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 Angeles, Johnson & Johnson (“I still have a pinstripe teddy boy coat from there”, says Cyril) and Let It Rock.
//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.
//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: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass them on.