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Jeff Turner and Gary Bushell on Oi!

The Cockney Rejects’ 1980 performance at Birmingham’s Cedar Club remains unnoted in the annals of rock history. It warrants no mention when music journalists compile the 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock, nor the 100 Craziest Gigs Ever, which seems like a terrible oversight. In fairness, no one is ever going to rank the show by the East End quartet – then enjoying chart success with a punk take on the West Ham terrace anthem I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles – alongside Jimi Hendrix at Monterey in terms of musical brilliance. Still, it has its own claim to historical import: by all accounts, it was the most violent gig in British history.

“I’d seen quite a bit on the terraces or outside football grounds, but this was carnage,” says Jeff Turner, today an immensely amiable decorator, then “Stinky” Turner, the Cockney Rejects’ teenage frontman, cursed with what his former manager Garry Bushell tactfully describes as “a bit of a temper”. Turner continues: “There was a lot of people cut and hurt, I got cut, my brother [Rejects’ guitarist Micky Geggus] really got done bad, with an ashtray, the gear was decimated, there was people lying around on the floor. Carnage.”

The problem was football-related. “Most of the punk bands at the time, they had their ideals – the Clash, Career Opportunities, political stuff, fair play,” says Turner. “When I was a kid, my thought for punk rock was that it could put West Ham on the front pages.” To this end, the band – affiliated to the club’s hooligans in the Inter City Firm – had appeared on Top of the Pops in West Ham shirts. “After that, everybody wanted to fight us, but you couldn’t back down,” says Turner. “Once you were defeated, it would have opened the floodgates for everybody.”

So the Rejects and their party fought: “Twenty Cockneys against … well, not all 300 Brummies were trying to attack us, but I’d say we were trying to fight off 50 to 100 people.” In the aftermath, Micky Geggus was charged with GBH and affray, and the Cockney Rejects’ career as a live band was, in effect, over. An attempt to play Liverpool later that year ended after six songs “because there was 150 Scousers trying to kill us”, while a subsequent gig in Birmingham was aborted by the police: “The old bill got wind of it and escorted us on to the M6,” says Turner. “At the time, I was gutted, but now, I think, thank God for that. Someone could have died.”

Perhaps it’s unsurprising the gig has been swept under the carpet of musical history: after all, so has the genre the Cockney Rejects inadvertently inspired. Thirty years after Bushell – then a writer for the music paper Sounds, as well as the Rejects’ manager – coined the term “Oi!” to describe a third generation of punk-inspired working-class bands playing “harder music on every level, guitar driven, terrace choruses”, it remains largely reviled or ignored in Britain.

In the eyes of its remaining fans, Oi! is the “real thing”, the genuine sound of Britain’s streets in the late 70s, populated by artists Bushell championed when the rest of the music press concentrated on “bands who dropped literary references you wouldn’t have got if you didn’t have a masters’ degree and wrote pretentious lyrics”. Bands such as the Cockney Rejects, the Angelic Upstarts – Marxists from South Shields managed by a man Bushell colourfully describes as “a psychopath – his house had bars over all the windows because people had thrown firebombs through it” – Red Alert, Peter and the Test Tube Babies. It briefly stormed the charts. The Angelic Upstarts followed the Cockney Rejects onto Top of the Pops, while Splodgenessabounds made the Top 10 with the deathless Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please. But today, if the general public have heard of it at all, they tend to agree with the assessment once offered by journalist and broadcaster Stuart Maconie: “Punk’s stunted idiot half-brother, musically primitive and politically unsavoury, with its close links to far-right groups.” It is, asserts Bushell, “without a doubt, the most misunderstood genre in history”.

cockney-rejects-greatest-cockney-ripoff

The problem isn’t really to do with the music, although protracted exposure to the oeuvre of Peter and the Test Tube Babies – home to Student Wankers, Up Yer Bum and Pick Your Nose (and Eat It) – could leave all but the hardiest soul pleading tearfully for a few literary references and pretentious lyrics. The problem is Oi!’s adoption by the far-right as its soundtrack of choice. It wasn’t the only part of street culture to attract the attentions of the National Front and the British Movement in the late 70s and early 80s. Losing out at the polling stations thanks to the rise of Margaret Thatcher, the NF had instigated a programme of “direct action”: it would attempt to kick its way into the headlines at football matches and gigs. Chart bands such as Sham 69, Madness and the Specials had concerts disrupted.In 1978, seig-heiling skinheads caused £7,500 worth of damage at a Sham 69 gig in London.

But it was to Oi! that the far-right was most attracted, not least because it attracted both football hooligans and the re-emergent skinhead movement – two groups the NF’s direct-action programme targeted for recruitment. “We played a gig in Camden, we saw these Nazi skinheads beating the shit out of these two punks,” remembers Turner. “They’d managed to wreck Sham 69’s career, but us with our following” – the ICF was then headed by Cass Pennant, whose parents were Jamaican – “we weren’t going to have it. We just went down and absolutely slaughtered them. We declared to them that if they ever set foot where we were again, we’d decimate them.” And so it proved. “Neo-nazis confronted the Rejects again at Barking station,” remembers Bushell. “They basically told them, ‘We’re going to come to your gigs, we’re going to do this and do that.’ The Rejects crew battered them all over the station. They didn’t come to the gigs after that.”

