Running from March 4th 2019 – April 13th 2019, Golddream is a 50th anniversary exhibition of posters and photographs from those heady student days of the flower-power era of the late 1960s and early 70s.
I was a member of the Goldsmiths College ‘Class’ of 1966-1970 for most of which time it was an ‘external’ College of the University. Now known as Goldsmiths, University of London it is one of the main Colleges of the University. During the period from 1969-1970, while studying for a PGTC, I was additionally Social Secretary of the Student’s Union – only the President of the Union had a sabbatical year back in those days.
Two of my fellow students at the time, David Bracher and Russell Profitt have also contributed greatly to this Exhibition.
David has provided the magnificent photographs taken at the time, but only recently printed, of College life and the political scene as well as of the local community. The have previously been the subject of a self-published hard-backed book, The Way We Were, launched at the College in 2008. It is planned to re-print this in soft-back in time for an Alumnus event at the end of the Exhibition.
Russell, who was the S.U. President in the 1969-70 session was in the position of having a wider overview of student life and Union policies of the era through his additional involvement with the NUS, both in the London area and nationally. He was therefore able to gather a personal collection of memorabilia in the form of College S.U. Handbooks, the student newsletter, Smiths News, etc..
All three of us have had interviews conducted with us by by the College Historian, Professor Tim Crook about our time at Goldsmiths. These are available on listening stations that are part of the Exhibition.
Apart from during my first year I was heavily involved with the Student’s Union on the ‘Events’ side of things and assisted in building a couple of discotheque decks consisting of 2 x Garrard SP25 turntables fed in to a 100 watt amplifier and stereo speaker cabinets each containing 4 x 15″ Tannoy speakers. Discos were a fairly new ‘thing’ in 1967 This ‘big set’ was for regular College use, but we also built a second set with 2 x 15″ Tannoys each as a ‘mobile’ system. This was hired out to the Halls of Residence for their own ‘Informal’ events every term together with an annual ‘Formal’. Since there were about a dozen Halls at that time, it kept all the kit, and us, fairly busy! This was on top of a weekly College Disco held in the Small Hall, alias today’s Curzon Cinema, which often hosted live bands as well, and the major College events for which some of the posters displayed in the Exhibition were advertisements. The majority of posters exhibited were from local Colleges, both University and others, that I kept, having being sent them during my time as Social Secretary.
Looking back on the range of bands that played Goldsmiths in those days, it is truly amazing how many are familiar names even today, and how it was possible that the ‘College Circuit’ as it was known at that time, permitted the booking of top acts by even relatively small Colleges. It was very rare to pay more than £1,000 for a chart-topping act, so an audience of 1000 or so (fire regulations at the time were 850 in the College Great Hall) plus another 500 or so between the S.U. Bar (now the Curzon Café) and the Small Hall (fire regs of 150 ??!!) where all S.U. Events were held in those days, usually between 9pm and 2pm or even all-night, could meet all costs with tickets of only £1 or so. Looking back, I suppose £1 was quite a lot of money then – the equivalent of about £15 today – as was £1,000 for a top band, but 2.5p (sixpence in old money) or even 5p (a shilling) as it was later increased to, much to the disgust from the punters, for just a Disco was considered excellent value. This raised at least £15-£20 a week which was enough to pay two DJs £1.50 each with the rest going towards records and equipment maintenance. Small Hall bands were typically about £15 a night with the ticket price going up a bit on those occasions. On one occasion, the £15 booked band failed to show up, but a replacement called The Alby arrived instead, all the way from Plymouth, sporting a little man standing on one leg playing the flute, later to be known as Jethro Tull, the significance may be clear.
