Tripping The Light Fantastic on the Bureau of Lost Culture

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I joined Stephen Coates again on his excellent Bureau of Lost Culture podcast the other week alongside Optikinetics co-founder Neil Rice and FX wheel artist and light show operator Jennie Caldwell to talk psychedelic light shows in support of my book, Wheels of Light.
Neil recounts his first light show experiences, starting one of the main companies making equipment for light show in the ’70s and the rise and fall of the industry. Jennie was part of the second generation of artists who saw it rise from the ashes in the second summer of love, when acid house and dance music arrived and revived the artform for a while. They both have tales to tell and I learned plenty from listening to them.

She also took some excellent shots a few weeks back when Optikinetics lit the Raven Row gallery for the publisher Four Corners Books at the book launch.

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Stuart Warren-Hill (Hexstatic / Holotronica) and Neil Rice (Optikinetics)

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Brendan and Emma from Insight Lighting with Geoff Blindt (Mystic Lights) who contributed some photos to the book.

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Neil Rice and I, he really should have a co-author credit, he helped me so much during the research.

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One of my Solar 250 projectors with a custom-made Wheels of Light FX wheel for the night, made by Larry Wooden of Orion Lighting, also present showing original art and wheels from the 70s and profiled in the book.

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(left in hat) Chris Thomsett (Innerstrings), (middle) David Fowler (Optifanatics) and (right with beard) Nigel Bailey (The Odd Light Show)

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Retinal Circus gig posters 1966-68

Retinal Circus July 17-19
A selection of gig posters for the Retinal Circus. The Circus nights, promoted by Roger Schiffer, ran from summer 1967 to the end of 1968 in a basement venue in Vancouver, Canada and would play host to many of the top bands of the day in the late 60s. The main poster artist was Steve Seymour who managed to weave all sorts of intricate typography into each image including dates, bands, start and end times and even a dot-to-dot puzzle which spelt out ‘surprise’ when filled in. The main exception I can see being the Velvet Underground one by Frank Lewis who also did other posters around Vancouver, early Afterthought ones being an example, Vancouver’s psychedelic venue before the Retinal Circus.
There was also a light show called The Retina Circus in Seattle at the same time but they weren’t connected, the main two house lighting crews were called Addled Chromish and Ecto Plasmic Assault.
*Thanks to Greg Evans from the Acid Rain light show in Victoria, Canada for additional info.
Retinal Circus Aug 13-18 1968

Retinal Circus Aug 20-24 1968

Retinal Circus Aug 27-Sept 1 1968

Retinal Circus April 11-13

Retinal Circus July 25-27

Retinal Circus Mar 8-9

Retinal Circus May 23-25

Retinal Circus May 30-Jun1

Retinal Circus Oct 4-6

Retinal Circus Sept 27-29

Retinal Circus Oct 31 - Nov 3

The Exploding Galaxy at the Bureau of Lost Culture

99 Balls Pond Road
At Xmas I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Jill Drower‘s ’99 Balls Pond Road’ book which is a weighty tome that had been expensive and hard to come by for some time. I devoured it over the holiday and into the new year before deciding that I had to contact Jill and invite her to Stephen CoatesBureau of Lost Culture podcast. Her story of the performance art collective who were part of the first wave of kinetic art and the psychedelic underground in the 60s whilst squatting at the Dalston address of the title is an eye opener.

Finally tracking her down, she kindly agreed to come in and tell her story, a rare female voice in a sea of men who have so far largely written the history of the movement. She doesn’t pull her punches on the inequality of women, the class structure of the underground and the collusion between police and gutter press in suppressing their happenings and invasion of the home.

There are two versions of the book; the original, large format, picture-heavy coffee table book entitled ’99 Balls Pond Road’ which will cost a bit more but is worth every penny. Or the new paperback-sized, picture-light, more affordable version entitled ‘The Exploding Galaxy – Performance Art, LSD and Bent Copper in the Sixties Counterculture’, which is a mouthful but sums up the contents far better than the original title.

TEG book blurb

Punch covers by Geoffrey Dickinson

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I was alerted to the Punch cover above by the excellent Instagram account ephemeramablog and it sent me down a rabbit hole to find more. Geoffrey Dickinson did a fair bit of work for Punch over the years as far as I can ascertain as well as numerous other magazines. From the blog:
Geoffrey Dickinson (1933-1988) created these two cover illustrations for Punch magazine. Born in Liverpool, Dickinson studied at the Royal Academy Schools with the intention of becoming a landscape painter. He became a teacher while also freelancing, producing graphics and animations for BBC TV. Dickinson began contributing to Punch in 1963 and produced numerous covers. He took the position of Deputy Art Editor at Punch while continuing to freelance, working for Reader’s Digest, Which?, Esquire, Highlife, Hallmark Cards and more. In 1966, he also created the notable “Swinging Sixties” cover for Time Magazine. In 1984, Dickinson left Punch and joined the Financial Times, producing a daily pocket cartoon and illustrations for the weekend supplement.

