Archive for the ‘Rock ‘n’ roll’ Category

Seven Days of Positive – Day 104

In Bloggers, Rock 'n' roll on January 7, 2015 at 8:08 pm

charlie bigger

The news from Paris so absolutely awful, it might have been hard to find something positive in today.

I’m just hoping this might be a tipping point, bringing right-minded Muslims together in a movement to somehow halt this constant torrent of hate and murder from people who so misinterpret their shared faith.

I think the Prophet Muhammad would weep to know this was being done in his name.

But earlier today I did come across something which made me smile. I have a new favourite blog, Tales of Endearment, by a New York-based model casting agent, called Natalie Joos.

Ms Joos is the new darling of the street style photographers who lurk outside fashion show venues.

She’s a woman of the most charming and refreshing style and a former model, so she wears it as well as she puts it together. But she’s well into her 30s, so she’s a real woman, not some insufferable whippersnapper.


I’ve written about her for my column this Sunday (not this picture, but this outfit is mentioned, so now you’ll know what I’m talking about) and I will post the link on here.

It was the post by her that dropped into my mailbox this morning, which made me happy. Each week she features a visit to the house and wardrobe of a woman whose style she admires.

Today it was Linda Ramone – widow of the legendary Johnny Ramone, of The Ramones, one of the great bands of my youth.

I am so in love. (These pictures are from Ms Loos’ blog, but I think that’s OK, because I’m encouraging you to look at it.)

Linda R

I love everything about her. The commitment to kitsch camp is so total – her watering can is pink, her cacti are fluoro yellow. And this isn’t a vintage shop, it’s part of her wardrobe.




She dresses like that all the time.

Have a look at the whole post here.

Mr and Mrs Johnny Ramone

With Johnny in the 1970s. I love how she has stayed true to her look. And here are the Ramones in action in CBGBs. Johnny’s the guitarist on the left.


Black metal Benny

In Music, Rock 'n' roll on March 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I was so heartened to see from your comments on my last posting how many of you have felt the same about Benny Hill all these years and our collective hatred of that ghastly theme tune.

So I was overjoyed when the very amusing @SimonNRicketts posted this on Twitter today (he’s really worth following).

Just to put it in context here is the video with the original ‘song’. The band are part of the Norwegian ‘Black Metal’ scene, although they are originally from Finland.

Since I showed this to my daughter we have been delighting ourselves running around the house in Black Satans mad-amateur-goblin-with-a-full nappy stylee. I’ve also taken the opportunity to remind her that if she ever brings a boy like this home (she’s 12), her parents will not be amused.

But I’d rather have one of these rather lovable twits than Benny Hill.

The ghastly decade

In Designers, Pop stars, Punk rock, Rock 'n' roll on February 27, 2014 at 4:03 pm


In the 1990s Tom Ford performed at least two miracles. There was his public miracle of transforming the fortunes of an Italian luxury brand which had sunk into tacky naffness through a series of family feuds and bad licensing agreements and making Gucci once more a label associated with the highest jet set glamour and allure.

He also wrought a personal miracle on my head by making me think, with all his visual references to slinky Halston and necklines slashed open to the waist (the look we have recently been reminded of by American Hustle…), that the 1970s had been a decade of great fabulousness.


It wasn’t. The 1970s was the ghastly decade. It was absolutely hideous.

This has been brought back to me recently by the spate of repellent sexual abuse cases from that era which are currently being aired in the UK.

The foul J. Savile is the most notorious (I shudder even to type the name), but in the wake of those revelations hordes more women have felt able to come forward and report crimes that were visited on them around the same time by other celebrities who felt entitled, at the very least, to cop a good feel.

It seems to some an odd coincidence that so many well-known men could suddenly be revealed to be ruthless sexual predators. Not to me. In the 1970s that kind of revolting male behaviour was considered not just normal – but admirable. It’s not just the individuals who are on trial, it’s the whole hideous decade.


The most recent nauseating thing to emerge is that, in 1975, the National Council for Civil Liberties – a most excellent human rights advocacy organisation founded in the 1930s and operating now as Liberty – granted official affiliate status to a vile coterie of creeps called the Paedophile Information Exchange.

They claimed to be campaigning for the ‘rights’ of paedophiles and in the heat of the 1970s moment, when everybody’s rights to be recognised equal were up for grabs – women, homosexuals, people of colour (to use the US term) – they hopped aboard in the heady melee.

This revelation has been used this week by the British gutter press to smear by association the Labour MP and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman, who was working at the NCCL at the time.

Of course Ms Harman had nothing to do with giving that toxic group credence (much too busy working on equal pay for women), but the fact that such an organisation ever did, is another example of just how warped ideas about sexual ‘freedom’ had become in the 1970s.

The hangover of the sweetly naïve free love ideals of the 1960s, combined with the freedom from inconvenient unwanted pregnancy – without the need for any male responsibility for it – made possible by the contraceptive pill, created a ‘sexual revolution’ which at the time seemed like a marvellous step forward from the repression which had gripped since the Victorian era.

What it actually turned into was sexual open season for men. And all women under forty were prey.

