Tuesday 18 December 2012

New Psychedelics - London 60's Revival Scene of 1980-1981 - Interview with Anne-Marie Newland

Anne - Marie Newland circa 1980

About year and a half ago, I did a post about early 1980's psychedelic revival scene in London which followed Mod revival. All I had was two great photos from Ted Polhemus' book and very little information about a shop called a Regal and designer Andrew Yiannakou. Since then, the emergence of documentary The Groovy Movie on YouTube helped  to throw some light on this obscure and almost forgotten movement. I also discovered A Splash Of Colour - a compilation from 1981 containing some of the most memorable  songs of the bands from that scene. 
Recently, I have been contacted by Anne-Marie Newland, who was one of the central figures of  1980's psychedelic revival scene. At the time, she ran a boutique called Sweet Charity, which was a part of The Regal.She was also a drummer in a psych band called The High Tide (which appeared on A Splash Of Colour) and a partner of a designer and owner of The Regal, Andrew Yiannakou. Ms. Newland kindly agreed to answer some questions about High Tide, Sweet Charity, The Regal, Andrew Yiannakou and her memories of the 1980's psychedelic revival scene in London.

DIA: How did the psych revival come about? Would you say it was a logical next step after 1978 - 1979 Mod revival?

 AMN: It came about from the Regal, a men’s clothes shop founded by Andy Yiannakou. His clothes were fantastic, he was a real tailor and of course the Psychedelic clothes were copies of the Dandy’s back in the 18th century.

The Regal shirt by Andrew Yiannakou
(Photos courtesy of Ula Wawrzynczyk, who found this amazing garment in vintage shop in a remote location of Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland)

Outfit from the Regal (photo from Surfers, Soulies, Skinheads and Skaters by Claudia Shnurrmann and Cathie Dingwall)

DIA :How did you get into it? I am assuming you were too young to actually remember original movement...What were your sources of knowledge about that era in late 70's/early 80's?

AMN:  Too young? That’s hilarious! No, I am and was not too young -  in fact, I was doing it the 2nd time around. I was born in 1955 and Andy in 1948. The Regal opened in Kensington Market in 1980/81. His name cards were made to look like the old cinema tickets. Very cool and retro. Andy started getting a young mod/hippy following. It was great to see the young guys wearing out there clothes and looking smart in the post punk era. I had been a ballet dancer then a punk drummer and met Andy in Camden lock. I had been selling vintage clothes. We became and item and seemed naturel to start designing girls clothes for the girlfriends. My resources were Mary Quant of course, Barbarella and Emma Peel…. Groovy!

The Groovy Movie  - documentary about 1980 -1981 Psychedelic revival scene (Part 1 of 4)

  DIA: I've heard from quite a few people who lived through 1980's, that apparently it was quite easy then to get original 60's clothes from charity shops. Would you say it is true?

AMN: Yes its true you could pick up original clothes in the rummage shops as we call them up here in Leicester! But I also used to get new unused clothes from old warehouses. I had an almost diving talent when it came to getting stock that had sat there for years. I only used original psychedelic cloth too. I would find it at the bottom of rolls of fabric buried in layers from the 60’s to the 80’s. Loved that aspect of designing.

DIA: Tell us about your boutique, Sweet Charity. How did you get started? Were you a part of first Regal in Kensington Market? Did you design the clothes yourself? If yes, which 1960's designer was your main inspiration? Do you remember the prices? Who were your customers? How did you advertise it? How long did The Regal/Sweet Charity last? 

