(Episode two) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell -Psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, lightshows, poets, and drug-taking in a crypt


Interview with Dave Russell on the Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill in the 60s and 70s( Part Two)

Following on from my previous post here is episode 2 of my interview with Dave Russell from a couple of weeks ago. Here he continues to tell us of the gigs and wild arts happenings in Notting Hill 1967-1972 occurring first at The Ecumenical Centre in Denbigh Road Notting Hill which later moved to the bigger venue in the crypt of the Methodist Church in Lancaster Road otherwise known as “The Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill” where psychedelic bands such as Gong, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind performed, here he also tells us of acoustic musicians, poets and drug use on church premises.

Dave Russell interview episode 2

I’ll edit and upload the next episode of this interview in a couple of days time.

This is Ron Geesin with “Spiky Diving Bells”

Now I’m cheating by using a documentary of Hawkwind in the early Notting Hill years
(for those of you from outside the UK :Ladbroke Grove is a road and an area in the North End of Notting Hill where it was a bit rougher than than the south, Notting Hill is in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea but was a much poorer area)

I apologise for name-dropping but I just cannot post that Hawkwind clip without saying that I used to know both Mick Slattery and Terry Ollis who both feature in that clip and have casually played music with both of them..although I’m not sure what they think of me! I’ve also met Lemmy and Nik Turner but they won’t remember me and I don’t remember a lot about them!

This is the Amazing Davy Graham who is still gigging and very influential to British Folk musicians in the 60s

…..and here is Dave Russell himself performing

Back in a couple of days with episode three
Love and Peace
Born2rant

Apologies to anyone who doesn’t have broadband!

I’ll write some more stories soon but unfortunately some of the craziest ones I could write I won’t because I respect my old friends too much not just the ones in this post!

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The Chainsaw Party (still feeling guilty about this)


The Chainsaw Party Poster

(Poster from the attic of Michael Dog. Thanks. This post was written before the poster was found so that’s why it might sound weird!)

I still remember the day we went to look at the venue and made the deal with the liberal and ever so sweet vicar.

The Church Hall was a huge old barn with oak beams and a newly renovated parquet floor. As Michael told the vicar that we were unemployed musicians wanting to do something for ourselves by running a concert and the vicar offered us the hall for free, I wanted to say something urgently as apocalyptic visions of mud on new wooden floors and possibly other damages worried me. But in the end I said nothing , I let them get on with it, I still wish I had said something .

The Chainsaw Party was a concept partly influenced by our finding 80s heavy metal bands extremely camp and funny and watching the Comic Strip doing ” Bad News” plus “Spinal Tap” etc…

Michael and Bob formed a heavy metal band with our friend James on lead vocals whose antics knew no limits and a couple of other friends. Their name was Bludgen (although I thought it was Bludgeon …don’t know who is right so I’ll use Michael’s spelling).

The day of the gig I was sent to the butcher’s to go buy some offal, as a vegetarian it was not an easy task. I also bought some cling film and experimented with a mixture of bright green powder paint, flour, oil and water which I was to cover myself with from head to toe before wrapping myself in cling film.

When I got to the church hall the usual lengthy preparations were under way including mounting projectors for the lightshow and films and decorating the room with scrim-netting , blowing up balloons ( the nitrous oxide cylinder which came from an unknown source was popular backstage) and general shifting of music equipment.

It was a very cold night with snow and ice outside so it must have been in winter 1984 0r 85?

As well as Bludgen they had booked Giant Aphid Attack fronted by Karen, which was a psychedelic punk band who played at a few of our events. Also on the bill was The Cannibals, a well-known garage surf band who are still going strong, I met and chatted to Spencer before the gig. I think Adam of Treatment and maybe Clive were in the band. Treatment were usually always booked to play but this time they were peppered around the other bands. It would be good to meet up with a few people and get things like band line-ups etc. straight for that memorable gig.

