(A look back at some of the things we used to wear in the 70’s) Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2022
Satin Bomber Jackets
I had a beer with a couple of old mates recently and as well as catching up on life we started reminiscing, as you do, about ‘the good old days’.
We were talking specifically about the early days that bonded us, of going to nightclubs and bars when we were 16, the daft stuff we used to get up to and sadly about an absent friend.
In amongst the blether one of the lads reminded us of a story I’d long since forgotten and which prompted me to do this piece.
I’m not sure where the ‘look’ came from exactly but in Autumn 1974 a crowd of us decided that heading into a Scottish winter, wearing satin bomber jackets would be a good idea. Maybe it was the influence of Glam Rock or Mr Jagger strutting his stuff on TOTP but whatever it was it certainly added a bit of glamour to our wardrobes.
Primarily there were two bomber jacket themes available. American Collegiate or decorative Oriental… you pays your money and took your choice.
We had a mix of both in our little clique and thought we looked the part as we made our way on the blue buses into Glasgow to find bars we could get into before descending upon Clouds (soon to become the Apollo) nightclub.
This one night pre-Clouds, we popped into a Chinese restaurant for a quick fix of spare ribs where one of the waiters took an interest in our jackets and made a point of going round the group to explain what the embroidered Chinese motifs meant….
“Ah, the symbol on your jacket is a Tiger this represents tremendous courage & great bravery“
Then on to the next one…
“The symbol on yours my friend is a Fire Dragon, this signifies outstanding virtues like honesty & patience”
He continued, explaining the meaning of each motif until he came to one jacket, took a double take and started laughing, he scurried off before returning, colleagues in-tow, pointing at the jacket… where upon they all started laughing too.
As fate would have it, the jacket in question belonged to our pal Cubby who always dressed immaculately and who took the term ‘pride in your appearance‘ to a whole new level.
To say he was slightly taken aback would be a huge understatement.
You see, Cubby, meticulous as ever, had deliberated long and hard before selecting this jet-black satin bomber with elaborate oriental embroidery. Every buying decision he made was considered and this one was no exception. The jacket in question had been hand-picked to ensure it looked just right with his patchwork jeans, Simon shirt and highly polished footwear.
Flummoxed, he asked the waiter to explain what was so funny, but this just made him laugh more…. and the more Cubby pushed for a response, the harder he laughed.
We went back the following week hoping to find out what was so funny but as soon as the waiter saw Cubby and his jacket again, he started sniggering.
Befuddled, Cubby refused to go back to the restaurant whilst he was wearing the jacket, and we never did find out what had them rolling in the aisles of the Lucky Star.
The satin jackets prevailed for a few more months with our parents stating the obvious “you’ll catch your death of cold” every-time we ventured out the house.
The nature of trends dictates that eventually most ‘looks’ filter down into the mass-market and when we started to see cheaper versions of the jackets being sold and worn, we knew it was time to move on to our next fashion faux pas, whatever that was.
So, satin bomber jackets are the first entry into our equivalent of the ‘Victoria & Albert Museum of – What We Used To Wear‘, with further examples of 70s attire and footwear to follow.
Thanks to Jim Martin for rekindling the memories of those good times spent with himself, Mick Irvine, Hugh Kinnaird, Brian Cuthbertson, Joe Hunter and others.
If you’d told me 45 years ago that a DJ could be worth $300 million, I’d have said ‘away and boil your heid’.
But it stacks up when you learn that Calvin Harris can charge up to $400k per show… which will probably rule him out of spinning the discs at any 21st’s up The Muscular Arms this weekend.
Not bad for a former shelf-stacker from Dumfries.
Like most of us, my introduction to DJ’s was via TOTP. That first generation of Radio One DJ’s all looked like accountants trying a bit too hard to be trendy, apart from Jimmy Saville who always looked, well…. weird.
My favourite Radio One DJ in the early 70s was Johnnie Walker.
Walker famously got sacked by Radio One for calling The Bay City Rollers “Musical Garbage” at the height of their popularity (RIP – Les), he had a laid-back delivery and a great taste in music.
He was the guy who championed the 1975 Fleetwood Mac album when everyone else had written them off, and his show is where I first heard Rhiannon as well as nuggets from Steely Dan and Little Feat that no one else was playing at that time.