Bushell points out that there was “a Nazi subculture all the way through punk. Malcolm McLaren started it all with the swastikas, which thick people saw and thought, ‘Oh, they must be Nazis.'” There were white power punk bands, too – such as the Dentists and the Ventz, which were formed by the “Punk Front” division of the National Front, in lieu of real punk bands showing any interest in promoting white supremacy. It was a trick the NF would be forced to pull again when Oi! bands resisted their overtures – the party recruited a failed punk band from Blackpool called Skrewdriver and repositioned them as the musical voice of the neo-Nazi movement. “It was totally distinct from us,” says Bushell. “We had no overlap other than a mutual dislike for each other.”

strength-thru-oi-poster-gavin-watson

Bushell’s latterday career as a gleeful provoker of the liberal left, writing for the Sun and the Daily Star, probably hasn’t done much to help public perceptions regarding Oi!’s political affiliations. When Oi! was at its height, however, he says he was a Trotskyist who did his best to infuse the movement with socialist principles. He organised Oi! conferences and debates, “trying to shape the movement, trying to stop the culture of violence, talking about doing unemployment benefits, working with the Right to Work campaign, prisoners’ rights gigs – I thought we could unite punk and social progress.” Not everyone was receptive: “Stinky Turner was at one debate, and he didn’t contribute much, apart from the classic line, ‘Oi! is working class, and if you’re not working class you’ll get a kick in the bollocks.'” He laughs. “Perfect! That was what the Rejects were all about.”

Trotskyist or not, Bushell also managed to exacerbate the problem, not least by masterminding the unfortunately titled 1981 compilation Strength Thru Oi!. “I didn’t know!” he protests. “I’d been active in politics for years and had never come across the phrase ‘strength through joy’ as a Nazi slogan.It was the title of a Skids EP.”

To compound matters, its cover featured a photograph of a skinhead who turned out to be the delectable-sounding Nicky Crane, who – nothing if not a multi-tasker – managed to combine life as a neo-Nazi activist with a secret career as a gay porn star. “I had a Christmas card on the wall, it had that image that was on the cover of Strength Thru Oi!, but washed out. I honestly, hand on my heart, thought it was a still from The Wanderers,” Bushell says. “It was only when the album came through for me to approve the artwork that I saw his tattoos. Of course, if I hadn’t been impatient, I would have said, right, fucking scrap this, let’s shoot something else entirely. Instead, we airbrushed the tattoos out. There were two mistakes there, both mine. Hands up.”

Much worse was to follow. A July 1981 Oi! gig featuring the 4-Skins and the Business in Southall – the scene of a racist murder in 1976 and the race riot that ended in the death of Blair Peach in 1979 – erupted into violent chaos: 110 people were hospitalised, and the venue, the Hambrough Tavern, was burned down after being petrol bombed. Depending on whose version of events you believe, it was either sparked by skinheads attacking Asians or Asian youths attacking gig-goers: either way, the Southall riot stopped Oi!’s commercial progress dead. The Cockney Rejects found that shops refused to stock their new album, The Power and the Glory: “I’d sung a song called Oi Oi Oi and all of a sudden there’s an Oi! movement and I didn’t really want anything to do with it,” says Turner. “This awful, awful shit happened in Southall, we were never there, and we got the rug pulled out from under our feet. I went from the TV screen to the labour exchange in 18 months.”

gary-bushell

An inflammatory article in the Daily Mail exacerbated the situation further: “We never had an problems with Nazi activists at our gigs until after the Mail’s piece,” says Bushell. “Only then did we have people coming down, thinking it was going to be this rightwing thing, When they discovered it wasn’t, that’s when the trouble started. I was attacked at an Upstarts gig at the 100 Club by about 20 of them. I had a knife pulled on me at Charing Cross station.”

That should have been that, had it not been for Oi!’s curious afterlife in America. Steve Whale – who joined the Business after Southall and struggled on through the 80s, repositioning the band as “street punk” – unexpectedly found himself in possession of a US recording contract with Bad Religion’s label Epitaph, lauded by bands including Boston’s Irish-punk stars the Dropkick Murphys and the extraordinarily influential California band Rancid. Jeff Turner has just returned from a tour of Japan: “Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya. I haven’t got fortunes but I’m able to do that. That’s all I can ask for, it makes me happy.”

“I had Lars Freidricksen of Rancid come in and sit in the pub round the corner from my house, welling up, telling me if it wasn’t for Oi! he might have killed himself as a teenager,” says Garry Bushell. “I thought, ‘Fuck me, it’s really had an effect on these people.’ I’m not proud of the way Oi! was misunderstood, but I’m proud of the music, proud of what it started, proud of what it gave punk.”

In Britain, he concedes, the genre’s name is still blackened in most people’s eyes. “There were people in 1976 saying punk had to be a Nazi thing because of the swastikas. The difference is, those bands had rock journalists on their side. The Oi! bands only had me.” He laughs, a little ruefully. “I did me best.”

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Vicious Rumours Confirmed for The Great Skinhead Reunion, Brighton 2017

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Vicious Rumours make a comeback..Brighton Skinhead Reunion 2017.

