John Crittle: The Dandy Larrikin in London

THE LOOK’s sojourn down under has combined with the acquisition of the fabulous Larrikins In London catalogue (from a show at Sydney’s Ivan Dougherty Gallery five years ago) to bring to mind a sorely underrated figures of 60s London: John Crittle.


//Peki d’Oslo and John Crittle on their way to court May 1967//

Crittle was so central a 60s character that he accompanied Amanda Lear (then modelling as Peki d’Oslo) when she appeared before magistrates on May 27 1967 after a raid on Dandie Fashions at 161 King’s Road resulted in charges for possession of “dangerous drugs”.

The charges were later dropped.

Brian Jones sent his car and chauffeur Brian Palastanga to ensure that their journey to and from Marlborough Street court was as comfortable as possible.

By all accounts a maverick, the great-looking Crittle arrived in London from Australia in the early 60s, just ahead of the influx which contained such movers and shakers as artist Martin Sharp, filmmaker Philippe Mora, iconoclast Germaine Greer, designer Jenny Kee and Oz magazine founder Richard Neville and his partner Louise Ferrier (who is played by Sienna Miller in this year’s movie version of Neville’s book Hippie Hippie Shake).


//Kee and Ferrier feature on the cover of Oz 17//

The estranged father of ballet superstar Darcey Bussell, Crittle first emerged in the story of rock and pop fashion in the employ of Michael Rainey at Hung On You, when it was situated in Cale Street, Chelsea Green, in 1965.

Rainey is not a fan, describing Crittle as “ghastly”; what is certain is that the Aussie took the Hung On You formula of fine tailoring with an eccentric twist to Dandie and broadened it out for the mainstream as the King’s Road became the global epicentre of cool.

Dandie was opened at in Kensington Mews, south Kensington, in the autumn of 1966 by well-born peacocks Neil Winterbotham and Guinness heir Tara Browne, in part as an outlet for Browne’s groovy tailoring business Foster & Tara, which also serviced such stores as Granny Takes A Trip.


//Tara Browne (back, centre) with Binder, Edwards & Vaughn and friends//

In December 1966, Browne was killed when his Lotus Elan collided with a van in Earls Court. Just 21, he had been on his way to the Kings Road to discuss the shop-front for Dandie’s new premises at 161 King’s Road. This was being created by designers Dudley Edwards (who continues to design for high profile collectors), Douglas Binder (curator at Dean Clough in Halifax) and David Vaughn (late father of designer Sadie Frost).

Famously, The Daily Mail report of Browne’s death was one of the triggers for John Lennon’s composition A Day In The Life (“He blew his mind out in a car, He didn’t notice that the light had changed…”) while the Pretty Things recorded Death Of A Socialite in Tara’s memory.


//Ron Hammond and Luther Rabb with Hendrix’s Dandie jacket//

Under Crittle’s stewardship with input from the team of Winterbotham, Freddie Hornik and Alan Holston, Dandie’s clientele included Jimi Hendrix, who bought a red silk jacket printed with roses which is still in the possession of his Seattle friends Ron Hammond and Luther Rabb (to whom he gave it in the late 60s), and David Bowie, who acquired the silver suit he wears in the Space Oddity clip for the short film Love You Till Tuesday:

YouTube Preview Image

Crittle was by no means a typical member of the counter-culture, which perhaps explains his absence from most histories of the period. One acquaintance, Nigel Waymouth of Granny’s, recalls him preferring pints in the pub with the shopfitters.

“John was the kind of guy who’d turn up after a night out with a black eye,” he says.In May 1968, The Beatles’ right-hand man Neil Aspinall and Apple accountant Stephen Maltz became directors of Dandie as part of a deal which saw the premises transformed into Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical).


//Lennon poses at the opening of Crittle’s Apple Tailoring//

John Lennon – whose pen-and-ink portrait of Crittle recently reached Y300,000 at sale by Bonhams – attended the opening night party of Apple Tailoring with Yoko Ono, marking the couple’s first public appearance.