I was a busty teenager in the 1970s and I remember it with horror. Just to walk along the street was to be ogled and catcalled. A visit to the local garage to collect the car with your mum, meant being confronted by walls of bare breasted women.

TV shows aired at peak family viewing times featured men aggressively pursuing women as a hilarious norm. Even the lauded Monty Python made me squirm with discomfort at the way women were depicted. The theme music from Benny Hill still makes me feel nauseous.


The celebrated sexual antics of the great rock bands of the time were another symptom of this epidemic of sexual exploitation under a false banner of freedom and I now understand that this was one of the reasons I fell upon punk rock with such a sense of relief in 1976.

Punk rock was completely asexual. Male and female punks dressed the same – thank you Vivienne Westwood for making bondage trousers that fitted me as well as for my boy pals. Men punk rock stars weren’t sexual warriors – Johnny Rotten? Joe Strummer? no way – and the women weren’t sex objects.

Sex Pistols

OK, the mesmerising, Debbie Harry was the object of many teenage boys’ fantasies, but I always felt she played up her looks on her own terms.

When I went backstage after gigs by the Boomtown Rats, the Jam, the Buzzocks etc, to get quotes for my fanzine, Punkture, none of the bands treated me as a groupie. We met on equal terms, eye to eye, united in our joy at the music which defined our generation – and separated us from the ghastly old pervy hippies.

punks, kings road 1980

It was part of the beginning of the next stage in sexual politics. As feminists like Harriet Harman began to create legislation which formally protected women’s rights, the wild dog phase of 1970s sexuality died down and soon began to look as outdated and ugly as the flares, chocolate brown leather jackets and centre-parted long hair and face pubes often sported by its perpetrators.

So while Tom Ford made us all believe for a while there that the 1970s was all glamour and silk jersey – and Amercian Hustle is starting it up again – let’s not forget what it was really like in the dark ages.


The bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide

In Heroes, Music, Older women, Pop stars, Rock 'n' roll on November 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Joni Mitchell 

One of the great challenges of being a parent for me has been coming to understand that my daughter is not a Mini Me.

It seems quaint in retrospect but I had simply assumed she would love everything I loved as a child, which boils down to reading, drawing, playing with dolls and a well-stocked dressing up box.

Like all parents I lavished her with the things I craved as a child: a never-ending supply of paper, big packs of felt tips and coloured crayons, bookshelves groaning with wonderful things to read.

I should have saved my money. She’s just not into any of those things.

So I take great joy from one love we do share, which is an obsession with popular music. She’s as open to new experiences in that area as she is closed to books (she could have met Quentin Blake recently – couldn’t be bothered… AGGGH!)

She’ll embrace any genre of music and among her favourites, at the age of 11 and a half, are tracks by the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, David Bowie, Madness, Kraftwerk and Dean Martin.

Then there all the ones we’ve discovered together, like Daft Punk, Gotye, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Tinie Tempah. She’s made me appreciate Eminem.

But the most satisfying moment for me was when – with no pushy prompting from my side – she fell in love with Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, which I’d put on a playlist.


Being able to tell her that the song she so adores by Crosby, Stills & Nash – Our House – was written by Graham Nash about the actual house he actually shared with Joni Mitchell in Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s, was a golden moment in my life. Her eyes visibly widened…

ladies of the canyon prauls

I can still remember so clearly when I discovered Joni Mitchell myself, when I was exactly the same age my daughter is now, in the early 1970s.

My older sister was playing the album Blue on repeat and after a few days of hearing it, there was a lightbulb moment when my ear picked up the Jingle Bells refrain in the song River, in its intriguing minor key.


At my earliest opportunity I liberated the record (of course it was a vinyl record…) from my sister’s collection and took it into my bedroom, to have a better listen to that interesting bit and in the process lost myself in the whole album. She never got it back.

Joni Mitchell has been a constant companion of my life ever since. I know every line of every song on her first eight albums, from Song to a Seagull, through to Hejira, by heart.


And the thing that made me realise I’d found my soul mate when I met my best friend at uni, was discovering that she did too. We talked about those lyrics for hours. We still do.

So while Peggy and I might never be able to discuss favourite books the way I had imagined we would, I’m fairly sure we’ll share a love of Joni Mitchell’s music – and those amazing lyrics.


While tooling around the internet looking for some good clips to include with this post, I came across two interesting facts about Joni.

She turned 70 this month – happy birthday, Ms Mitchell – and there’s no ‘Personal Life’ section in her Wikipedia entry. Which makes sense when you think about it.

It’s all in the songs.

Which songwriter has written the soundtrack for your life?


I picked this video because she’s singing one of my favourite of her songs – Help Me, the most brilliant description of the first thrilling/terrifying days of a new relationship – but also because I was at this concert. Wembley Stadium 1974, the first big gig I ever went to.

A pilgrimage to see my idol.




Nothing else matters

In Rock 'n' roll on June 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm


I’ve loved reading about all your shiver songs – and was thrilled to find out that Jimmy Webb wrote the amazing Galveston, as well as Wichita Lineman. Which all makes sense now, as it has the same sketchy outline that tells you so much.