I think the poster collection actually started before my stint as Social Secretary. Posters for events at other Colleges were always arriving in the post and were probably rarely put up on the notice boards, if only because that would detract from Goldsmiths own range of Hall and College events. To these were added copies of the College event posters that were frequently designed by fellow students and then screen-printed by the College’s ‘Art School’ as it was known then. The collection is generally something of an homage to that art, with the vast majority produced by that means. They are, therefore, in relatively good condition, the more so since they have spent the past fifty years inside an architect’s drawing table that Sandy Evans, one of the Union’s technical support staff, made as part of his Design Education course. He very kindly gave it to me for ‘safe keeping’ when he had no means to get it back home to Wales when he left College. The collection has never been exhibited since I have never considered it to be of particular interest to anyone else, but following the creation of a movie file of the 230 or so items for a 2008 reunion of that ‘Class’ of 66-70, there has been a lot of interest in them.
The original video presentation of the individual posters I created left something to be desired since it was created from very limited resolution digital photographs of the posters blue-tacked to an office wall, but it nevertheless offered a flavour of the variety of poster styles. The sequence created for the Exhibition screen has been created from high-resolution scanned images of the originals. Additionally there are a number of album inserts, promotional posters and photographs as well as a unique signed ‘Compliments’ slip from London’s Norman Jackson Entertainment Agency that the College used to hire acts. This was to confirm the replacement booking for the 1969 Fresher’s Ball which was originally to have featured The Who, by Georgie Fame, and included a signed copy of his photograph. Two others of particular significance are a photo of Slade in the guise of their original incarnation, Ambrose Slade, and several of the U.S. West Coast band, Love, who I was fortunate enough to book at Goldsmiths for the 1970 Valentine’s Ball, their only U.K. College gig. They are all part of my overall collection and most items are on display in the Exhibition.
There are also a few signed 12” record sleeves including items by Love, The Liverpool Scene, Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band and Muddy Waters.
There are many stories behind items in the display cabinet above.
Looking at the two posters at the top right it will be evident that the same image has been used in both, yet they advertise appearances by different U.S. Blues legends, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. The photo is actually of John Lee Hooker. Pete Bentley, whose name appears on the Goldsmiths poster as the organiser, booked Muddy Waters for the College Blues Club, independent of the main Students Union. When Muddy turned up, he pointed out the error, and poor Pete was mortified! It is also interesting to note that the same poster not only bears no year.. but then none of them do as it wasn’t necessary to do so.. but bizarrely doesn’t even include a date or time!
Top left, and in the display boxes are three other names with a tale to tell. The name Golddream came from an annual series of ‘Arts Festivals’ that began in June 1967. The third, 1969, event in late June/early July was largely organised by the College’s Art School Union, and one Malcolm Edwards, later to be known as Malcolm McLaren of the Sex Pistols. The week-long event was initially publicised on a black-and-white poster that features in the Exhibition, along with the Golddream banner that is part of the publicity.. 50 years on as it happens. That 1969 poster resulted in massive London-wide interest and many, many well-known artistes turned up pretty much on the off-chance to perform, either as musicians, poets or speakers. On the final Friday afternoon of the Festival, Ambrose Slade, East of Eden and King Crimson amongst others played outdoors on what is now known as College Green. King Crimson;s performance was spectacular at dusk with Pete Sinfield’s light show and strobe lighting effects creating the illusion of the disintegration of the rear wall of the building. They were to follow this up the very next day playing support to the Rolling Stones at the Stones in the Park concert. As a consequence of these performances, I booked King Crimson and Ambrose Slade to perform at the Fresher’s Ball the following September. In addition, as a headline act, The Who were also booked, a band that had played in 1964 in the nearby Laurie Grove Baths, but not actually a College event. In the middle of August whilst on holiday, I received a telegram from Pete Rudge, The Who’s manager at the time, to inform me that they had been offered a U.S. Tour and so would not be able to play. This caused something of a panic as it was then rather late in the day to find a worthy replacement, but the Norman Jackson Agency were able to secure Georgie Fame instead. Then, on the morning of the Ball, the Agency were in touch once more to report that Ian McDonald, King Crimson’s mellotron player, had contracted glandular fever, so they could not appear either. Fortunately, Simon Dupree & The Big Sound, who had played several times previously and were a student favourite, were still free and so they were booked. The final surprise was on the night itself when the previously rather ‘hippie’-looking Noddy Holder and his band Ambrose Slade showed up as their new incarnation, Slade, complete with ‘mod’ gear and bovver boots!