The Beatles’ attempt to latch onto the made-to-measure market was about as successful as Apple’s benighted Baker Street boutique, and the shop closed within a matter of months.

“The Kings Road shop, which is known as Apple Tailoring, isn’t going to be part of Apple anymore,” announced Paul McCartney.
“But it isn’t closing down and we are leaving our investment there because we have a moral and personal obligation to our partner John Crittle, who is now in sole control.”

Crittle returned to Australia in 1975, leaving behind his daughter and wife, who remarried. On his death in 2000 (from emphysema at the age of 56), the Daily Mail revealed he was Darcey Bussell’s father.

His daughter has occasionally reminisced about the few times she spent with him as a little girl, being ferried along the King’s Road in the back of a Rolls-Royce as Crittle manoeuvred his way around the demi-monde.

Kee, meanwhile, pays her own tribute in the Larrikins In London booklet by spelling out in capitals DANDY FASHIONS OF THE EFFETE ELITE.

Copies of Larrikins In London are occasionally available from premier 60s print collectible site Beatbooks while Hippie Hippie Shake is out this year.

The estimable Richard Neville has a great web presence, Jenny Kee is an Aussie fashion legend and Martin Sharp keeps on keeping on.

rockpopfashion said,

February 23, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

According to the Telegraph interview by Christa d’Souza below from 2001, the ever-intriguing Lear maintains she never was Peki d’Oslo. Meantime, d’Souza points out that Lear first met Dali in a Paris nightclub in the company of Brian Jones and Tara Browne, who was her boyfriend at the time.

Go to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2001/01/23/tldali23.xml

Anonymous said,

April 19, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

He was a very amusing guy but most undependable. He really made me laugh and was charismatic.

Philippe Mora said,

July 11, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

FYI John Crittle appears in my film TROUBLE IN MOLOPOLIS (1969) with another Kings Road icon from the time, David Litvinoff.
Philippe Mora

rockpopfashion said,

July 12, 2008 @ 9:41 am

Great to hear from you Philippe. Will check out immediately; of course David Litvinoff occupies a special place London cultural history as well. What part does JC play and how did he come to be in the movie?

Philippe Mora said,

October 7, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

Sorry did not get back to you earlier–have a show on in London now until October 11 which includes TROUBLE IN MOLOPOLIS at England & Co 216 Westbourne Grove. John played a 30’s gangster in a short scene confronting Litvinoff. Movie was a gangster-Brecht-Cagney parody. Scene was shot in the Pheasantry on Kings Road. I lived in the Pheasantry and John was part of the Kings Road “scene”–we just all knew each other. Jenny Kee, Germaine Greer and others are in the movie produced by Eric Clapton and Arthur Boyd.

Simohn Spearitt aka Bonnie Spirit said,

October 17, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

We were there, It was a wonderful time. My husband, Jefferey, and I knew John Crittle. The clothes, the 60s, it was great!
We’ve been looking for decades for his tailor and our friend John Scott (Lewis) the king of London’s The Jean Machine for decades.
Does anyone know where he’s gone off to?
John, We now live in Mexico, where are you?

Carol Beamont said,

November 14, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

Hello, I have a red shirt which has a DANDY label, says Kings Road Chelsea. After having read the history of the shop and the connection with the Beatles I think I will frame it! Would it be collectable? My husbands band wore them for a time. Cheers Carol

richard kingwell said,

March 5, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

Hi,I still have a burgundy leather jacket with Dandy Kings Road Chelsea on the label which I purchased from the Kings Road Chelsea in about 1969/70.
Would this be collectable? Regards Richard

rockpopfashion said,

March 9, 2009 @ 8:49 am

I would have thought so, though the label is still a little obscure in collector’s circles. Try one of the independent fashion auctioneers or there are a couple of specialist collectors we can direct you to.

