Category Archives: Recollections

Recollections of 60’s London

 

“I was born and grew up in Oldham and left to come to London in 1966. Having enjoyed my early and mid teens up North, which mid teens up North, which wasn’t all bad as the Beatles and The Hollies were northern groups, London was amazing to me. The swinging had just started and I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I had come to London to work in the Savoy as a chef and I loved every moment. I lived in Bloomsbury and walked down through Covent Garden every morning, it was like being on the set of My Fair Lady or Oliver. I bought my clothes in Carnaby Street and the Kings Road. Every day was an event, famous names at the Savoy, the latest Beatles album, concerts and mini skirts. I left catering in 1968 shortly after I met my first wife and led rather a hippy existence thereafter, but those first few years in London in the Sixties were the stuff of dreams.”                John Bell, London

“In 1966, I was working at Midland’s branch in Brixton —so old fashioned that it conjures up images of the office of Ebenezer Scrooge. It still had large sloping desks in the back office at which you had to stand to hand post the deposit ledgers, a task that was done on a ‘real time’ basis. Caribbean immigrants settling in South London opened “new deposit” (non-checking) accounts and they were wont to deposit and withdraw cash into and out of these two of three times a day! One of these customer’s first name was Winston St Leger. His parents were proud of Churchill’s achievements during WW2 and also enjoyed horse racing. The St Leger inaugurated in 1776 is still one of the premier flat races in the English flat racing calendar! Sadly during my two year sojourn in Brixton, I was not aware of the emergence of a talented young singer, David Bowie, who was born here and performed regularly at the Brixton Ritz. My musical interests at that time revolved principally around modern jazz. I remember catching the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Fairfield Halls, I have to admit that I was largely oblivious to the ‘swinging Sixties’ in London. I’m not sure I can recall ever walking down Carnaby Street then either!” A former bank clerk in London

Art galleries in London in the 60’s

Gallery owner Robert Fraser

The Swinging Sixties’ Grooviest Art Dealer: In London, Remembering Robert Fraser
by Edward M. Gómez on March 21, 2015 in Hyperallergic

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Photo by Hans Hammarskiöld of the art dealer Robert Fraser at his gallery in 1966, with, on the left, Peter Blake’s “Drum Majorette” (1959), Derek Boshier’s painting “Sam Spade” (1966), and, on the right, Jann Haworth’s “Cowboy” (1964); gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 x 12 in (photo © Hans Hammarskiöld, courtesy of Pace London)

 

 

“LONDON — Looking back at history, one encounters certain individuals who reflect the changing attitudes, social values, or cultural trends of their times, while certain others seem to define and embody them; they’re the ones who become the symbols of the spirit of an age.

The art dealer Robert Fraser (1937–1986) became one such emblem of a particular place at a memorably effervescent moment; his was “Swinging London” of the 1960s, with its explosion of sexy-goofy fashion, its soundtrack of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and its unabashedly open expressions of sexuality. Swinging, grooving, and fueled by pot and pills, London in the sixties was a post-imperial pop-culture hub whose tradition-busting, style-setting forces Fraser played a large role in setting in motion.

Known as Britain’s main purveyor of Pop Art in both its home-grown and imported, American varieties, his Robert Fraser Gallery became London’s — and Europe’s — unrivaled, hip-art emporium. Around Fraser and his exhibitions orbited a vast cast of friends, admirers and associates, including, among others, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, and Paul and Linda McCartney; Francis Bacon, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat; the British Pop artists Peter Blake, Jann Haworth, Clive Barker, Richard Hamilton, and Eduardo Paolozzi; and many forward-looking collectors. A master at assembling exhibitions, Fraser was irresponsible when it came to running his gallery and routinely neglected to pay his artists. Often he was drunk or drugged-up, but still he managed to function. As Dine once observed, ‘Robert knew everyone in the world at one point.’ ”

Art in the Swinging Sixties

from the Tate Modern website

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/art-60s-was-tomorrow/exhibition-themes/swinging-sixties

The DIAS Symposium

The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) was held at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, London, from 9-11 September 1966, launching a series of events. It brought together a diverse group of international artists, poets, and scientists, including key representatives of the counter-cultural underground, to speak on the theme of destruction in art. Throughout September Happenings, poetry readings, and performances took place in venues all over London.