Question 1. Why would you like to play the great skinhead reunion, in brighton
..Symond, 2 1/2 years ago, you reached out to me and asked if we would consider playing the Reunion.. Well you and I had many exchanges, surprisingly most of them about our kids, principles and general outlook on life.. We discovered that we were very much cut from the same cloth… I was so excited to be playing and it was going to be our first show back together in England since the Main Event.. Then unfortunately we were unable due to JC and his wife expecting a baby right at that time. Symond, whilst disappointed never once showed or held it against us or me personally and we have continued to build our friendship these past couple of years.. Okay (I tend to ramble so this will be a long interview, so if edited I will take no offence) now why we/I want to play Reunion 2017.. This Event is to get together people from all over the world who love this scene and for some has been part of their lives since their early teenage years as it was for me.. I love music and ever since I can remember that has always been my first love.. Along came punk and then punk/Oi!/ska.. Well that was it. As you can see from the picture my vast taste in music.. See I told you I ramble.. What was the question? Oh yes. This is an event to see old friends, make new and a way to show our and my appreciation to you all and thank you for letting us/me be part of something that will live forever.. And this event is about just that.. Being in a band was and still is a dream for me but none of this means anything without you lot, so when Symond said yes a 2nd time to my/our request to Play 2017 my face and heart lit up and we promise to give you a show to remember.. Don’t forget we are one big family xx

vicious-rumours


2. When did you start the band, and why.
in 1979 around April /may I had the idea of a starting a band. A friend of mine Dave field played guitar and another Al Kilpin was up for trying put drums.. Why, well it seemed like fun, I loved to sing and a few other kids at school had put together bands.. So why not me!!

3. Who were the original members, and how did you meet?
Okay, I met Dave Field at Church, we were I the Boys Brigade together and actually ended up going to the same school.. Al Kilpin on drums, we also met at the church in one of those kids club things, but Alan was also hanging out at the local youth clubs and knew everybody. Also Alan’s good friend and co-worker was Micky F lead singer of an up and coming band called the Business. Also we had a stand in bass player, Phil Lecomber.. So that was the original up.

4. Who were the writers?
I did most of the writing once we starting playing more gigs and then the band would put it all together as at first we only had about 4 songs, including Vicious Rumours, which was actually written by a girlfriend of ours, Lesley and Dave and I wrote music.. The rest of the songs I the first few months were mainly sex pistols covers, even some early Adam and the ants, oh and Chip on your Shoulder was one we played at every gig till Bout 81..

5. What was your first gig?
Our first gig was at welling baptist church with a local band Called The Reprobates, whose guitarist Ian eventually ended up being our guitarist a couple of years later. We co-workers and recorded This is your Life together..

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6. What would you say was the most memorable, for good or bad reasons?
Wow, most memorable.. Okay sorry Symond I will have to name 3..only because of different reasons and all good..
1.our first high at Skunx, May 1982. JC, AL, Worve and myself. Supporting The Business and One Way System.. It was our first Big gig in London as all the others were in local pubs, church halls and youth clubs.. It was very special and the crowd really accepted us..
2.Red Lion, Gravesend 2015..simply because it was our first gig back in the U.K in 25/26 years and the friends that showed up on a Wednesday night, in the middle of nowhere was just overwhelming.. To see so many smiles, hugs and just felt the love.. Absolutely priceless.. Plus it was my introduction to the lads in The East End Badoes.. Just a great band and brilliant blokes.. We have become friends for life..
Now there were gigs in the early days, France, Old Bexley, The Lovel, Danson youth club, Isle of wight scooter run, Coventry but for my 3rd is…
3.PSK 2015 Stockholm, Sweden and this is why.. Pike Kollberg and Niklas Törnblom put on an outstanding show.. Amazing bands and put their heart and soul into it as I know that you can relate to Symond.. They were enthusiastic, Genuine and made us feel right at home.. Now the crowd, playing to people that had never seen us before, we’ll most of them, all I could feel was an amazing energy, total support and people having a great time and enjoying us.. What a beautiful feeling, this was also my 50th birthday trip so to spend it doing what I love, with people that I love and making new friends. Honestly, what could be better..

7. Why did the band fold up?
The band stopped playing after the main event, for me and I know for JC we were disappointed with our performance that night.. I insisted on a wireless guitar cable which didn’t work, and a few other hick ups, , well we didn’t talk about splitting we just took a break then in 1990 I left for the States.

8. What happened to the members after you moved on in life?
Well now, JC Lives in France, and He still loves playing his bass.. Danny lives in Malta, Ian(worve) sadly passed away a couple around a year ago as for some of the other members along the way I’m not sure but all of them had a part to play in the band..

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9. What do you feel about the modern scene, as opposed to the 80’s?
As JC would say to me and still does that I am clueless.. I just love people.. Love meeting them and being a part of an amazing culture.. Though I have seen fights break out at gigs, I myself have never once had a problem.. I am extremely happy that there is still such a strong scene as it gives us a chance to do what we love, and a chance to make memories with the best people and Symond, would you not agree making great memories and having fun is what it is all about!! I know you do mate..

