ian Brown – in the mix with DJ Shadow was a coup indeed. Lavelle is not a musician, he’s a child of the sampling generation, and while he maintains that the album could not have been made without him, right down to the string arrangement on the nine-minute epic of ‘Lonely Soul’, he walked away without any rights to the music. After that experience, it’s hardly surprising that writing became much more crucial. Not surprisingly, it’s the emotional charge that he gets from Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ that sets the bar when it comes to his own songwriting. “I came from the power of a beat originally, so I had to learn what a really good song is. I had to learn what lyrics really mean, what the power of a song is,” Lavelle explains. But all those words on scraps of paper tended to reflect his more melancholic side and as result “I’ve always had to express myself through other people. ‘Lonely Soul’ or ‘Rabbit in Your Headlights’; to me each song is an extension of how I feel as well as being their thing”. In the wake of Psyence Fiction there was one more album on Mo’Wax – it was appropriately called Never, Never, Land. That album landed in 2003, created with Rich File. As Lavelle says, “We were joined at the hip,” and the image of these two 30-odd year olds sharing a 5,000 square foot loft in Shoreditch where they quite often 130
communicated by mobile phone is beyond hedonistic… “I’d go to Fabric on Friday and come back on Wednesday!” Lavelle is obsessed with the collision of music, fashion and art. On the Japan front, he forged links with Nigo at A Bathing Ape and released their compilation A Bathing Ape Vs Mo’Wax. Coinciding with the release of Psyence Fiction, he launched Mo’Wax Arts, which was devoted to translating Futura 2000’s concepts and images into merchandise, toys and fashion. In 2005 he set up his own clothing line called Surrender, and maintains that “Surrender was
‘I JUST THREW EVERYTHING IN A ROOM AND LOCKED THE DOOR’ conceived with a similar aesthetic to Mo’Wax, but instead of signing bands it dealt with just one band – UNKLE”. “Surrender was great for me. It’s been intense. In five years, we did three albums – War Stories, End Titles… Stories for Film and Where Did the Night Fall – and about 150 tracks. It was an independent machine that allowed me to do what I’ve done with UNKLE in a very independent and boutique way that wouldn’t work in a major system. I think things go in cycles and you have a seven-year period of glory. When I look back at Mo’Wax it probably had about
a seven-year great period. And actually when you look at most great bands there also tends to be about seven years of ultimate creativity. And if you keep it going then who knows, you might end up like The Rolling Stones.” Listening to UNKLE albums, one is struck by the progression from a hip hop aesthetic through breakbeat-meetshouse to electronica to rock. He’s worked with all kinds of singers – Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Lanegan, formerly of Screaming Trees, psychedelic rockers Sleepy Sun and The Black Angels – and been mesmerised by the empathic studio skills of producer Chris Goss, who it seems got Lavelle to dig a lot deeper into himself. Though he maintains it’s all been brilliant, the combination of being on the road with UNKLE as well as working on new music, remixes and soundtracks in the studio – while directing the whole show – has inevitably taken its toll. Over the years, Mo’Wax has recruited a host of seriously creative and often quite difficult people. Those people have gone on to provide the British music industry with a fierce injection of talent. Mo’Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy set up DFA records; Attica Blues’ Tony Nwachukwu provided the initial Adele tip-off to Nick Huggett, who signed her alongside M.I.A. and Dizzee Rascal; UNKLE producer Damian Taylor was Bjork’s right hand man, to name just a few. Lavelle clearly treasures those individual friendships and working relationships, but he also feels the accumulated weight of two decades of daily politics. The collaborative nature of UNKLE is problematic as it generates both positive and negative energy. “It’s not a band. It’s more like a film, with actors, and you want the best cameraman,” maintains Lavelle. “I don’t think I could ever build a house on my own. I’d always rather have the best carpenter and the best painter. I like that experience because it inspires the process. But inevitably what also happens is that people come in and they want to kind of do it their way, they want to put their mark on things. And what happened with UNKLE is
MUSIC | James Lavelle
that in the latter part I just felt it facilitated everybody else’s needs rather than my own.” Lavelle says that he’s gone back to basics in the belief that the last two years haven’t been particularly productive. Earlier this year he posted ‘Living In Your Headphones Part 1. A Night’s Interlude’, a two-and-a-halfhour continuous mix on Soundcloud, that includes numerous exclusives, edits and remixes along with a bunch of fresh new tunes. It’s basically a DJ set. He still loves to play out and says there’s nothing better. The persona he’s created through Mo’Wax and UNKLE has guaranteed him a place in the upper echelons of a global DJ fraternity, and at one point in his DJ life he had a residency at 10 of the biggest clubs in the world – including Fabric, Zouk and Womb. “In the summer I played at the Secret Garden Party festival. I got there and there was about 200 people and I was, like, ‘OK, this is going to be one of those gigs where it’s all right. I’m just gonna play.” Being a little rusty, he was a touch nervous about his mixing skills
and decided, literally, to keep his head down and get on with it. “When I looked up there were a thousand people just going mental. And it was just that energy when people are like, ‘Aaaahhh’. I absolutely love that feeling you get. That unity, that moment… “I’m still really hungry. I’ve never lost that hunger to discover new things. I think my twenties were an incredibly amazing and wondrous period. My thirties have been interesting but have been slightly more insular on a personal level. And now I’m 40 next year, I’m feeling pretty buzzed about a whole new journey and where it’s going to go.” Without doubt, Lavelle loves the hedonism that fuels the club and music scene, but with that come plusses and minuses. Creativity comes with ego, insecurity, fear and a lot of trial and error. Right now, he feels like it’s the first time since he started out that he’s got a blank canvas to work on, and although he’s excited he also finds it completely nerve-wracking. That said, the 21st anniversary is a serious, largescale major project that could offer a little conceptual breathing space
while gathering global momentum during 2014. “What I want to do is celebrate in a positive way,” says Lavelle. “The Mo’Wax book is: ‘Here you go; celebrate it.’ God, the amount of people who have come in and out of those doors during that time… everybody that was involved; they’ve been involved in something beautiful. I take pride in that and part of that is living it. You either live it or you don’t live it. That’s one of the things that’s hardest to teach kids. ’Cause the kids now go: ‘I want to be famous.’ Famous for what? “I didn’t want to be famous. I just wanted to achieve something. You know… you just wanted to see your name go by.” Urban Archaeology: 21 Years of Mo’Wax Recordings is out next year published by Rizzoli. A series of events and special projects are also planned mowaxplease.com rizzoliusa.com James Lavelle will curate Meltdown in June 2014 southbankcentre.co.uk 131
Aleister Crowley. Lucifer. Hollywood Babylon. Scorpio Rising. Bobby Beausoleil Words Chris Sullivan Photographs courtesy of Sprüth Magers spruethmagers.com
Kenneth Anger has been many things – actor, screenwriter, author, malcontent and celebrity. He is also Hollywood’s first openly gay avantgarde filmmaker and a devoted pagan – a follower of Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic cult – who has the name Lucifer tattooed in large letters across his chest. One thing Anger certainly is not is dull. Kenneth Wilbur Anglemeyer was born to middle-class folks in Santa Monica in 1927. He is primarily known for his provocative short films, making his first, aged 10, in 1937. He continued making one a year until he reached the age of 19, at which time he wrote, directed and starred in his sadomasochistic experimental short, Fireworks. This film set the tiger among the pigeons, prompting the filmmaker’s arrest on obscenity charges. The subsequent trial was a landmark censorship case – the California Supreme Court declaring it ‘art’ rather than a commercial film, the first time the distinction was made, which allowed it to avoid the censorship laws. More controversial films followed, such as The Love That Whirls (1949), Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) and Thelema Abbey (1955) – the latter two firmly illustrating the director’s fascination with Crowley and the occult. Anger’s willingness to shock did not diminish during the 1960s. In 1961 he adapted Pauline Réage’s massively divisive tome Story of O, which looks at love, domination and submission in a heterosexual couple. A year later, he made the picture that established his reputation as the king of cult 132
filmmaking – Scorpio Rising. Due to its subject matter – which revolved around a 1950s biker gang, straight out of The Wild One, with a rock ’n’ roll soundtrack and themes that included Nazis, Catholicism and the occult – it was massive amongst arty punk rockers. Adam Ant wrote a track named after it and Death In Vegas named their album Scorpio Rising. By the 1980s, it was a constant at all-night cinemas such as the Scala in London and the Lincoln Plaza in New York. The film is drenched in the homoerotic imagery popularised by illustrator Tom of Finland, but back then it fitted in with the heterosexual fashion for the 1950s biker look so popular in clubs such as the Dirtbox and the Mud Club. After Scorpio Rising, Anger became involved with The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger penned the electronic soundtrack for Anger’s next film, Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), which included scenes starring renowned Satanist Anton LaVey, Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil and concert footage of The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park. He’d met Beausoleil in 1964 and commissioned him to act and write the music for his next movie, Lucifer Rising. It starred Marianne Faithfull as Lilith, Donald Cammell (who directed the 1970 film Performance) as Osiris, Chris Jagger (Mick’s younger brother) as the man in the yellow tunic and Anger as the Magus. In many ways it was the precursor to many an arty-pop promo, its juxtaposed imagery and overall tone certainly ahead of the experimental cinema game. His latest film, Airship, is a collection of footage of ominous zeppelins, painted in red and blue,
which, at nine minutes long, is a visual tone poem. Thoroughly off the wall, it looks easily at home in a contemporary art gallery. No one can question Anger’s influence on the likes of David Lynch, John Waters, Martin Scorsese and Kathryn Bigelow. But as influential a filmmaker as he undoubtedly is, for anyone interested in films – particularly Hollywood films during its Golden Age – the name Kenneth Anger sums up a fascinating world of sleaze, corruption and degeneracy. During the 1970s, his two books, Hollywood Babylon I and II, were the must-have items amongst stylish society. Hollywood Babylon’s cult status was in part due to the fact that, first published in Paris in 1965, it hit the US book shelves for the first time six years later and was subsequently banned. With a just a few thousand copies flying around, the book’s prestige and reputation grew until a new edition came out in 1975 and it flew out of the stores. Both books shared the same subject and format, with pictures and text illustrating the magnificently sordid underbelly of Tinsel Town. He voraciously ripped through the Hollywood scandals from the 1920s to the 1950s, taking no prisoners and almost audibly screeching with delight as he condemned and ridiculed. I meet Anger, now in his eighties, at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. It’s an irrefutably apt location to interview the King of Sleaze – Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, once told two of his randiest young stars, William Holden and Glenn Ford: “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” >
Kenneth Anger by Jimmy DeSana 1980
up to Coney Island and met this group of bikers, the Workhouse Angels. They were working-class boys and put all their money into their bikes, putting all kinds of lights and chrome on them. I thought the bikes were very creative so I asked if I could film them and their bikes. I lived their lifestyle for six months or so.
As one would expect, Anger is late. Because of this my meetings overlap, and now I have tattooed Cockney pretty boy Smutty Smith of The Rockats waiting for me, dressed in brothel creepers, leather trousers and a cowboy shirt and sporting a huge jet-black quiff. Anger takes one look at him and almost falls over with lust. It is perhaps because of Smith’s presence that the interview goes so well. Not surprisingly, Anger is a true gent. Softly spoken and erudite, he speaks at length, takes long pauses, then starts up again. He doesn’t seem like the pagan incendiary whose life’s aim is to rile people to distraction. Is this the man who, it was reported, showed up at fellow director Curtis Harrington’s Hollywood funeral wearing black eyeliner, nail polish and a shirt open to his navel, revealing his giant Lucifer tattoo, and proceeding to kiss the corpse before its cremation? Still, sitting in the garden of the Chateau, attracting sideways glances from film business types, there is no doubting who I am talking to. Who do you most admire as a filmmaker? It’s hard to say but there’s several. I like Cocteau, I like Visconti, I like Joseph Losey and some of the film noir people. You were in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1935, right? 134
Yes I was. I got the part, a nonspeaking part, in a Shakespeare adaptation because of my grandmother. I got to play the changeling that is kidnapped but I’d had some dance training already so I could do the moves, and I became friends with Mickey Rooney, who played Puck. He was very nice to me.
‘CENSORSHIP CAN MAKE YOU THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX’ What happened after that? I went to high school, which was interesting at the time as I was friends with a lot of the sons of the Hollywood producers, so it was like a private school. I was friends with the son of Jo Swerling, who wrote the script for Hitchcock’s Lifeboat with John Steinbeck. Apart from the obvious gay iconography of the bikers, what inspired you to make Scorpio Rising? I came back from Europe to America and was staying in Brooklyn and I went
The film is famous for juxtaposing the biker scenes with that of Jesus. How did the latter come about? Well, that was already shot. While I was cutting the film, a package was delivered to me, a film canister. It turned out to be a Sunday school film from a church that had a similar address to mine and I ran it and thought, ‘I’ll keep it and cut it into my film,’ ’cos it seemed to be what I call a magical happening. These two things are parallel in an iconic way. That was the first film to explore the biker homoerotic thing. Was it all there already? Well, it was there already for instance in The Wild One (1953) starring Marlon Brando as the rebel biker, but I was the first one to do an ironic take on it and also the first one to use pop music as a commentary on the images. The idea was picked up by the likes of Scorsese in Mean Streets and later Tarantino, and is now the norm. You have only done short films. Have you ever considered doing a featurelength movie? To be honest, I consider myself a poet of films. My films are visual poetry, or at least I’d like to think so. I’ve made films of up to 40 minutes, but, oddly, feature-length films have never attracted me. Also, I can just about finance my short films – something like 15 minutes or half an hour – I can manage that myself quite well. But any longer and the cost escalates. You’ve had a few problems with the US censor. Oh yes indeed. But I just always did what I wanted to do. I thought it was right and I never had any specific problem. But there is nothing explicit ever in my films. I don’t do that.