Effective marketing by the Honorary Committee, led by Gustav Metzger, brought the symposium a great deal of attention in the national and international media, as well as throughout the international art community.

This general overview of DIAS was taken at the Africa Centre in Covent Gardens, London in 1966. The DIAS press release claimed that: ‘The main objective of DIAS was to focus attention on the element of destruction in Happenings and other art forms, and to relate this destruction in society.’

Indica Gallery

Indica Gallery was a counterculture art gallery in Mason’s Yard (off Duke Street), St. James’s, London, England during the late 1960s, in the basement of the Indica Bookshop co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles. It was supported by Paul McCartney and hosted a show of Yoko Ono’s work in November 1966 at which Ono first met John Lennon. In addition to Yoko Ono, the sculptor Takis, ‘kinetic poet’ Liliane Lijn, Mark Boyle and Joan Hills exhibited at Indica.

John Dunbar quoted in Tate Magazine (Summer 2004):

“I had just left Cambridge University, where I had been studying Baroque art under the great Michael Jaffe. I was introduced to Barry Miles in 1965 at the seminal poetry reading at the Albert Hall. We shared an interest in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and had the same taste, so we decided to set up a gallery. We found a place in Mason’s Yard (now James Hyman Gallery). We felt that we needed to do something that went against the stuffiness of the existing galleries, but we didn’t really know what we were doing. I was very young and quite innocent about what was going on.
We showed artists such as Soto, de Marco, Julio Le Parc, Takis and Liliane Lijn. There were no painting shows, just what you might call conceptual works. From the beginning the place became a stopping-off point – everyone came through Indica. One of those who did was Yoko Ono, who had just been over for the Destruction in Art Symposium. She asked me if she could have a show and I said, yes…
We had a casual way of running the gallery. I never took it seriously as a business in the way that they do now. We funded the space on a day-to-day basis, and we enjoyed it. Even though it was a critical success, at that time the galleries had to be there for ten years or so before the public institutions thought about buying anything.
The gallery became very popular, and there were always press turning up to do interviews with us. We were being paid a lot of attention. The gallerist Robert Fraser liked what we were doing and subsequently gave John Lennon his first one-person show there. It wasn’t competitive, though. We were friends. We were the first post-war generation, and the biggest changes happened then. It was a very different time. Everything was on the move – it made you want to do new things, whether it was in art, film, music.”

 

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L-R: Peter Asher, Miles, John Dunbar outside Indica Gallery, 6 Mason’s Yard, 1966

What do you remember about London in the 1960’s?

Summer 1965

Cilla_Black_(1970)Cilla Black 1943-2015

Cilla Black was an icon of the 1960’s British music phenomena. Born in Liverpool, she was a friend of the Beatles and worked at the Cavern Club. In May 2010 new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the UK’s biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s

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Model Jenny Boyd blonde) in photo shoot, Summer 1965

Grammar schools go comprehensive: Education Secretary Anthony Crosland’s role by Dominic Sandrbook, Daily Mail, July 29, 2015

“In July 1965, he issued his notorious Circular 10/65, using his department’s financial muscle to force local authorities to scrap their grammars and go comprehensive  ‘If it’s the last thing I do,’ he gleefully told his wife, ‘I’m going to destroy every f*****g grammar school in England.’
This was a shameful moment in our recent history. It is not just that Crosland wilfully destroyed many good schools which had worked wonders to improve the life chances of children from poor, working-class homes. It is that he saw his role as that of a petty dictator, using the power of Whitehall to trample on local objections.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2894963/Why-Britain-wrecked-1965-Fifty-years-ago-UK-socially-morally-culturally-different-country-ways-better-people-far-worse.html#ixzz3hKFk8u90
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Beatles “Help” album and film are released

 

KinksSeeMyFriends-1Kinks release See My Friends

“Fifty years ago, at the height of the British Invasion, The Yardbirds released Heart Full of Soul (28 May 1965) and The Kinks, See My Friends”(30 July 1965). Both attempted to evoke something exotic, mysterious, and distinctly different from the flood of productions competing for consumer attention that summer. Drawing on Britain’s long fascination with “The Orient,” these recordings started sixties British pop down a path that proved both rewarding and problematic.”