10. What advice would you give to young bands starting out?
Well young bands starting out, have fun and enjoy it, be humble and appreciate anyone who shows an interest in your band, get to know some of the bands that you enjoy and could see yourself playing with, it is so easy now to get in touch with them because of the Internet etc.. and start off by just introducing yourself, let them know you have a band.. Start there.. Practice practice practice then gig gig gig.. I still reach out to bands that I have always looked up too, even at 51..The Cockney Rejects, still absolutely first class till this day. I got a message from Jeff Turner and I was like a big kid, it meant so much to me.. Micky Fitz from the day I met him at the age of 14 has always treated me with nothing but kindness and respect. He is my mentor and I have always looked up to him and appreciated the way he treated me. Although Jamie Flanagan, lead singer with Tear Up have never met we have built up a great relationship this past year and a half.. I am saying this because he has done everything that I just said to do and not because I suggested it, because of who he is.. Love ya Bruv xx
Okay last thing that I want to say is…. I love this Band, 37 years and I can honestly say the line up that we have now sounds brilliant, tight and full of energy. Mad Max Spartan back on rodie duty, keeping everything on track..Tom Sultans our youngster drummer is brilliant, Dave Hayman on guitar who just bets it out like I only wish that I could, Dave Reeves on guitar who is a fantastic solid seasoned player, John Coupé on bass and as tight and poised as ever, Nippa Troth, my little brother right there with us and Myself on vocals ready to give my all heart n soul and a night you will always remember.. Love and respect Symond and of course everyone else cannot wait to see you in Brighton..
Always, Johnny Mundy xxx

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Subcultz. The Home of fashion Subcultures. United We Stand!

THE GREAT SKINHEAD REUNION, BRIGHTON

What a fantastic Skinhead reunion we  have achieved every year since 2011. The numbers rose to over 700, to make it a packed house. People were welcomed from across the globe, and everyone had a ball. The Great Skinhead Reunion, Brighton will be back 1-2-3 JUNE 2018. Tickets Here

The Great Skinhead Reunion is now on its 8th year, a 3day weekender. People young and old come to Brighton from across the planet, to celebrate the Skinhead Subculture. The Event starts at noon each day. Dj’s playing the very best in Skinhead history music, from the early days of Jamaican Reggae and Soul, through punk, 2tone Ska and Oi!. After 6pm Live bands hit the stage to perform until midnight, then back onto aftershow DJ’s.

This is a family event, set on Brighton seafront, At the Volks bar, Madeira Drive, Brighton. The same place used in the filming of Quadrophenia, the beach that put Skinheads on the world map in the 1960’s Mod era, all are welcome. you dont need to be a Skinhead. Under 18’s are welcome until 9.30 due to licencing issues.Bands so far confirmed for 2018 Monty Neysmith (Symarip) Legend of Jamaican ReggaeThe Glory (Leicesters finest Oi)

Keep an eye on our facebook page UPDATES HERE

Bands so far confirmed for 2018

The Last Resort

Monty Neysmith and The bishops (Symarip legend of Jamaican Reggae)

The Glory (Leicesters finest Oi!)

Dakka Skanks ( modern but authentic Ska rocksteady)

Martens Army (Germany)

more TBC

skinhead girls, great skinhead reunion, brighton

Bands to be confirmed for the Great Skinhead Reunion 2018 …

DJ’s confirmed for  2018OLAS, Barry Bmore George, Lee Evans,  Martin long,Terry Dyatt, Phil Templar (New York),  Gabor Fuxy (Dublin)  Luc Milan (Marseilles), Glyn Wilcox, Holly Dee

TICKETS HERE

The Skinhead Reunion An ode to be in England, Sat beside the sea, With friends the world over, Enjoying everyone’s company. A Brighton blast, that went fast, This years reunion is in our past, Beer was drunk in excess, We scoffed our faces full, The bands & dj’s played their sounds, 3 days of living it up, ’twas never dull. Oh how we laughed & jumped about, Sharing stories as a SKINHEAD lout,

The sun was shining, the mood was great, We stared at the stars, Until it got very late, The friends we made, The ones we’ve not seen in years Laughing, living & chatting, Over quite a few beers We opened our eyes, To the greatest cult alive Comrades in arms, all under one roof, Skinheads together, the reunion is proof, Happy & jolly like kids with a new toy, The young & the old ones, All jumping for joy. Another reunion as passed We leave with our sad faces, On trains, buses, planes & cars, All going home to our places, But do not fear, this time next year, They have organised another Make your plans, shine your boots So we can stand side by side like sister & brother Amen Oi Oi

Adrian Lee Noon 

More good news. We have designed T Shirts, are now distributing Music for bands, Checkout Subcultz Trader

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Mods and Rockers Brighton 1964

The trouble caused by mods and rockers in May 1964

Bank holidays in Brighton tended to be busy, jolly affairs in which thousands of Londoners flocked to the sea and sunshine.

All that changed in 1964 during the Whitsun bank holiday when more than a thousand mods and rockers fought pitched battles with each other on the prom and pavements.

There was more trouble in 1965 during both the Easter and August bank holidays, only this time they were met by a force of 100 policemen chosen for their barn door proportions.

Deckchairs were a favourite weapon and if they were not being used for striking enemies, they were destroyed in fires on the beach.

Photo:Mods pictured in May 1964 throwing deckchairs from the roof terrace of Brighton Aquarium on to Madeira Drive below

Mods pictured in May 1964 throwing deckchairs from the roof terrace of Brighton Aquarium on to Madeira Drive below

There were 75 arrests and the courts were kept busy for weeks afterwards in dealing with all the cases. Images of the fights went all round the world.