CINEMA | Kenneth Anger Fireworks is kind of explicit but is so symbolic that it got past the censor. But homosexuality was technically illegal when you made Fireworks, which, like so many of your films, features homoerotic imagery. In the early days, back in the 1940s, you’d be thrown in jail for showing films like that, but I just did what I wanted to do and I had a few brushes with the law as a result. Today, one can practically do anything one wants, which means there is no kind of censorship – but I think sometimes censorship can make you think outside of the box. We are sitting here in the centre of Hollywood. What do you think of it now? I am basically very fond of it. I really appreciate its vices and its colour. This is a mellow period. It used to be a lot more colourful than it is now. In the 1920s and the 1930s there was a different, juicy scandal every week. I appreciated that as a historian, but we haven’t had any juicy scandals recently. Everything is so tame these days… it may sound snobbish to say I was passionate about Old Hollywood, but I am still surprised with interesting stuff now and again. Unfortunately, the stars of that period that I knew had much more distinctive personalities, style and charisma than the present crop. Take Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin and Bob Mitchum. They had a propensity for pushing the boundaries and getting in trouble. You just cannot compare them to today’s crop. How did you get Hollywood Babylon published? I met the people at Cahiers du Cinéma in Paris. This was the main film magazine that François Truffaut worked for. So I reeled off the stories and the gossip I knew and had absorbed – colourful, crazy, bizarre stories about Hollywood. I’d grown up with this gossip, this trivia. It was all around me. By the time I went to Paris, I had absorbed all I could about Hollywood and its history. Then one day, one of the editors asked me to do a book. The first edition of Hollywood Babylon was
Donald Cammell as Osiris, Lord of Death in Lucifer Rising 1970
published in Paris and written in French in the late 1950s; the English edition came later. At least the stars of that era lived like stars and drank, had fun and misbehaved. What do you think of the Scientology trend? Oh yes, that’s rubbish, but I’m not discussing it ’cos they love to sue people. Without a doubt, it’s what you’d call a con and it’s good at siphoning away the brain and your money. A couple of people like Karen Black, Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman got out of it but once you’re involved in it, you live in fear. Time magazine did a front cover on it a decade or so ago and they are still being harassed by lawsuits. They are like some irritating dog biting your ankles that you can’t shake off. Once they decide you’re the enemy they’ll get you. How about Hollywood Babylon III? I do have it in rough form but the Scientologists are quite litigious and I don’t want to tangle with them. And they have certain people like John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Juliette Lewis, all of whom have enough to hide, and have gotten hooked into it and made it their belief system, so I am leaving them alone.
Because of the design and the photography, Hollywood Babylon reads like a magazine. It is a picture book, made and written by a filmmaker, so that was very deliberate. I’d collected stills of Old Hollywood all my life and have thousands to choose from, so I was looking at the book almost like a documentary film. Basically, it’s a selection of my photographs, which are as important as the text. When did you get interested in Aleister Crowley? When I was a teenager I met Jack Parsons, who was a Caltech rocket scientist and a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as Aerojet Corporation. He was a pioneering genius whose work with solid fuel and other aspects of rocketry made the US space programme possible. Anyway, he was interested in Crowley too. And I found that interesting – that a man of science would be interested in Crowley. So, he was kind enough to lend me some of his books and I got to know his wife, Cameron [also known as Moonchild], quite well. Jack thought she was “elemental”, having learned about such creatures from Crowley’s circle of warlocks, the Ordo Templi > 135
Orientis. So I made a film, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, with his wife, she’s the redhead – the Scarlet Woman. Then you made Lucifer Rising with Marianne Faithfull. How did that go? Well it had a troubled history. My first experience was in San Francisco and my Lucifer proved to be too close to being typecast. So we had a falling out and I began it again in London with my English friends who included Marianne Faithfull and Chris Jagger. Marianne has said I hypnotised her with magic and forced her to do all these ridiculous things against her will, which, of course, I certainly did not. Nonsense. If I could do such a thing I’d be more successful. I was told that she actually jeopardised us all by carrying some heroin in her make-up box along with her face powder. I didn’t know about this then. If she’d been arrested or discovered, we all would have been shot – that was the penalty then. I also spent a lot of time with Anita Pallenberg, who can be a bitch and charming too. How did you finance it and film in Egypt? It’s about Egyptian gods summoning the angel Lucifer to appear in order to lead us into a new occult age. This is in accordance with the principles of Ordo Templi Orientis – an occult order founded by Crowley that I am a member of. To get permission, I said I was doing a documentary on ancient Egyptian beliefs and needed to film along the Nile, the beautiful ruined temples, in front of the Sphinx, at Karnak – all that. The authorities fell for it. How did you get Bobby Beausoleil to do the soundtrack when he was in prison for the Manson family murder of music teacher Gary Hinman? I took a tape recorder into his prison where he’d got together a dozen or so musicians who were in for murder. So Bobby recorded with the ‘All-killer Orchestra’, as we called them. Initially he was going to call them Powerhouse of Oz, but I told him no because Oz means goat in Hebrew. He wasn’t violating the L Frank Baum Wizard of Oz copyright, because Baum was a closet occultist and 136
the Oz books are full of covert jokes for those that comprehend magic and the occult. But Bobby would’ve been OK if he hadn’t met Manson. He was a nice kid who was dragged in and brainwashed by that evil dwarf Manson, who deserves to be executed. How was Donald Cammell? He committed suicide by shooting himself in the head like the scene from
‘I CONSIDER MYSELF A POET OF FILMS’ his film, Performance. He was quite obsessed with death, so I was sorry but not that surprised. He was living in the Hollywood Hills and he’d written several scripts. One was the idea of having William Burroughs as the chief justice of the Supreme Court who is kidnapped in Morocco. It would have been as expensive as Lawrence of Arabia. But it was a very good script. He was also very interested in Crowley.
Why are you so interested in Crowley? I felt a very strong affinity with him. He was the original hippie and rebel artist. He had very interesting ideas on colour and I thought he was fascinating and still do. I’ve been collecting his work since I was a teenager, even though he died in 1947. I caught his disciples Jack Parsons and wife, Jane Wolfe – who was a huge silent actress but gave up to live with Crowley in Thelema Abbey – on camera and shot his temple. But Crowley is a fascinating character and if I were making feature films, I would be tempted to make something on him. No one else has yet. But, a while ago, I arranged for an exhibit of Crowley’s paintings to exhibit in a gallery in London. It was a lot of trouble as all the paintings are in private hands and I convinced all of them to lend them. It’s not easy to do that. Then other paintings were sent from as far away as Australia. I put them up and filmed it for 11 minutes; a study of the paintings. What I want to hang is a pun about hanging paintings, plus there’s an editorial on Crowley in the Beaverbrook-owned Express newspaper saying they’d like to hang him and that he was a cannibal, as it sold newspapers. He was called “The wickedest man in the world”.
CINEMA | Kenneth Anger
What about the absurd rumours about Jayne Mansfield and Anton LaVey? That he cast a spell on her and then she was beheaded in a car crash? He was your friend, was he not? He was and that was just an unfortunate accident. She wasn’t decapitated. That’s an urban myth. She suffered a crushed skull and there was some blonde hair stuck in the windshield – probably her wig – so people made up the decapitation story. Anton told Joan Rivers that they had an affair and that she was an avowed Satanist, but Jayne Mansfield was just a friend of his, in a playful way, and joined the Church of Satan, but in a minor way. Anton was always very misunderstood. You had to understand Anton’s sense of humour. If you didn’t then you wouldn’t get it. You have to remember he’d worked in the carnival and was very showy. So the whole thing with the skullcap and horns was very theatrical. He wasn’t a Crowleyite though. You worked with another controversial figure, sexologist Alfred Kinsey, whom you befriended. Did he encourage you in your work? Yes. Kinsey was doing interviews in LA for his book Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male when we met. He
was basically an expert on wasps, of all things – a biologist. He came to see Fireworks at the Coronet Theatre at a midnight showing, and asked if he could buy a print for his Indiana University collection. It was the first copy I ever sold of anything and I remained good friends with him until the end of his life. And when Kinsey came to Italy for the first time, I’d been researching the villa, the 18th-century farmhouse, of Crowley, which he called the Abbey of Thelema. He painted all of the walls with Gauguin-inspired murals that were explicitly erotic but in a funny way and, as it was during the first days of Mussolini – who didn’t like the English anyway – it was as good an excuse as any to kick him out. Crowley’s paintings were then covered with whitewash and I spent all summer scraping off the whitewash and photographing the murals underneath. What have you been up to recently? I’ve never stopped making films, but I was working on the book, travelling and living in Europe. I’m still an underground artist who hasn’t sold out to Hollywood, and as I’m still considered too much of a maverick, at my age (can you believe it?), it’s highly unlikely I’d ever be approached.
I make ciné-poèmes sometimes four minutes long. I’ve finished my film Airship, about zeppelins, a fascinating obsolete form of transportation with sometimes explosive results if not handled right. As a kid, I was fascinated by zeppelins and remember the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. I saw one fly over me on a promotional tour of California and it looked like a giant fish. I saw the footage of the disaster later and there was a famous recording of a live radio broadcast and you hear the sheer panic in his voice, so I’ve put that in my Airship trilogy. My artistic licence was to hand-colour the orange and yellow of the flames and explosion and then add the red and blue to the zeppelins, which were originally silver. I’m not very good at interviews as I think my films should speak for themselves. All visual art should. If you have to explain it… you’ve failed. Airship is showing in selected cinemas A boxset, The Films of Kenneth Anger Volumes 1 & 2, is available now fantoma.com kennethanger.org 137
Charlotte and David Zetterstrom, founders of Fabrique bakery fabrique.co.uk Charlotte wears shirt by Oliver Spencer; trousers by Joseph; hat by Shade+Slouch. David wears jacket by Peter Werth; trousers, model’s own; shirt by A Child of the Jago; trainers by Nike.
Modern Makers Photographs Kasia Wazniak Styling Savannah Baker
Peter Bellerby, globemaker bellerbyandco.com Sweater by Agnès b; jeans by Levi’s; shirt by RRL.
Alex Mullins, fashion designer alexmullins.co.uk Sweater from The Vintage Showroom; jeans by Leviâ€™s.
STYLE | Modern Makers
Andy Moffat, brewer redemptionbrewing.co.uk Jacket by Barbour; trousers by Dickies; shirt by Emma Willis; boots, modelâ€™s own.
Jake Rusby, bicycle maker rusbycycles.co.uk Jacket and trousers by Maharishi; T-shirt by Calvin Klein; watch by Casio.
STYLE | Modern Makers
Thomas Alonso, designer tomas-alonso.com Jacket by Lavenham; jeans by Ksubi; T-shirt, modelâ€™s own.
Felix de Pass, designer felixdepass.com Coat by Gant Rugger; sweater by Wrangler.
STYLE | Modern Makers
Adrian Boot, photographer urbanimage.tv/adrian-boot Shirt by Pretty Green; trousers and glasses, modelâ€™s own.
