6 JULY 2006




Goth The 70s Grove rock scene died with Steve Peregrin Took on Cambridge Gardens in 1980, but the spectre of the rocking undead continued to haunt the Notting Hellmouth for some time. The proto-Buffy post-modern goths Bauhaus appeared on Campden Hill at Queen Elizabeth College; Siouxsie and the Banshees and Marc Almond haunted the Portobello Hotel bar – which had goth previous from Alice Cooper, Nico and the zombie rocker Roky Erickson; on Blenheim Crescent, Miles Copeland gave us the psychobilly Cramps and the Lords of the New Church; on All Saints Road, Nick Jones managed the Sisters of Mercy, Skeletal Family and Ghost Dance; Screaming Lord Sutch inhabited St Luke’s Mews; Jackie Leven of Doll By Doll, who lived on Ladbroke Grove, wasn’t really goth but his Celtic blues were nevertheless from the dark side; Killing Joke was first made in Notting Dale, and revived in Finch’s along with the Lords of the New Church and Transvision Vamp.

Immersed in Crowley’s Uniform: Killing Joke Killing Joke succeeded the Clash as the first local heroes of the 80s, on a post-punk funk tip, and ended up occult heavy metal. Recently re-formed, as mad, bad and dangerous as ever, Killing Joke’s interrogations of music journalists (rather than vice versa) were carried out on Portland Road. Paul Morley wrote with trepidation of his: ‘They have a first floor flat in a large old house in Notting Hill Gate. We walk through an echoey hall, up bare wooden stairs and into a small room...’

Thoroughly immersed in Crowley’s uniform of imagery, their track ‘The Fall of the Because’ was taken from Crowley’s The Book of the Law, and the sleeve of their second album ‘Follow the Leaders’ featured a procession holding cards from the Crowley designed Tarot pack. In 1982 the Killing Joke saga ‘Revelations’ album featured Masonic symbols, as they went to Iceland to sit out the apocalypse at the time of the Falklands war. The singer Jaz Coleman, who went on to be a producer of world music, is the son of the equally renowned local Labour councillor Bob Pandy, and brother of the speed-rapper JC001.

The Lords of the New Church, the Damned and the Dead Boys The more trad goth rock early 80s outfit, the Lords of the New Church, were a former punk supergroup; consisting of Brian James of the Damned, Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys, Dave Treganna of Sham 69, and Nick Turner of the Raincoats and Barracudas. Their label, Illegal, was based in Codrington Mews on Blenheim Crescent, on the site of the Prodigy’s XL label office. Having named themselves after the Kensington New Church on Pembridge Villas, the Lords soaked up the bohemian atmosphere of the Alex, Blenheim and Finch’s, and came up with possibly the definitive local song. In their goth rock-meets-Burundi beat ‘Portobello’, they somehow managed to cram most local mythology, thus:
‘If you are living outside of the law, run to your hole-in-the-wall, bohemian hideout, smugglers’ inn, find safety and refuge within, strangers’ bazaar, doesn’t matter who you are, there’s a melting pot of lunatic fringe, seething with sedition, anointed with wisdom, the streets of Portobello’s extremes, if voting could change things they’d make it illegal, truth is the sword of us all, insane are the normal, musicians are outlaws, the artists and Rasta and dreams, dreams, dreams, we gotta go – Portobello, yeah, you gotta go – Portobello!’

The Lords, in turn, inspired the following gothic psychogeographical prose in Zigzag from the juggler-journalist Tony de la Fou (formerly Tony D): ‘In our research into existing occult conclaves at the Society for Psychical Studies, myself and companions unweaved a tangled thread of mystery and deception that led to a Unitarian church in Pembridge Villas, running between Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill Gate. This street has been notorious since the days of piracy and smuggling for its interlocking subterranean passages running only the damned know where. Near the Grove end, in true Lords style 5 yards from a bus stop marked New Church we found a moulding, slumbering vault in the cemetery which showed signs of recent entry and re-sealment... Beneath the ground, trapped in the labyrinths that lace Notting Hill’s underbelly, we lunge at the oncoming bats with our notebooks...’

The goth scene on Westbourne Grove, at the Earl of Lonsdale and Duke of Norfolk pubs and the Kitkat club, remained undead throughout the 80s. The Kitkat (named after the Berlin Cabaret club) was the least serious local manifestation of the dark arts. City Limits’ Rose Christie (a Notting Hill gothic horror name if ever there was one) recalled the goth club ‘Bringing the Grope to the Grove’: ‘The venue was barely ready – it hadn’t been cleaned or soundproofed – and the police turned up at 2.30 to shut things down. But, after the first week, this Kitkat was booming – meeting and matching young goths with its ‘bring your own drink all night rave’ (meaning till 8am Sunday morning) initiating an era… speed remained their clubbing drug until, in the summer of ’85, the police carried out an undercover raid in Westbourne Grove. Policewomen clad a la Carnaby Street goths as seen in the Sun.’ (obviously not the sun. Ed).