In a new book on the shady side of Brighton, David Boyne says, “As shocking as the violence for many of the older generation was the discovery that many of those involved were taking drugs, particularly amphetamines.”

The Brighton Council of Churches found that more than half the mods and almost half the rockers were taking blues, a form of speed.

There was more trouble in 1965 during both the Easter and August bank holidays, only this time they were met by a force of 100 policemen chosen for their barn door proportions.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Adam Trimingham looks at the trouble caused by mods and rockers in May 1964' page

Boyne says all kinds of ideas were offered to solve the problem, including bringing back conscription, hard labour and even reviving the stocks.

Sentences handed out by Brighton magistrates were generally tough. One of them, Hebert Cushnie, referred to the youths as “sawdust Caesars”. He was widely quoted but few were sure what he meant.

But after that there was comparative peace on bank holidays until the late 1970s when the Brighton-based film Quadrophenia and the start of the punk fashion led to a mod revival.

This time the enemy was skinheads rather than rockers and confrontations Police worked out a simple but effective way of stopping youths from kicking each other. They made youths take out their bootlaces.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Adam Trimingham looks at the trouble caused by mods and rockers in May 1964' page

Mary Whitehouse, the doughty defender of old- fashioned morals, blamed the violence by young people on copying what they saw on TV.

Less predictably, support for mods and rockers came from the National Federation of Hairdressers as both sides paid much attention to style.

Forty years ago pictures of Mods and Rockers shocked polite society. But were they staged by the press?

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Forty years ago pictures of Mods and Rockers shocked polite society. But were they staged by the press?' page

It all kicked off between the mods and the rockers this weekend in 1964. But appearances can be deceptive

Robin Stummer reports

They came, they saw, they beat each other senseless on the shingle. Or did they? Forty years ago this Easter weekend, mods took on rockers for the first time, fuelling Britain’s first mass-media scare over dissolute, drug-taking, mindlessly violent youth.

They came, they saw, they beat each other senseless on the shingle. Or did they? Forty years ago this Easter weekend, mods took on rockers for the first time, fuelling Britain’s first mass-media scare over dissolute, drug-taking, mindlessly violent youth.

Starting with a spot of bother at Clacton, Essex, over the Easter weekend of 1964, the tabloid press feasted for months on the gory new phenomenon breaking out at sleepy seaside towns across the South-east.

Beside gleefully horrified headlines – “Riot police fly to seaside” – were photographs of pale youths in Italian fashions fighting pale youths in engine-oil-caked leathers beside penny arcades at Margate, Brighton, Bournemouth, Clacton, Southend and Hastings.

But now mod experts and some of the old rockers and mods themselves are admitting that many of the candid newspaper shots of seaside gang fighting in 1964 – so shocking at the time, and now considered classic images of Sixties Britain – were staged.

Further, with the tales of drug-fuelled derring-do and flying deckchairs now the stuff of pop-culture legend, a new, far less violent picture is emerging of what actually happened. It’s a world far removed from Quadrophenia, the cult 1979 film based on The Who’s mod-nostalgia album.

“There are famous photographs taken in Brighton where the photographer paid the lads a few shillings,” says David Cooke, a Brighton-based mod ephemera dealer and an authority on the history and lore of the mod world. “Quite a few people know that photographs were set up in Brighton.”

Finding that gangs were engaged not in open warfare but aimless wandering, some photographers and reporters paid youths to stage mock fights and chases.

“At Margate some photographs were definitely staged,” recalls Howard Baker, in 1964 a purist mod and now a writer whose novel Sawdust Caesar is set against mid-1960s mod culture. “Reporters and photographers were paying off a lot of kids. You’d get a fiver or a tenner. We’d get pissed on it.”

“The media made it sound much worse than it really was,” says rocker Phil Bradley, a veteran of dozens of seaside “visits” in the Sixties and a repentant mod-baiter. Bradley became a rocker at 14 when he bought his first motorbike, and spent most of his teens trading insults with the scootering mods. But bloodshed? “There wasn’t as much fighting as what has been made out,” he says. “The press hyped it right up. There were only isolated incidents. There weren’t riots like in that film Quadrophenia. The odd deckchair came flying through the air, but there weren’t weapons like you see nowadays.

“And we certainly didn’t go chasing after old people, even us rockers. If we saw an old lady going across the road having trouble, we’d walk across with her.”

Tabloid headlines about the drug menace facing Britain’s youth, which for a few months in mid-1964 alternated with seaside warfare headlines, pointed to another glaring falsehood. “There was an idea that amphetamines, which were the mod pill of choice at the time, caused us all to be terribly aggressive, but that wasn’t the case,” says Alfredo Marcantonio, 40 years ago a devoted mod and now a leading figure in British advertising. “Most of the time you danced your socks off in clubs, but afterwards you were so worn out you wouldn’t want to fight anyone.”

No, says Howard Baker, there was real fighting as well as fake fighting. “The Brighton photographs weren’t staged. I was there. The violence was nasty, but there weren’t guns.”

Mods were not averse to fighting other mods, rather than rockers. “It wasn’t really mods versus rockers, as the press put it, anyway,” says David Cooke. “Mods were fighting each other. The north London mods hated south London mods. South London mods hated north London mods, and east London mods hated everybody, and everybody hated them.”