andre said,

April 29, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

i 1st met j.c at the byronbay r.s.l in 1998 over a game of pool and a couple of dozern drinks,.i thought who tha fuk is this man.n he replyed im your mothers boyfriend.that was the start of a short but eventful relationship with J.C.i could rattle on but the stories wouldnt do him justice.4 those who new him 2much fun,4 those who didnt maybe next time if your lucky.i saw him the day b4 he checked outa this world,suckn on a tank of oxygen while askn me 2 roll him another smoke.ill never 4get.youll always be loved n missed johnny a great waste of life but it was your time.johnny is laid 2 rest at mullumbimby cemetary.JOHNNY B GOOD.rest in peace mate…onz

Anonymous said,

June 4, 2009 @ 9:11 am

I wasnt around in the 60S but had close contact with john in 1993 for a period of 6 months on the gold coast.He told me storys about his past and i was most impressed.John left an unforgettable mark in my life and he will never be forgotten,even to this day i share his storys from time to time with others.Just wanted to say rip john and thanks for being within my life for a short period

reelspin said,

June 10, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

Why is there no mention whatsoever of his other daughter, Natasha, a teenage friend of mine who for the most part grew up in Australia? She could recall being nursed by Bill Wyman as a young bub amongst other things.

Matthew said,

November 26, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

Hi,

I picked up an as-new condition grey flannel peaked-lapel suit with a “Dandy, King’s Road” label. It’s incredible. Anyone know if collectors would be interested? Email me mattvolatile at gmail dot com

stephen henry said,

April 13, 2010 @ 2:43 am

Ten years ago, just afterJohn passed on, the impressive figure of his brother Peter Crittle walked into the studio and asked for copies of a handful of images. I was floored by them. A shot of four young sixties “wild” things in Carnaby Street, another street shot of John with some super beautiful girl in a fur coat and one of him with John Lennon etc. They really underscored how fleeting it all is, and how we are just passing through. Great blog btw!

Gillian Robinson said,

May 31, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

A question to reelspin. Is your friend you are talking about the baby born to Pat in 1967 and if so is Pat still alive? I worked downstairs at Dandie Fashions doing alterations and making shirts – that’s where I met Pat when she used to drop in. We had a made to measure business together call Fly by Night.

Kristian Shaw said,

August 6, 2010 @ 4:25 am

john was a good friend of mine ,we met in Byron Bay Australia in the 90s where we were neighbours.A terrific character,aggravating to some but loved by rascals.had an absolute ball with him,loved a drink and had hilarious tales to tell.ive always felt he has been overlooked as he was an iconic man who met an untimely end ,although the way he lived he expected it.he told me his only regret was the lack of relationship with his daughter,he was deeply depressed about this ,although he didnt blame her..all the best .

Joolz M_Phonik said,

October 31, 2010 @ 12:25 am

I lived With John (and Manfred) in his final months out the back of Mullum, he was in a pretty bad way and needed his respirator frequently. Still loved a drink so at first his stories seemed fairly tall but as I got to know him and saw the photos and article clippings he had kept I realized who his circle of friends had been! Was definitely a rascal to the end as the Mullum police would recall having to remove his beat up old ute from ditches as he attempted to drive home plastered from the local pub!

Philippe Mora said,

March 2, 2011 @ 6:30 am

John offered to loan me clothes from his shop for the film, which was a King’s Road family affair.
He looked and behaved like an actor. Charisma plus. He played a larrikin who threatens Litvinoff in the Pheasantry club bar, which turns into a satirical shootout. He could have been a movie star.

rockpopfashion said,

March 2, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

Thanks Philippe,
Think it’s time I wrote something more on JC and would like to focus on your film. You OK with that? Are there any other memories of JC/the London fashion scene at that time you would like to talk about?
I could call you or you could send to thelook@rockpopfashion.com.
Regards
Paul G

Katie is free said,

March 29, 2011 @ 5:22 am

John was Godfather to all three of my children. I met him standing beside his rolled land rover at Taylors Arm and we became firm friends ever since. We lived close when he moved to North Coast NSW and I nursed him through many bad nights. He has a son Paris now whom I have lost touch with.