We had run a previous gig in a town hall where no one had turned up and part of the reason for having a spoof heavy metal party was because we knew so many bikers . We affectionately called them Hendon MC and the name stuck although most of them came from Finchley.

As the gig began and we let the public in, we were pleased to see that there was a crowd. However soon the bikers came inside the hall, on their motorbikes, they were going round in circles and filling the venue with fumes and putting tyre marks on the parquet flooring. Eventually after much showing off they parked their bikes near the front on the right side. On the left hand side of the stage there was a paddling pool full of peat where a mud wrestling contest was held. The audience being mainly made up of bikers and in a general atmosphere of rowdiness, the mud wrestling and pelting continued throughout the evening and at one point the paddling pool collapsed altogether spilling a mud pond all over the floor.

Half way through the evening I went on covered from head to foot in green slime and cling film and a dress ( I am glad I chose to wear the dress at the last minute as people were constantly coming up to me and peeling off my cling film ). I was the alien cabaret Astragone Arglegarle\'s first gig ( not a flattering photo of me)( see Anti-media stories part one for more details). I was pelted with mud by skinheads while I sang ” She just desperately wants hippies” then ” Your slime mingled with mine” ( quite appropriate when covered in green slime and mud pies) and told a few jokes.

Later Bludgen took the stage fronted by one of our friends James who enjoyed doing dangerous things. I had bought the offal for their act and he had put it in a life-sized papier mache head. I will now let Michael tell you some of the rest of the story in his words.

” Yes there was indeed a papier mache head filled with offal which James stamped on till it burst and then threw the contents out into the audience who then proceeded to throw bits of offal at each other.(It was herrings in blown up durexes at the next gig!)
Bob was hanged on a theatrical gallows during one number. The harness that he was wearing went wrong and he found himself REALLY hanging by his neck though none of us were aware! Thankfully, the gallows collapsed under his weight, damaging his Les Paul guitar, but saving his life in the process!”

Some Bludgen song titles: ‘Suck My Dick’, ‘Hendon MC Born To Be Free’ and ‘You’re Dead’.

“Someone called Louise did indeed bring a chainsaw (which she was waving about switched on) onstage and at one point, she waved it from behind, between James’s legs which he was unaware of. I noticed it whilst I was playing and remember thinking how close he came to losing his manhood in spectacular fashion….And yes, I did buy and wear a pair of too tight PVC trousers, that split at
the crotch…and I wasn’t wearing underpants!

Poor vicar!”

After the gig we did all we could to salvage the hall. We were all tired and pretty much out of it. There was a glass eating contest going on in the kitchen which I was trying to stop between a friend and another biker. They kept munching their way through beer glasses and I kept telling them to stop whilst simultaneously amazed that there was no blood or cuts even though they were biting through real glass. I guess it was some kind of biker miracle.

Luckily quite a few people stayed to clear up , I remember mopping up for hours and hours with the back door open and snow and ice everywhere as we tried to get all the mud that had tipped out from paddling pool outside. I spent all night cleaning but the place was a wreck, the balloons had flown up to the joists in the roof, I think someone was trying to shoot them down with an air gun, the tyre marks and oil spillage from the bikers on the parquet flooring….

Yes poor vicar . I think we gave him some money for the damages but still…

It was a great party and it’s on film somewhere although I have not seen it.

That’s all for now.

Thanks to Gordon from Treatment for the photo and to Michael Dog for his verbal contribution.

(If anyone reading this was there and can remember any other details please let me know)

Who killed the hippies?


Footage of a clamp-down on freedom, peace and anti-materialism

This blog requires some audience participation from you.

If you want to understand some of the things I will be writing about in future posts please watch and compare the following clips. It is a history that needs to be told and has been suppressed.

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1983

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1984


See Youtube for further clips of the 1984 Stonehenge festival with Roy Harper, Hawkwind and others.

Stonehenge once we were labelled as “medieval brigands”.Actually Mrs. Thatcher called us medieval brigands in 1986 but they had already labelled us as a threat due to the amount of us amassing in large groups and travelling around the country in the summer.

