I’m a fiend for line ads in print media; all human life is contained in the few words demanding the casual reader’s attention.
Leafing through a 1971 issue of British underground magazine Frendz (which had previously been titled Friends) I spied this ad, and wondered whether it might have been placed by the American photographer Joe Stevens. The number has a west London prefix and he was living in that part of town at the time.
I fired off an email and received this response earlier today:
Yes. That’s me. Ramen-scarfing “Straight Press” Joe. Looking for work, living on £10 a week, not eligible for the dole.
Times were tough. Living in a flat in Fulham where I later took photos of Malcolm (McLaren) and Vivienne (Westwood) with Rosie Boycott (newspaper columnist, Friends news editor, soon to be one of the founders of Spare Rib and later editor of The Independent) and some Frendz hippies.
Rosie and I did a spread on acupuncture for them. She submitted to the needles.
They let me use the dark room with (photographer) Phil Franks at the Portobello Road offices (next door to graphic designer Barney Bubbles’ studio). Jon Goodchild (later to move to Rolling Stone US) and Bubbles did layout. (Office gopher) Little Tony rolled the joints and Eric The Tramp brought teas from the Mountain Grill cafe.
Ah the days of innocence and utter poverty in the company of fabulous people!
Then I received a call from Linda McCartney – a Fillmore East photog friend – and was invited to be the first Wings Over Europe tour photographer.
My ramen days were over.
I remained at the flat till 1976-77 after taking over the lease and converting it to a photo studio, and joined NME with Nick (Kent) and Pennie (Smith, both of whom also worked for Frendz).
I don’t think the tres busy Rosie ever noticed the mad crush I had on her.
The wonderful Nicki Hepworth, Frendz’s editorial secretary, took my free ad but I didn’t get many straight press calls.The paper folded, the NME didn’t pay much and the flat was devoid of furniture so I took extra work where I could find it. I took pix for Felix Dennis for a Bay City Rollers Special and Tony Elliott over at Time Out.
By coincidence Elliott also placed a line ad in the same edition of Frendz. His appeal for a “hippy” was rather undercut by the offer of luncheon vouchers and a company car, but these perks can be seen as displays of Elliott’s business nous, the supreme lack of which had done for the rest of the British underground press and would soon poleaxe Frendz.
Read the story behind Friends/Frendz and the early 70s migration of Kent, Stevens, Smith and others from the underground to the mainstream music press in my book In Their Own Write.
You can buy signed copies of my Barney Bubbles monograph Reasons To Be Cheerful for £30 inc p+p UK , £35 Europe and £40 rest of the world by mailing me here.
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