Flamin’ Foster & Tara jacket: pure rock&roll provenance

The Flamin’ Groovies are among the most under-appreciated groups in rock&roll history, in terms of both their magnificent music and double-sharp style.

//The Flamin Groovies 1976: The Supersnazz//

The Groovies understood rock & roll swagger. Led by Cyril Jordan, they plundered the very best clothes shops of the 70s for stage gear:  Granny Takes A Trip in the King’s Road and Los AngelesJohnson & Johnson (“I still have a pinstripe teddy boy coat from there”, says Cyril) and Let It Rock.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=lWXiWbnQATU">http://youtube.com/watch?v=lWXiWbnQATU</a>
//Slow Death: Let It Rock drape and studded leather 1972//  

THE LOOK witnessed the San Franciscans supported by The Ramones at the legendary (and sweltering) Roundhouse gig on The Fourth Of July 1976, apparently in the company of the punk-rock cognoscenti.  The only encounter which sticks in the memory is a bout of speed-fuelled aggression from an out-of-control Shane MacGowan.

Teenage Head: Scooped neck tees and tight pants// 

But The Roundhouse show was not to herald the much-deserved commercial breakthrough; as their manager at the time, the late lamented Greg Shaw, told me years later for In Their Own Write, the oncoming punk storm overshadowed the headline act that night.

//In Granny’s jackets and 
Wonder Workshop Elvis tee//

“When people saw The Ramones, lightbulbs went off, kind of like: ‘Aaah, this is how you do it’,” said Greg. “Everyone respected the Groovies, but we were obviously out of place there.”

//Jumpin’ In The Night: Chris Wilson in his red jacket// 

Which is a great shame, because the Groovies were armed with fantastic tunes, attitude to spare, and, as worn by Cyril Jordan that night, this amazing velvet jacket.


Cyril had it made the previous year by tailors Foster & Tara, who usually serviced Granny Takes A Trip, though the King’s Road store was at that time in disarray following the departures of Gene Krell and Marty Breslau.

//Back: Martin Cook, Tara Browne, Gary White. Front: David Vaughn, 
Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder//

Foster & Tara was operated by the father-and-son team of Pops and Cliff Foster, and had been set up with Guinness heir Tara Browne, whose tragic death at the age of 21 in a car accident on December 18 1966 inspired The Beatles’ A Day In The Life.

//Tara Browne + Paul McCartney// 

There is a completely wild conspiracy website claiming that Paul McCartney actually died in the crash; the current ex-Beatle and former husband of Heather Mills, is, apparently, none other than Tara Browne!

The Beatles’ connection to Cyril’s jacket is more verifiable. “I’d seen a photo of Ringo wearing one of the coats in purple or burgundy in an issue of Beatles Monthly,” says Cyril, who these days pours his musical energies into his band Magic Christian

//David Wright (far left) in his F&T jacket 1976// 

“I took the magazine photo to Foster & Tara and Pops told me he still had fabric which Paul McCartney had brought back from Paris years earlier for clothes for all The Beatles. There were rolls of water silk, sharkskin and velvet in various colours. We got such a kick having jackets made from the same material and designs.”

//Sleeve shot outside Foster & Tara’s cutting rooms// 

The coats weren’t cheap, coming in at £600 apiece. “The day we picked up ours, these guys from Showaddywaddy came in to fetch their drapes,” recalls Cyril, who points out that the back and front cover photos of the Shake Some Action sleeve were taken across the street from Foster & Tara. 

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=NH8vwEQs2ZQ">http://youtube.com/watch?v=NH8vwEQs2ZQ</a>
//Roll Over Beethoven on French TV// 

The band members wore their red coats on stage for years, all around the world. Now Cyril is clearing space in his archive and is willing to sell his, an extremely rare piece and one imbued with pure rock & roll provenance.

Interested parties should direct inquiries inquiries via: thelook@rockpopfashion.com and we will pass them on.  

Rollergirl said,

December 23, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

Shake Some Action…Top tune!!!

jeff case said,

December 24, 2008 @ 7:26 am

yeah i would love to bid on the jacket. some of the best times of my life were at groovie concerts, starwood, whiskey, the arena, keystone…. i enjoyed each and everyone of those guys. i could never understand why people wouldnnn’t get into the groovies. i think the majority of people are just so lacking in taste, whether it is in the arts, film, music. it has taken 30 years for cyril to get the kind of respect he deserves … the sharp tailored look just added the finishing touch to superb musiciaiship. love to find stuff like that in L.A. now. anybody ??

Eddieginger said,

January 26, 2009 @ 3:31 am

I saw the Groovies at the Top Rank Ballroom in Brighton on the Sussex coast in the UK in 1977. There were about 12 people there – ie the place was empty – and they were fantastic. The support band was a cult Australian
punk group, The Saints. Also saw them a few years later at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden in London and they were amazing again…I seem to remember Nick Lowe was in the audience.

Shake Some Action indeed….

Robby said,

April 13, 2009 @ 7:05 am

The theory of Tara Browne replacing Paul McCartney is a new one which I came up with about four years ago. In order to understand Paul McCartney was replaced (for whatever reason–Death? Tired and wanted out? Other?), it’s best to first examine photos and listen to recordings. The “Clues” on the albums help to establish something happened to Paul in the mid 60’s.

Now, the idea that Tara Browne staged his own death, and made the transition to being Paul is actually more plausible than it might sound… “Paul” from 1967 onward was interested in things that we find Tara Browne was also interested in like fashion, drugs, and art, and they also hung around with the same small group of friends which included the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, and members of the young aristocracy.

Lloyd Johnson said,

May 20, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

I think the photo by the white car might be one I took of them in the 70s…I took a whole bunch of Polaroids …They use to live on a houseboat on Cheyne Walk just down from our shop ‘Johnsons the Modern Outfitters’ on the Kings Rd.and we’d hangout with them on the boat …really nice guys….I’ve still got all the photos somewhere…one of the Groovies was previously in The Charlatans that use to play The Red Dog Saloon in the States ..they were famous for dressing in authentic Wild West period clothing….we went to their shows at The Roundhouse…they were a brilliant band….and very good customers….

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