Below this pararagraph is footage of people trying to get to the Stonehenge Free festival 1985 and getting beaten up by the police,vehicles/homes and possessions destroyed. I met some women at later festivals who told me that subsequently their dogs were put down and children taken into care simply because they happened to be trying to get to Stonehenge ( Battle of the Bean Field).

ITN News footage of hippies being stopped from going to Stonehenge 1985 plus political preamble from an anonymous man

Here is further footage on youtube ,they are excerpts from a documentary on what happened in 1985 on the way to Stonehenge

How does this compare to how hippies are portrayed in current culture/media?
I think they/we were braver than most.

Glastonbury vs Stonehenge

The one and only reason why the Glastonbury Festival still survives is that they charge shit loads of money and follow laws and regulations imposed upon them. If you think your door money is going to Oxfam and Greenpeace , think again. I worked for Oxfam and know people who worked at Glastonbury. The door money mainly goes to greedy music biz management who try to get the biggest fees possible only a tiny percentage goes to charity. I am not against the Glastonbury festival but in our money obsessed culture the only way for festivals to survive is by treating it like an enterprise.

At Stonehenge we had great acts and everyone worked for free.

The Stonehenge Culture
Many bands formed at the Stonehenge festival, it was a creative melting pot for music and for friends to meet up once a year. There were over 200 bands playing on or around the Solstice.For some people the festival lasted the whole of June but the majority of people came down for the Solstice itself. There were many soldiers on leave who used to come along from the surrounding army bases who wanted somewhere to party and see live music.

Peace and Love and Music all given freely and camping in fields are dangerous things to people who follow all the rules, who have to pay for something to enjoy themselves and who do not understand why others should be free or to have a good time without money. Hippies make good scapegoats and objects of ridicule.

Officially the excuse for banning The Stonehenge Free Festival was that it was harming the stones and archeology of the site.

I never personally saw any damage to the stones or to the fields on the other side of the road to Stonehenge where the festival took place. I remember that every year we were given free rubbish bags to help clear the site and hundreds of participants were picking up bits of rubbish before leaving.

They banned all the free festivals that year no matter where they were.

After 1985 the Free Festival scene changed, it attracted people who wanted to fight with the authorities and more peaceful hippies opted out. Can you blame them?

Love and Peace

Born2rant who needs wars when you have words

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).