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Syd Mead Celcon Steel brochure images, 1965

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Cover and inside images from the rare 1965 Celanese Celcon brochure that Syd Mead designed – very much referencing that Atomic look of the era but with plenty of the signature Mead style already present. I don’t have a copy of this and forget where I found these images on the web but I believe these were the bulk of the content Mead made for it. UPDATE: original images taken by Hiroshi Matsui, check out his amazing collection @sydmode on Instagram.

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The 5th Dimension Club, Leicester, Michael English poster

5th Dimension Leicester

The Fifth Dimension was a very short-lived club night in Leicester, it only lasted around two months by all accounts. I showcased plenty of acts in its short life though with an average of four gigs a week. It also had the distinction of having an original poster designed by Michael English of Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, printed in red, blue and gold as seen above. The original pencil line work for this was sold at auction many years back and a letter from Michael with it, signed and dated December 1999, explained the genesis and concept of the design.

”Normally, the structural design of our work was created on layout paper and then traced out onto the final artwork card. That layout was then invariably discarded as waste. However the 5th Dimension poster was so complex that it required a great deal more preparatory work. This meant the creation of a master drawing on cartridge paper whose more robust nature allowed us the freedom to erase and re-draw the various parts of the design until we were satisfied with it. That done, a final tracing was then made from it on layout paper which was then transferred to the card.

The complex maze like pattern that comprises the central theme of this poster was intended to give the impression of a window or doorway into a fifth dimension. The flickering effect of the colours together with the pattern creates a mesmerising experience that was supposed to draw the observer into another space. Under the influence of LSD, of course, the effect would have been much more dramatic”.


5th Dimension Leicester drawing

Below is a local paper listing for the opening night of the club, presumably before they had the poster above. By the end of October the night would be over.

Fifth Dimension paper ad

Jeff Pitcher – Crawley

I was really taken with Jeff Pitcher‘s images of Crawley, recently published on his Facebook page, where he has tried to capture the remaining details of the original town. Whilst looking through the 300+ images I was playing a record of Tibetan Bells that I’d just bought. The mix of the two gave the images an eerie atmosphere and I thought I’d put them together for the hell of it.

I grew up near Crawley and have fond memories of visiting it in the 80’s and remember the odd spot here so his photos resonate with me. Jeff is obsessively documenting the vanishing detail of Crawley; the ‘no ball games’ signs, the elegant, 1950s stairs, the final few original doors, handles and shopfronts. The last details of this baby boomer Utopia are fading, being quietly lost, and succumbing to decay and nature.

From his FB page: Crawley was one of eight new towns built in an 20-30 mile radius of London in a plan that began in the 1940s. Each promised an infrastructure designed for cleaner living, employment, and houses rather than high-rises. Londoners poured from the over-crowded, war-scarred capital into what they saw as a brighter future.
As social housing was sold off by the Conservative government of the 1980s, so the new town dream slowly faded. Original shop frontages were replaced with loud signs and corporate logos, and libraries and police stations left to moulder. But it was the small details that went with the least noise. Previously uniform, wood-and-glass doors and Crittall windows were replaced with plastic versions, tiles torn away or concreted over, fences torn up to create parking spaces, staircases ripped out, and the simplicity of the new town was lost in a jumble of UPVC porches, double glazing and extensions.

Jeff is starting a new photography project and would like to track down Crawley residents who’ve lived in the same council/commission house since they moved here. Here’s the thing, you’ll need to have a picture of you outside that house taken in the early years of you living in the town – whether that was in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or beyond. He’d love to take pictures of you outside your house now, and speak to you about how the area’s changed in the intervening years. Do you fit the bill? Know someone who does? Please get in touch via email [email protected]

UFO Club posters

Having already covered adverts for the UFO Club in a previous post I thought I’d try to match the posters up with the dates. The club started life at The Blarney Club in the basement of the Berkley Cinema at 31 Tottenham Court Road in December 1966. Founded by John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins and Joe Boyd, the night was first billed as ‘UFO Presents Nite Tripper‘ because they couldn’t decide on a name, it came to be the former, pronounced, ‘You-Fo’.
Listings taken from the UFO wiki page, I’ve tried to match posters to the dates but sometimes bands were announced but wouldn’t play as their fame grew and other commitments called. Most were done by Michael English and Nigel Waymouth who designed under the name Hapshash & The Coloured Coat.

