Hello again good people and thanks for dropping back in to the blog. You’ll want to see this post through to completion I promise you. It’s been an interesting week to say the least for a number of reasons but most stem back to Monday for one reason or another as you’ve surely noticed, today I’ve got a great piece from a special guest contributor to the blog.
Before that though I wanted to express my sadness at learning of the death of a friend I’ve made via the blog and in turn facebook. When you write almost daily you establish connections with those who read and comment and although we’ve never enough time to get to know people dotted around the world as well as we should you still tend to form a bond, it’s really nice as a blogger to know people enjoy and look forward to what you write due to a common interest – in this case of course it was The Clash.
Rosemary was a Clash fanatic and a true old school rebel rocker/punk rocker, never one to stop questioning authority and quick witted with it. Above all else though she was a really nice person in every interaction I had with her. I knew she had been very ill and was deeply saddened to learn that she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Monday, she was just 52. Clash fans are like a big extended family, above all else I expected that when I started writing this blog and it’s proven to be the case. We’ve lost one of our own, RIP Rosemary and condolences to your family.
On to a much brighter note then, today I’m pleased to tell you that we have a very special piece from none other than noted author Pat Gilbert. You shouldn’t need telling that Pat wrote ‘Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash‘, if somehow you’ve yet to read it you’re hereby instructed to get a copy this weekend. It’s one of my favourite books about The Clash, full of facts and background information on the band yet never becoming detached from the obvious fact that Pat is a true fan of the band. It’s a great read and my mark for a great book is one you’ll return to numerous times and Gilbert’s study of The Clash passes that test with flying colours.
Anyway, Pat got in touch earlier this week and asked if I’d like to run a brand new piece he’d penned about Kosmo Vinyl including an interview. I didn’t need to be asked twice. Reproduced in full below, get stuck in and enjoy.
KOSMO VINYL – CLASH CO-MANAGER’S EXHIBITS HIS FOOTIE-OBSESSED POP ART
A rasping East End voice, familiar from the rabble-rousing clarion call introducing The Clash on their *Live At Shea Stadium LP, booms down a transatlantic phone line. “I tell my sons, You think supporting West Ham is bad? Well, Mick Jones has to support QPR, imagine what that’s like!”
The lively tones belong to Kosmo Vinyl, one-time Ian Dury & The Blockheads road manager/PR man and, more famously, co-conspirator with Bernard Rhodes in overseeing The Clash during their breakthrough as a mega-selling international act in the early ‘80s and messy demise. His role within the Clash camp involved everything from organising their pivotal residency at Bonds International Casino in New York’s Times Square, to designing their Know Your Rights single sleeve and being dispatched to find Joe Strummer when he went AWOL on the eve of a UK tour in 1982. (Kosmo eventually found him disguised behind a bushy beard in a bar in Paris.)
Now in his mid-fifties, and a long-time resident of New York, Vinyl is branching out into the world of Pop Art with an exhibition titled Is Saitch Yer Daddy, collecting the collages he creates after every West Ham game. The images originally appeared on Vinyl’s blogspot Is Saitch Yer Daddy – a famous graffito painted on a wall near West Ham’s ground in the ‘60s – where under his alias Andy Pepper he invites discussion about his team’s triumphs, catastrophes and all points in between.
Football, he stresses, has always been a big part of his life, even during the frenetic Clash years. “We always talked about it – Joe [Strummer] used to go to watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge,” he says, “though I don’t remember Mick going to QPR, but then they were probably in the Southern League then (laughs). And I took [the famously amusing and cantankerous] Bernie to see West Ham at Upton Park once, that was amusing.”
So how did your interest in art begin?
It’s funny, the first two people I ever knew who did art were Sir Peter Blake and [Stiff Records sleeve designer] Barney Bubbles. Despite being an avid record collector, before I met Barney I had no idea how a record sleeve was made or conceived. I just imagined the Faces picked a picture they liked… I never thought about it. When I became close to Ian Dury, he said his friend Peter was a painter, and had done [the *Sgt. Pepper sleeve]. I thought, I know that! All I knew then about art school was that The Rolling Stones and Beatles had gone there, and you sat around smoking and playing guitar. But it was more serious than that, of course, for the people who went there. I remember Mick Jones’ grandmother telling me they were very upset when he quit art school. They came round to her flat on a couple of occasions to ask him back. I was, Oh, I thought he was only there to play guitar. No, she said, he did it quite seriously at one point.
What was the first art work you did?
The first thing I did was the Clash Know Your Rights logo, with the star and the book and the ribbon. I drew that up on a piece of paper, and Bernie said, “We’ll have that!” It was Jules [Balme, Clash sleeve artist] who took the rough and made it good for the single. After the Clash I was really into postcards as a means of communication. I like the fact the postman can read them (laughs). They’re simple, you can’t write too much. I used up so many I started making my own. I had a mate who moved to Canada, a Chelsea supporter, and I started making up these cards which would either praise or complain about West Ham. Or taking the mickey out of Chelsea. Then my son said, “Why don’t you put them on a blog so other people can see them as well?”
Do you have a favourite?
I like all of them. With Sam Allardyce, I’ve recast him as [comic book hero] Alf Tupper, and Fergie as [Glasgow gangster] Charlie Endell from the ‘70s TV series Budgie. I like the Kray Brothers one, I like that gallows humour, which is what they represent to me at this stage. I was lucky as a fan because I started seeing them just before England won the World Cup, and West Ham had Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters – the Holy Trinity. I watched them a lot from 1965 to 1975, and I travelled to watch them in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup [in Belgium in 1976], and that got a bit out of hand. Some bad behaviour, it got ugly, and I thought, It’s only a football match. Then the punk rock thing happened, I moved away from going. Life got a bit more dangerous – people in football didn’t like kids with dyed hair and straight trousers. I met the Blockheads, which led to The Clash.
What do you do in New York these days?
I’m a property manager and landlord. My wife works. It’s not that different to tour managing, you’re dealing with issues, dealing with people. Electricians and painters are like roadies in a way. But I’m essentially a family man with two kids – The Clash was good practice for that! (laughs)
*Is Saitch Yer Daddy runs at the Eb & Flow Gallery, 77 Leonard Street, London EC2 from April 8 to April 15
Please join me in thanking Pat for an excellent contribution to the blog. If you’re exceptionally nice he might just return. Right, back to the paying gig for me, expect more over the weekend. Cheers – Tim