Teenage Punk Rockers
This site explores the punk culture as it was in 1977 England. We were teenage punk rockers that wrote a fanzine and formed a garage band.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Why Control 1977; Kings Road, Chelsea
Above; Early Clash Punk Bikers
At eighteen years old we were familiar with Chelsea's Kings Road region and would regularly visit the pubs, clubs and boutiques and then return North charged by our experience.
The King's Road begins in some splendor; Belgravia, Sloane Square, the Duke of York's barracks but it finishes with a council estate in a district called World's End. For the punks who colonized it in 1976, there was revolution in the air, and the hot weather that year helped, too.
The King's Road was always an adventure of interesting clothing boutiques, record stores, antique and art dealers; Small shop's that provided a modern trendy style for shoppers. Young fashion graduates and enthusiasts sensed the spirit and plunged in. Taking advantage of cheap rent they opened their own boutiques among the older fish shops, pubs and greengrocers. They would attract customers with outlandish names and window displays. A visit to the King's Road was a journey into England's self-expression.
Each Saturday afternoon rock celebrities would mix with the crowds of visitors and emerge transformed in outlandish clothing. In central Chelsea, at 430 King's Road, was a clothing store that earlier, during the 1970's was the location of a music club called Sex. This was where Malcolm McLaren would find his band's members amongst the local riff-raff that visited as Saturday regulars. Malcolm ran the store with his partner Vivienne Westwood. Their lives, along with John Lydon, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook would be transformed as the Britain was ready to express the anxiety of her unemployed youth during that hot summer of 1976. Within 12 months the popular androgynous Roxy Bowie street style of skinny jeans, plastic sandals and eye liner, was transform into leather jackets, brothel creepers and a tougher sounding three chord rock.
The punk clothing stall Acme Attractions, located in the basement of the Antiquarius Antiques Market moved upstairs and was renamed Boy. Pretenders Chrissie Hynde and Billy Idol worked here and among others Adam Ant was a regular patron to the store. Down the road lines of expressive youths flocked in leather, fishnets and PVC to watch The Rocky Horror Show.
Poly Styrene regularly worked her boutique in Beaufort Market on King's Road when the manager of the Man in the Moon dropped by to pick up a day-glo tie. His focus was on the salesgirl with braces on her teeth, Poly. Having read the local paper that Poly had a band he wanted to offer her a weekly spot at the Man in the Moon, the now famous World's End pub and theater space in Chelsea between Vivienne Westwood's Seditionaries store and Beaufort Market.
We were from Britain's grim North and had little money to buy a mohair jumper or an overpriced ripped T shirt from Boy or Sex. But would return home and make our own clothing using stencils, paint and razor blades.
Further down the road was another clothing store ran by Ollie Wisdom, it is here where he met student Mark Curzon. Mark read Ollie's guitarist requirement from a note pinned on his T shirt. By June 1977 they were headlining as The Unwanted and played regular spots at London venues, including the Man in the Moon. This is where we met them during the Queen's Jubilee celebration weekend. The bar and live performances were downstairs at basement level and the place was hot, loud and exciting. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones stopped in on Motorcycles that night there was a buzz around the bar, but it was a place where this was commonplace, a hangout, the Clash were simply part of the local crowd. The Unwanted were good, Ollie, the singer had an odd shaped question mark shaved in his hair. We spent some time talking with him about the local scene. Bass player Dave Postman was also friends with Sid Vicious, and played with him in The Flowers of Romance. After taking an Unwanted poster from the wall. We left the place ready to get the last train and had to leg to Sloan Square.
Shag Nasty guitarist Riff Starr was a regular to the pub, he was friends with Poly and Joe Strummer. Some years later he explained that the Clash would regularly ride in on motorcycles.