I don’t know about him being a hard man but he was one of the greatest people to go out with that I ever knew. He played backgammon well and was a wizz on a horse. He taught my son to catch a ball (even though my son did not have all his fingers) and
encourage all the kids to achieve their best.

I miss him to this day.

Phillip Donoghue said,

April 1, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

John’s daughter Natashia was married to a Russian concert pianist and living in New York,so John told me . Her mother was/is Pat Stebbings and she’s from Wales. Natasha was raised by John,s parents in Sydney. He exited Sydney after a brawl in a chinese restaurant involving cops and friends Terry Waterhouse and Bruce Gurd which made headlines back in ’62-,63. The origional Dandy was at 56 Queens Gate Mews off the Gloucester Road in partnership with Tara Browne. Tara left there and was killed a short time later in Redcliffe Gardens. Kings Rd. Apple was origionally called John Crittle Your Friendly Tailor.

Michael williams said,

June 14, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

I don’t know if anyone will remember me but i was a great friend of John and Andrea; I’m still in touch with her today. Also I managed to get in touch with John Scott Lewis a very old friend of mine from 1958/9. Anyway I did in fact work at Dandy Fashions in Queensgate Mews (John Scott is coming to see me next Monday – he now lives in Seville). I’m on facebook and there is a photo of me modelling one of John’s suits in 1967 with Marylyn Rickard.
I live in Hove now and would love to hear from any old friends from those wonderful days.
Mike Williams

Anyone wishing to contact MIke can do so via THE LOOK.

John Scott Lewis said,

July 10, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

Dandy fashions apple tailoring jean machine. Anyone wishing to contact Jay in Spain please email me: jscott_leith@yahoo.es

john gyford said,

October 12, 2011 @ 9:41 am

I was also a freind of John Scott (lewis)in the 60s and Michael Williams if Michael was ex Alleyns Head Dulwich be good to here from them and many others.

Michael williams said,

December 24, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

Hello John how are you i see Jay whenever he come to the uk he was here a couple of weeks ago he alws stays with me, spoke to Jeff Britton a while back. do gat intouch my email is williams-michael42@sky.com
all the best Mike

laure said,

January 30, 2012 @ 4:12 am

hi phillip,
i can hardly believe i came across this blog and your comment about john crittle ! of course, i remember him, he was quite a character. unforgettable and flamboyant were those years in london during the swinging 60’s. i remember you, phillip, even more specifically. we lived in a flat in gloucester road and i was studying at the french school in south kensington then. i moved back to paris in the late 60’s and lost track of everyone, including the australian cohort.
i now live in california and am curious to hear your news. my e-mail is laure.bjawi@gmail.com
all best, laure

john scott (lewis) said,

February 17, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

Jay of dandy fashions apple tailoring shape sharks founder jean machine rag machine fu’s still riding horses in spain any one out there?

john scott (lewis) said,

February 17, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

Johnscottleith@hotmail.co.uk

Ben Cowell said,

February 27, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of the biz your site. Just found my full length black coat that I had made at John Critlle’s in 1969. Who was the American/Chinese guy who worked in the store on Saturdays? He worked full time at Mercury Records in Knightsbridge. Then I remember visiting his office, going to the Floyd gig in Parliament Hills and the Speakeasy with him. I just can’t remember his name! Ben

rockpopfashion said,

March 3, 2012 @ 7:30 am

Hi Ben

You mean Calvin Mark Lee, who introduced David + Angie Bowie to each other and signed DB to Mercury – he’s mentioned quite a bit in Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now which I edited. I could check and see if there are any contact details if you like. And please send in any pics of the coat/you wearing it if you’re up for it.

Best

PG

rockpopfashion said,

March 3, 2012 @ 7:32 am

HI Jay

Would you be up for an interview/running some photos/reminiscences here?

