It’s hard to remember the meteoric rise of the Beatles without envisioning their grey suits; or picture Marc Bolan’s Ride a White Swan without still being dazzled by the glitter under his eyes.
As the People’s History of Pop is discovering, pop is as much about display, expression and liberation in fashion as it is in music. From psychedelia’s flares to heavy metal’s denim jackets, teenagers trying to find an identity in their formative years looked to music for wardrobe inspiration. Many years later, style trends have come and gone, waistlines may have acquired a few inches but some wardrobes still house those treasured get ups.
PHOP contributor Steve Dymond has shared some of his treasured items from festivals of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“Hippyish embroidered clothing was all the rage in the late 60’s to mid 70’s. From 1972, typical hippy style garment at festival stalls and Carnaby St type shops was the “granddad vest”.”
For Punk fan Celia Biscoe, it was all about using egg whites to spike up her hair and getting creative with her sister’s hand-me-downs.
“Great fun was to be had too in making my trousers. They were just plain black straights which I laid in the bath and splattered with emulsion paint… just what was left in the bottom of any old tins I could find. I tried to make them a bit arty, with thicker paint around the hems where the colour intensified. I was really pleased with how they turned out, although they were a bit crusty-feeling.”
Fans of our music heroes, from The Beatles to Bowie, shared their stories with radio listeners across the country last week, as 39 local radio stations celebrated ‘People’s History of Pop: The Local Story’, culminating in a day of programmes on Sunday February 7.
It’s 2am on a gloomy Sunday night. Across the UK the streets are quiet, save for one town where teenagers, sporting a uniform of Fred Perrys, baggy trousers and brogues, march to a local nightclub for it’s first all-nighter. The town is Wigan, the year 1973 and the club is soon to become known as the home of Northern Soul.
Deriving its name from the location of thumping dance floors in Wigan, Stoke and Blackpool where the scene first erupted, Northern Soul offered young people an escape from the strikes and power cuts of the 1970s in the form of black American music.
PHOP contributor, Barry May, tells how growing up dancing to Northern Soul has led to a lifetime of collecting classic records.
I remember I was generally very much a ‘bus home’ type kid after Wigan. It was cheaper, dropped me off virtually outside my house and didn’t involve dealing with too many people the morning after. The bonuses of leaving for the early bus were liberating a pint of milk and a paper from the knotted packages left outside the newsagents in the Arcade.
The older we get the more authentic and original we want our precious vinyl records to be. Although I collect original vinyl, I still have a place in my heart for the bootlegged record as it is a part and parcel of our chequered scene – unscrupulous Soulies have the in vogue and most expensive tracks being played at the time bootlegged…they then sell them at a much cheaper price.
Nowadays people all over the world collect Northern Soul classics….it’s not just restricted to the UK shores anymore.