Nite Tripper poster 1
23/30 Dec: Nite Tripper under Gala Berkeley Cinema; Warhol movies; Soft Machine; Pink Floyd; Anger movies; Heating warm; IT god
Poster by Michael English

UFO Jan 67
13 Jan: Pink Floyd; Marilyn Monroe movie; The Sun Trolley; Technicolor strobe; Five acre slides; Karate
20 Jan: Pink Floyd; Anger movie
Poster by Michael English

UFO Jan Feb 2
27 Jan: AMM Music; Pink Floyd; Five Acre Light; Flight of the Aerogenius Chpt 1; International Times; IT Girl Beauty Contest
3 Feb: Soft Machine; Brown’s Poetry; Flight of the Aerogenius Chpt 2; Bruce Connor Movies
Poster by Michael English

UFO Love Festival poster
10 Feb: Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band; Ginger Johnson African Drums; flix – Dali – Bunuel, WC Fields
17 Feb: Soft Machine; Indian Music; Disney Cartoons; Mark Boyle Projections; Feature Movie; ‘erogenius 3 + 4’
Poster by Michael English

Micheal English UFO screen print 2
24 Feb: Pink Floyd; Brothers Grimm
3 Mar: Soft Machine; Pink Floyd
10 Mar: Pink Floyd
Poster by Michael English, below is English’s original artwork, notice there is a mistake with the date, it should have read Feb 24th
Michael English UFO_original

17 Mar: St Patrick’s day off
UFO mk2 Mar
The classic ‘UFO Mk2’ by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, this is the reprint, stamped and signed by Nigel Waymouth

24 Mar: Soft Machine
31 Mar: Crazy World of Arthur Brown; Pink Alberts; ‘spot the fuzz contest’
7 Apr: Soft Machine
14 Apr: Arthur Brown; Social Deviants; Special: the fuzz
21 Apr: Pink Floyd
28 Apr: Tomorrow; The Purple Gang

(29/30 Apr: The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream at the Alexandra Palace) – To be covered in a future post…

5 May: Soft Machine; Arthur Brown
12 May: The Graham Bond Organisation; Procol Harum
19 May: Tomorrow; Arthur Brown; The People Show
UFO May 2
26 May: The Move, The Knack
2 Jun: Pink Floyd; Soft Machine; The Tales of Ollin dance group; Hydrogen Jukebox
Poster by Jacob And The Coloured Coat (Michael English & Nigel Waymouth)

9 Jun: Procol Harum; The Smoke
10 Jun: Pink Floyd

UFO June

16 Jun: Crazy World of Arthur Brown; Soft Machine; The People Blues Band 4.30am
23 Jun: Liverpool Love Festival; The Trip
30 Jun: Tomorrow; The Knack; Dead Sea Fruit
7 Jul: Denny Laine; The Pretty Things

UFO 19th-21st July, 1967,
A more accurate line up on this new poster for the next two dates
14 Jul: Arthur Brown; Alexis Korner; Victor Brox
21 Jul: Tomorrow; Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

UFO July
28 Jul: Pink Floyd; CIA v UFO; Fairport Convention; Shiva’s Children

After an article published in the News of the World on 30 July, the landlord told Joe Boyd the UFO could not continue at the Blarney and Boyd decided to use the larger Roundhouse venue.

4 Aug: Eric Burdon & The New Animals; Family; The Hydrogen Juke Box
11 Aug: Tomorrow
18 Aug: Arthur Brown; The Incredible String Band
1/2 Sep: UFO Festival: Pink Floyd; Soft Machine; The Move; Arthur Brown; Tomorrow; Denny Laine
8 Sep: Eric Burdon & The New Animals; Aynsley Dunbar
15 Sep: Soft Machine; Family
UFO Roundhouse poster
This fantastic Martin Sharp poster sadly heralded the end of the UFO’s run at the Roundhouse.
22 Sep: Dantalian’s Chariot w/ Zoot Money & His Light Show; The Social Deviants; The Exploding Galaxy
29 Sep: Jeff Beck; Ten Years After; Mark Boyle’s New Sensual Laboratory; Contessa Veronica

Victor Moscoso – Poster from the Past

Poster, The Miller Blues Band, 1967; Designed by Victor Moscoso (Spanish, active USA, b.1936); offset lithograph on white wove paper; 50.3 x 35.8 cm (19 13/16 x 14 1/8 in.); Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie J. Schreyer; 1979-34-38; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution
Poster, The Miller Blues Band, 1967; Designed by Victor Moscoso (Spanish, active USA, b.1936); offset lithograph on white wove paper; 50.3 x 35.8 cm (19 13/16 x 14 1/8 in.); Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie J. Schreyer; 1979-34-38; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

‘Poster From The Past’ – #2 in the Neon Rose series by the legendary Victor Moscoso  – plus original artwork below. 55 years ago today.