“You could almost tell which part of London a mod was from by which colour suit he had,” recalls Mr Marcantonio. One of many early mods who went into advertising and the media, he remembers spats, but maintains pitched battles did not happen. “The streets were not strewn with broken deckchairs,” he says. “The police herded you up and you ended up walking around Brighton in the great phalanxes of people looking a bit pissed off.

“The seaside towns were the domain of the rocker, their patch,” he explains. “Every rocker, you imagined, dreamt of working on the dodgems, with the sound of Del Shannon echoing past the helter-skelter. So a lot of us turning up on scooters, it was asking for trouble. But mods didn’t ever get on their scooters and go down to the coast for a fight. Real mods were far too concerned about their clothing. I mean, we’re talking about possibly losing buttons – you know, creasing or tearing clothing you’d saved for!”

But isolated outbreaks of violence did continue throughout the Sixties. “The Battle of Hastings, about 1965, was quite a big one,” remembers Phil Bradley. “Some scooters and bikes went off the top of the cliff. Margate in 1964 was the worst – the cells filled up. There were only seven coppers in Margate at the time, and one Black Maria – but there were about 4,000 mods and 500 rockers!”

In the end, the mod movement mutated. “Everyone diverged,” says Howard Baker. “Lots of mods became hippies or freaks and wandered off to India, like I did.”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea why there was any fighting with the mods,” says Phil Bradley. “I really don’t know.”

The Independent   More about…50 years on.

The early 1980s revival ebbed away and since then all resorts including Brighton have not suffered from large-scale fighting by violent gangs of youths.

It is almost half a century now since the first clashes and some of the combatants have become nostalgic about them.

Every September there is a huge convoy of men on motorbikes and scooters who ride down to Brighton for the day.

Now mostly pensioners, they reminisce about what they see as the good old days while often drinking nothing stronger than tea.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Adam Trimingham looks at the trouble caused by mods and rockers in May 1964' page

By Adam Trimingham

  • Bloody British History: Brighton by David J. Boyne (The History Press £9.99)

     More about…50 years on.

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Skinhead Girls, Derek Ridgers 1980

Who are the subjects in the iconic “Skinhead girls, Bank Holiday, Brighton 1980” photo by Derek Ridgers used in Morrissey’s 1992 “Your Arsenal” tour as a backdrop and merchandise (t-shirt, program cover)? Finally we know – Caroline and Debbie. Both were together recently and surprisingly, both learned just last weekend (Aug. 2016) about the use of the photo on Morrissey’s tour 24 years ago.

Debbie writes through emails:

I am one of the skinhead girls in the photo as I have just found out my picture was used… Caroline on the left, I’m on the right (in both 1980 and 2016 photos, below). She moved to Australia and was over last weekend. That’s when we found out via Google about the photo, such a shock but a nice one. Eyes nearly popped out when we saw the huge backdrop of us.

I have been in touch with Derek, he is sending us a photo as we never got one. Sent him a photo of what we look like now and he thinks we haven’t changed (well, longer hair and older). Does anyone have any tour mementos?

Caroline lives in Perth, Australia, is married with 3 children and also a granny.

I live in Surrey, married, with 1 son and work in community nursing.

We was both wild when young, me being the worst as my mum tells me.

Skinhead Girls London 1980. derek Ridgers
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About Brighton

pete reunion crowd

   Brighton information
Still one of the most popular seaside destinations in the UK, Brighton has been a tourist hotspot for many years thanks to its climate, nightlife and fantastic shopping.
The advent of the railway really helped to boost the city’s profile. Brighton has consistently attracted visitors for day trips, weekends and entire holidays, with its proximity to London has helped create a huge tourist industry that erupted during the Victorian era, with the building of several attractions including the West Pier and the Palace Pier.
Modern-day Brighton has much to echo the luxury of the Georgian and Victorian eras, with a new swathe of independent boutiques opening in key shopping areas of the city, such as The Lanes, which is packed full of quirky shops, jewellers, antiques dealers and specialist restaurants.
Brighton has been a mecca for youth culture, ever since the 1960’s infamous Mods and Rockers battles. Punk found its south coast home during the 70’s and 80’s, with an explosion of Acid House at the end of the 80’s. in modern day, Brighton has a huge independent music scene, with world renowned bands regularly springing up and touring the world. The town has also seen the rise of a huge Skinhead weekender every June, where people come from across the planet to Moonstomp the weekend away. Showing what a cultural diverse and amazing place the City is

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Skinheads BBC, Don Letts

Skinheads. Don Letts documentary. BBC

When I first received an email from the BBC asking would I like to be involved in a documentary that BBC4 were putting together with Don Letts, my first thought was one of caution, I have done a few documentaries over the years, starting with George Marshall in 1994, Then Skinhead attitude of 2002. The first documentary I remember being made was the 40 minutes, focussing on the band Combat 84 and chubby Chris, which was a complete stitch up, and ruined the bands career, making them being excluded from the forthcoming Oi! Albums and finding their records banned.

