Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fashion: 1960s cool- BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD and 1970s "SUNSET STRIP"

My above photos of Buffalo Springfield (one third of the trifecta of the best 1960s players live along with Moby Grape and The Jeff Beck Group. Few others could duplicate their complex recorded sounds effortlessly) in action were shot in 1967 at the Shrine Auditorium (which later helmed the Academy Awards/ Oscars Ceremony.)

Bolstering my contention that the best place to spot rockstars (accompanied by their tailors/clothing designers) in the mid to late 1960s in Los Angeles was Home Silk Shop, domain of exotic fabrics, it's representative of what cool rockers wore to be cool: custom threads. Richie Furey's (far left) Nehru-collared, paisley-patterned frock coat appears to have been made from a contemporary cotton Indian bedspread; in those pre-diversity days some domestic artifacts but little clothing made its way to our shores from India.

Stephen Stills' leather jacket was an unusual choice at the time, as was Neil Young's Native American suedewear with long beaded fringe, perhaps purchased at a reservation store in his Canadian homeland.

The costuming ideas may have originated via the burgeoning young rock stylists of the era such as Genie the Tailor, a popular young woman who died young in a auto crash with members of the band Fairport Convention (which at least spared future stars Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny.) She is fictionalized into the character "Tammy" in the film in the trailer below, a fascinating, unheralded movie depicting our regional Hollywood music scene of the early 1970s.

"Sunset Strip" should be viewed as a character study companion piece to "Almost Famous" with far more accurate verisimilitude. "Famous" is a wondrous pastiche, lotsa entertaining bang for your buck. But "Sunset Strip" represents the real shit. I know. I was there. And here's why you should take my anonymous online word for it.

When I first saw this movie I was astonished that I didn't recognize the name of its writer, for I recognized every one of the personnel depicted, literally as well as figuratively. The writer obviously was exactly the same age I was, worked in the exact aspects of the entertainment industry that I did, at the exact same time in the early 70's at the exact same spots in Hollywood and knew the exact same people I did (or knew of.) Anna Friel portrayed Genie the Tailor. The geeky manager was seemingly an early Geffen-esque clone. The dissolute songwriter was a Warren Zevon-alike, while Jared Leto became, dare I say, a completely interchangeable popstar type of the era. My own future better half, rockstar of that era himself, lived in the exact same Laurel Canyon mountaintop aerie depicted in the film (replete with benevolent landlord), while I worked as a music photographer amongst the scene of the main protagonist's doppelganger. And I did know who he was. He was one of the names you'll recognize on photo credits of the era, who now owns a major restaurant here. But he didn't want his name on the writing credits, so I'll respect that.

"Sunset Strip" remains a highly entertaining ensemble depiction of souls on the perimeter or the earliest stages of ascent of the music scene in Los Angeles in the early 1970's. It's all true. And we did go out there every night. . .

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