Jeff Nuttall on Teddy Boys & Elvis

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The teddy boys were waiting for Elvis Presley. Everybody under twenty all over the world was waiting. He was the super-saleman of mass-distribution hip. Unfortunately he had to be white. Otherwise one of the Chicago blues singers, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, would’ve done. He had to have the cowboy/Spanish element. He had to have the Adonis profile. He had to have the overtones of the queer boy’s pin-up, the packed jeans, the sullen long-lashed eyes, the rosebud mouth, the lavish greasy hair and gilded drag.

Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture (1968)

Forget the Chicagoans he lists, over Elvis, Nuttall prefers Jelly Roll Morton as his choice of Romantic primitive American export to fire up his jaded post-war loins. His hipster subtext comes straight from the mouth of Norman Mailer’s White Negro, but I love that line about Elvis as ‘the super-saleman of mass-distribution hip.’

He later writes that Dylan was the ‘first sign popular music was transcending its commercial situation.’ His opinion being based on the broad acceptance of the ‘profound sourness’ found in the singer’s delivery. Capturing in two words what others have struggled, and failed, to achieve in the course of a book.

Budget label Teddy Boy R 'n' Revival

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Two collections from the Contour label drawing on the Philips catalogue, mostly 60s recordings in reprocessed stereo.

The same three Teds are featured on both sleeves - jackets on and off. They have the look of the authentic. No photographer credit.

They are posing in front of a cinema for the Crazy Rock sleeve, Horror of Frankenstein is playing and Abbot & Costello’s In The Navy (1941) is also on the programme. The Hammer horror was released in November 1970, so I’d guess these two discs hit the shops in the following year.

Teddy Boys at The Black Raven (1972)

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A James Gray photograph of the Black Raven pub that is described in the Rolling Stone piece from a previous posting. Below is one of his portraits from 1973, this one features the same geezer who was supping back a pint in Roger Perry’s pic that accompanied Jerry Hopkins observations. He’s got himself a new hair cut . .

The two photos are from this Evening Standard  file

The two photos are from this Evening Standard file

There’s a public Facebook page on the pub here which features lots of snaps. The guys in the banner photograph can all be seen in the 1970 BBC documentary of Gene Vincent’s last tour of the UK having a pop at skinheads, more of which anon.

'Awopbopaloobop: The Teds are back and greased for action' (Rolling Stone 1972)

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Jerry Hopkins, ‘Beatle Loathers Return: Britain’s Teddy Boys’ Rolling Stone (March 2, 1972) gets in on the UK’s Rock’n’ Roil revival scene. Here’s my favorite observation by Elvis’ first rock biographer:

All you can see is hair.

Plumes and cascades and whirlpools of hair, all of it greased and obsidian-black, thumbing its nose at gravity as it stretches four inches from the brow, wobbling, glistening: the classic Elephant’s Trunk; sweeping back in shiny sheets past earringed ears to plunge into a perfect D.A. or splash over the velvet collars in hirsute waterfalls. Towers and arches and walls of hair. This isn’t just extraordinary styling—it’s architecture.

Unless you’ve got good eyesight you might want to check out the piece here, which for reasons known only to the magazine’s on-line editors uses a pic of Teds from 1954 rather than Roger Perry’s photographs