All best

PG

john scott (lewis) said,

March 5, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

Hi pg yes will be in london this weekend will make a date to meetjay

Nick Moss said,

March 17, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

I knew of John Crittle from Dandy Fashion, and whilst spending the summer of “69 in Marbella I got to meet him and his then family, he had the use of a boat/yacht whilst there, and I remember going with them one evening to a party at some ones beach house up the coast from Marbella, what a night it turned out to be, as we arrived whilst it was light, but by the time we left it was totally dark and we were some what pissed to say the least, the sea had got really quite choppy, and we only had a rubber dinghy which was fine when we got there to use to ferry us to the beach from the anchored yacht, as the sea was flat calm then, but trying to get us all into this thing with the sea the way it was for the return, was quite a different matter.
Anyhow I ended up in the water along with John attempting to get this thing over the breaking waves, fortunately the rest of the group remained dry, and we eventually got back on board the yacht, laugh we almost cried, in fact I think I did cry, as I lost a fabulous platinum and diamond ring to the Mediterranean that night.
Anyway I found John to be a good guy and a lot of fun, but strangely I think I only saw him once after that when back in London.
Several years later in the early 70’s, I ended up working in what was Apple tailoring with John Scott, when it became Rag Machine, part of Jean Machine, and I had many a good time working with John Scott, I am really glad to hear that he is well and living in Spain.

Ben Cowell said,

March 20, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

Hi Paul.
Just found this after replying to the other mail you sent. Calvin, had a problem with him as he was after my …., but hey that was 45 years ago, so yeah if you have his contact details, why not!There may be a pic of me, somewhere, though I’m not saying I’ll release it for public viewing, as it makes me look like a stuck up pr..k if I remember! Not sure where it is but I’ll dig it out when I’ve recovered from my bronchitis, as it’s in the attic! Doing anything on Deborah and Clare, I loved their shirts?
Cheers
Ben

Seaweed said,

May 8, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

I met John at the Woollahra Hotel in the early 80’s when I was a young impressionable bloke. He was living with Tracy (married, I think). He was quite an influence and had some great stories, especially about the Beatles, Bell Bottom jeans and life in London in the 60’s. At first I didn’t believe them till I went back to his flat in Queen St and saw some of the photos. He loved a beer, a game of pool and a ribald joke. The publican didn’t exactly like him but knew John was the real deal. The last time I saw him was when I visited him in hospital after he’d fallen asleep with a cigarette in his hand, seriously burning himself and his flat in Edgecliff. I met his father who was a lovely bloke (I think he was reverend?) and there was John trying to con me to grab him a beer and a smoke when his Dad left. He’d often told me tales of his brothers, like how one of them used to challenge all comers for an arm wrestle in the roughest pubs in the docks in London and invariably win, since he had tendons from his leg put in his arm giving him extra strength! I eventually met Peter Crittle in 2000 and told him I knew John and asked after him…he said he’d buried him the week before. What an amazing bloke, hope he’s happy now.
By the way, Phillipe, are you Mirka’s son? I worked with her in Ayr!
Cheers Seaweed

jack lambert-crittle said,

October 18, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

i didnt relise my dad was this amazing!

Niall Stanton said,

November 13, 2012 @ 2:49 am

I met John in Byron Bay back in 1990. being a staunch Beatles fan, I couldn’t believe some of the stories that he told me at first but, John dashed to his car and produced a scrap book full of clippings all about the 60’s and his connections with Apple. He blew me away with his memeories about the Beatles and an eveing out and about with Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. I used to cruise the Kings Rd back then as a teenager and I probably pssed John in the street on more that one occassion. he was always so proud of his daughters. I also visited him in Mullumbimby hospital , shortly before he left the planet. He was still smoking right up to the end. Great man!