The Viking of 6th Avenue. Charlie Parker. Sasnak. Trimba Words Andy Thomas Photographs courtesy of Wolfgang Gnida and Stefan Lakatos
Between the late 1940s and early 1970s, an eccentric street musician who went by the name of Moondog became a familiar sight around Manhattan. With his flowing white beard and robes, the ‘Viking of 6th Avenue’ wandered midtown creating strange but spiritual music from a selection of homemade instruments. For the inquisitive passers-by who asked where he came from, the blind musician added to the mystery by replying “Sasnak”, which turned out to be Kansas backwards. The same people, who might have tossed a quarter in his direction, would surely not have suspected that this figure had released music on such labels as Prestige and Epic, and was lauded by many of the city’s musical elite. Despite these accolades, Moondog remained a maverick outsider right up to his death in 1999. He leaves behind a back catalogue of music and compositions that make him one of the 20th century’s most interesting and distinctive composers. A new documentary by Holly Elson will shed light on this most enigmatic of musicians. Born into a religious family in Marysville, Kansas, on 26 May 1916, the young Louis T Hardin began playing music on a set of cardboard drums when he was five years old. At the age of six his family relocated to Wyoming, where his father worked on a trading post in the small town of Fort Bridger. It was in Wyoming that Hardin would have his formative musical experience when his minister father took him to an Arapaho Native American reservation. “I was about five when I came in contact with American Indians and sat in the lap of a tribal chief named Yellow Cap, who let me 146
play tom toms during one of their ceremonials,” he told Leonard Feather in DownBeat magazine in 1953. This musical exchange would have a lasting impact on the young musician, providing a foundation that would set him apart from his contemporaries. Hardin spent his teenage years playing drums in the school band before the accident that would change the man and his music forever. “I was blinded on the fourth of July,” he told New York journalist Natalie Davis in 1945. “I picked up a dynamite cap on a railroad track after a flood and pounded on it. It exploded in my face.” Despite the obvious trauma, the accident would ultimately provide an education that he otherwise could not have afforded. “It wasn’t ’til I went to the school for the blind in Iowa that I discovered myself,” he recalled. “I took music courses and I began to read and think.” Under the tutelage of Burnet Tuthill he learned musical form, becoming enthralled with counterpoint. This obsessive attention to sonic detail, enhanced by his loss of sight, would make Moondog one of the most exact of all the avant-garde and Third Stream musicians. “He heard his music in his head; he was never composing in front of a piano or other instrument,” says Stefan Lakatos, who would become a student of Moondog’s. “He wanted to write like the old masters did because they would compose without instruments.” Although Hardin won a scholarship to study at the Memphis Conservatory, after eight months he quit and moved to New York. Working initially as an artist’s model to make enough money to eat, he took on a nomadic existence, preferring to sleep through the day on top of a building on 6th Avenue, near
52nd Street. By now renamed Moondog (in memory of his pet dog Lindy who used to howl at the moon), there was one place this mysterious wanderer would feel particularly at home. “During a business visit to a Philharmonic rehearsal at Carnegie Hall, we noticed an amazing looking man sitting in the fifth row of the darkened auditorium,” recalled Natalie Davis. “He was listening to Artur Rodzin´ski, the conductor, putting the orchestra through the paces. The solitary listener might have stepped out of the pages of the Bible.” Befriended by Rodzin´ski and his wife, Moondog became something of a curiosity for the musical elite. While the theatre provided an educational sanctuary, he found some of the attention disconcerting. The constant comparisons with Christ particularly disturbed the freethinker. “I put up with that for a few years,” he told Kenneth Ansell in an interview for Resonance magazine in 1995. “Then I said, ‘That’s enough; I don’t want that connection, I must do something about my appearance to make it look un-Christian.’” Now dressed in full Viking attire, Moondog got his first musical break when, instead of turning him away from his doorstep where he had been sleeping, Gabriel Oller – storeowner of the Spanish Music Center and Latin music entrepreneur – invited him to record for his SMC Pro-Arte label. The series of 78s he released for the label between 1949 and 1953 were progressive and innovative. Incorporating samples of a howling dog mixed with hypnotic, syncopated percussion all held together by Moondog’s primitive but prescient >
overdubbing techniques, tracks such as ‘Moondog’s Symphony 1 (Timberwolf )’ were haunting pieces of urban folk; both sacred and futuristic. The most primal and earthy of all Moondog’s early recordings were made with the pioneering “wizard of sound” Tony Schwartz. In 1952 this urban folklorist and sound archivist had taken to the streets of New York, armed with a portable recorder, to document the alternative soundtrack of the city. The cover of the resulting Moondog LP for Woody Herman’s Mars label, On the Streets of New York, saw Moondog in his natural environment, leaning over some of the many homemade instruments he used to create his tapestry of urban sound – instruments such as the oo, a string instrument struck with a clave, the yukh, a log hung from a tripod knocked with rubber mallets, and his famous trimba, a triangular percussion instrument incorporating a drum, a clave and maraca. Like another great American visionary, Harry Partch (who also lived a hobo existence), Moondog’s use of unconventional homemade instruments seemed to pose questions of how far acoustic, western music had progressed 148
in the 20th century. Similarly, the distinctly Indonesian gamelan-sounding scales he produced from those instruments in the mid-1950s placed him outside of the classical establishment and next to other exploratory composers such as Lou Harrison. “Moondog loved the compositional element of Indonesian music,” confirms Lakatos. Moondog’s shifting layers of repetitive sound proved hugely influential to the minimalists, who were also looking east for inspiration. As Philip Glass later wrote, he and Steve Reich took Moondog’s work “very seriously and understood and appreciated it much more than what we were exposed to at Juilliard”. Listen to Reich’s ‘Different Trains’ or ‘Music for 18 Musicians’ and Moondog’s influence is clear. But Moondog never saw himself as part of any movement. “He didn’t really like to be compared to the minimalists and, in fact, didn’t like to be compared to anyone else,” says Lakatos. “But the minimalists, I think, were particularly drawn to the repetition in his work.” Despite the sight of Moondog and his curious instruments becoming
familiar to many New Yorkers, the sleevenotes to London Records’ rerelease of On the Streets of New York gave most people their first real insight into Moondog. This recording found him at his most forward thinking, with the city beat of New York, be it foghorns or ambulance sirens, worked around organic rounds of percussion. “Because he was blind, the acoustic sound around him was very important as it was like a painting,” says Lakatos. The description by Tony Schwartz of this music as “a blending of primitive and classical” was a pretty accurate one for tracks such as ‘Lullaby (2 West 46th Street)’ and ‘Fog on the Hudson (425 West 57th Street)’. The LP also featured Moondog’s wife Suzuko, who was transcribing much of his music at this time as well as adding exotic and beguiling vocals. While these early compositions drew the attention of the classical elite, the ears of the jazz world had also pricked up. “Here was a person in a Viking costume playing on 6th Avenue, [but] being unobtrusive,” jazz bassist Ron Carter recalls. “Moondog was very connected to jazz,” Philip Glass told Moondog’s biographer Robert Scotto.
CINEMA | Moondog “He’d stand in the stairway to Birdland and play along with anything they were playing inside the club. I was amazed at his facility for doing this.” Plying his trade outside the clubs of Manhattan, Moondog would soon count some of the big names of jazz as friends and admirers. In 1954, Benny Goodman testified for Moondog at the New York State Supreme Court in a case against DJ Alan Freed, who had recently named his show ‘The Moondog Rock and Roll Matinee’. Thanks to Goodman and classical composer Arturo Toscanini, Moondog won his case and Freed was forced to rename his show. But Moondog’s most famous jazz associate was Charlie Parker. During his last years, it was common for ‘Bird’ (as Parker was often known) to stop by the doorway of Moondog, where they would talk about music and life. The two were scheduled to perform together before Parker’s premature death in 1955, inspiring Moondog’s most famous track ‘Bird’s Lament’. Jazz was already running deep through Moondog’s veins way before this swinging number was picked up by Columbia. Released on his own Moondog Records label in the mid1950s under the name Moondog and his Honking Geese, tracks such as ‘Bumbo’ and ‘Rabbit Hop’ were incredibly forward-thinking recordings that sit comfortably next to works by jazz eccentrics such as Sun Ra and Raymond Scott. However, when asked if he saw his work as sitting in the jazz or classical tradition, he replied: “I’m basically classically orientated; I think classically. The basic forms I use are either the cannon or the chaconne, perhaps with some variations. My concept of ‘jazz’ is more [Native American] Indian orientated. But I combine the two… and that may give a new twist to the European tradition.” The rhythmic pulse of Moondog’s music had been inspired by a second encounter with American Indians, when he had visited and played percussion at the Blackfoot Sun Dance in Idaho. He later told Kenneth Ansell where he saw the connection between America’s indigenous music and what is usually thought of as its first homegrown sound. “It just came to
me recently that American Indian music is just so syncopated that any jazz musician – especially in the swing era – would see a clear connection between jazz and Indian music.” It’s worth remembering when you hear the ancestral drums of Moondog’s ‘Oboe Round’ that in 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed up the river that would eventually take his name, there were around 10,000 Indians living on its banks. Whereas most musicians would look to African roots and Congo Square as the spiritual birthplace of jazz, Moondog’s head resided in an older American tradition. “The American Indians have this basic beat,” he said. “A heartbeat in two speeds: a walking beat (in twos) and a running beat (in four). I use those rhythms to this day.” Although Moondog saw himself primarily as classically orientated, even
‘THE MINIMALISTS WERE DRAWN TO THE REPETITION IN HIS WORK’ saying, “My heart is not on jazz”, it was certainly where Prestige would have seen him when they signed him in the mid-1950s. What they got on the LPs Moondog, More Moondog and The Story of Moondog (with a sleeve designed by Andy Warhol, hand-written by his mother, Julia) was experimental and unclassifiable music that still sounds adventurous today. More Moondog included the track ‘Autumn’, which was Lakatos’s introduction to his future mentor. “I heard a radio show in Sweden about the music that inspired The Mothers of Invention,” says Lakatos. “They played music by Edgard Varèse, Harry Partch and Moondog. So there were two Moondog pieces including ‘Autumn’, and it made a great impact on me. It sounded kind of primitive and authentic. It took me
about ten years to understand this was one instrument, the trimba, and not a group of percussionists playing. So I was obsessed by this music. There was something in it that spoke to me.” Another major label, Epic, released Moondog’s 1953 LP Moondog and his Friends. Re-issued a few years ago by Honest Jon’s in the UK, the LP continued his penchant for strange yet enticing titles such as ‘Tree Frog – Be a Hobo’ and ‘Dragon’s Teeth – Voices of Spring’. His most unexpected venture during this period came in 1957 when he recorded an LP of songs for children with Julie Andrews (Songs of Fun and Nonsense). It wasn’t such an unusual project for Moondog as, despite his serious musical intentions, there was often a healthy dose of humour in his art. It was to be his last record for ten years though, as the major labels struggled to understand his genius. “He never really liked the music industry at all,” says Lakatos. “He was a composer who wanted to perform live.” Despite this hiatus, by the late 1960s Moondog’s name was reaching a new audience thanks to musicians such as the folk rock group Pentangle, who included the song ‘Moondog’ on their 1968 album Sweet Child; Jimmy McGriff, whose ‘Spear for Moondog’ (Parts I and II) appeared on his 1968 outing Electric Funk; and Big Brother and the Holding Company’s self-titled debut, when Janis Joplin covered Moondog’s song ‘All Is Loneliness’. The eyes of the majors turned to him for one last time when, in 1969, he returned to the studio for Columbia for one of his most acclaimed outings, simply entitled Moondog. Produced by James William Guercio, the LP saw the composer and conductor at his most expansive, finally given the opportunity to record some of his 30 years of composition with a full orchestra. That band included jazz players such as Hubert Laws and Ron Carter. “He just kind of played what he knew and I had to understand that, and try to play the forms as he was playing the tunes,” says Carter. “[But] he seemed too afraid to hear himself during the playbacks.” The LP found Moondog at his most funky on ‘Bird’s Lament’. “Bird used to stop by my doorway back in 1951-52,” > 149
Moondog recalled in the LP’s liner notes. “One night I met him in Times Square and shook his hand, not realising that would be the last time we would meet.” This swinging piece of contrapuntal jazz was recently reworked as ‘Get A Move On’ by Mr Scruff, who has helped turn a younger generation on to Moondog’s work. But, as Lakatos explains, Moondog would have been appalled on hearing this remix. “All these DJs and crazy electronics they put to his music, he would not have understood that. His music should be performed acoustically. He didn’t like electronic stuff at all.” In a typically maverick gesture, Moondog celebrated his signing to Columbia by moving his street pitch to the pavement opposite their ritzy headquarters. Despite his growing acceptance by the American music establishment, Moondog was increasingly drawn to a Europe that had always fascinated him. Following a 1974 visit to Frankfurt at the invitation of Hessian Broadcasting, he swapped the avenues of New York for the streets of Hamburg. It was here that he met geology student Ilona Goebel. The pair went on to establish their own publishing company, while Moondog released a series of albums on the Kopf label. “She is my eyes and more than that: she copies and publishes my music,” Moondog told Allan Kozinn in The New York Times in 1989. “She helps me in recording sessions, and she is my companion everywhere. It couldn’t be nicer.” Exchanging his Viking helmet for a woollen hat, after a plea from Goebel to take on a more traditional appearance, did not distill the power of his music. In Germany Moondog also met his longest standing collaborator – the man who became heir to his mentor’s drumming technique and the owner of his trimba. “I was out in Germany on an InterRail card and had planned to meet him as I had been writing and asking for his recordings,” explains Lakatos. “I was invited to interview him for Swedish radio. When I saw him for the first time I asked him about the trimba and he had actually brought it 150
from America. He was sitting on the floor and he played for me and I said to myself, ‘Jesus, this is the instrument for me.’ I was so surprised at all the different sounds he could make out of this little wooden box. It was incredible.” The pair quickly struck up a trusting relationship. “He was a very open and warm person,” says Lakatos. “And he was interested that I came from Scandinavia because of his interest in the Vikings. We fitted together somehow very fast. I practised a lot with his music and he gave me a lot of material, including all these madrigals that I think are absolutely the best music he ever wrote.”