The media will always have an agenda, usually one based on other media perceptions on Skinhead racialist politics. So I thought to myself, do I really want to go and tell this terminally boring story once again, but then I thought, well if I don’t, someone else will. Its been a curse for nearly 40 years, since the far right National Front in the UK actively set up a recruitment campaign, targeting disenfranchised white working class kids, provoking and promoting violence and faction. The Skinhead image perfect for the Sun Newspaper to run front page images of the modern devil in our midst. Like any young kid, wanting to be part of something, many jumped onto that image and the wheels have turned ever since, one feeding the other.

barry-bmore-george-don-letts-symond-lawes-bbc-skinhead-documentary

I decided to go meet up with Don and get his story, find out his motivation in his desire to make a documentary. Was it going to be the usual media left wing leaning clap trap. But very soon Don and I started having a laugh, we shared many life experiences and times. Although he is slightly older than me, we were both involved in riots in 1981, both loved punk rock. I had booked Don in 2007 to DJ our Xray Spex show at the Roundhouse, as he was the legendary Roxy club Dj and a friend of Poly Styrene.

Before we started talking Skinhead, Don produced some old tattered photos of himself in the late 60’s as a skinhead, stapress, loafers and button down shirt. Then told me his own story of growing up on a south London council estate, and the early pre punk skinhead days. And that his motivation was to put the record straight, and celebrate the strongest youth subculture to have ever been born in England. Its rich tapestry, that has weaved the threads of Skinhead from the mid 60’s to the mid 2010’s.

I agreed to take part, and roped my old mate from the Wycombe Skinheads, Barry ‘Bmore’ George along. I did put several names forward to the researchers, as people I told them held respect through action in the skinhead world. People like Gary Hodges, Milky, Roy Ellis. They told me they had been speaking to Roi Pearce and Suggs, so I thought it would be great to have some of these king pins of the scene involved, but sadly most people in our scene distrust the media more than rabid dogs, which after all these years, and stitch ups, is understandable. I even find it a struggle with some bands that are very happy to play large ‘Punk’ festivals to a skinhead audience, but don’t want to appear on a flyer for a ‘Skinhead Reunion’ So its a problem on all levels. Until everyone involved claims the Skinhead subculture, and puts their truth forward, the subculture will forever be that of the medias perception. As a kid of 13 I made a vow to become a skinhead, and through lifes journey, its a belief and core I have never felt any embarrassment over. Guilt through association.. well I know who I am, and who my skinhead friends are. So what the media and the middle class think of me, I wont be losing sleep over.

I found the documentary to be surprisingly good. It started with the roots of skinhead. The Reggae and Jamaican influences of its inception in the 60’s. The football hooligan gang fighting of the 70-80’s. The influence created by Joe Pearce and the Young national Fronts campaign. The musical icons like Jimmy Pursey. The 2tone explosion of 1979. Some old footage of Ian Stuart. Live interviews with Kevin Rowland and Pauline Black, to give quite a good balance, and explain the why’s and wherefores of the British Skinhead subculture.

Sure if I had been given the job of researcher and assistant director, I would have added more elements in. The music and what it meant to us, on a street level, the offshoots like the scooter and northern soul scene. Perhaps tried to get people involved in the far right skinhead scene to explain from their angle, why they felt the way they did, and how they feel its part of the skinhead culture they have lived. Don had voices of the far left, with Roddy Mareno. Might have even been nice to find a journalist that would admit to paying young kids for a seig heil for the newspapers.

But what the documentary really did for me, was to show I am not the only person with such a strong passion for our beloved Skinhead subculture. I saw many faces on the screen I consider friends, brothers and sisters. So many of them singing from the same hymn sheet. And that is, there is only one skinhead subculture and its called SKINHEAD

watch it here 

Symond Lawes.

23 Oct 2016

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Punk 45. The Singles Cover Art of Punk 1976-80

The best punk singles record covers – in pictures
Punk 45: The Singles Cover Art of Punk 1976-80 is a collection of punk’s seven-inch sleeves, whose distinctively DIY designs encapsulated the attitude at the heart of the musical genre. Co-edited by Jon Savage and Stuart Baker, the book includes interviews with some of the designers whose use of montage, Day-Glo colours and hand lettering created the punk aesthetic. For Savage, it was the single, not the album, that was the perfect format for the succinct speediness of the music (“A lot of punk songs were two minutes or under,” he says), and here he describes some of his favourite covers of the era

Xray Spex , The World turned Dayglo

This book is a revelatory guide to hundreds and hundreds of original 7” record cover sleeve designs – visual artefacts found at the heart of the most radical and anarchistic musical movement of the 20th century. Punk Rock 45 Soundsystem! is introduced (and co-compiled) by Jon Savage, author of the acclaimed definitive history of punk, England’s Dreaming. As well as the encyclopaedic visual imagery featured inside, the book also includes a number of interviews with celebrated designers involved in creating punk’s original iconic imagery. The revolutionary do-it-yourself ethic of punk was applied to the aesthetic of design as much as it was to music, and record sleeves acted as lo-fi signifiers of anarchy, style, fashion, politics and more with an urban and suburban invective courtesy of the 1000s of new bands – punk, post-punk, pre-punk, nearly-punk and more – that emerged at the end of the 1970s. This book is an exhaustive, thorough and exciting celebration of the stunning artwork of punk music – everything from the most celebrated and iconic designs through to the stark beauty of the cheapest do-it-yourself lo-fi obscurities.

Punk record covers: Punk Record covers x ray spex
X-Ray Spex: The Day the World Turned Day-Glo
Jon Savage: “A perfect fusion of music and image.”