Jay scott lewis said,

July 3, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

Good to read all comments on J C i am going to julian lennons exhibition of john lennon in gibralter intresting for me as i made the white jacket he wore when he got married to yoko allso on display the afgan coat i gave john i will post a report

nell gifford said,

September 10, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

for John Scott lewis

nell gifford said,

September 10, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

nell@giffordscircus.com

arielskybender. said,

October 4, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

Oh my, sweet Jack Paris Kingdom Lambert-Crittle, by now you will have soaked up through print and vision the full rainbow spectrum of opinion regarding your Dad, and I wouldn’t wonder for a second if you were a little dazed and confused about your own identity … John (Kenneth) Crittle polarized people from all walks of life (within and without his family)through the sheer force of his dazzlingly (Saggitarian) charisma and magnetism … He challenged every moral and religious dogma/boundary with the ease of a visionary winged wastrel, indulged in the “drugs of the day” with an abandon that lit up the truly creative, and left the pedestrian either dead or desolate … Would love to know your where- and what-abouts, Jack Paris. Yes, I met you when you were just a lad with Deborah, up the hill from John’s in Mullum, back in the mid-late 1990s, when you were still such a fresh-faced young dead-ringer for John that it almost took my breath away … similar to meeting toddler Darcy (originally Marny) when I delivered a cuddly koala bear to her and her mum Andrea in Notting Hill Gate in 1974, on a promise from John, who by then had already been back in Australia for a couple of years, on the run from the UK tax-man and the consequences of a drunken road-accident, with John at the wheel of a snazzy sports car zipping along Home County lanes near London, in which the scion of a minor English aristocrat lost his life … To say it was entertaining or uplifting to know your Dad would be an understatement … Such people are both blessed and cursed by the sheer blinding intensity of their characters, like strip-magnesium burning, and for mine, the world (my world certainly) was richer and brighter place for John’s existence … Fond regards, Jack Paris, from B.P.L. (the journalist, now there’s a clue for your Mum !) Please try me at arielskybender@gmail.com

mickey solomons said,

January 9, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

Hi Jay! Would love to nut-UP with you again. Mickey

Adrian parker said,

June 19, 2014 @ 11:51 am

Hi there I have a leather jacket left by Hendrix in a flat that he shared with John, given to me by John and his brother Mark…

Cass said,

August 25, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

I grew up around the whole Crittle family. I remember John well .. How could you not notice him. I was just a young girl. He was always very sweet .. But a bit scary.,always so out of it.
I thought he was a real character. I was actually googling Tash Crittle (his daughter) to see what she is up to now & found this. Great article. So cool to hear stories I never heard & now can put it all together. It was a shame he died so young. I love all the Crittles, played a massive role in my life & will never be forgotten. John is one of them.
Someone said Tash WAS married to that pianist .. So I’m guessing that’s over.
Peace!

Davina said,

September 27, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

hi. I have just come across this blog and am blown away by all the comments and memories.
I have been trying to get hold of Mark Crittle for a while. I would love to return to him something he gave to me in the 60’s which I feel should be with the Crittle family. If anyone has contact details email etc please let me know.
I know he’s in Australia Sidney and in antiques. So hopefully someone out there can help.
Davina

Catherine Crittle said,

December 2, 2016 @ 1:12 pm

Jack Crittle (whose mother is Deborah Lambert) my nephew, is now 20 years old and carries the same charismatic qualities as his father John, not to mention the fact that they look so alike. He has a beautiful spirit and does not possess the angst that John suffered. Jack lives on the far north coast of N.SW. John’s daughter Natasha ( with Pat Stebbings, who also passed away some time ago) has been happily married for many years to a Bulgarian, classically trained pianist. They lived in New York and L.A for many years with their two children where he wrote music for film (Precious etc). They now live in Berlin. To John’s great regret he never reconciled with his daughter with Andea Williams. His daughter is renowned former ballerina Darcey Bussell. She always refused to have any contact with him. John left behind a wonderful legacy in his amazing children of whom he was so proud. We Crittle siblings miss him everyday and reminisce about him often.

Catherine Crittle.

rockpopfashion said,

December 7, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

Thank you for your contribution Catherine. I aim to update this post over on my main blog paulgormanis.com – trust you are OK with incorporating some of this information. Best PG

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