‘I clean my gun…’ What a legend.

But enough of the welling up already. It’s Friday and time to share another of my guilty pleasures. Let’s roooocccccccccccckkkkkk!

I’m absolutely mad about Metallica. Oh yeah. But from what I know of my regular readers, I’m not sure all of you will be fully familiar with these TITANS of heavy metal. Well, let it be my pleasure to introduce you to them – with particular reference to the front man, James Hetfield.

Oh my sweet lord. You like Eric the Vampire? He’s a pussy for James Hetfield. The man is a VIKING of ROCK. The hilarious rock god axe (guitar). The stance. The weird beard. The tats. The shoulders.

But let me say no more. Just watch and marvel. This was a concert they did in Moscow in the early 90s, when it was a very big deal to have American rock legends playing there. This adds another level to my watching joy. The soldiers.

One more thing: please note what James Hetfield and co do with their hair. When I’m very properly drunk at parties I do that (and my neck really hurts the next morning).

Did you enjoy that? No? Well, there’s more to James Hetfield than gloriously crashing guitar played with the legs wide apart (axe clearly balanced on his mighty …).

He has a sensitive side too. Here he is singing their legendary metal ballad, Nothing Else Matters (with the San Fran Symphony Orchestra). It’s a karaoke favourite of mine.

Now tell me – who is your rock god?


Iggy Pop

In Celebrities, Famous people, Men, Rock 'n' roll on June 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thanks so much to my Twitter pal @oneplanetmikey who sent me this video link, after I tweeted a reference to Iggy Pop last night – and now also Regina Pritchard and Naomi Lee for putting me on to the other version now at the bottom of the post – Iggy live on Countdown. One of the funniest things I have ever seen. Where are those children now? It would have changed your life forever…

On a very dreary, rainy Sunday night, with my husband glued to some ghastly Grand Prix, I posted: ‘I’m the Chairperson of the Bored’, as in Mr Pop’s genius song ‘I’m Bored’.

I’m sick of all the stiffs
I’m sick of all the dips
I’m bored.
I bore myself to sleep at night.
I bore myself in broad daylight.
I’m boooooored.
I’m the Chairman of the Bored.

It’s youthful angst distilled into one perfect three minute pop song.

Watching this clip reminded me of why I was fairly obsessed with the Igster from about 1977 on. And I needed reminding because I have been very very cross with him these past few years for doing those terrible insurance ads.

How could he sell out like that? The Ig?

I can’t bear the thought of those advertising wonks even listening to his music, let alone appropriating the anthems of my rebellion to advertise one of the more evil institutions of the SYSTEM.

I might have to put my Seditionaries anarchy shirt on to express how it makes me feel. Shame I sold it in a broke moment in 1980. (And it wouldn’t fit over my head if I did still have it.)

I wasn’t remotely surprised when John Lydon AKA Rotten, started advertising butter a few years ago. While I was a massive fan of the Sex Pistols back in the day, John was never cool. It was one of the things that made him so great.

He really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about him – and watching him on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few years ago, he still doesn’t. I love him for it.

Iggy, however, was on a level of cool all his own. He didn’t have to try, he didn’t aspire to cool and work at it, he was born that way. He didn’t become cool, he defined how we now understand it.

I’ve been reading the very interesting oral history of punk recently, Please Kill Me, which is a collection of quotes from a very disparate range of people who were there, collated into a historic narrative.

Iggy and the Stooges feature right from the earliest late 1960s genesis of what we came to call Punk Rock and it’s fascinating to read about the young James Osterberg (his real name). He didn’t adopt an on-the-edge persona, or lifestyle, he lived it. It’s just who he was.

I’ve also read about his later LA years in Danny Zuckerman’s gripping drug memoir Wonderland Avenue (which I am eternally grateful to Mia Freedman for putting me on to years ago).

Although I must say here, that Iggy’s drug abuse and dependency was always the least interesting thing about him. That was never what made him interesting to me – he was amazing despite the drugs, not because of them. And for surviving the stupid things he did to himself.

That aside, reading about the early years confirms that what you see when Iggy is leaping around isn’t some kind of stage persona, it’s the direct expression of the his life force. He was born with that body (and allegedy the biggest donger in rock and roll…) and he was born with that style.

And you just have to look at the blokes in his band in the live clips, to be reminded that was what even rock ‘n’ roll dudes looked like in the late 70s – so dorky – and to appreciate just how radical Iggy was by comparison.

So watching those clips has reminded me why I hitchhiked round Britain following him on his 1979 tour, to be right at the front watching him roll around in broken glass.

And I’ve forgiven him for the insurance ads. Just.

PS Note the non-sock action with the lace up shoes and suit in the top video clip. Guys doing that now think they’re radical…

Now here’s that famous Countdown appearance. I’d love to hear from any of you who saw it when it was on TV and hear the effect it had on you. I think this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s like an insane labrador on coke, then the total lack of pretending to sing live, with the microphone down the pants. Heaven. His body reminds me of Nureyev. He could have been an amazing dancer, all that natural strength and bendiness.

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