Iggy, Ziggy and Lou in ’72
Exhibition at Bamalama Posters, Leather Lane, London – until July
It’s hard to imagine that there was once a time when Bowie struggled to fill pubs, Iggy Pop struggled to keep people awake for his 2am set and Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground struggled to get noticed at all.
But it’s true. And, if you think further than an exercise in pure histrionics, you might just accept that in 1972 some of the best art was being made.
On a Friday and Saturday in July 1972, Mick Rock (photographer) stayed up way past his bedtime to fire off 1) the shot that would become the cover of Lou Reed’s Transformer and then 2) the shot that would grace the front of Iggy’s Raw Power. Two nights’ work – two iconic images. Nice.
Around that same time, David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars were dragging their androgynous skimpy arses around the scout huts and pubs of the Home Counties – and not very far beyond. ÃÂ Back then, an inocuous summer from 40 years ago, you could spend 50p (or 60p at most) and see either one of these three icons – Iggy, Ziggy or Lou – and have your life changed irrevocably.
It undoubtedly happened. Punk owes a great debt to those years, garage rock certainly – glam, of course. But, apart from a token nod here and there courtesy of BBC4 or 6Music, the holy trinity of Iggy, Ziggy and Lou has so far garnered too little attention.
Some of the more switched-on people from that time know differently, of course. They were the young dudes who carried the news. Mick Jones saw Mick Ronson play and it changed his life. The Pistols snuck into Bowie’s Hammersmith Odeon gig and swiped his mikes. That might just be why the Bollocks LP sounds so good. Nick Kent – a man with an opinion that EVERYONE should trust – saw Iggy and the Stooges at the Scala in London and declared the birth of punk. Furthermore, he asserts: if you were not at that ONE gig – you will NOT understand punk. True punk.
Collector John Brett understands all of this – and over the past decades (several decades, actually) he has amassed a collection of artefacts from this important era. Whether that might be the tiniest of ads for an unfulfilled ‘Iggy Stooge’ set at the Roundhouse or a fabulously glam poster for a Bowie gig at Worthing Town Hall, he has harvested, curated, cared for and now displayed it all.
These things are not for sale: but John will happily regale you with stories galore about the posters on show in his central London shop. Be that Ziggy’s first warm-up gig in Aylesbury, or Ziggy’s most recent reunion with luckiest snapper in the world Mick Rock… this exhibition has it all. Go and have a peek.