‘HE’D STAND IN THE STAIRWAY AND PLAY ALONG WITH ANYTHING INSIDE THE CLUB’ In the liner notes to a 1986 LP by the Bracelli String Project, Moondog called Lakatos “the leading exponent of the Moondog method of drum playing”. Lakatos explains the roots of this tradition: “These beats are directly from the American Indian. The drumming, but also the clave and maraca, that form the trimba, goes all the way back to that.” Lakatos continues to perform and promote his mentor’s work today, recently bringing Moondog’s music back to New York, playing at Carnegie Hall. It was through Lakatos that Holly Elson first had the idea for her forthcoming film. “I saw this photo of Moondog on the BBC website and thought, ‘Who is this guy?’” says Elson. “So I clicked on it and there were two people that turned out to be Paul
Jordan and Stefan, who were doing a tribute concert alongside something that was happening at the Barbican. They started talking and playing and I realised I recognised this music but didn’t know where from. The more they talked about him and the more music they played I thought this guy is incredible – this is a really interesting story.” As well as revealing more about the man and his music, Elson’s film will also reveal Moondog’s part in a New York now lost to time. “He was uniquely out on the street for such a long period of time during this heady time in New York,” she says. “So there were many people who chatted to him and were affected by him in some way by their encounter. And I want to try and represent that.” As well as working with Lakatos, the growing retrospective interest in Moondog saw him return to America in 1989 to perform at the New Music America Festival in Brooklyn alongside Glass and Reich. The reappraisal of Moondog’s work that grew throughout the 1990s resulted in a studio session with the group London Saxophonic for the LP Sax Pax for a Sax. Released in 1997, it was to be Moondog’s last recording. In September 1999, at his home in Münster, Germany, Louis Hardin passed away. He leaves behind a body of work that is as unique as it was influential. While new people will be drawn to his genius through Elson’s documentary, Moondog’s music is safe in the hands of his old student. “I take the music forward by my experience of working with him, and want to continue with his original instrument,” says Lakatos. “I also want to find his old compositions that are still hidden in the braille and to make them open as well. He wanted his music to be played. He was a composer and an artist who wanted his music to be spread to everybody’s ears. The important thing is his music lives on.” The Viking of 6th Avenue, directed by Holly Elson, is in production hardworkingmovies.com harkpictures.com
CINEMA | Moondog
The Beatles All These Years Words Paolo Hewitt
Mark Lewisohn might legitimately be described as a ‘superfan’. He is also regarded by most as the world’s leading authority on The Beatles. He has built up an unparalleled knowledge of the Fab Four, firstly through sheer passion, and later professionally, working for EMI and Apple Corps (the Beatles’ corporation). With several highly regarded and meticulously researched Beatles books under his belt, Lewisohn has trumped himself with his latest, The Beatles – All These Years. Ten years in the making, the book has been split into three volumes. The first volume – Tune In, which is out now – is a huge affair, heavy enough to break floorboards. 152
How did you get into The Beatles? Through my mum. She was 39 when they exploded into the British consciousness. She liked the music; she thought they were fresh and original and exciting and all the things they were. And because of that, I was exposed to them as well. In fact, she did something that she never did again before or after; she actually cut out a photo of The Beatles from a magazine and stuck it on the kitchen door. That was the first time I saw them and I used to laugh at their boots. Your research for this book is incredible. Tell me about that side of your work.
My mum was a great reader of library books. You could get six library books out per visit on a three-week loan. Every third week she would go and get some more, having read the entire first batch. I would go to the library with her; she would go off to the fiction section and I always went to the reference section. I was five or six years old and I learnt how to look things up. I learnt how directories worked. I saw in one interview that your mantra is “follow the paperwork”. Absolutely. If you find a letter of any kind, you have the exact content of what was written at that time. You have >
“5-4-3-2-1. Five Liverpool youths, four guitars on the drip, three amps, two drumsticks, one new band. The Beatles at the Indra, first night, 17 August 1960 – fresh in Hamburg and primed to learn, fast.”
the relationship between the sender and the recipient and a snapshot of the moment, a plan or a desire for something to happen. You have the date of it and you have other things – the way it is typed, the way it is set out, the secretary’s initials, the stationery of the sender, the headed notepaper. And if it was a limited company they would often give you the names of the directors, so you can learn a lot from a letter. I absolutely love finding paperwork, and on a book like this it is absolutely essential. In this book there are two kinds of paperwork: legal contracts etc, and
first-hand accounts – diaries of fans and encounters with the band, particularly in the Cavern. The first rock and pop auction at Sotheby’s was 1980 and I remember people actually laughing over these silly pieces of paper. How could they have any value? A letter from Paul McCartney, for example, was being sold for about £30 and people thought that was a lot. But as time went on these auctions became more and more important and now this stuff is highly collectable. We have now had 30-odd years of people putting them up for sale and that is substantially where I get my stuff from. I also went to see a lot of the
fans. I tracked them down. I got Roberta Brown, the first fan club secretary. Fantastic. I had no idea she had been down to the ‘Please Please Me’ session and John [Lennon] had asked her to play piano on it. And then gave her a speed pill! There are lots of ‘wow’ moments in the book. What are your favourites? The ‘Please Please Me’ session was one that was a nice counterpart to the earlier story about two girls called Lindy Ness and Lou – and I had no knowledge of this either – who were in Paul’s house when John and Paul were writing a song, asleep under the piano > 153
“If every picture tells a story, this one’s an exhibition. The boys, snapped by Brian Epstein on the tarmac at Liverpool Airport, 4 September 1962, en route to making their first record in London.” © The Epstein family
whilst John and Paul were thumping out chords above. That ease they had with their fans; they really did treat their fans like they were younger sisters. Amazing.
that. I say that because it has been on the web lately that my book emphasises that John was the leader and people are saying, “Hey, Paul McCartney was the most important Beatle.”
There’s the famous story of Lennon having to choose between his parents as a five year old. In this book, you completely retell the story as we know it. Yes, that was a real revelation. Not to sound inflammatory, or upset people reading this, but it seems clear that Julia [Lennon’s mother] was kind of incapable of looking after him. Which happens. It wasn’t right for her life at that point. She was obviously a good time girl. She had four children with three different men, two of them out of wedlock, in the space of nine years. Hardly anyone behaved like that at the time. And that is not being judgemental about it, those are the facts.
That’s probably Paul doing the moaning! (Laughs) But Lennon was the leader of the gang. Whenever it got down to the nitty-gritty and a question needed answering, all heads would turn and they would wait for him to come up with the answer. It was his group. He formed them and he was the eldest. In any band someone has to be the guy the others look to. That’s true of all kinds of groups of people, not just musicians.
Yet you can see where John got his spirit and drive from. One of the things that really became clear in writing this book is that John was the leader. It was not about who was the most important or anything like 154
Why did they look up to him? Because he was older than them, he was more daring than them, and he said the things they thought they might want to say. He was edgy and he had sideburns. When you are 15 and you are in a school blazer and there’s this guy who is 17 and in art school wearing jeans and kicking in telephone boxes, that is heroic stuff. I love the quote from Paul that John was their fairground hero, a big lad riding the dodgems. That
really does set the scene. I also like the fact The Beatles were a democracy because the leader allowed them to be one. The leader sets the tone. The leader can dominate or the leader can say your point of view is valid and I am interested in hearing it. That was John, a most unusual person. Obviously he saw in Paul his amazing talent. But what did he see in George? For me, a large part of it must have been George’s clothes. Wearing a pink shirt in Liverpool at that time took huge guts. Yes, very much so. I think it is clear that George was always an individual, that he always did things to get up adult’s noses and he wasn’t going to be towing the line. He wasn’t going to be doing the conventional things. And I am sure that must have appealed to John. Plus, there was George’s sense of humour and the fact that he answered back. You had to answer back to John. If John thought you were a pushover, he would push you over. One of the very first major characters in the book is Liverpool.
MUSIC | The Beatles. All These Years
I don’t ever feel like an insider when I am there because they simply will not allow that. But if you’re lucky you can get honorary status. My love of Liverpool is really quite deep. I don’t want to live there but I have a great nostalgia for the Liverpool I never experienced, which is the Liverpool of old. When I go there I look for the old. I have been up there about 25 times in the last ten years, mostly for a week at a time, and I have never experienced any difficulty. I find it amazing because the lack of investment there means that a lot of the buildings have been preserved because they have not had the money to knock it down and regenerate. I spent a Saturday walking around Birkenhead one time; bloody fantastic. Victorian pub interiors with the glass unchanged, some people would think them a dump. I think they are incredible. Times have changed, the buildings haven’t. Which allows you to imagine. You have worked with The Beatles. But how did you get to be established in Beatle world. There was a Beatles convention in Alexandra Palace in 1976 when I was 18 and I won the Beatle Brain of Europe quiz. This is a measure of how hard it was to be a Beatle fan in those days – I went to this fan convention, which confidently expected about 2,000 people, and there were about 100 of us there. The place was empty and it was really depressing. The band had broken up and everyone had moved on. We had glam rock, punk, the stirring of new wave – I was into all that, I really was – but I was still into The Beatles. Anyway I took the quiz and I won it. What was the hardest question you were asked? I think it was how many steps are there down to the Cavern? The answer that helped me win the prize was 18; except I now know it is 17! Tell me about your relationship with The Beatles. John I never met, and Ringo I don’t know at all. It was Paul and George, and George was always at arm’s length with people like me. “You weren’t
there”, he would say. George obviously had a problem with people knowing stuff about him. It was an interesting thing with this book to find out that his mum was like that, and that his gran was like it. And I found what I think may be the reason for it – his grandmother and grandfather had never married, though they had had seven children, and that might have been why they were always wary about people knowing something about them. This was imbued in George from a very young age, so when he became hugely famous, and everybody wanted to know something about him, he had to close the door and say you can know that much but you are not going to know any more. And I completely understand
‘THEY REALLY DID TREAT THEIR FANS LIKE THEY WERE YOUNGER SISTERS’ that. So George always had problems with people who know these things. With Paul, I worked with him at one time and I have been in situations where he has said priceless stuff. He once gave me and some others a tour round his recording studio in Sussex and he told little stories about what had happened way back when, and as soon as I got back to the car I wrote loads of it down. The same with Neil Aspinall [The late Beatles’ road manager and head of Apple Corps]. I would have lunches with Neil and he would tell me all this great stuff. He would go back to the office and I would go to the pub and write all this stuff down. It is well documented that the publishers gave you a lot of money for this project. How did they react
when you took ten years to deliver volume one? The publishers gave me money in 2004 with the idea that I deliver in 2007. I knew quite early on that was not possible and I told them. There was no point in hiding it. They said, “OK, you just write the book that needs to be written.” Which was fantastic; an extraordinary thing. They did say after a while, because they were giving me money on a yearly basis to keep me going, “We have given you plenty and we can’t keep on giving you money for no return. We will not pressure you to deliver, but we can’t give you any more until you have.” This was 2007 and things got pretty tight. Actually they got very tight. I ended up on a loan. I reached the limit of the loan from the bank. We sold the car. We had no holidays. We were not poor but we had no spending money for a long time. I could have changed that by cutting corners and delivering the book early. But that was against the grain and defeating the purpose of the project, which was to write the book and get it right. And how long before the next one? I don’t know. Every time I make a prediction on the project I end up being wildly wrong. Some of the research is done but there is a lot to do. The 1962 chapter in the current book, for example, took 14 months to write. I liken it to watching that old kids’ show Crackerjack where they would have these entertainers spinning plates on poles. Eventually they have 15 plates spinning and then the first one starts wobbling so they have to go and give it a spin. Well, that is exactly what this is like. I am writing about John, Paul, George and Ringo. Then I am writing about Brian Epstein and the London music business. Then I am writing about George Martin and then I am writing about Hamburg, and then suddenly I think, “Oh shit, I have not written about John for a bit so I need to give him another spin.” But for me it is all really worth it. The Beatles. All These Years: Volume 1: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn is out now littlebrown.co.uk 155
Words Edward Moore Photographs Orlando Gili Hikers Rufus Miller and Will Smith
A member of an amateur climbing club in 1950s California, Yvon Chouinard began forging his own pitons, crampons and various other climbing tools when he discovered good enough equipment simple didn’t exist. His agenda was two-fold. It gave him a living, be it a meagre one. But far more importantly to Yvon, it afforded him the time to indulge in his pastime. In fact, the first Chouinard Equipment catalogue (the company he created with his friend Tom Frost) famously warned costumers that deliver times would be painfully slow during the climbing season. Yet the company’s success grew as climbers around the world sought out
Yvon’s superior equipment. But the turning point of the business didn’t come until over a decade later. On a trip to Scotland, Yvon discovered a rugby shirt and realised the hard wearing cotton and shape was perfectly suited to climbing. Soon this was coupled with heavy corduroy shorts that were reinforced. These two items were the foundation of what would become the clothing brand Patagonia which celebrates 40 years this year. In the past four decades, Patagonia has pioneered, if not quite revolutionised, an awareness of the social and environmental responsibilities of manufacturing and big business. Today, through grants,
they supports hundreds of grassroots environmental organisations and also helped to initiate the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, that today contains group of companies that produce more than a third of the clothing and footwear on the planet. The 40th anniversary also kickstarts a two-year environmental campaign called the Responsible Economy that aims to understand economic needs versus the negative impact of modern consumerism on the environment. The Patagonia Legacy collection is available from Patagonia, 6 Langley Street, London WC2 patagonia.com apparelcoalition.org
Nat King Cole. Nature Boy. Eden’s Island. The Boy With Green Hair Words Paolo Hewitt Photographs courtesy of Joe Romersa at Shadow Box Studio shadowboxstudio.com
Hippies are dirty, stinking and rotten. That is what I was taught from an early age by punks, journalists, teachers, the police, and many others. It was also explained that hippies were stupid, always expressing airy fairy ideas concerning peace and love. And I believed them. Totally. That is until the day I saw a picture of a Flower Power guy standing in front of a battalion of soldiers, placing a flower in the barrel of a soldier’s gun. The picture was taken at an anti-war demonstration in Washington in 1967. Forget the cruel adjectives and the cynicism concerning their beliefs, I thought to myself, that kind of direct action takes some kind of guts. Intrigued, I began to delve a bit deeper into the hippie phenomenon. I was curious as to how a cult so rebellious could be held in such contempt by its contemporaries. My investigations led me to Eden Ahbez, the man I believe is very much responsible for inventing the hippie movement in the first place, yet has never been given the credit. Ahbez’s story really begins in 1948. One August evening in that year, millions of Americans sat down to watch a show called We, the People, expecting to see singer Nat King Cole perform his classic song ‘Nature Boy’. Unknown to Cole, he was about to be introduced to the song’s writer for the very first time. Eden Ahbez was that 158
man, and the show’s host introduced him thus: “Writing a song is not too hard but writing a hit song requires a great deal of talent and experience. Every now and then, however, an unknown comes along and knocks this theory into a cocked hat. We, the People’s next guest is the latest example. He is a student of Oriental mythology, a devout yogi, composer of the nation’s number one song hit, ‘Nature Boy’; his name is Eden Ahbez and he is bringing his bicycle onto our Gulf Oil stage right now.” Ahbez rides onto the stage. He has long hair and a beard. He brakes, carefully puts his bicycle down, and then sits cross legged on the floor. The host, dressed in a jacket and bow tie, kneels down beside him and asks how he came to write the country’s number one song. Instead of answering straight away, Ahbez pulls out a sheet of paper and starts reading. “‘Nature Boy’ is really the story of my life. I was born with a great love for nature and a desire to find God…” No one knew it at the time, but America had just met its first hippie on primetime TV. Seventeen years before the advent of LSD, Timothy Leary and The Grateful Dead, Ahbez was pioneering the lifestyle that would define the hippie. What’s more, he did so in one of the most conservative societies of his age.