Gordon R. Thompson is a Professor of Music at Skidmore College. His book, Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out, offers an insider’s view of the British pop-music recording industry. Check out Thompson’s posts on The Beatles and other music .

See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/07/british-invasion-orientalism-summer-1965-pop-music/#sthash.s4pLh0bv.dpuf- See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/07/british-invasion-orientalism-summer-1965-pop-music/#sthash.U6svM23I.dpuf

What was the weather?

August – Slightly below average temperature; near normal rainfall and sunshine.
Mean Temperature 16.6°C
Monthly Highest 25.8°C Total Rain 59 mm
Monthly Lowest 9.1°C Total Sun 188 hrs

After a fine day on the 1st, the 2nd was cool and wet. Nearly 16mm of rain fell and the temperature only reached 16°C. It then became fairly warm with plenty of dry weather. On the 12th, the temperature almost reached 26°C. Atlantic fronts brought some bands of mostly light rain, but at the end of the third week frontal systems became more active and temperature levels fell. On the last day of August a northerly wind blew and the maximum temperature was only 17°C.

Sounds of the Sixties

There was the music of course. But in addition, these are some of the sounds people associate with the 1960’s in London What sounds do you remember?

‘Penny for the Guy’ leading up to the 5th November Bonfire nights

Clink of milk bottles being delivered on your door step

“Mind the gap” announcements in the Underground

Calls of the rag and bone men

Clippity clop of the dray horses

The bells and ticket machines on the buses and the tinkling sounds of coins in the conductors’s pouch.v0_master

Factory horns announcing starting and closing times

Newspaper vendors yelling “Staaandard, get your Evening Standard here”

Air raid sirens once a week

“Clunk and clink of the record changer on the Dansette record player.maxresdefault

Children playing in the street and the occasional yell of “car!”

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“Car horns that played a little ditty.”

Picking up the phone and hearing another conversation on the trunk line

The “whoosh” of the metal container used in department stores to move money from the sales desk to the accounts department on another floor

 

Sounds of the Sixties

There was the music of course.  

But in addition, these are some of the sounds people associate with the 1960’s in London.

What sounds do you remember?

 

The sound of cars backfiring. Our dog was always terrified when she heard it and rushed home, her tail between her legs.

The tap tap of typewriter keys and the whirr of the carriage return after each line.

The clunkety clunk of a copying machine which used a stencil sheet where the letters were punched holes which let the ink through sheet after sheet.

images

Clink of milk bottles being delivered on your door step

“Mind the gap” announcements in the Underground

Calls of the rag and bone men

Clippity clop of the dray horses

 

The bells and ticket machines on the buses and the tinkling sounds of coins in the conductors’s pouch.v0_master

Factory horns announcing starting and closing times

Newspaper vendors yelling “Staaandard, get your Evening Standard here”

Air raid sirens once a week

“Clunk and clink of the record changer on the Dansette record player.maxresdefault

Children playing in the street and the occasional yell of “car!”

article-2104579-011FEC56000004B0-349_634x400

 

“Car horns that played a little ditty.”

