Jordan © Melanie Smith
Jordan © Melanie Smith

John Robb eulogy to the late Jordan – friend of Louder Than War and punk icon.

With her Mondrian painted face and dominatrix wardrobe that combined strict heavy manners threads with her own idiosyncratic twists and turns wardrobe, her skyscraper hair and genuine ‘I don’t give a fuck what you think’ attitude Jordan was the number one – the first punk who arrived on the scene two years before it had even started or even had a name. The heroic walking work of art who was the empowering catalyst.

More important than any of the cultural baggage was the fact that she was golden-hearted, wonderful wise woman who touched everyone who met her and left them glowing with her generosity, wisdom and cackling laugh. She was super smart, hilarious, a fan who was immersed in pop culture and most important of all had that heart of gold and her guttural laugh and mischievous Carry On sense of humour and demeanour will make me glow till the day I die.

With her irrepressible style, her glowing energy, her wild sense of humour and her precious presence we are going to miss her.

Jordan was the true original. It was an honour to have got to know her and to be a small part of her deserved lap of honour with the brilliant ‘Defying Gravity’ autobiography. The rip-roaring book she wrote with brilliant author Cathi Unsworth that is perhaps the closest you will get to understating punk rock. The wisdom, the laughs, the madness of being on the road with Jordan on the book tour with her daredevil attitude to art and life was, well, punk rock. (in conversation with Jordan about her love of ballet here)

A key part of British pop culture, she was punk rock and we were just satellites orbiting around her outrageous cool.  Yet despite being at the heart of the big city Kings Road scene she was perfectly small-town England where the real freaks and game-changers come from. The hip do this stuff off the shelf, the small-town people do it 24/7 – it’s crucial to understand this. She was the face of the Sex shop before it was called Sex. The day she waltzed into the shop when it was called Seditionaries dressed in a ballet outfit from hell was the moment that punk rock coalesced.

She was the blank canvas that Malcolm and Vivienne projected FROM – her devil may care attitude and thrilling style inspired them. Jordan walked it and talked it whilst everything else was just theory. She was the original Sex Pistol who was one of the three people in the room for Rotten’s ‘audition’ for the band and her nod to Malcolm saw him get the job. She was not just at the heart of the action – she was the heart of the action – and the biggest and warmest heart of them all.

To understand what punk rock really was you have to understand Jordan. 

She was the first person to be punk in attitude, style and swagger. She invented it all and the music was just the soundtrack to her devilish may care style war.

She was dressed to kill – a walking work of art that confronted the stuffy hypocritical England of the mid-seventies. She was flamboyant and outrageous and yet classy and stylish. She could make the most helter-skelter combinations of clothes work. She defied convention, bras, common sense and the stuffy morals of the tutting classes. She rolled with the punches from her fellow passengers on the Seaford to London train when she went to work at SEX. She was the punk rock matron looking after and inspiring the skinny nervous boys like Sid, Marco, Adam and many others. She was the terrifying behind the counter shop boss who challenged people on what they bought and wore because she knew that punk rock should be a challenge and not a label.

Punk was unique in that it was a statement in pop culture was not just a series of seven-inch singles. It was also a style. A look. A sartorial statement. An haute couture mix and match, cut and paste with whatever you fancy shock to the system that could be high decibel records or high decibel style. If you think it was ‘just about the music’ then you really don’t get it.

She was the face of the shop, punk rock public enemy number one and maybe the fifth Sex Pistol – Malcolm and Vivienne missed a move by not having her as part of the band who, despite all their wild genius were still four BLOKES against the world. Imagine if they had added Jordan to the mix just standing their dominatrix cool staring down the maelstrom with her impeccable cool.

She was inner core of the inner core and her restless spirit saw her turn an entranced customer who had been leaving her love letters, Stuart Goddard into Adam Ant inspiring the shy artful genius to transform into the ultimate chiselled art piece himself under her guidance and inspiration.

And yet…

Despite her terrifying appearance Jordan was a fiercely intelligent independent woman with a generous soul. She was constantly funny, caring and sweet. I did events and in conversations a nodding Sid James prop to her great Barbara Windsor anecdotes and wisdom with her all over the UK and Europe and she was hilarious and smart. 

The crowds that turned up were the old punks, male and female, the teenage pop culture students, the wild and the beautiful and the plain curious recognised her for being the number one who changed the world by defying it – a genuine shining light and a great British dandy who was that rarest of things – substance over style. There was no back up – no plan – no script – we just went and did it – freeform – free jazz –  that’s how she lived her life. 

Those who met and who spoke to her glowed after they left – not because of her innate stardom but because she was genuine, down to earth funny and unaffected by an amazing life where she had hung out with Andy Warhol, David Bowie and the other people who used to come to stare at her in the SEX shop. Rightly she treated them as she treated anyone else. She was an icon without the ‘I’ and the ‘con’, she was far out and down to earth. 