This was late 1940s America, a time of opulence and expansion. Americans felt they had won the second world war and now it was time to reap the rewards. The economy was buoyant, people were optimistic. Consumer goods filled every house. Big business expanded accordingly. And throughout this whole process, a rigid conservatism pervaded society. Not long after Ahbez’s appearance on TV, Senator Joe McCarthy would instigate a rightwing-led nationwide witch hunt against communists that still haunts the country to this day. Men’s fashion reflected the ethos. They wore smart suits and kept their hair short. Ahbez strongly eschewed these prevailing fashions and notions. In an age when to not to wear a tie during the week brought shocked glances, he wore a white robe, a beard and long hair. He lived on a diet of vegetables, fruit and nuts, and once slept beneath the famous Hollywood sign in Los Angles. He would later sleep in the desert and profess to keep all his belongings in a white van. He claimed he got by on $3 a day. He also insisted on never capitalising any names, including his own name, except for that of “God” and “Nature”. For it was in nature that Ahbez saw God – and vice versa. His brother-in-law once said of him, “Ahbez is in this world, but he is not of it.” >
He wrote copious poems, released a solo album that is considered a classic in the world of exotica music, and in 1948 he wrote ‘Nature Boy’, a song of exquisite beauty and timelessness. ‘Nature Boy’ is indeed Ahbez’s story: it tells of a boy who wanders the earth, spreading the message that if we love we will be loved in return. How it came to Nat King Cole is the stuff of legend. One night, soon after finishing the song, Ahbez went to the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles where Cole was performing. At the backstage door he asked to see the singer in person. His request was refused. He then asked to see Cole’s manager. When he arrived, Ahbez handed the man the song written on sheets of music paper before disappearing. Considering him a weirdo, the manager tucked the song away in his pockets and forgot all about it. At Cole’s next recording session, the 160
singer complained of a lack of quality material to record. Cole’s manager remembered the strange man he had
‘BEFORE THE ADVENT OF LSD AND THE GRATEFUL DEAD, AHBEZ DEFINED THE HIPPIE’ met at the Orpheum and produced the sheet music for ‘Nature Boy’. Cole loved the song and decided then and there to record it. There was only one problem. They had to find its
creator to sign over the rights. It was a difficult task – at this time Ahbez, with his wife and son, was said to be living under the Hollywood sign. Somehow Cole’s people tracked Ahbez down. Papers were signed and the song was released in the summer of 1948. ‘Nature Boy’ shot to number one, where it stayed for eight weeks. So vast was its popularity, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan quickly cut their own versions. When the press discovered the story behind the song, all the major magazines – Life, Newsweek and Time – made a beeline for the weird-looking Ahbez. They discovered that he was born George Alexander Aberle on 15 April 1908 in Brooklyn. Like many great people, he spent time in an orphanage before he was adopted by a family in Kansas, and raised under the name George McGrew. It was reported that he came back to New York in the late 1930s and, having rediscovered his Jewish roots, worked with a Yiddish theatre. It was here that he heard a song called ‘Sveig Mein Hartz’. Herman Yablokoff was the composer of that song. When Yablokoff heard ‘Nature Boy’ he sued Ahbez, eventually settling on a fee of $25,000. Whilst arguing that he had not consciously stolen the melody, Ahbez did accept that having worked for so many years with Yablokoff that the song’s melody had become part of his consciousness. Ahbez left New York and arrived in Los Angeles in 1946. He landed a job playing piano in the Eutropheon, a small health food store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The shop was owned by a German couple, John and Vera Richter. Many like-minded folk gathered around this shop, all of them keen to reject American society and create an alternative lifestyle. It was here that Ahbez was introduced to a new dietary lifestyle based around raw fruits and vegetables. He let his hair get long and grew a beard. Many say the hippie lifestyle that dominated the latter part of the 1960s started in San Francisco. I think its roots are here. At the Eutropheon Ahbez met Anna Jacobson. She became his wife
HISTORY | Eden Ahbez and bore him a son, Zoma. Ahbez outlived both his wife and son. Anna died in 1964 from cancer, whilst Zoma died in mysterious circumstances in the late 1970s. Soon after ‘Nature Boy’ hit the top of the charts, RKO Pictures optioned the rights and made a movie based on its lyrics. They called the film The Boy With Green Hair, starring Dean Stockwell and Robert Ryan. A year later, Ahbez gave Nat King Cole a follow-up called ‘Land Of Love (Come My Love and Live With Me)’. Lacking the charm of ‘Nature Boy’, the song failed to match its predecessor’s success, although Doris Day and others later covered it. Ahbez spent the 1950s writing songs for others, many of which made the top 40. His work includes hits for April Stevens, Herb Jeffries, Eartha Kitt, Frankie Laine, plus a couple of rock ’n’ roll songs for The Crew-Cuts and Anita Ray & The Nature Boys. He would also write articles about yogi mysticism for various esoteric publications, passing on the knowledge he had picked up at the Eutropheon. Despite his success, Ahbez eschewed all notions of monetary or material success. He did not own a huge house or swimming pool and didn’t keep an entourage. Instead, he spent his time in and around nature, living in the desert, far more concerned with his spirit and relationship with God than with big bucks. For Ahbez such things were always an illusion. In 1960, he finally got to make his own album. He called it Eden’s Island. Using a backdrop of haunting, minimal and striking arrangements – music that would have been revolutionary and unique at the time – Ahbez recited his poems, most of which dealt with the issues the hippie movement would later pick up on – mainly looking towards peace and love as the way forward. Ahbez’s album flopped (although fittingly it is highly rated today), and he seems to have taken the failure personally. In the 1960s his songwriting levels dropped and he moved away from the music business. The new hippie movement was quick to acknowledge his groundbreaking lifestyle. He was photographed on 5 January 1967 with
Brian Wilson during sessions for the latter’s Smile album. He also spent time with Donovan in Palm Springs, the UK songwriter eagerly tracking him down whilst on tour in America. Two early hippie bands, The Great Society (Grace Slick’s pre-Jefferson Airplane band) and Gandalf, also recorded versions of ‘Nature Boy’ as tributes. One more single followed in 1971 and then Ahbez seems to have given up the ghost. Very little was heard of the man, although a video of Ahbez expounding on his ideas and views was posted on YouTube in 2007. By then Ahbez had passed on. He died in a road accident in March 1995. People who knew him up until his death insist that he worked continually. He just chose not to release his songs or poems. His appeal refuses to fade. A 1993 book, Incredibly Strange Music (Volume 1), established Eden Island as an item of great standing within
the world of exotica music. In 1998 an Australian radio station ran a twohour show on Ahbez’s life and work. In 2001, director Baz Luhrmann used ‘Nature Boy’ extensively in his hit film Moulin Rouge! In one of his last testimonies, Ahbez expressed his desire that one of the lyrics to ‘Nature Boy’ be changed. He realised that his original statement, that if you love you will be loved in return, suggests a deal can be brokered and that was wrong because in love there are no deals. Instead he asked that the line be changed to: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved; just to love and be loved.” Spoken not like a true hippie but like one of the very few humans to have found the garden of Eden on earth. My friend ahbe by Joe Romersa, published by Shadow Box Studio, is out in 2014 shadowboxstudio.com 161
Jacket by Alan Taylor; trousers by Umit Benan; sweater by Scotch&Soda; boots from Carlo Manzi; glasses by Oliver Spencer x Eye Respect.
Photographs Mattias Pettersson Styling Marcus Love Grooming Johnnie Sapong at We Are Cuts using Bumble and Bumble and Kiehlâ€™s Styling Assistant Ela Claridge Grooming Assistant Nuriye Sonmez
Coat by Ben Sherman; waistcoat from Carlo Manzi; T-shirt by Plectrum by Ben Sherman; hat by Lock&Co.
Coat and jacket from Carlo Manzi; shirt by Cos.
STYLE | Dan Cook
Sweater by Zadig&Voltaire; trousers, shirt and belt from Carlo Manzi; ring, modelâ€™s own.
Cardigan by Plectrum by Ben Sherman; trousers, shirt and braces from Carlo Manzi; ring, modelâ€™s own.
STYLE | Dan Cook
Coat from Carlo Manzi; trousers by Acne; sweater by A.P.C.; shoes by Mr Hare; socks by Pantherella.
STYLE | Dan Cook
Jacket and shirt from Carlo Manzi; ring, modelâ€™s own.
Coat by Ben Sherman; jeans by Leviâ€™s Vintage Clothing Orange Tab; boots by Officine Creative.
