Every music fandom needs a Mecca, a place of worship, where fans from all over the world can come to pay their respects to their music idols in the form of scrawled memories and lyrics. This is as true today as it was when the music fan was born in the 1960s.
Back then we had the Beatles with their catchy songs, grey suits and mop tops. The place of worship became Abbey Road’s zebra crossing, made famous by the Beatles’ 11th album cover.
In the 1970s Bolan and Bowie conquered our hearts and for them a Sycamore tree in Barnes and a mural on Brixton road have become deeply emotional spots.
In recent years bands like the Libertines rekindled the relationship between fan and artist through a heady combination of the Internet and impromptu gigs in their flat. The famous Albion Rooms gigs were held just around the corner from an alleyway where the band filmed the video for their single Up The Bracket. Now the alley –dubbed Up The Bracket Alley – is covered in scrawled messages of love and favourite lyrics, creating a vortex of nostalgia for anyone wandering down it.
Where is your favourite musical spot to visit? Share memories of your musical pilgrimages and help tell the story of British pop music for People’s History of Pop. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.phop.co.uk
Today marks International Women’s Day and we would like to celebrate the female music fans across the U.K who uploaded their memories to the People’s History of Pop.
Here are a few highlights from the collection..
My first gig, January 1978
The first gig you ever go to is something of a rite of passage. Perhaps you were, as I was, under-age and with tender ear-drums. Getting through the doors past the bouncer, in spite of being nearly four years under eighteen (and him being the size of a house), wasn’t a problem (perhaps because I was a girl…?) Even the process of buying a pint of cider at the bar was painless. Coping with the volume was something that got easier as the night wore on. But concealing my excitement at seeing a band I really admired up there on the stage, in all their real, raw glory, playing songs I’d only previously heard in session on John Peel’s radio show, was impossible. My first, proper gig was Siouxsie & the Banshees at a club called Triad in Bishop’s Stortford, January 1978. Cee
Ready, Steady Goer!
This goes way back to the 1960s when I was about 16 or 17 and regularly attended recordings of Ready, Steady Go. I was on the list of dancers for the programme and clearly remember dancing with The Hollies – great stuff. I used to go with my school friend, Stella and we just loved to dance and see all the pop stars. Once a floor manager grabbed a boy who was standing near us when we were dancing like crazy and he yelled at the poor guy, ‘dance with them, dance with them.’ Great memories’. Frankee
Spice Girls birthday party
The classic birthday party of the 90’s… get four of your best friends together and each dress up as one of the spice girls! You were bound to be chosen to be a member in at least one birthday party a year! Hanna Benjamin.
The PHOP team visited Newton Dunbar, former owner of Four Aces, London to discuss how he came about opening Hackney’s first nightclub in 1967.
“There were hardly any nightclubs. The few clubs that were in existence were structured clubs, that more or less did ballroom type dances. We used to go to basement parties in Brixton and Ladbroke Grove. They were basic places where they would sell a few beers and ask for a small admission fee.
There was a space we started going into a basement in Highbury Grove. My friends and I started going two or three times a week and after a few months the owner asked us if we wanted to run it. We decided to call it the Four Aces. In Jamaica there was a brand of cigarette that was popular called Four Aces and there was four of us so it seemed appropriate.
After a while the the others moved on and I continued to run the club but it got to the stage where the Highbury venue became too small. We started to get around 60-70 people and that’s when I started looking for a bigger premises.” Newton Dunbar
Dunbar secured the lease on a larger venue in Dalston, London with a stage which enable him to booked bands to perform including soon to be chart topping rude boy..
“We had booked Demond Dekker to perform at the club and during the waiting period he went to No.1 in the U.K charts with ‘Israelites’. The night came and we had a phenomenal turnout. The queue went right up to the junction and he performed magnificently. The crowd that turned up were not just West Indians, there was a mixture of people. It was that night that was really instrumental in putting us on the map.” Newton Dunbar
We want to hear about your favourite music venues from across the U.K. Share your story at PHOP.CO.UK
Your granddad might not have worn a Frank Sinatra tee, but once t-shirts became part of casual wear in the early 1950s, it didn’t take long for them to become the ultimate statement item. Like carrying a record around (but a lot easier), wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of your favourite band tells everyone on the street exactly what music you like and, of course, what tribe you belong to.
In the 1970s, designers like Vivienne Westwood tapped into the emerging anti-establishment mentality of British youth with slogans designed to shock. Billed as “the ultimate punk-rock T-shirt”, her design featuring a swastika and inverted crucifix under the word “Destroy” became iconic of a musical and social movement.
In fact it was Johnny Rotten’s t-shirt that first caught the attention of future Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren, in the summer of 1975. Walking down the Kings Road with the words “I Hate” scribbled above a Pink Floyd logo evidently displayed his potential to become the snarling face of punk rock.
In the 1980s, designer Katherine Hamnett used bold prints to fuse fashion with social issues. In their 1983 video for Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, pop band Wham! wore her print, “CHOOSE LIFE”, prompting millions of fans to adopt the slogan, which promoted an anti-drug and anti-suicide campaign.
The idea of using the humble tee to send a message caught on. In 1984 the BBC banned Relax, the debut single by Frankie Goes to Hollywood for its “explicitly sexual” lyrics. Inevitably it went straight to Number 1 and record label owner Paul Morley’s idea of printing “FRANKIE SAYS RELAX” onto white t-shirts turned millions of fans into protest billboards. The t-shirt was so iconic it is still one of the most popular slogans, long after the band’s career ended.
Do you still have your favourite band t-shirt? This Friday is BBC 6 Music’s Wear Your Band T-shirt to work day so show off your old tee by tweeting a picture using #tshirtday.
Record label manager and music journalist Laurence Cane-Honeysett fell in love with reggae in 1969, before he “hit double figures”, when Desmond Dekker was top of the charts with ‘Israelites’. The label he loved most was Trojan, one of the major British reggae labels, launched in 1968 to put out singles from both Jamaican and British-based producers. Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Dandy Livingstone and Jimmy Cliff were all put out on Trojan.
Laurence says: “A decade later I was spending what little spare cash I had to acquire every ska, rock steady or early reggae record I could lay my hands on and during those heady days, long before the internet and eBay, this involved trawling around London, seeking out second hand record shops and jumble sales in the hope of finding a bundle of rarities at a knock down price.”
Laurence loved Trojan so much that he ended up getting a job there and over the years has been sent or given some amazing historical items produced by Trojan throughout the 1960s and 1970s. “Of these, none is more precious to me than an original genuine plastic, gold-painted medallion, which back in the day could be acquired by those who signed up to the Trojan Records fan club. Generously donated by former fan club member, Brian Chin, this much-loved piece of extremely lightweight jewellery really is an extremely rare and special item that while clearly not being the classiest piece of record merchandise ever produced, holds a particularly special place in my heart and all those nostalgic for the days when Trojan and reggae regularly topped the British charts.”
Do you have British reggae memories? If so, we’d love to see the stuff you’ve saved over on our People’s History of Pop collection page.