anti-media continued…. mess-age-magnet-on-careers.jpg

Some other memories of the Anti-Media films. They took lots of footage at Wapping where there were protests by printers at job losses due to computerisation . I think I may be getting some of my years mixed up…apologies for that ,Wapping was in 1986 but I am talking about involvement with Anti-Media events for a period of a couple of years so when I have written 1983 it could have been 1985! I will write more about this in other blogs connected to Club Dog and Alice in Wonderland’s Magical Mystery Trip.
They also had films of shop dummies in windows, it was a bit eerie.
I remember attempting to do stand-up “alien” comedy jokes at our events at Pentameters. My jokes died live on stage. I realised telling jokes was not my forte but throwing jelly at the audience saying it was my ex-husband who suddenly disintergrated was making them laugh, as was playing my silver fake electric guitar, getting out of my silver cardboard box spaceship, emerging from being covered in a mass of newspaper like a mummy shedding it’s bandages, singing love songs to Mr.Spock ( not Dr. Spock) and general anarchy.
I performed as Astragone Arglegargle in many different contexts but performing at the Anti-media events at Pentameters gave me a space to experiment with my act ,write and record new materials, in front of a small supportive audience before doing bigger events or performing to hostile audiences!
I also had an act of performing “Opera Classics”. At that time there were some awful albums of “Rock Classics” i.e. orchestras playing perfectly harmonic arranged and orchestrated versions of famous rock songs and in one fell swoop missing the point of rock music altogether. So I dressed up in a beautiful pink and yellow long dress , wore some kind of fake pearls and sang songs in a suprano fake operatic voice with appropriate posh body language, facial expressions and gestures. I sang Arias including
Hey Fattie Bum-bum“, (Sweet sugar dumpling) by Carl Malcolm, “War Pigs ” ( Black Sabbath), ” Assault and Battery” ( of the human anatomy) by Hawkwind, and of course ” Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and other songs I can no longer remember.
Although this kind of thing has been done since then it was a first at the time.
I gave Christmas cards at one event but had tippexed out all the messages and instead gave the audience cards with unusual messages such as ” Throw away your TV” or random symbolic messages from the I Ching or vague affirmations on self-realisation. This was also before the concept of ” affirmations” tore its way into popular psychology books and made us feel guilty for not being able to achieve our perfect goals for ever more.
There was also performance poetry, from a poet with a club in Barnet, it was as I recall stream of consciousness stuff. There were a lot of masks and balaclava helmets, there was spontaneous political anti-corporate/anti-media ranting, jazz piano playing, live graffitti, more films slash edited and experimental in the style of Jean-Luc Godard , strange trousers and costumes, always deliberately wearing the most unfashionable types of clothing, more interviews with people in hair, fashion and maybe even TV executives, Jud Suss, ( a band of multi-instrumentalists mostly of Jewish families pretending to be Hasidic Jews with much melodramatic wailing naming themselves after an anti-semitic nazi film ..more in another blog), more films, more poets, more crazy music and acts of nonsense .
Leonie was always there in the background like a benevolent force smiling on.
I wish I could remember more but because I had to memorise my own bits and pieces and was often cowering with stage nerves at the side of the stage during the other films and random acts I didn’t always take in what was going on.
However one day we went too far for Pentameters and for the world.

Unbeknown to me there were plans afoot in Hogan and Richard’s mind of which I knew nothing , on this occasion and others. They seemed like such sweet young polite lads too!
After an evening of performances, I finished the show or so I thought with a bit of Astragone Arglegargle alien Music-Hall type stuff.
Then Hogan and Richard put a large TV on the stage. Both of them looked really serious and were in the wings. I just knew something bad was about to happen.
Hogan went on stage and faced the television set, he looked like he was doing some kind of ritualistic silent prayer with the TV set as an altar and made ritual gestures. Then he unzipped his trousers and pissed on the TV. I remember being worried in case he electrocuted himself.
Now forgive me for forgetting who exactly performed the next bit but I had my head turned away and left pretty promptly around this time. So I cannot remember if it was Hogan or Richard , but someone then made the most enormous sausage of poo on top of the TV set.
I heard later that they had been saving it up for 5 days to be sure it would work.
The punchline was ” Look ! There’s a load of crap on the tele as usual!” ( boom,boom,)
A lot of the audience left but about 3 remained and Clive ( Treatment) then grabbed a bagel which was on a table put a bit of shit in the middle and went up to individual members of the audience saying:” Would anyone like a shit sandwich?”
I left. I was slightly peeved that they hadn’t warned me that a show I was taking part in was about to make such a coup.
The place cleared easily with some heckling and later we regrouped at Bob’s place up the road where I seem to remember Clive removed the banister from the staircase by accident of drunkenness. The first time I met Clive a few years before, he was crawling down a staircase head first and there have been a few Clive staircase related incidents since..odd.
Leonie was not at all happy she ordered Hogan and Richard to have the place fumigated and disinfected and I believe Pentameters had to close down and cancel shows as a result. I think the shit sandwich had been passed around a bit too much.
That was the last Pentameters Anti-Media event sadly…but Anti-Media was not dead. If you think that was extreme forget it!
Next time I write you’ll understand why names were changed.
(I so wish blogs were not written with the last one at the top…it would be better the other way around. Thanks for reading.)

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)

Anti-media, aliens, hippies and the 80s subculture in North London(Anti-Media Stories part 1).


“Anti-Media”= a very small bunch of radical loonies including me. We need them now!
Names of some of my Anti-Media associates have
been changed to protect them.

