Hapshash: Acid, art, music and madness

Our new t-shirt collection The Look Presents Nigel Waymouth draws on Nigel’s background not only in historic store Granny Takes A Trip but also his mind-bending artwork as part of Hapshash And The Coloured Coat.

//Posters for Pink Floyd at UFO and The Who single I Can See For Miles//

Hapshash was formed early in 1967 when Nigel hooked up with Michael English, who had worked on the first issues of Barry Miles’ underground newspaper International Times. The pair set about producing posters in day-glo colours for the UFO club, opened in Tottenham Court Road by the scene’s leading players, John “Hoppy” Hopkins and Joe Boyd

“They wanted a distinctive style,” says Waymouth. “The idea was to pair us off and see what happened.”

//Designs for Hung On You and Granny Takes A Trip// 

Wherever there was a major pop culture event in 1967 there was Hapshash, providing posters for Jimi Hendrix’s series of dates at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in June and illustrations for OZ magazine; the editor Richard Neville says that the pair told him that their sole inspiration was LSD and that their regular “tripping partner” was Pete Townshend.

When they were interviewed for The Observer by George Melly, he described their artwork as “a rubbery synthesis of Disney and Mabel Lucy Atwell taken to the edge of illegibility”. 

//14-Hour Technicolour Dream and Soft Machine posters// 

For the 14-hour Technicolour Dream held at Alexandra Palace on 29 April 1967, they changed the ink colours for the posters, producing were a huge number of variants within the one print run.

//From left: English and Waymouth surrounded by their work with Guy Stevens// 

Guided by maniacal Granny’s customer Guy Stevens, who was later to create Mott The Hoople and produce The Clash’s London Calling, they also formed a band of the same name, with Island act Spooky Tooth playing the backing tracks while Granny’s John Pearse, Waymouth and their friends improvised wildly.

“We were discovered to make music years before the Sex Pistols,” says Pearse proudly. “Guy said we could do whatever we wanted over the top while others came along to the sessions, like Amanda Lear and Brian Jones, who played piano, harmonica and guitar.” 

//Featuring The Human Host…and Western Flier//

Housed in a Waymouth-designed sleeve and pressed on red vinyl, Hapshash & The Coloured Coat Featuring the Human Host & The Heavy Metal Kids is a strange brew indeed, with one side comprising a single track of chanting overlaid with various sounds, including Pearse scratching away in an untutored fashion at an amplified violin. A second album, Western Flier was released in 1969 and included contributions from Tony McPhee and Mike Batt, The Wombles musical mastermind.

//Nigel (left) at the Hyde Park legalise marijuana festival(c) Gabi Nasemann//

“The music sort of interfered,” admits Waymouth now. “There were other characters trying to get in and turn it into a proper pop group, so egos started to clash. My time was divided between the shop, the posters, designing fronts and clothes. I was all over the place and the hippy thing was becoming overblown. Plus the fact that we were probably over-enjoying ourselves. Basically we lost the plot.”

Originals from the Hapshash series are now among the most sought-after from the period – for the full run-down of every design see here.

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