Neon Rose original Victor M

A Million Volt Light & Sound Rave

Million Volt Rave poster colour

The Million Volt Light & Sound Rave was put on at The Roundhouse over two separate days in early 1967 by the Binder Edwards Vaughan / BEV design partnership of Douglas Binder, Dudley Edwards and David Vaughan.

Sometimes also known as the Carnival of Light Rave, it most famously featured the airing of ‘Carnival of Light’, Paul McCartney’s mythical 14 minute musique concrete piece, specially made for the occasion with the participation of the other three Beatles. Vaughan had painted a piano for McCartney the year before and asked if he would be up for contributing something whilst delivering it. It was played a number of times during the two events and hasn’t been officially released since. Less heralded was a performance of tape music by Unit Delta Plus, the trio of Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson and Peter Zinovieff although it’s unknown if they were there in person to play it or if it was just playback. Also on the bill, Tonics, Soft Machine and Electric Poets which consisted of Soft Machine‘s Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt with Gilli Smyth and Early Fuggle on welding kit (according to a clipping from International Times). Allen and Smyth of course went on to form Gong. The poster and flyer above and below I’m presuming were done by BEV although I can’t find any confirmation of this anywhere, if anyone knows please leave a comment.

Million Volt yellow
Above, A Million Volt Rave flyer for the first event, these also exist on white, below, detail from BEV headed stationary that was found dumped in a skip outside a mill in Manchester, 1999. The collection of papers included sketches for McCartney’s piano and a list of BEV commissions was found by builder Andy Clynes, more info and photos here. This design has also been found printed on silver paper as a poster (see below) and may be an early draft (I’m speculating here).

BEV Collective (Binder, Edwards, Vaughan)Million Volt Light & Sound IT listing-studio-studio2Here’s Dudley Edwards talking about the event, he reveals that an unknown Jimi Hendrix was also on the bill.

Dave Little artwork at the Club Culture screening

Jibaro I was amazed to see the originals of Dave Little‘s covers for S’ExpressOriginal Soundtrack album and Jibraro ‘Electra’ 12″ at the screening of the 1988 documentary, Club Culture tonight at Arboretum. There was a small show of his work including Renegade Soundwave, Spectrum, Junior Boys Own and his Acid screen print. If you look closely at the Jibaro sleeve you can see the stuck on lettering peeling away. You can buy some of these as prints from Dave’s site.

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60s Psychedelic drug posters

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On my travels round the web I ran across these late 60s parody drug posters – the following info was cribbed from the Worthpoint website:
Vintage Psychedelic Poster ‘Cocaine Candy’ Limited Print
Published by The Esoteric Poster Company in 1967
Hand-Pulled Serigraph on Thick Stock Paper, Semi-Gloss Finish
Original Art by Robert Wendell, after Roland Crump
Printing by Gawdawful Graphics / Wendell & Klopp
20″ x 13″ Black Light Sensitive
The Esoteric Poster Company, founded by Howard Morseburg in California during the early 1960’s, had a brief run before folding for good in 1968. The beatnik satirical ‘drug’ parody posters achieved popularity from the community they sought to mock. Owner and founder Howard Morseburg hired artists Roland Crump (acclaimed Disney animator) and Robert Wendell to produce the designs. Very limited printing, less than 300 (as low as 100) printed.. among the most collectible and prized of all 1960’s psychedelic era posters.
Guaranteed original from very limited back stock, from Howard Morseburg’s gallery in Alhambra, California.