She was inspirational, thrilling, daring, defiant and switched on.  She would rave to me about Shellac or IDLES before hardly anyone knew who they were. She would always be heading off to a gig or a flower show or thrilled by a new idea or sound or texture or nuance. She would get on stage with my band, the Membranes, and recite words off the top of her head whilst we did a dub jam. Like many of us, she understood that punk rock, art and ideas were of the moment. She would improvise and never had a safety net in her performance or in her life.

She was beyond the bondage of life, she defied getting older and still cut a dash in the classic Westwood ‘Tits’ T-shirt, defiant spikes, bandana and big boots. She was a free spirit whose love of animals and cats was her core. Mainman Burmese. The cat breeder. Meow. Fnar fnar! 

Fuck. Fuck – carved in your back with a razor blade sort of fuck. 

Fuck, fuck, fuck we are going to miss her.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.

31 COMMENTS

    • I agree – this was so spot on . She would’ve laughed at this – out of a humility and self depreciation that she had.

  1. Cant believe she’s gone – our best and most unique living archive of what that scene was really about. The world has lost some of its brilliance but many of us have been inspired by her ‘fuck em’ daring. I’m off to watch Amyl Nitrate do her thing.
    I was lucky enough to meet her a few times thanks to your events, John Robb; memories to cherish.

  2. So sad was a pleasure to hear from her autobiography which she read at the Membranes gig in Brighton pre covid

  3. Agreed jonzip wonderful eulogy that John real love shines through every line…sorry to you and all that loved her ….is punk dead now…dunno maybe the heart the weird heart been ripped out of it now …bah that don’t sound right but you know what I mean …rest easy Jordan ..you will live on forever in our imaginations and and the history books…

  4. Beautiful tribute John Only met her the once at HOME. Will be watching Jubilee again later. God bless her. A true icon. RIP lovely lady x

  5. Very sad about your news John I had not met Jordan your touching tribute shows how special she was to you to others and as a person so sorry to hear about your loss

  6. Incredibly sad news. I met her at your 100 Club gig and she was as friendly and irascible as you say. I told her I was scared of her the first time I saw a clip of her throwing a chair at Steve Jones and she said everyone was scared of her that day!

  7. RIP Jordan/Pamela. Another bright star gone. Truly unique and original, she walked the walk. Met her a few times at Sex/Seditionaries & dubious dive clubs, Rods, Masquerade. She was bonkers in a good way, intimidating but warming. She shared bars of Old Jamaicee choc & apples with me & my freind. She got ejected from many a gay club for being too kinky???!! and did a strange rubber knicker flashing dance. She worked in Harrods too!

  8. Such beautiful words John; a truly lovely tribute to a remarkable, iconic person. Your piece gives those of us who were never fortunate to meet or know her a great insight into the warmth, intelligence and spirit of Jordan. Thank you. So sorry for your and her friends and family’s loss.

  9. Well written John, as always. She was definitely the brightly painted box that drew you into to wonder in awe at the fireworks within only to then get slightly overlooked as the graphic design reason for becoming interested in the fireworks in the first place. I sort of wish she could have become the 5th member on stage, like a sort of Bez figure although in many respects she was, anyways, at the beginning on the sidelines. She deserves all the touching tributes I’ve seen about her. RIP. TEAR. R.I.P TEARS.

  10. I’m shocked and saddened. RIP Jordan. The world was blessed to have you in this world. It’s hard to imagine what music would be like today without your influence on some of the great influential artists of our time. Godspeed.

  11. Brighter than the light eschewed
    Louder than the noise ensued.
    A testament to be yourself
    Meant to test your very self.
    Fashioned by her own desire
    And modelled by her internal fire.
    A key to release a beckoning wave
    A queen that god would surely save.

    As Punk children are we begotten.
    Jordan,
    you will never ever be forgotten.

  12. This is the best obit anyone could have written. This is how it was way back in the late ‘70’s Worlds End bit of Kings Road, London through to the market in Kings Rd later on selling punk clothes made by diy designers and always black. Jordan was also highly photogenic & will surely be remembered as a great punk beauty too.

  13. Met her on a train before Christmas from Manchester.
    Absolutely delightful company with her partner. Chatted about old bands and new bands.
    Very sad indeed.

  14. I met her and her little gang (I used to call them at the time) many times at the beginning in Louise Poland Street,
    Me and my friends used go and watch them and dream of being one of them,
    But that was all I could do,dream,
    Her and the others from the art and clothes and hair colleges around the area were something else, I miss those days so much and I will Jordan even more,what a lady,R.I.P

  15. Beautifully written piece, brother John. Perhaps, today it may just be true to say Punk is Dead (even if it’s legacy continues to thrive).

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