Sonny Liston Mafia. Needles. Street Gangs. World Champion Words Chris Sullivan
As Winston Churchill supposedly said, “History is written by the victors.” On 24 February 1964, one big, mean mofo, world heavyweight championship Sonny Liston, lost his title after an eminently puzzling performance against a loud, brash 22 year old from Louisville, Kentucky. Eyebrows were raised, tuts were tutted, but the matter was never fully investigated and many were more than prepared to accept that the youngster beat Liston fair and square. Whether he did or not, no one will ever know. But as someone once said, anyone can be bought and anything can be fixed if you have enough money, power and balls. In the 1960s, the American mafia had all three in abundance. Said 22 year old was, of course, none other than Cassius Clay (later to be known as Muhammad Ali), a man who many hold to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Others consider him to have lowered the world of boxing to that of all-in wrestling, where showmanship and braggadocio were more important than dignity. Before the bout, Clay spewed insults in Liston’s direction, saying: “After I beat him I’m going to donate him to the zoo.” No one had used such taunts before. Clay did rise to the title and become a fine fighter but, back then, he was no match for Liston. An Olympic champion, the middle-class Clay had clawed his way up through the ranks, opting for the easy route by fighting the 46-year-old ex-champ Archie Moore, who took him to four rounds, and then in 1963 the 29-year-old Brit, Henry Cooper. The South Londoner weighed in at 27 pounds lighter than Clay but still knocked him down onto the ropes. Clay’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, dived in and unlawfully guided him to the corner, gave him illegal smelling salts and then, as Dundee later claimed, 170
opened a cut in one of Clay’s gloves, telling the referee that his man needed a new pair. The subsequent delay, which Cooper insisted lasted from three to five minutes, allowed the Kentuckian to find his legs and deny Cooper the chance to try to knock him out while he was still dazed. The fight was stopped in the fifth round due to a nasty cut over the Brit’s eye. Three years later, Cooper took Ali, as he was known by then, to six rounds again only for the same cut to open and close the fight. Liston, on the other hand, had totally demolished everyone in his way including world champion Floyd Patterson, whom he knocked out in less than three minutes on two occasions. He had knocked out 90 per cent of the opposition, smashing every quality boxer in the heavyweight division. “Sonny Liston is in the top five greatest heavyweights of all time,” says boxing historian Hank Kaplan. “He had the hardest left jab in boxing history.” No one can doubt that Liston was the real thing. He was a true fighter in the Mike Tyson mould – a simmering lump of malevolence who, as boxing promoter Harold Conrad once said, “had died the day he was born”. Characteristically, there is no record of Liston’s birth. His name is absent from the 1930 US Census, but does appear in the 1940 census as being born in 1929 or 1930, and even though the fighter later settled on a birth date of 8 May 1932 for official purposes, it seems even he didn’t know when he was born. Liston’s birthplace was also in dispute. He often said Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but sometimes claimed Memphis, Tennessee. His mother said it was Forrest City, Arkansas – a desolate township of some 350 inhabitants in 1963. The truth is even less impressive. Liston was actually born in a lean-to, cypress-board shack in a barren little
backwater called Sand Slough, Arkansas, which, as his mother Helen stated, “had no ceiling so I had to put cardboard on the walls to keep the wind out”. He was delivered and named Charles L Liston by an old lady who never mentioned what the ‘L’ stood for. Born to be a pugilist, the first thing his mother noticed about her newborn son was his massive hands. But it wasn’t just his physique that deemed Liston a champ. It was also his woeful upbringing. Charles L Liston grew up in the extreme poverty that only the deprivation of subsistence dirt farming in the Great Depression could provide. His father, Tobe Liston, had already sired 12 children but, after becoming a widower in his fifties, moved from Mississippi to Arkansas with his 16-year-old bride, Helen Baskin, in 1916 – after which they produced 13 children. Sonny, the youngest male offspring, was toiling in the fields by the age of eight with |his father – a mean man who beat his children, especially Sonny, who was later quoted as saying: “The only thing my old man ever gave me was a whipping.” Liston Sr also considered the ability to read and write a waste of time. Thus Liston Jr went through life illiterate, a severe disability in the contractual world of boxing. Tobe Liston farmed the 50-acre crop share, Morledge Plantation near Johnson Township, St Francis County, in an unsatisfactory arrangement with the owner. The farmer rented the land, worked his ass off and then gave 25 per cent of his hard-earned cash to an absentee landowner. No wonder he was pissed off. All through his life, Liston Jr found this principle hard to shake – he always had to pay the man. In 1948 Liston’s mother moved to St Louis, Missouri, and soon the boy followed. Wandering the big city, after days of sleeping on the streets, he found >
Charles “Sonny” Liston, St Louis 1956
his mother with the help of the police. He soon turned to crime and led a gang of tough street kids who specialised in mugging and robbery and, due to his penchant for bright shirts, became known to St Louis PD as the Yellow Shirt Bandit. In January 1950, he was caught after a gratuitously violent robbery and entered the Missouri State Penitentiary. Along with two accomplices, he’d robbed three people at gunpoint and was rewarded with five years on each charge, all to run concurrently. Liston, now a big, mean mofo, soon learnt how to survive the rigours of the state pen. Three dominant gangs controlled the penitentiary, all of whom were white. It’s been said that Liston, having fallen foul of each gang, challenged the leaders to meet him at six o’clock in ‘the Hole’, a storage room beneath the cellblock. Four men walked in, but only Liston walked out, the rest battered and unconscious on the Hole’s concrete floor. As Liston said later on in his career: “I didn’t mind prison.” His pugilistic prowess soon came to the attention of the authorities, who decided the best place for him was the prison boxing ring. The first problem they encountered was the regulation gloves. Most heavyweight boxers’ hands measure some 12 inches in circumference; Liston’s measured 15 inches. Later in life, his gloves had to be tailor made to accommodate this 172
mammoth fist that was rated the largest of all previous heavyweight champions. His gloves were made by Sammy Frager of Chicago, who found that making the boxer’s glove fit whilst keeping the weight down to eight ounces was an almost impossible task. Liston was a bull of a man who, standing at just over six feet, had thighs that measured 25 inches, a 44-inch chest, a 19-inch neck and a reach that stretched to 84 inches. For his first fight in prison, however, the gloves were eventually squeezed on and the laces left untied. In the ring, Liston, now nicknamed Sonny by the prison chaplain and boxing coach Father Schlattmann, found his feet as easily as his opponents lost theirs. He strolled through the opposition, knocking the pen’s heavyweight champion out cold and almost killing another. Before long, Liston’s reputation had spread beyond the prison walls, reaching the ears of Father Alois Stevens. The priest had heard there was this enormous convict that they couldn’t get anybody else to fight. They had to put two men in the ring with him at the same time and he still won. Stevens, together with a sports writer for the St Louis Times, drove down to St Louis in search of opposition for the mighty Liston. Via the auspices of a former boxer and trainer, Monroe Harrison, they came up with the best heavyweight in the city – the 32-year-old Thurman Wilson. After
just two rounds with Liston, the formidable pro was said to have quit, ending the bout with the words: “I don’t want no more of him.” Harrison had been heavyweight champion Joe Louis’s favourite sparring partner, had trained Archie Moore and, in his own words, had at last found a “live one”. Harrison, and the then publisher of the St Louis Argus, Frank Mitchell, campaigned for Liston’s release. By 30 October 1952 he was back out on the streets ready to start his job as a labourer at a local steel plant. In February 1953, they entered him into the open-and-novice heavyweight division of the amateur Golden Gloves tournament. Liston swept the competition, going on to win the Midwestern Golden Gloves title, beating an Olympic heavyweight champion, and then the national title, becoming the Golden Gloves heavyweight champion in March. In June of that year, he defeated West German Herman Schreibauer to become the Golden Gloves world heavyweight champion. In five months, Liston had gone from unknown ex-con to amateur champion. His first pro fight, against Don Smith, an impressive newcomer who had knocked out all of his previous opponents, was marked by the fact that he knocked out Smith with his first punch. It lasted a mere 30 seconds. Not all was plain sailing however. Liston fought Marty Marshall and, having been told to “carry the boy for three or four rounds”, as he said, he knocked Marshall to the floor in the first. Marshall jumped back up, catching Liston off guard as he was laughing with a punch that broke his jaw. Liston still worked on for the remaining eight rounds, only to lose on a close points decision. In the rematch, Liston battered Marshall in six rounds. Marshall said after the fight: “He hit me like no man should be hit… He hurts when he breathes on you. I think about it now and I hurt.” This was followed by five consecutive knockouts on the run. Such prowess soon attracted the attentions of a number of interested parties. One was John J Vitale, boss of the St Louis mafia – itself a satellite of the Chicago mob.
SPORT | Sonny Liston Another was Truman K Gibson, founder of the now defunct International Boxing Club (IBC). And last, but by no means least, was the man who controlled American boxing in the 1950s – Frankie Carbo. Born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1904, a “killer amongst killers”, Carbo was first convicted of murder in 1924. While on parole in 1931 he was arrested for the killing of wealthy bootlegger Mickey Duffy. After he was released he was indicted again in 1936 for the double murder of Max Greenberg and Max Hassel, both associates of Cotton Club owner Waxey Gordon. The pair had embarked on a costly bootleg war with Dutch Schultz. In 1940, along with Bugsy Siegel and Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter, head of Murder Inc, Carbo was charged with the murder of Harry ‘Big Greenie’ Greenberg and was identified as the shooter. He was also a boxing manager. Importantly, the IBC, under Truman Gibson, promoted and televised every major fight in the US but, powerful as they were, they soon came to the inevitable realisation that they could not survive without Carbo and the mob. As a result, they installed Carbo’s girlfriend, Viola Masters, in a position within the company whereby she received a sum of $40,000 over three years. This was a time when you could buy a meal for five cents. Carbo’s main man was Frank ‘Blinky’ Palermo who, having started as a bookmaker, lost his licence as a fight manager in every state he had worked in. He continued operating undercover, however. Specialising in fight fixing, the pair embarked on a number of spectacular scams. The first big ‘fix’ was the Billy Fox vs Jake LaMotta fight of 1947, where Carbo convinced LaMotta, the overwhelming favourite, to throw the fight in exchange for a shot at the middleweight title. In 1942, he ‘persuaded’ Sugar Ray Robinson to carry Al Nettlow for 10 rounds so that Carbo could collect. However, Robinson, angered by a nasty Nettlow right, retaliated and knocked out Nettlow in the third. Robinson had to meet Palermo after the bout outside Palermo’s favourite newsstand to explain, apologise and avoid being shot.
The first world title fight that Carbo and Palermo fixed was the 1955 swallow by Archie Moore against the undefeated Rocky Marciano. This was certainly not their last venture on behalf of the mob. It was Carbo and Palermo who would later control the future of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston. In the meantime, however, Liston was passed around like a hot potato. Monroe Harrison sold his share of Liston to Frank Mitchell, who in turn was subservient to St Louis mob boss John Vitale. A transcript from the Senate subcommittee on anti-trust and monopoly best illustrates this complicated scenario: “Is it a fact, Mr Vitale, that from 1952 until 1958, Frank Mitchell acted as front man for you in the management of Sonny Liston?”
THE POLICE CAPTAIN STUCK A GUN TO HIS HEAD AND TOLD HIM TO LEAVE THE CITY “I stand on the Fifth Amendment.” “Do you know the present number one heavyweight contender, Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston?” “I decline to answer on the grounds that I may tend to incriminate myself.” “You are directed to answer the question.” “Fifth Amendment.” “Is it a fact that in 1958 you divided up Sonny Liston with Frank Palermo and Frank Carbo and he is presently managed undercover by you, Frank Palermo and Frank Carbo?” “I decline to answer on the grounds I may tend to incriminate myself.” “Would you care, on the basis of your general knowledge of boxing, to give some of your own thoughts as to how to eliminate underworld
racketeering and monopoly in the field of boxing?” “I decline to answer. (Pause.) What a question.” But Liston’s connection to organised crime did not begin with boxing. After his release from the State Penitentiary in 1952, all of Liston’s work was controlled by Union 110, including three months with Vitale Cement Contractors in St Louis. The union was controlled by Syrian mobster Ray Sarkis and Vitale. In the words of his colleague, Terry Lynch, Liston worked as a “kind of chauffeur, quasi bodyguard” for Sarkis, to “break people’s legs and stuff ”. Liston’s partner in the fracture enterprise was Barney Baker, an enforcer for New York mob kingpin Meyer Lansky – partner of Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano. Consequently, as the mob connections became overpoweringly obvious, California and Pennsylvania suspended Liston’s boxing licence. Liston had to appear before a Senate subcommittee investigating organised crime’s influence in professional boxing. The boxer, no stranger to formal inquiry, was also questioned as to his underworld affiliations by the Senate subcommittee. Liston admitted knowing Vitale and Baker, stating that he had met Baker in Chicago (the mob capital of the US), and that in answer to whether these men should remain in the sport of boxing, answered: “Well I couldn’t pass judgement. I haven’t been perfect myself.” This was something of an understatement. Liston had been arrested some six times between 1956 and 1957 for a number of alleged crimes ranging from larceny, careless driving, speeding, theft and, most notably, admitting to battering an arresting officer in a St Louis alleyway. The much-publicised account of Liston resisting arrest, even after wooden nightsticks were allegedly broken over his head, abetted his reputation as a ghoulish ‘fiend’ who felt no pain. Consequently, he was sentenced to nine months in prison, paroled after six months but banned from boxing for the whole of 1957. A constant thorn in the side of the St Louis police, finally Captain John Doherty took Liston to > 173
the outskirts of the city. The police captain stuck a gun to the side of Liston’s head and told him to leave the city forthwith. As Liston said later, if he failed to leave, Doherty’s men “would put me in the alley”. And so he plotted up in Philly and in 1958 returned to boxing, winning eight fights mostly by early knockouts that year. Around this time, the police were getting busy. They arrested Palermo, who was found to have a number of important names in his address book, including Liston’s. Carbo had to go to earth after an investigation revealed that he had offered champ Rocky Graziano $100,000 to throw his championship fight against Tony Zale. Other investigations revealed that Carbo was an associate of feared New York boss Albert Anastasia, and that another of Carbo’s lieutenants, in fact right hand man, was Gabe Genovese, cousin to New York’s Capo di tutti Capi, Vito Genovese, aka Don Vitone – the man responsible for starting the city’s heroin trade. Carbo’s flight from justice was short lived, however, and in 1959 he was tried and convicted of conspiracy, undercover matchmaking, undercover management and corruption. Due to his ill health he received a mandatory two-year sentence. While the trial had gone on, he and Palermo had carefully contrived to own Liston. Subsequently, Liston battered allcomers. His fights became the place to be for the well-to-do mobster. As one contemporary copper said: “Every time Liston fights, every hoodlum in the goddamn country shows up.” Liston’s reputation grew daily and not only in the boxing arena. He became known as “the mightiest of men and the sharpest of dressers”, and as his sparring partner Foneda Cox said, “with a prick that could scare a horse”. This monstrous member, as Cox continued, would “put an unbelievable amount of prostitutes in the hospital”. Ouch. Working towards a title fight with the heavyweight champion of the world, Floyd Patterson, Liston demolished Cleveland Williams (the hardest hitting heavyweight in the world), Nino Valdez and Howard ‘Honeyboy’ King in three rounds and 174
defeated the so-called ‘perfect fighting machine’, Eddie Machen, in 12. The latter claimed that Liston was “the strongest man he had ever fought”. His reputation preceded him: Liston scared Patterson shitless. The champ’s manager Cus D’Amato (Mike Tyson’s trainer) defended Patterson by saying that the boxer would not fight Liston because “he was a criminal who represented all that was unsavoury and evil”. Civic leaders feared that Liston was a bad example to the country’s youth, that he would hamper the civil rights movement. According to fight commentator Larry Merchant, Liston “distrusted everyone, disliked the media, perhaps even the public. He was a man of few words who came across as truly dangerous, replying often with a silent
IN FIVE MONTHS, HE HAD GONE FROM EX-CON TO AMATEUR CHAMPION stare from these dead cold snake eyes”. “He was described as a latter-day caveman, a jungle beast, a gorilla, the heavyweight who everyone hates,” recalls Merchant, who was sports editor for the Philadelphia Daily News at the time. “It was really over the top. And of course his name appeared on the front pages as often as the sports pages, as he was always in trouble with the police, which was rare then for a world-class athlete.” Former champ Jack Dempsey stated that Liston, because of his mob links, should not be allowed to fight for the title. Liston’s reply questioned whether Dempsey’s failure to serve in the second world war gave him the right to judge. Frustrated, Liston changed his management and claimed that Patterson – who had faced only white challengers since becoming champion
– was pulling the race card against his own colour. But still the answer was a resounding no. Liston, undeterred, offered to fight Patterson and the main contender Ingemar Johansson, both on the same night. Still no joy. Liston became increasingly frustrated and eventually bowled into D’Amato’s office, asking the frightened and diminutive manager: “Is you or is you ain’t gonna give me a shot at the title?” In the end, Liston had made the controversy so public that Patterson was on the ropes. Then, on 4 December 1961, Liston fought in the opening bout in a double fixture featuring Patterson as the main draw. Two minutes in, Liston knocked out West German Albert Westphal (ranked number four in the world), who remained unconscious longer than the fight had lasted. Undeniably, Liston was the only challenger left for Patterson. Thus, in March 1962, Patterson had no alternative but to cave and signed a contract to fight Liston. They eventually fought in Comiskey Park, Chicago, on 25 September 1962 – in what was described as the most lucrative fixture in boxing history. Patterson was knocked out cold in two minutes and six seconds. It was the third-fastest knockout in a world heavyweight title fight and the first time the champion had been knocked out in round one. In 1962, Liston officially went from being the povertystricken, illiterate child of an abusive tenant farmer in Arkansas to being the heavyweight champion of the world. Liston reigned supreme and yet no one celebrated. The usual homecoming victory parade was absent – no hoo-ha, just a man coming home after work to an uninterested audience. “When we landed in Philadelphia from Chicago and nobody was there, except a handful of reporters, I saw him almost deflate,” remembers former boxer Jack McKinney. “There was no welcome whatsoever for the world champion. And I saw his huge shoulders sag in front of me.” In the rematch, Patterson was knocked down three times in two minutes and 23 seconds. And Patterson was no slouch.