Moving into the mid 70s I started to get into Soul & Funk which you could only hear in clubs back then until a London DJ called Robbie Vincent came along with his weekly Soul show on Radio One. It was perfectly timed, early evening on a Saturday night as you were getting ready to go out, and would get you in the mood for the evening ahead.
The only other DJ’s we had contact with in our youth were the mobile variety at various youth club & school discos…. a bit like Ray Von and his ‘wheels of steel’ from Phoenix Nights…
When our crowd started going up to clubs in Glasgow we went to the aptly named Clouds, (atop The Apollo) later to become Satellite City.
Tiger Tim was the DJ most Friday nights and the whacky son-of-a-gun used to dress up as a teddy-boy… or a frog! It was 1974 and he had just started at Radio Clyde with his… ‘The Aff its Heid Show’…. (ok I get the frog suit now!) and was fast becoming a local celebrity.
Going to Clouds …. walking round that amphitheatre of a dance floor (always anti-clockwise for some reason), and then avoiding the turf-war, gang fights at George Square where we had to wait to catch the last bus home, was a Friday night ritual for a while.
Thinking about the music, Tiger Tim had a pretty eclectic taste, he would play a bit of disco, a bit of chart stuff and then throw in curveballs from the 50’s like Dion’s – The Wanderer or Clarence (Frogman) Henry’s – I don’t know why I Love You But I Do… probably to support his Teddy Boy persona..
A new city centre club opened in competition to Clouds in 1974, called Shuffles which we went to a few times for a change of scene.
The highlight was when the legendary Emperor Rosko of Radio Luxembourg fame, rocked up with his roadshow… resplendent in chest-wig, medallion and of course armed with his trusty catchphrase…. ‘Have Mercy’
Bizarrely, Clouds and Shuffles were both unlicensed despite the fact you had to be 18 to gain entry.
As we got a bit more sophisticated and progressed to licensed premises, Craig Davis was a name that cropped up a lot. ‘Craigy Baby’ was the flamboyant DJ at the Burnbrae Hotel on a Sunday night, he also had a residency at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew on a Thursday night and he was a regular at Maestros in Glasgow.
Craig may have been a superfly DJ by night but by day he worked for film distributors, helping cinemas to schedule their movies for the coming weeks.
I got to know Craig through a friend of my Dad’s and he was always good enough to get me movie posters if I asked for them, I remember he turned up once with a poster for an obscure Peter Fonda movie called Futureworld that he knew I liked (the follow up to Westworld)…. I wish I’d kept a few of those posters now.
Craig famously got pulled over and breathalysed by the police one evening after a festive period gig and was staggered to learn that he was over the limit as he was completely tea-total, and never drank.
Despite his protestations he got huckled and the officers took him back to the station for another test, which was borderline…. whereupon a befuddled Craig remembered that he’d scoffed a box of chocolate liqueurs during the course of the evening that a fan had gifted him.
Fortunately for Craig the police bought his story and released him without charge.
The next day, the bold Craig was plastered all over the Evening Times telling his story… his big cheery smile pictured next to a box of cherry liqueurs.
There were some other great DJ’s back in the day like Gary Moore and his crew at The Rooster and City Limits, and that’s where you’d first hear the soul/funk imports from the US, long before they got into the UK charts.
DJ’s of course, always got a lot of attention, and maybe like musicians some of them got into it to improve their chances of meeting the opposite sex.
The Argentinian dudes Joe Hunter and I saw DJ’ing at a club in Calella, near Barcelona in 1975 were certainly a case in point….
There was 3 of them and to be fair they looked like Latin gods… all over six-foot, perfect physiques and long flowing hair straight out of a L’Oréal shampoo commercial.
In fact, when I saw Mario Kempes play for Argentina in the 78 World Cup a few years later, I was sure he was one of the DJ’s…
It didn’t take long for us to work out why there were 3 of them – they would each take turns on the decks so that the other two could be freed up to strut around and meet their adoring public…
Not only did these guys look the part, they were also brilliant dancers and to top it off they were great DJ’s as well… (I hated the b*stards!).
I remember one of them always played a killer 3-song sequence of…. Sex Machine by James Brown, Trampled Underfoot by Led Zeppelin and Disco Stomp by Hamilton Bohannon… which brought the house down every night….
