Punk rock is 40. Blimey. And even the British Library have got in on the ‘celebration’. At the end of May 2016 the Library hosted an inspirational day of musicians, journalists, historians, photographers and fashion icons talking abut the effect of Punk on culture, indeed the world
The day was spilt into hour-ish long sessions, with a host and a number of participant(s) in a discussion. These sessions were accompanied by a Punk exhibition (1976-78) which was set out on one of the main concourses of the Library – and although this contained some interesting stuff it was small and could never eclipse the people who spoke.
This was more a personal ‘labour of love’, but documenting the protagonists and the documenters was a great opportunity, not to be missed.
So here, in no particular order……
Ray Stevenson photographed most of the punk bands that mattered in the early days and he created the Sex Pistols File, a book of images that I still have to this day. He explained how the book was created when his relationship with McLaren turned sour.
Jah Wobble can play the bass and he is also a brilliant story teller. And he has some fantastic stories to tell, of his time growing up and then working with John Lydon and Sid Vicious. To name just two. Wobble is a brilliant musician having seen him live recently, and he is recognised as a leading exponent of the 4 strings. My photos of one of his recent gigs is also in my Showcase section on this website 🙂
Jon Savage wrote the book I quote as my favourite ever – England’s Dreaming. It is the story of punk, and the Pistols, the before and some-of-the-after. Jon was also responsible for some very early fanzines, helping to contribute to the DIY style that has become synonymous with all things Punk Rock.
And below is Glen Matlock, of The Sex Pistols, another great bass player and writer of anthemic songs. Glen spoke about the Pistols and how they started, through to how they ended. Compelling as always.
And there’s more. John Robb, lead singer with the Membranes, the voice behind http://www.louderthanwar.com, author, journalist etc etc chaired an awesome discussion. Included in that was the fabulous Pauline Murray and Gaye Black
And finally, a couple more images of Jon Savage , my author-hero talking about fanzines. And one of them is a fave image of mine – Jon looking back and talking about the old days – whilst looking back at himself in the old days.
And then in early July, I got the chance to meet Bob Gruen and John Tiberi. Bob, in the photo on the left below, was photographer on the Sex Pistols American tour in 1978. He was John Lennon’s personal photographer when he was in New York. And he took photographs of many others including The Clash, Blondie, The Who, Rolling Stones, Blondie, Ramones…. the list goes on and on. John ‘Boogie’ Tiberi, below on the right, was the Sex Pistols tour manager during America ’78. On the day both of the men gave great accounts of their time with the Pistols and were also great to talk to in the bar, both before and after the show.
The last of my visits to the British Library happened on Thursday 14th July, where Jon Savage and Viv Albertine of the Slits talked to Kate Mossman from the New Statesman, giving their perspectives on the punk era. This was the only time Viv had spoken specifically about this in the 40th anniversary year.
Viv is inspiring and witty, and her story telling truly engaging. She has some amazing stories and thoughts to share and she does it so well. ….with my favourite line from Viv being when she talked about The Slits and said that the male orientated music world didn’t know ‘if they wanted to fuck us or kill us”.
So, the last word must go to the British library for putting on these amazing events – controversial maybe, but they have been a fantastic tribute to the unique cultural event that was punk.
Punk is 40, eh? Who’d have thought it? Jason 2016.