SPORT | Sonny Liston Next up was Cassius Clay, a rank outsider who, if truth were told, did not deserve the shot at the title – but there were other powers at play. Clay was a seven to one underdog, yet still he derided Liston during the pre-fight shenanigans, calling him “the big ugly bear”. Declaring that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, and that “Liston even smells like a bear”, he turned the pre-bout weigh in into a farce, screaming “Someone is going to die at ringside tonight” in the face of an unusually placid, almost resigned, Liston. Such antics were new to the world of boxing. But the whites in the audience loved it. They didn’t want a big, dangerous, black man as the champ. They wanted an Uncle Tom, a clown, a pretty boy. They wanted a man they could laugh at and definitely not fear. The press loved Clay too. Many pundits, however, felt that he was no match for the heavyweight champion of the world. Joe Louis said: “Nobody’s gonna beat Liston ’cept old age.” Nat Fleischer, a formidable sports writer of the day, wrote: “Clay must be regarded as no more favourable an antagonist for Liston than was Patterson. Nothing that Clay did against Henry Cooper in London or Doug Jones in New York justifies throwing him to the Wolf.” Clay was very much the underdog, which was exactly how Carbo wanted it. Machinations for the Liston/Clay match had begun, aided by the latter’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, whose brother Chris was now the partner of Carbo lieutenant Gabe Genovese, cousin of Vito. Blood being thicker than water – and because of this, that and the other – the fight ended up in Miami Beach under the aegis of Carbo’s old pal, Chris Dundee. Carbo had recently been convicted of fight fixing and conspiracy, and had started a 25-year prison sentence, but Palermo was still at large. They still controlled Liston and they could smell a tidy and lucrative fix coming on. “There’s got to be good guys, and there’s got to be bad guys,” said Liston at one point. “That’s what the people pay for: to see the bad guys get beat. So I’m a bad guy. But I change things. I don’t get beat.”
In the run up to the Clay match, no one wanted Liston to be the champ. He had an extensive police record, had myriad connections to organised crime and there was unsubstantiated rumours that he had raped a chambermaid. He was the baddest black guy in America. This does not, however, alter the fact that he was more than capable of pulverising Clay. Billy Conn, former light heavyweight champion, stated: “Clay hasn’t the experience. The only experience he’ll get is how to get killed in a hurry.” On the night of the fight, Clay was only too aware of the task before him. His pulse raced to 120 at the weigh in.
Sonny Liston v Floyd Patterson 1962
He was petrified. At the sound of the bell, Clay rushed at Liston like a madman and claimed the first round. Liston took control in the second, but at the start of the third the younger man impressively landed a barrage of great shots cutting the champ’s eye. Liston then took control until, by the end, Clay looked in big trouble. In between rounds, the TV cameras honed in on the champ. He didn’t look angry, tired or frustrated, he looked perplexed and preoccupied. The fourth was even, but for the fifth, Clay, having something wrong with his eye, was battered by Liston and it looked as if there was no way the challenger could win. Surprisingly, for the sixth, Liston hardly threw a punch
and just plodded around doing very little indeed, while Clay seemed to not believe his luck. Then, at the start of the seventh, the unimaginable happened. Liston sat, looked around rather sheepishly and refused to rise, complaining of numbness in his left arm. This was the man who had previously fought seven rounds with a badly broken jaw. This was the man who had almost killed opponents. This was daft. Liston had previously shown no sign of an injured arm. Clay was ecstatic. Unfortunately, the endearing image one has of the fight is of the loud mouth Clay rushing to the microphone to scream praise for himself. The winner is never aware of the ‘fix’ and we’ll never know for sure. Significantly, if one places a bet for a fighter to win and he does, you take home a lot of dosh, but if you can specify a round, as Carbo had tried to do with the Sugar Ray Robinson versus Al Nettlow fixture, you win a whole lot more. They’d obviously picked round seven. The hoo-ha that surrounded the event was huge. Some doctors verified Liston’s claim of an injured arm. Others could find no such evidence. Dr Alexander Robbins, the Miami Beach Boxing Commission’s official physician, said that he had no doubt that Liston – who claimed he had hurt his arm when he missed a left hook in the first round – was injured. But as New York journalist Dan Parker wrote: “If he dislocated his shoulder in the first round, he didn’t seem to be handicapped in throwing left hooks in the ensuing five rounds.” There was an inquiry into Liston’s holdings. Liston’s brother was said to have stated that when he asked his brother what happened, he replied: “I did what they told me to do.” Liston’s bodyguard, who had lost a substantial amount of cash by betting on Liston, asked him why he didn’t tell him that he knew he was going to lose. “With your big mouth, we’d both be wearing concrete boots,” replied Liston. All around the country, large sums of cash went out from bookmakers to mobsters in the know. The odds had been kind, and the returns kinder. > 175
SPORT | Sonny Liston In the meantime, Clay had turned to Islam, adopting a racially separatist philosophy and calling himself Muhammad Ali. The rematch was planned, but few would stage it. However, the powers that be certainly wanted it. The first fight had made “them”, in the words of Art Laurie, chairman of the Nevada State Boxing Commission, a fortune. “They got $300,000 for the fight and they bet it at seven to one. They got $1.3 million.” In today’s money that is $9.8 million. The rematch was rescheduled for 25 May 1965, but Massachusetts officials, who had previously endorsed the bout, now refused to comply because everyone knew that the promoters were tied to organised crime. Said promoters couldn’t find a new location. Cleveland wanted nothing to do with it and neither did Chicago or Philadelphia. Finally, the fight took place in Lewiston, Maine, at St Dominic’s Hall before a crowd of 2,412, the smallest audience ever for a world heavyweight championship bout. And people’s misgivings were entirely well founded. This fight was even more than a farce. It was a pantomime. Liston had all the action but his punches were mere pokes, lacking any power or conviction. It was a joke. Ali meanwhile just bounced about, then towards the end of the round Ali hit Liston with a short ineffectual blow – a right not intended to damage, but to parry – and Liston went down. After a few seconds he attempted to rise and, in a terrible display of play-acting that would have rivalled Johnny Depp, rolled over like a kitten waiting for his belly to be rubbed. He then got up, allowed Ali to hit him a few times, offering no defence, and the fight was stopped. This was the man who had been knocked down only once before – and annihilated his opponent for putting him there. It was without doubt the most unconvincing KO in boxing history. The crowd booed and shouted “fake, fake, fake” over and over. No one noticed the winning punch apart from Ali, who called it his “anchor” punch. To the rest of the world it became 176
known as the “phantom punch”. It was a wave, and an ineffectual one at that. I have watched the bout some 20 times or more, and how anyone could not see that the fix was on is beyond me. Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram said that years later Liston told him: “That guy [Ali] was crazy. I didn’t want anything to do with him. And the Muslims were coming up. Who needed that? So I went down. I wasn’t hit.” In the years that followed, almost everyone has forgotten this monumental charade, particularly Ali. But for the mafia, the odds were kind and the returns kinder. Liston continued to box for a few years, his power still undiminished. Between March 1968 and September 1969, he fought 12 bouts, losing only one. His last fight, at the New Jersey
LISTON WAS ILLITERATE, A SEVERE DISABILITY IN THE WORLD OF BOXING Armory, took place on 29 June 1970. His opponent, Chuck Wepner, aged 31, stated: “After the fifth round I was target practice… my one eye closed, my equilibrium was off. Broken nose, broken left cheekbone, 72 stitches.” The fight was stopped in the 10th, Wepner a bloody mess. This was some five years after the Ali match. Wepner went on to fight Ali for the world title a few years later and knocked him down in the ninth, only to lose in the 15th after the ref declared a technical knockout, Ali having broken Wepner’s nose. Liston eventually moved to Las Vegas. He appeared in a number of films and adverts, most notably a Braniff Airways commercial with Andy Warhol. He hung out with his hero, Joe Louis, and slipped into drug dealing, heavy gambling and even heavier drinking.
On 5 January 1971, Liston’s wife, Geraldine, found him dead in his apartment. The circumstances were more than suspicious, the anomalies many. His body was found sat on a bench at the bottom of his bed. A quarter ounce of heroin was found in the kitchen, as was a bag of cannabis. There was a glass of vodka on a table, a .38 revolver (holstered), a stuffed snake, some small change and a wooden cross. A newspaper was found next to the body. Liston could not read. There were signs of possible needle marks on his arm. But, as Liston’s wife emphatically stated, he had refused medical care for illness and cancelled a trip to Europe that involved shots because he was pathologically scared of needles. Even so, the Vegas police decided on a heroin overdose as the cause of death. An autopsy later revealed traces of morphine in his blood that would normally be the result of a breakdown of heroin in the body but, as his body had sat there decomposing for six days, tests were questionable. Liston was known as a heavy drinker but not a drug user, which prompted many to believe that he’d been killed. One reason might have been that Liston had reputedly been ordered by Wepner’s mob “handlers” to throw the fight so that they might pick up a big chunk of readies at the bookmakers. Maybe Liston had simply had enough of throwing fights. His demise was eventually attributed to lung congestion and heart failure. But Liston, having fought his last bout less than seven months before, was a fit 43-year-old man, perhaps younger. Undeniably, Liston’s demise was so inconclusive, the anomalies surrounding his death so uncertain and the results so open to doubt, that a professional hit was suspected by all. Detractors have dismissed the idea that the man was assassinated with the question: “Why did the mob wait six months after the Wepner fight to kill Liston?” But they’re forgetting one of the most oft-repeated and apt Sicilian sayings: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Liston always had to pay the man.
American Sports in London Photographs Robert Harper Words Edward Moore
The iconography and paraphernalia of American sports have travelled far and wide, both geographically and culturally. So integrated into everyday wear are the hats, shirts and jackets of basketball, baseball and American football that it is easy to forget where they come from and their original function. You would be hard pushed
to walk around any city without spotting this attire, on such clear display that it barely registers any more. Yet, peer over the odd hedge or meander into a park and you might spot a posse fully regaled in said gear. Not as a fashion parade; but engaged in full, glorious sporting activity. Londonbased photographer Robert Harper
uncovered a burgeoning underground scene in the capital, with legions of dedicated young men participating in these sports. Over the past couple of years, Harper has been regularly documenting these grassroots teams and coaches.