I always liked DJ’s like Gerry Kennedy, brother of my good mate Joe Kennedy from Clydebank who knew his stuff and just played great music with no fuss. Gerry was the resident DJ at the Boulevard Hotel in Clydebank (the Bouli) on a Sunday night, a regular haunt for myself and buddies… Joe Hunter, Joe Kennedy, Billy Smith and Marty Roberts.
Gerry wasn’t interested in being the centre of attention he just wanted to keep everyone up on the dance floor, and his splendid finale of three great moonies was always the perfect way to finish the evening…
Well it worked for me anyway… that’s how I met my wife Margo, in July 1978!
Some 70s tunes on the playlist below that remind me of those days….
There’s always been something about Blackpool…. a bit like the Kelvin Hall or The University Café, or more recently BJ’s Beach Bar in the Algarve… it’s been a ‘happy place’ of mine.
My earliest memories of the Lancashire Riviera are a mixture of great memories and trauma, however.
My first visit was in the summer of 1963, I was 5 years old and perhaps the only reason I remember anything about my inaugural trip is because of one incident that has stayed with me ever since.
Cliff Richard was mega then, even as a 5 year old I’d already seen one of his movies – Summer Holiday, dragged along to the La Scala in Sauchiehall St, to see it by my Mum & Dad.
What wasn’t there to like about Cliff – he was clean cut, he could sing, he seemed like a nice guy, he could reverse park a double decker bus and navigate it all the way to Athens, whilst singing and dancing, and not a single hair out of place!
We’d got tickets to see his summer show at the ABC in Blackpool during our stay in 1963. I don’t remember too much about the performance, just a communal feeling of excitement, and a collective sense of awe that we were all in the presence of this matinee idol.
What I do remember is that at some point during the performance I needed to go to the loo and being a big boy, I was happy to do this on my own….. plus Mum was transfixed by the Bachelor Boy and Dad by the scantily clad dancers.
It was all going well until I made a wrong turn and exited a fire escape door into an enclosed courtyard rather than heading back into the auditorium.
The fire door slammed shut behind me and I was locked out of the theatre with no means of getting back in OR getting out of the enclosed courtyard, I remember shouting for my Dad in vain and it felt like I was there for hours but he was clearly oblivious to the empty seat beside him…. having too good a time. My Mum I could forgive; it was Cliff for god sake, but my Dad was in big trouble…
Indignation quickly turned to panic, and I remember thinking I would be stuck there on my own forever before a nice lady who lived in one of the flats overlooking the courtyard intervened. Telling me from her 3rd floor balcony, not to worry and that everything would be okay.
Eventually, my Dad tore himself away from the can-can girls, and by tracking my steps, figured out my rookie error.
He thought the whole episode was hilarious, I thought it was extremely poor parenting!
Cut forward a couple of years to our next visit and the big summer show was Morecambe & Wise; I can’t profess to being a fan as a 7-year-old, but I do remember the guy with the glasses was funny.
By age 7, I was dazzled by the bright lights and the goodies on display at Blackpool, there were toys and treats everywhere. I had also discovered the Pleasure Beach and wanted to go on all the rides, particularly the Waltzers which remained a big favourite, but once again it was a traumatic experience that holds my memories.
On the last day of the holiday, we were due to go to the Pleasure Beach for a last hurrah before heading up the road and I was so excited to be going on all the rides again.
I can’t remember what I was doing (or thinking!) exactly, but at some point before breakfast I got one of my Dad’s lead fishing weights lodged up my nose and presumably swallowed it, as it disappeared when I sniffed, instead of blowing my nose as instructed.
This resulted in a quick exit from Blackpool and a dash back to Glasgow to visit our doctor in Stonedyke, who for those of you who remember, used to be on the corner of Spey Rd & Canniesburn Rd, opposite the shops.
Why we couldn’t have gone to a local hospital in Blackpool (via the Pleasure Beach!) I don’t know, but I do remember a long, tense, silent journey back to Glasgow, feeling both sheepish yet sorry for myself.
I’m guessing the lead content of the fishing weight is what would have caused the panic, but the Doc said there was nothing to worry about and the lead weight would pop out in my next poop, pretty promptly.
Two trips to Blackpool, two traumas.
I can’t remember how many times we returned to Blackpool before I went back there again in 1974 with my mates.
