As we move through the decades, our music idols have become more and more outlandish in their appearance.
Episode 2 of People’s History of Pop, due out this summer, features the increasingly striking fashions of pop stars, from Marc Bolan’s glitter to Black Sabbath’s crosses. The desire to emulate their look has given us some wonderful photos of die-hard fans on PHOP. A particular favourite of ours is this impersonation of Ziggy Stardust by Scotty Somerville.
This would have been a familiar site at a David Bowie concert circa 1973, where the queues leading into the venue would present a sea of fans all dressed in the most outrageous way they could ready to see their idol, the master of wild imagery.
If you or someone you know ever dressed up as your music idol and took a photo, we’d love to see it! Just go to www.phop.co.uk and follow the instructions to upload your image.
So far the People’s History of Pop has seen everything from rare acetates to superstars’ wardrobes. But it’s often the small things that have evoked the fondest memories. Of all the items in their collection, many of our contributors have said they’d save the oddities of their hoard first in the event of an imaginary fire.
Items as seemingly incongruous as an old beer can, a handful of orange confetti and a plastic bag have been hailed as the jewel in a crown of pop paraphernalia. They are souvenirs with no price tag, reminders of triumphant acquisitions; of catching Ray Davies’ half-finished drink, of experiencing the Pet Shop Boys’ live for the first time, and of buying that first single in a long-departed local record store.
Here are a few of our favourite obscurities:
If you have a music souvenir that’s more curious than costly share it with us at www.phop.co.uk
Can you spot the Drum and Bass legend in the photograph?
Check out this great video of the Wolverhampton B Boys battling Coventry rivals Future Shock on children’s television show Saturday Starship in November 1984.
Fun Fact: The classic B-boy track ‘The Mexican’ was originally recorded by the British prog rock band Babe Ruth. It is considered by some as one of the most influential songs in hip-hop and breakdancing culture.
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.
Graham Carr Jones bought these trousers from BOY LONDON on the Kings road in 1978/79. The addition of a Tartan “bum flap” was inspired from Graham’s original bondage trousers bought in a shop near Brick Lane.
BOY LONDON was founded by Stephane Raynor and John Krivine in 1976 and became the go to place for cool kids, pop stars and pop artists to buy their BOY logo T-shirts and bondage gear.