How I was recruited …. Back in the early eighties……

The Anti-Media people had seen my alien act at “The Chainsaw Party” a crazy spoof heavy metal gig we put on (more of that in another blog) and because the main song I did referred to TV personalities and programmes from the sixties and eighties they felt I was right enough for them.
The song I did called “She just desperately wants hippies” was co-written one evening a couple of months before between myself ,Richard, Michael and Bob at a house in Finchley just after Bob and I had had an argument . It was originally about a girl we knew who came from outside London to the gigs we organised to look for hippies to go out with. I suggested I got dressed as an alien who had come from another planet coming to earth looking for hippies and turned this into an act for our forthcoming “The Chainsaw Party”.
My alien character having seen earth TV through satellite television broadcasts , thought it was 1969 not 1984 as the TV signals had taken 15 years to reach my planet. So my character had come from Planet Foam to Planet Earth looking for hippies and found none because it was the eighties when young people wore suits and were yuppies in wine bars, with mobile phones the size of house bricks and wore smug glasses. In my imagination my alien character chose to come to our psychedelic gigs where the second generation hippies gathered to see “Treatment” and other psychedelic/punk bands. My character was a pop star on Planet Foam and so was touring the Universe with her hits. I suffer from horrendous stage nerves /lack of confidence and having a character to hide behind meant I could unleash whatever I wanted. The song ” She just desperately wants hippies” had absurd TV references . Some of the words were quite rude ( a certain “Mastermind” quizmaster having carrots stuck up his bottom…Bob’s line not mine!).
Bob dared me to sing it dressed as an alien and that’s how Astragone Arglegargle was born.
( I hope no one from Magnus Magnusson’s family ever reads or hears about it! If so…it was nothing personal he just had great aliteration in his name)

During my first performance at The Chainsaw Party I was pelted with mud from the mud-wrestling pit by some skinheads but I continued and won the audience over and as soon as I got off stage four people booked me for gigs including Hogan and Richard of Anti-Media .
Hogan had just started working with us by projecting his experimental super 8 films at our gigs and Richard I had met before at Bob’s place where he was staying, I think they had gone to the same school together.
Hogan was wearing a cream coloured polyester 70s suit and geeky glasses and slightly long hair. In London in 2007 this might be considered a fashionable or interesting “retro” look but in 1984 it was very uncool. Even in our anarchic gathering you had to have a uniform to identify you as a hippie or a biker or a punk or a goth or even a pratt new romantic , but this identified him as someone who defied fashion and labels. Richard looked like a cross between Norman Bates in Psycho ( sorry Richard) and Mike Nesbitt from the Monkees but without a woolly hat. He was dressed in drainpipe trousers and neat shirt with short hair and so he also stuck out from our crowd of crazily dressed hippies, punks and bikers. At subsequent gigs I remember Richard with his “normal look” but if you looked down on his feet he wore cloven hooves a bit of a give-away that all was not quite conforming to normality.

When I asked Hogan and Richard what kind of gig they wanted to book me for they were evasive and said it was an “Anti-Media Event” and they gave me flyers which were abstract and said virtually nothing . When I asked them if it was like an art event in the 60s where art students went through a town at night and would paint all the street furniture and anything they could lay their hands with red paint they looked at me and said “Maybe”. I found it hard to take them seriously at first but they took themselves very seriously they were such nice people and clearly brave crazy intellectuals. Although I was part of Anti-Media I kept to the sidelines to a certain extent as I was busy with my son and the gigs Michael and I were running plus I was recording and performing and at that time I started a charity with a friend too so I was very busy. My stories therefore about Anti-media are only the tip of the iceberg. In the end it got too extreme for me and I had to quit.In order to keep this fairly chronological …..“In the next thrilling episode of my blograma…..my first Anti-Media Event and more ranting “

Goings on in Pentameters Theatre:Anti-Media event, rantings on TV, fashion slavery and incompetent policemen(Anti-Media stories part 2)