I do recall seeing the brilliant Tommy Cooper one summer c.1968 but there was no associated trauma to remember the trip by, hence the lack of any further recall about the visit.
Fast forward to July 1974 and my pals had just came back from a Glasgow Fair spent in Blackpool regaling tales of high jinks and romance.
One of the lads even had a penpal from Preston now, and he had a letter and present waiting for him at home on his return…..
The Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again, ahhhh.
I had been unable to go with them in July because of a family holiday but I couldn’t wait for the next 8 weeks to fly by so that I could get to this Mecca of fun for the fabled ‘September Weekend’ break.
We set off from Buchanan St bus station at midnight, which looking back seems strange as Blackpool is only 3 hours by car from Glasgow, but for whatever reason it took us 8 hours to get there.
The bus had been organised by Clouds Disco (later to become the Apollo) and there was a party atmosphere on the bus as most of us knew each other, or at least recognised the faces.
On arrival, we made the rookie mistake of hitting Jenks Bar as soon as it opened.
Day time drinking was a new concept to me, but alcohol was probably the last thing I needed, I was already as high as a kite on adrenaline and buzzing with anticipation for the weekend to come.
We were hammered by early afternoon and that first day became a bit of a blur if I’m honest, culminating in some very strange headwear choices and photographs.
Most of us had turned 16 in the summer of 74 so getting into pubs and clubs wasn’t something we took for granted but there seemed to be no barriers in Blackpool as well as a wealth of choice.
Our preferred venue as it was for a lot of Glaswegians was Mama & Papa Jenks, a big sprawling pub with waitress service…. so you didn’t even have to take the risk of going to the bar to get served. Jenks had three levels, a bar at ground level, a nightclub above it, and a gay bar in the basement. The set-up was marvellous but a bit of a shock to the system, particularly when you were used to sneaking into traditional working man’s pubs & saloons in Glasgow and hiding in the corner.
The nightclub at Jenks was pretty good if you wanted to spend the whole evening on-site but we found a great little Soul club nearby with a brilliant DJ that just nailed the music.
To be fair there were a lot of great soul artists/records in the charts at that time – George McCrae, Barry White, Don Covay, Johnny Bristol, The Tymes, The Commodores and The Hues Corporation, etc. The DJ was playing all that stuff plus a load of imports and remixes we had never heard before.
Learning from our first day we paced ourselves over the rest of the trip, spending time on the Pleasure Beach and leaving the pubs till the evening.
I know Blackpool may not have the best image, but we were having a ball and when it came time to contemplate leaving, a few of the lads said they wanted to stay on… as it transpired some did through no choice of their own.
It seemed half of Glasgow was in Blackpool that weekend which contributed towards a great atmosphere, but the place wasn’t without its tensions.
Come the last night, we were in Jenks having a farewell drink and killing time before catching the bus home, and a massive fight broke out, between the Possil boys and the Calton boys…. and when I say massive, I mean chairs, tables, glasses, bottles, the lot. The fight spilled outside onto the street like one of those bar room brawls you see in Westerns and it wasn’t long before the police weighed in.
A lad we knew, Hughie Kinnaird, was sharp enough to spot the trouble early-doors and encouraged a few of us to follow him and get out of Dodge before it escalated. We managed to catch the bus back to Glasgow with minutes to spare but a few of our group got caught up in the rammy and ended up spending an extra couple of days in Blackpool… by necessity rather than design. The return journey home was a bit more sombre than the party-bus we’d arrived on, but it still took 8 hours!
Another Blackpool trip another drama…
I’ve been back to Blackpool several times since 1974 for fleeting visits but mainly to watch my brother Barry compete in dancing competitions and represent Scotland at the Tower Ballroom in the late 70s and early 80s.
The last time I was there was about 20 years ago when I was up in the North West from London for a meeting in Manchester and persuaded a colleague to stay in Blackpool during the Blackpool Illuminations.
He’d never been or wanted to go to Blackpool, so I was excited to introduce him to the delights of my favourite English coastal town and to change his perception of the place, but it was a losing battle…. the place looked tired and run down and the bright lights didn’t seem so bright anymore.
I’ve not been back since then, and I’m not sure I ever will now.
I think I’d prefer to remember the old place the way it was….. bright, lively, invigorating and full of drama…..