Picking up the phone and hearing another conversation on the trunk line

The “whoosh” of the metal container used in department stores to move money from the sales desk to the accounts department on another floor

‘Penny for the Guy’ leading up to the 5th November Bonfire nights

Your recollections of London in the 60’s

What do you remember about London in the 60’s

Memories of a young bank clerk in 1966

“In 1966, I was working at Midland’s branch in Brixton —so old fashioned that it conjures up images of the office of Ebenezer Scrooge. It still had large sloping desks in the back office at which you had to stand to hand post the deposit ledgers, a task that was done on a ‘real time’ basis. Caribbean immigrants settling in South London opened “new deposit” (non-checking) accounts and they were wont to deposit and withdraw cash into and out of these two of three times a day! One of these customer’s first name was Winston St Leger. His parents were proud of Churchill’s achievements during WW2 and also enjoyed horse racing. The St Leger inaugurated in 1776 is still one of the premier flat races in the English flat racing calendar! Sadly during my two year sojourn in Brixton, I was not aware of the emergence of a talented young singer, David Bowie, who was born here and performed regularly at the Brixton Ritz. My musical interests at that time revolved principally around modern jazz. I remember catching the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Fairfield Halls, I have to admit that I was largely oblivious to the ‘swinging Sixties’ in London. I’m not sure I can recall ever walking down Carnaby Street then either!”

John Hopkins “Hoppy” (1937-2015) on the publication of the underground newspaper International Times in 1966

“Once we had our own media it began to feel like a movement.”  John “Hoppy” Hopkins was one of the best-known counterculture figures of London in the 1960s He was a photographer, journalist, and political activist. He was the co-founder of at least three underground projects: International Times newspaper, the UFO Club,and the London Free School. “During the couple of years up to June 1967, when Hoppy was jailed for cannabis possession, Britain’s fertile and diverse counterculture took much of its inspiration from him, and he was the closest thing the movement ever had to a leader.” The Guardian, February 15, 2015

Actress Anjelica Huston remembers

from Calling London: A Counterculture History of London since 1945 by Barry Miles

“. . .playing a good deal of hooky in the basement of a fish and chip shop in Powis Terrace called the London Free School. We used to spend many a happy afternoon with a bunch of bright hippies doing what I care not to remember. . .To come into one’s age in London. . .I remember hearing Bob Dylan for the first time and Otis Redding for the first time and going to see Ike and Tina Turner at the Revolution. Not to mention the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Roundhouse, Eel Pie Island, It was something that was unprecedented and I think it threw everyone into a state but it was awfully good fun if you were on the cusp to it.”

Recollections of a former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Alan Johnson, former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, worked in a Tesco warehouse for 8 Pounds a week starting in January 1966. In his autobiography This Boy, he writes “By day we were unassuming supermarket workers, but every moment of our spare time was devoted to the pursuit of our dream to become pop stars. We longed to form a proper band.”

Where did you hear the latest pop music?

“I remember the music, transistor radios, buying 45s and waiting by the radio for every new Beatles single to come out, listening to the pirate radio. I recall buying Sgt Pepper from my pocket money.” Mike Aiken

“The juke box man came once a month and updated the selection according to its position in the pop charts,” Julie Norton, publisher of A Cup of Tea that is forever England remembers the juke box in her parents’ cafe:

Recollections in general about 1960’s London

“We had such simple pleasures as regards entertainment, just a record player and someone’s front room. All friends gathered just to dance and enjoy the music.The girls never drank alcohol and the boys had a couple of pints that lasted all night. On a Saturday we would go to a record shop and all crowd into a tiny booth to hear the record of our choice. Hardly ever actually bought a record because someone else in your group already had it. I can so remember my starched net petticoats which were all squashed into the record booths, all of us wore them or mini skirts.” Gill Palin

“I remember the music, transistor radios, buying 45s and waiting by the
radio for every new Beatles single to come out, listening to the
pirate radio. I recall buying Sgt Pepper from my pocket money as I
entered my teenagehood, a group of hippies once visited the school and
were allowed to talk to us one lunch break by the head. I recall
feeling embarrassed when the Beatles grew beards. Seeing my photo from
that year it seems amazing that I look so young and innocent! I recall
finding the times enticing but somehow mysterious  – and
overall much of life was very ordinary! Obviously we only have one
teenage period and so it is hard to distinguish whether those senses
of the time would be just about ‘growing up’.”  Mike Aiken