To round off this post I include two fantastic written reminiscences of this period, one from a slightly earlier Goldsmiths student, Ann Grigsby, who attended one of our major Balls, and the other from a Goldsmiths regular on the folk scene, Gordon Giltrap. Both have very kindly supplied these memories below.
Valentine’s Night 1970
I would never have remembered the date except I was reminded, from a very reliable source, that it was Valentine’s Ball 1970. But a few mental pictures from that night linger still.
Love…. what else! But I’m talking of another love; LOVE, the West Coast, Rock Band led by Arthur Lee which was the main attraction that long ago night and why we went to the event in the first place. They didn’t perform until three in the morning and by then everyone was mellow.
However two impressions of that evening remain – the dimmed lights in the Great Hall packed with students, seated on the floor in groups, most holding lighted candles – magical!
And then the beat of the music reverberating through the wooden floor of the balcony where we were seated; the intensity of it passing through my body so that I thought I would collapse under the force. But of course it took over our senses and emotions and we remained wrapped up in the music until 6.00a.m., when sadly LOVE had to pack up and we wandered off to breakfast.
Ann Grigsby, Goldsmiths College 1958-61
My memories of Goldsmiths College go back a little further than when I first started playing there about age nineteen when I started to forge a career in the music business shortly after securing a recording contract with Transatlantic Records in November 66. Rewind four years to me aged fifteen. I had just left school and was employed as a shop boy at a small sign making factory in New Cross.
During my lunch break I used a small cafe next to the college where many of the students went for snacks etc. I was completely captivated by the students and the whole image of student life. There was a huge part of me that wanted to go to art college but sadly this was denied me. This area of my life has been touched on in my biography PERILOUS JOURNEY just out on Wymer Publications.
Fast forward to age nineteen when I started frequenting the College folk club where I performed a floor spot and eventually was booked as a main act. Being a South East London boy and living a bus ride way from the place was just a gift. During this time I met some great people. Foremost of these was of course our mutual friend David, who sort of took me under his wing and drove me to a few gigs, in fact more than a few, even driving me over to Ealing on many an occasion to rehearse with the band Accolade with Don Partridge the legendary Street singer. Dave had this lovely old Austin Seven with a sun roof which allowed my guitar extra room with the head poking out the roof! I also at that time had the privilege of meeting some lovely girl students who completely turned my head bless them. Dave was the photographer at the wedding of my first wife Maureen in 1971. He was always a gifted photographer.
From that point on it seemed that any opportunity to attend any social or musical functions at the college was a joy for me. At one festival I remember seeing a great little “long haired” band called Ambrose Slade, later to become Slade. My memories of them were of a very fine and very tight bunch of musicians. I guess the band that totally blew me away was King Krimson! I well remember their light show and Robert Fripp’s dazzling guitar virtuosity that made me feel like a complete beginner.
I may be wrong but I think I remember Atomic Rooster playing at one of the Festivals and possibly Manfred Mann, but it was such a long time ago now and the memory does dim somewhat. I regard my time and association with that hollowed place of art and learning as a high point in my life. It was a privilege to have been a part of it. THANK YOU Goldsmiths.
As a footnote to this there was a great record shop just up the way from the College called Chris Wellard records. It was here that I asked Chris for advice as to any record companies he would recommend for a fledgling singer songwriter. He had no hesitation in recommending Transatlantic Records and told me to contact a man called Nathan Joseph and to tell him that it was CW who put me on to him. The rest as they say is history – only a small history – but mine none the less.
Keep in touch sir.
Student Union Social Secretary, 1969-70