Blitzkrieg bop , The Ramones


Punk record covers: Punk record covers Ramones
Ramones: Blitzkreig Bop
Design by John Holmstrom of Punk magazine. “A very good example of their cartoon format.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

Sex Pistols, God Save The Queen, Picture sleeve


Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen
Design by Jamie Reid. “An archetypal image for an archetypal single.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

Crass, Nagasaki Nightmare


Punk record covers: Punk record covers crass
Crass: Nagasaki Nightmare
Art and design by Crass. “Crass record sleeves were a mine of information, illustration and agit-prop design”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

Punk record covers scritti politti

Punk record covers: Punk record covers scritti politti
Scritti Politti: Work in Progress 2nd Peel Session
“A fantastically influential sleeve, which includes a detailed breakdown of the cost of production.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

The Panik, It Won't Sell


Punk record covers: Punk record covers the panik
The Panik: It Won’t Sell
Design by Steve McGarry. “The image of hustlers is from a 1964 Time magazine. The Panik were the first group to be managed by future Joy Division and New Order manager Rob Gretton.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

The Middle Class, Out of Vogue


Punk record covers: Punk record covers the middle class
The Middle Class, Out of Vogue
“A great illustration of the suburban nightmare.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

Orgasm_Addict_Live Buzzcocks


Punk record covers: punk record covers Buzzcocks
Buzzcocks, Orgasm Addict
Montage by Linder Sterling, design by Malcolm Garrett. “I worked with Linder Sterling when we produced a magazine called The Secret Public. From the first moment I saw her work, I was a huge fan, and very pleased to work with her. I also love the colour that Malcolm Garrett put behind the central image, which is so striking. It’s a feminist image on a pop record sleeve for a song about sexual excess, which manages to be at once extremely true and also very funny.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books

Subway Sect, Nobodys Scared Picture cover

Punk record covers: punk record covers subway sect
Subway Sect: Nobody’s Scared
“Their first single, a good example of the underground imagery prevalent in punk.”
Photograph: Soul Jazz Books


Punk record covers: Punk record covers punk 45 book cover Available on Amazon and other outlets

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Tear Up (5 minute interview)

With The Great Skinhead Reunion looming we dropped into Jamie from Tear Up to see how things were cooking, so here’s a 5 minute interview

tear up 2

Whilst looking for new bands to introduce to the skinhead world, i came across Tear Up last year, and after a brief chat with the singer Jamie, sussed out, he had the right attitude and decided to give them a whirl at the Great Skinhead Northern gathering, an event which i thought might intimidate a young band, being in the deep dark north East town of Sunderland, home of British ship building and strong working class community, but they rode it like professionals and brought the house down. Apprenticeship served, they are up for smashing the fuck out of the Brighton Skinhead Reunion.

Takes me right back to early Cockney Rejects with a touch of Peter and The Test Tube Babies

1. the first thing that jumped in my mind when i saw Tear Up was, why would a young bloke be into oi?
Well I grown up always loving the cockney rejects and I have known Jon from argy bargy and Nick from angry agenda since I was really little so they got me hooked on the oi scene I love the passion and aggression behind it

2. why did you decide to form a band
I wrote a few songs in prison and when I came out I tried giving them to Terry Hayes from the east end badoes but he said I should start my own band so got on stage with them a few times then started my own band

3. where are you from, whats your history and connection to the oi/ skinhead scene
Im from watford I was a bit of a scallywag growing up but I got a my little boy Ronnie now the only thing I love more than the band as I said previously there is a few bands out of Watford u go to a gig talk to people and your network just gets bigger and bigger

4. who writes for tear up
I write all the stuff for us I co wrote a song with Steve thurlow from Peckham Rolex and I am currently writing a song with John mundy from vicious rumours top bloke he is

5. what was your first song
My first song was bollocks to the smoking ban

6. what was your first gig, and the highlight so far
My first gig was angry agenda nicks birthday at some club in Watford I was so nervous I pace up and down and drive everyone mad lol we played 4 songs I think

7. whats the plan for 2016 -2017
Just gotta finish recording the album and get it out there hopefully get a few gigs over the water

have you released any material for people to buy
We have a 5 track ep called fuckin av it I’m sure we will have a couple kicking about in Brighton

9. why did you ask to play the skinhead reunion, a tough crowd to please
We played the northern gathering and people loved us not as tough as they look lol I had lost my voice as well I’m pretty sure you asked us when we had all them jager bombs
10. can we expect new material from tear up soon
We have 3 New songs called dodgy Dave, punch the cunt out of you inspired by the YouTube video cockney rejects trouble at bridgehouse and another song called retribution .

See u all in a few weeks

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King Hammond and The Rude Boy Mafia confirmed for the Great Skinhead Reunion, Brighton

Legends of British Ska, King Hammond and The Rude Boy Mafia confirmed for the Great Skinhead Reunion, Brighton.

skinhead reunion 2016 dj flyer

As we like to have a real mixed genre bag every day of the Great Skinhead Reunion, We are pleased to announce King Hammond will be hot tailing down to Brighton for our Sunday night Knees up session, to play out 2016.

* Nick played his first professional (paid!) gig in July 1977 at The Roxy Club in London where his band The Dead shared a bill with Cocksparrer & Dead Fingers Talk. The same week he was pictured on the front of the Melody Maker under the headline “Teds Versus Punks”!

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