Fly HeroinSniff GlueGlue credit 2Glue creditTry Opium

A bit more history:
Howard Morseburg (1924-2012) began his career in the art business in the 1950s. He was a World War II veteran who had served in the Merchant Marine and later worked in the book and magazine business. As a young officer during the war, Morseburg was on the “Murmansk Run” to the Soviet Union and other perilous wartime voyages through the submarine-infested North Atlantic. It was one of Morseburg’s friends from this time, a young skipper named Jim Greenberg, who was to introduce him to the art business.
After the war, this friend became a ship’s captain on the Atlantic route, and began importing paintings by European artists to the United States. In Europe, which was still suffering from the economic after effects of the war, there was no appreciable market for these artists’ work. During the 1950s Greenberg began selling the paintings he imported to galleries, furniture stores and interior designers who were then developing a wider consumer market for art than had existed before the war. From his base in Seattle, where he and his young family were then living, Howard Morseburg followed suit, and he began selling paintings imported from Europe throughout the western United States.
In addition to the European paintings he received, Morseburg began representing young American artists. He also became involved in the West Coast printmaking movement. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he started to represent young artists like Wayne Thiebaud, Elton Bennett and Mel Ramos, who created their own hand-pulled prints. It was this interest in printmaking that helped lead to his next venture.

The Beatnik Posters: About 1960, Morseburg became interested in creating humorous and satirical posters. At this time, the “beatnik” movement was in full swing and coffee houses and jazz clubs were full of beatniks spouting free-form poetry to the beat of bongo drums. To Morseburg, the beatnik movement found in Greenwich Village, Seattle, San Francisco and the East Bay was ripe for satire. He met a talented young Disney artist and Imagineer named Roland Crump at a gift shop in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. Crump was a brilliant and eccentric young artist and designer who became one of the most important Disney “Imagineers.” Crump was already producing some hand-pulled beatnik posters before he met Morseburg, but once the association began, Morseburg had larger quantities of some of the posters published using the photo-offset process.

Crump designed a series of images that satirized the drug culture that was developing among the Beats, which Morseburg took on the road, travelling down the coast from Seattle to San Diego. In that era, drug use was not widespread and they were chiefly popular with musicians and beatnik hipsters. So, Esoteric Poster’s first releases were “Smoke Marijuana,” “Fly High, Fly Heroin Airlines” “Cocaine” and “Opium.”The next posters were which poked fun at a Beatnik club, and “Big Liz,” which was a colorful poster of a Beatnik princess. Those 30″ x 24″ posters were silk screened in three colours and for posterity’s sake they cost $0.50 to produce, were sold to book stores for only $1.00 and retailed for $1.95.

the Green GasserIn the course of his frequent sales trips to visit art galleries, Morseburg personally distributed Esoteric’s posters. His primary outlets for the posters were the book stores along the west coast that catered to college students in Berkeley, Stanford, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. These posters were produced as very early critical parody of the drug culture by the Esoteric Poster Company, but the message was so subtle that they were popular among the very community they sought to mock.

Below are a few more I’ve run across although details about dates and print houses are scarce but I’m reasonably sure they’re from the same era.

Drug guide for heads
Poster Prints credit

Original vintage black light ultra violet poster designed by Dominick Jago, 1969.
Depiction of the pharmacopeia of the era.
Publisher: Poster Prints, Plymouth Square Center-Conshohocken, PA.
Dimensions: full sheet: 21″ x 31.5″
Hake's National Institute of Mental Health
Printed by The US Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Public Health Services and Mental Health Administration, possibly 1969 although other sources say 70’s.

Trip Without DrugsTrip without drugs details

Oddities: Louis Armstrong tape box collages Pt.2

LA22Thanks to universalcollage for alerting me to these amazing tape reel boxes, once belonging to Louis Armstrong, now archived in an online museum on his website. There are hundreds of these plus even more pieces of ephemera to see, it looks like someone has gone through every piece of music-related item he ever owned and photographed it with notes for the site.

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Oddities: Louis Armstrong tape box collages Pt.1

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Thanks to universalcollage for alerting me to these amazing tape reel boxes, once belonging to Louis Armstrong, now archived in an online museum on his website. There are hundreds of these plus even more pieces of ephemera to see, it looks like someone has gone through every piece of music-related item he ever owned and photographed it with notes for the site. Any one of these could be a record cover, sometimes both sides of the boxes are collaged and the ageing sellotape just adds to their appeal for me.
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East Village Other covers pt.2 – Underground Comix edition

p15932coll8_56807_full More pages from the Wisconsin Historical Society G.I. Press Collection of The East Village Other papers I came across, all scanned in high res, (much higher than here). As the 60s heading to a close The Other started featuring a selection of the underground cartoonists of the day, namely Robert Crumb, Vaughn Bodé, Susan Morris, Spain Rodriguez, Kim Dietch and Charles Francis Winans. As well as striking covers, several artists did comic strip ads for Douglas Records and a lot of this art – save for some of the Crumb works – I’ve never seen reprinted elsewhere before.

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