GALLERY | American Sports in London
GALLERY | American Sports in London
GALLERY | American Sports in London
R E S T R I C T E D
My Freedamn! Dale Velzy. Inspiration LA. Schott Perfecto Words Mark Webster Photographs Tim Hans
Marlon Brando slings his leg over a Triumph motorcycle and zips up a Schott Perfecto biker jacket. He is playing the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, Johnny Strabler, in the 1953 film The Wild One. Based on the story of a rowdy biker street party in a small town in California in the late 1940s (where they still commemorate the “riot” every year), the film famously features Brando answering the question, “What are you rebelling against?” with the immortal line “Whaddya got?” It was this kind of attitude that saw the filmed banned in the UK for 14 years, but, perhaps more significantly, the motorcycle jacket Brando wore was also banned – for fear it too would stir up the newly emerging post-war youth. As a piece of clothing that represents every rebel yell, from violent aggression to ultimate freedom, it is difficult to get past the biker jacket. And one obsessive fan never bothered trying. Writer and photographer Rin Tanaka was born in Japan in 1970, and his fixation eventually led him to settle on the west coast of America in San Clemente, California, where he has become a compulsive archivist of the biker jacket and the paraphernalia that surrounds it. This initially manifested itself in a couple of books for a Japanese fan base; but he soon started producing limitededition books in English such as 186
Motorcycle Jackets: Ultimate Biker’s Fashions and Harley-Davidson Book of Fashions 1910s-1950s. He also created an annual series of publications called My Freedamn! (Rin’s phrase to encapsulate both his own philosophy and the culture he portrays.) He is frequently asked to help archive various US manufacturers’ histories and recently worked on Schott’s centennial book. In February 2014 he will again stage his most recent project, Inspiration, in Los Angeles; an expansive vintage and Americana tradeshow and aficionado love in, incorporating all his great loves for what he calls “the rock ’n’ roll life”. When did you first become interested in the biker jacket? 1983. I was 13 years old. Back then, the neo-rockabilly movement had hit Japan. The Stray Cats were successful with their hit ‘Rock This Town’ and lots of punk and new wave bands were wearing motorcycle jackets. Biker jackets were a worldwide symbol for rock ’n’ roll fans. I wanted a Schott Perfecto jacket, but it was too expensive for a kid of my age. So I started looking for used ones at vintage stores in Tokyo. That was my entry into the world of vintage. Has it always been part of a wider interest in classic Americana for you? Sure. I love vintage stuff from the 1910s to the 1980s. And not only vintage clothing. Guitars, amps, records, record
players, motorcycles, surfing, hot rods, furniture… anything! I love all kinds of historical products but mainly stuff “Made In America”. So many American products from the 20th century have been built with a philosophy of entertainment. They have very positive vibes. What, in particular, appeals to you about the motorcycle jacket? Leather jackets are… freedom, or ‘Freedamn!’ (laughs), in my life. I don’t know why but I have always loved these leather products – the jackets and the boots. With my leather jacket, I have been walking around in my own rock ’n’ roll life for over 30 years. What are the origins of the design? Much American fashion of the 20th century has been inﬂuenced by military uniform designs; particularly between the late 1930s and the early 1950s. Youth style in America in that period, including the motorcycle jacket, had a very strong character due to the second world war. And with US manufacturing power… well, no other country could afford to build such highpowered youth fashion and culture. How easy was it to research when you started out? In many ways, when I started researching (in 1994), it was too late. I mean most of the people who knew the stories from the 1940s and 1950s >
PROFILE | Rin Tanaka become deeply connected with the Far East through their military experiences. Which films capture the look for you? Well, I love film. I studied it at university in Tokyo. The Wild One is the greatest. Everybody talks about Brando’s look but it’s the detail throughout the movie that makes it special. Many of the actors were just regular bikers from Los Angeles. Also, Bruce Brown’s 1971 documentary On Any Sunday. Steve McQueen is in it and he produced it. The racing scenes are great; all that 1970s racing gear. And then there’s Grease; the great rock ’n’ roll musical. John Travolta wore a Sears D Pocket jacket, probably made in the 1960s.
Inspiration LA 2013
had passed away. If I’d been born in the 1960s… But I did manage to meet some great old manufacturers and motorcycle racers. In fact, the first brand I researched was Buco, a company based in Detroit. Buco was a very successful motorcycle accessories manufacturer in the 1950s. In 1971 it was sold to American Safety, Ford Motors’ sister company. So no one knew anything about Buco in the early 1990s. Over the course of the decade I went to Detroit many times to try and pick up some clues about the man who started Buco, Joseph Buegeleisen. But the city had become a terrible ghetto by then and nobody lived there. Finally, on a trip in 1998, I was at the airport and decided to call my wife from a payphone. I asked her to look up the name Buegeleisen in the phone directory. As luck would have it, his son David was listed. I visited his home the next day. He was 85 years old then. And he was shocked that a young Japanese man was visiting Detroit to find out about his father’s company’s history. Who are the enthusiasts? During my 23 years travelling the States, I’ve met so many unique characters. Sadly I can’t remember them all, but when I’m going through my old books I often think, “I wonder how he is? I haven’t seen him in a while.” For example, Dale Velzy. He was the man in the surfboard industry. 188
Everybody respected him. I happened to live near him in the late 1990s. I often stopped by the shaping room he called “the shop”, with a bottle of whiskey in hand. He was a huge Dutch-American, with an even bigger laugh, and he always seemed happy to see me. I was only 28, and I was like one of his “kids” to him. His shop was always busy; people would come by to order directly from him. So I asked him one day, “How
‘I’VE BEEN WALKING AROUND IN MY OWN ROCK ’N’ ROLL WORLD’ have you managed to last in this business since the 1950s?” Because he had lost around a million dollars in assets to the IRS in the 1960s – and he answered: “Well, I’ve just always had great customers.” His generation experienced the Great Depression and then the second world war; it made them very tough, never give up. They were also very kind to the Japanese because they had
How did your show Inspiration come about? In 2008, the My Freedamn! books had reached number eight in the series, so I was planning to have a small party to celebrate. But I soon realised that I’d have to invite something like 500 friends; people who had supported my publishing projects over the last decade. My bank account may have always been empty but my address book was full! Luckily, a year later I received a $10,000 cheque for the film rights to a book called 40 Summers Ago… Hollywood behind the Iron Curtain, a book about Steve McQueen I’d selfpublished with Sean Kelly. So I started organising the event – my budget: $10,000! The first show was in February 2010. Two thousand people came from all over the world. In the end it cost me $50,000! But I’ve learned from my business mistakes and fortunately Inspiration has been growing constantly since then. That $50,000 was the price of my lesson to learn the business of being a promoter. Now I’m proud to say Inspiration is like a Disneyland for vintage freaks from across the globe. Inspiration takes place at L.A. Mart, 1933 S. Broadway 2F, Los Angeles, 90007, 7-8 February 2014 inspirationla.com myfreedamn.com
The Duffle Coat Words Chris Sullivan Photograph Kasia Wozniak Photographic Assistant James A Grant Saxophonist Simon Spillett
Paddington Bear famously sported a blue one. But don’t let the children’s character credentials fool you. The dufﬂe coat is a perennial style favourite with a long and strictly adult history. That said, for most, the dufﬂe was ﬁrst introduced into the wardrobe as part of one’s school uniform; ma diligently buttoning up the toggles to the top, the rough wool cloth causing an unsightly rash and then soaking up the rain like a Turkish sponge so that by the time you arrived at school you were double your normal weight. These were the halcyon days of walking to school, runny noses, Vicks inhaler and soggy outerwear. Undoubtedly, in the 1970s, the item was de rigueur – but only on the backs of school kids, their granddads, hippies and geography teachers. The ﬁrst dufﬂe I ever saw was worn by my uncle Peter who, some 15 years older than yours truly, sported the item in the mid-1960s along with his big Aran jumpers, Abe Lincoln beard, tight jeans and desert boots – the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins and one Robert Zimmerman on his stereo. Barely 20 years old, he smoked a pipe, was at university and spoke French. I was fascinated, and rightly so. He was a beatnik who diligently admired Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, William Burroughs, Jacques Brel, Jean-Paul Sartre and Juliette Gréco – who all loved a good dufﬂe. Back then you were either a beatnik, a mod or a rocker. The former loved an exotic roll up and philosophy, and attended college; the second a nice dollop of speed and soul music, and worked as an apprentice; and the latter beer and ugly birds, and worked in a factory. What all three had in common, however, was a penchant for a services top coat: mods had their US army parkas, the rockers their Royal Air 190
Force ﬂying jackets, and the beatniks had their dufﬂes. The dufﬂe’s roots lie in a marriage between an item designed by John Partridge in 1887, featuring the trademark wooden and rope closure, and a hooded Polish frock coat of the 1850s. Its existence and consequent recognition is down to the Royal Navy bigwigs who, in the 1890s, employed an unknown to design the dufﬂe coat based on Partridge’s original. Designed to be hardwearing and protect against the elements, it seemed perfect for sailors. The coat – initially a rather spartan, unlined, hooded affair – featured wooden toggle and hemp rope fastenings, a square shoulder yoke and large square patch pockets; it was deliberately roomy to allow sailors to climb rigging unfettered. Its name comes from the Belgian town of Duffel, which produced a heavy woollen cloth that was used for the original dufﬂe bag. The ﬁrst British navy coats were not made from this fabric, however. British Admiralty rules required all garments to be made using only British fabrics. The original camel beige colour was popularised by Field Marshal Montgomery, who was endlessly photographed in one. The British government, fearing the second world war would never end, produced thousands of the blighters that went into army surplus stores nationwide after the war ended. Abundant, cheap and practical, the dufﬂe was soon adopted by the likes of Dylan Thomas, Samuel Beckett, Jean Cocteau and Labour supremo Michael Foot – bright, bohemian, leftwing thinkers who, just like their US counterparts, adopted surplus and utility wear as a symbol of rebellion against the stiff collars of the previous ultra-conservative generation.
In 1950, Harold and Freda Morris augmented their glove and overall business by buying up some navy surplus dufﬂe coats and fabric and went about recreating the item. The coats they made were sold under the name Gloverall – an amalgamation of glove and overall – and instead of the original heavy duty, amazingly itchy fabric, a kinder 34oz (964g) Tyrolean Loden fabric was used. Students of the time, exempliﬁed by the likes of Beyond the Fringe’s quartet – Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett – adopted the dufﬂe coat as part of an ensemble including corduroy trousers, brown suede shoes and pullovers. Pipe smoking, collar-length hair and beards helped top the look. Coffee bars, such as Soho’s Le Macabre and the 2 I’s, were the preferred hang outs for these post-war youths, who were embracing trad jazz, skifﬂe folk and blues and supported the CND movement. It seems as if everyone in their wake adopted the humble dufﬂe, from The Beatles to the US Ivy League brigade. Today, the dufﬂe coat is again on the backs of free-spirited cognoscenti. It has been co-opted, of course, by both the high street and luxury brands. High-end Italian clothing label Bottega Veneta has even used it in its current advertising campaign. A limited edition 180g vinyl LP, Square One, by Simon Spillett is out now on Gearbox Records gearboxrecords.com The Long Shadow of the Little Giant: The Music, Life and Times of Tubby Hayes by Simon Spillett is out in 2014 simonspillett.com gloverall.com
Simon wears ‘Monty’ duffle coat, named after Field Marshal Montgomery, by Gloverall.
Directory 47 Brand www.47brand.com A Child of the Jago www.achildofthejago.com A.P.C. www.apc.fr Acne www.acnestudios.com Agnès b www.agnesb.com Alan Taylor www.alantaylordesign.co.uk Barbour www.barbour.com Ben Sherman www.bensherman.com Billionaire Boys Club www.bbcicecream.com Brooks England www.brooksengland.com Calvin Klein www.calvinklein.com Carhartt WIP www.carhartt-wip.com Carlo Manzi www.carlomanzi.com Casio www.casio.com Christopher Nemeth www.christophernemeth.co Collective Noun www.cn-london.com Converse Jack Purcell www.converse.com Cos www.cosstores.com Dawson Denim www.dawsondenim.com Delicious Junction www.deliciousjunction.co.uk Dickies www.dickies.com Dr Martens www.drmartens.co.uk Dsquared2 www.dsquared2.com Eastman Leather www.eastmanleather.com Edwin Jeans www.edwin-europe.com Element www.elementbrand.com Emma Willis www.emmawillis.com Eye Respect www.eyerespect.com Filson www.filson.com Finisterre www.finisterreuk.com Gant Rugger www.gantrugger.com Gloverall www.gloverall.com Hackett www.hackett.com Hanes www.hanes.eu Herschel Supply Co. www.herschelsupply.com Hobo Hats www.facebook.com/hobohat Jigsaw www.jigsaw-online.com John Smedley www.johnsmedley.com Joseph www.joseph-fashion.com Ksubi www.ksubi.com Lavenham www.lavenham.co.uk Lee 101 www.lee101.com Levi’s Made&Crafted www.levismadeandcrafted.com Levi’s Vintage Clothing www.levisvintageclothing.com Levi’s www.levi.com Lewis Leathers www.lewisleathers.com Lock&Co. www.lockhatters.co.uk Maharishi www.maharishistore.com Marc Jacobs www.marcjacobs.com
Marni www.marni.com McQ by Alexander McQueen www.alexandermcqueen.com Millican www.homeofmillican.com Mohan Goods Co. www.mohangoodsco.com Mr Hare www.mrhare.com New Balance www.newbalance.co.uk Nike www.nike.com North Sea Clothing www.northseaclothing.co.uk Norton&Sons www.nortonandsons.co.uk Officine Creative www.officinecreativeitalia.com Oliver Spencer www.oliverspencer.co.uk Original Penguin www.originalpenguin.co.uk Pantherella www.pantherella.com Parka London www.parkalondon.com Patagonia www.patagonia.com Paul Smith www.paulsmith.co.uk Paul&Shark www.paulshark.it Pellicano Menswear www.pellicanomenswear.com Penfield www.penfield.com Peter Werth www.peterwerth.co.uk Plectrum by Ben Sherman www.bensherman.com Pokit www.pokit.co.uk Pretty Green www.prettygreen.com Puma www.puma.com Rains www.rains.dk Ralph Lauren www.ralphlauren.co.uk Red Wing Shoes www.redwinglondon.com RRL www.doublerl.com Sandast www.sandast.com Sanders www.sanders-uk.com Sandro www.sandro-paris.com Schott www.schottnyc.com Scotch&Soda www.scotch-soda.com Shade+Slouch www.shade-slouch.com Sopopular www.sopopular.net Soulland www.soulland.com Stetson www.stetson.com Stone Island www.stoneisland.co.uk The Vintage Showroom www.thevintageshowroom.com Tourne De Transmission www.tournedetransmission.com Umit Benan www.umitbenan.com Uniqlo www.uniqlo.com Universal Works www.universalworks.co.uk William Fox & Sons www.williamfoxandsons.com Woolrich www.woolrich.co.uk Wrangler www.wrangler.com Zadig&Voltaire www.zadig-et-voltaire.com
STYLE HISTORY CULTURE
AUTUMN 2013 A FREE QUARTERLY
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 9
“Music is a spiritual force.”