Tales from the Crypt: Blood and Roses Following in the footsteps of the original local goth author Arthur Machen, Tony de la Fou wrote of the Kensal Green anarcho punk venue Centro Iberico in his anarcho-punk-magick-goth fanzine, Kill Your Pet Puppy: ‘Today we trek to a crypt most unholy… It was scrawled on the back of an old copy of KYPP, postmarked Westbourne Park. Westbourne Park, that name summons the memories, those cider-tainted days at the old A Centre, located towards the dilapidated end of Harrow Road. We had fun last year, being political with Conflict, colourful with Rubella Ballet, magickal with Blood & Roses or just leaping around shambolically with the Mob… ‘The corpse stirs once again.’ Westbourne Park? Pack those bags, I’m on my way…’

The Centro Iberico, Anarchy or Alternative Centre at 421 Harrow Road, was a former school, squatted by Spanish anarchists. As well as accommodating the early 80s anarcho-punk scene, the centre had a suitably Crowleyan gothic vibe from nearby Kensal Green cemetery and industrial backdrop of the gas works to host gigs by Blood and Roses and Throbbing Gristle.

Having taken their name from Roger Vadim’s 1960 vampire movie, Blood and Roses arrived on the scene with their Crowleyan ‘Love Under Will’ EP, and split before positive-anarcho-magick-punk became goth. As the guitarist Bob Short puts it in Mick Mercer’s goth book: “Who wants to sit around in a primordial castle, going round sticking their fingers in skulls? It’s boring.” In Bob Short’s Shadows Never Die horror comedy film, shown at last year’s festival, an ageing punk band are condemned to a hell world. In a tenuous Cabbalistic Madonna link, the ‘Ray of Light’ producer William Orbit lived in the old school caretaker’s cottage. Tony de la Fou recently appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks juggling on a unicycle.

From Ritual to Romance: Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV The Cryptic One Club, in a church crypt on Bishop’s Bridge Road, was an earlier real-punk (not goth) venue recommended by Tony D’s Ripped & Torn fanzine, where Throbbing Gristle also appeared. Genesis P Orridge of TG was the most serious Crowleyan pop star of them all. After singing ‘love is the law’ on TG’s Industrial hit single ‘United’, and haunting Rough Trade on Kensington Park Road, he launched Psychic TV and his own occult cult group, the Temple of Psychick Youth, which encompassed most things magickal; Crowley, Burroughs, Brion Gysin cut-ups and dreamachines, Charles Manson, Austin Osman Spare sex magick ritual, the magical significance of the number 23, taboo imagery in general, Brian Jones and proto-rave hyperdelia. The local Crowleyan industrial heroes, prag VEC inhabited Markland House by Latimer Road station, and frequented the Golden Cross pub (now the Market Bar) on Portobello.

Along the goth Harrow Road, the Cure appeared at the Windsor Castle pub; Nick Cave’s Birthday Party, the Sisters of Mercy, UK Decay, Southern Death Cult and Sex Gang Children played the Zigzag club on Great Western Road; Miranda Sex Garden, the goth 17th century madrigal trio, started out busking on Portobello and ended up on Mute on Harrow Road.

Since the pop fandemonium at Wilkie Collins’ funeral, Kensal Green has hosted Steve Peregrin Took’s earthly remains, goth photo sessions dating back to Genesis, the funerals of Freddie Mercury and Joe Strummer, Beth Orton says she was inspired by the Kensal Green angels, and the cemetery is still a top goth tourist attraction.

Planet Alice, Motown Majic and the Wiiija board The Planet Alice shop at 284 Portobello Road made a tenuous acidhouse connection in the mid 80s psychedelic revival, featuring Doctor and the Medics and the Alice in Wonderland club. The Mau Mau bar at number 265 started out as the Motown Majic Company’s Original Soul Bar, remembered in the ‘Majic’ stone in the pavement outside. The early 90s Rough Trade shop label, wiiija, was concocted from their postcode W11 1JA, not as a goth ouija board reference.

Hollyweird W11 Gillian Anderson, ‘Scully’ out of X-Files, was injured in a mystery fall at her flat opposite Tesco’s on Portobello – The truth is out there.

Matthew Vaughn, the Notting Hill based producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, turns out not to be the son of Robert Vaughn, who played ‘Napoleon Solo’ in The Man from UNCLE, but of George de Vere Drummond: So he’s not a new Napoleon of Notting Hill but an old lord of the manor.

Heathcote Williams, the local beatnik playwright/poet/graffiti artist etc, recently reappeared in the holy grail conspiracy thriller Revelation, along with Trellick Tower.
In another Masonic hippy local link, the ‘never ending genesis’ over 10 years of Peter Gabriel’s £5 million townhouse off Ladbroke Square; incorporating the old freemasons’ hall next door into a recording studio, meditation centre and swimming pool; caused much local anger and a court case in which Gabriel sued the builders for £1.5 million.

In breaking magical local news, Robert Pattinson, who played the schoolboy wizard Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, appears in the forthcoming local film How To Be.
Invoked from Tom Vague’s Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate pop history www.historytalk.org Vague 41



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