AMN: My shop was a wow to look at. I used scaffolding for the rails. I had huge pots of paint in the shop to allow people to create graffiti befitting the era. I have some great pictures taken by the famous street fashion photographer Ted Polhemus. I designed the clothes myself and had never had any formal training but had a good eye for posture so it was easy to judge how the front of a garment was not the same as the back! As I Said before I only sourced original fabrics and some of the stuff I found was truly amazing. Needle cord with paisley patterns in yellow and turquoise was one of my best finds and a roll of textured cotton with super psychedelic designs put me on the map! Mary Quant was a good inspiration but I also took a lot from the men’s designs which were originally Regency…hence Andy calling his the Regency…2 meanings in one. I was not part of the first Regal as I met Andy after. But as a natural progression I was well established in the Market anyway when I had my vintage shop there. I was next to Jesse Birdsalls and Gaz’s Rockin’Blues, a great vinyl record shop. I do remember that my hipster drainpipe jeans cost £17-50 and in the Thatcher years that was expensive. My customers were aged between 12 and 35! I had such customers as Annie Lennox, The Belle Stars, Kim Wilde, Paul Young, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts! I made clothes for bands on photo shoots in a matter of hours that gave us a great reputation. U2 visited the shop when Bono still played the drums and sang, Paul Weller popped in and to be honest the shop was buzzing most of the day…FUN! I advertised in the Face, ID and put out flyers at the Groovy Cellar. Mostly it was word of mouth. Sweet Charity lasted 3 years until I sold up and passed it on when I went off to India…it was there for another few years. Not sure Bout the Regal…6 years? 

Photo taken outside The Regal, which appeared in Ted Polhemus' Street Style. From left: Marc - violinist from band Le Mat,  Gary, singer from Le Mat, who also worked at The Regal, and unidentified girl. 

Page about Andrew Yiannakou and Psychedelic revival scene in Surfers, Soulies, Skinheads and Skaters

DIA: Tell us about your band , The High Tide. Were you sharing your time between your band and your boutique? Who were your fellow members? What were your main influences? Was the main emphasis on recreating the original 1960's sound, or did you try to give your music a little bit of contemporary, 80's feel? Did you ever tour?

The High Tide circa 1980

AMN: Our Band was The High Tide. I was the Drummer and my now ex-husband was the singer. I played in the band at night, worked in the shop in the day and also taught jazz dance…I never slept and had more energy than most people I know…that’s still true today! The members were Chris as singer, John on bass, Martin guitar and Andy on keyboards. I joined the band early on while they were still forming. We made a couple of singles and had the single from the compilation album Splash of Colour with Mood Six, Marble staircase and Doctor and the Medics. We were a psychedelic band; others were a bit hip 60's ,a bit fluffy we thought! We were in the 80’s so we would not consider doing anything 80’s if you see what I mean! We toured around London but apparently after Chris and I left for India they got another singer, Gary, and must have had a drummer and went to tour Sweden. 

'Dancing In My Mind' By The High Tide, which appeared on A Splash Of Colour compilation.

DIA: Did the bands from psychedelic revival scene of 1980-81 receive any press attention, or was it strictly an underground thing?

         AMN: The bands did get a lot of press attention…in fact I have some news paper cuttings from Melody Maker and NME somewhere. They thought us odd but interesting and there was certainly a market for it as a backlash to punk and new romantics. We did keep our underground integrity too though, I feel. 

The Groovy Movie (part 2 of 4) in which sales assistant Gary talks about The Regal

DIA: Tell us a bit more about the scene itself - What were your main hangouts? Who were the Dj's and the regulars? What sort of music did the dj's play?

       AMN: The main hang out was either my shop or Andys! I used to have the kettle on all the time and the of course LSD being part of the scene was available in around the hangouts! Our club was the Groovy Cellar then there was the Attic too…again I do have some of the tickets to these places. Of course the movie Groovy Movie also shows the scene. Our main DJ was The Doctor (Of Doctor and The Medics fame) of course! 

DIA: How did "A Splash of Colour" compilation come about? Did it mark the end of the scene? 

AMN: I don’t know whether it marked the end of the scene because I had gone onto my next stage of life but it did not do as well as it should have done…the music scene then was really bubbling with the Eurhythmics, U2, etc.…lots of bands were making it big…we were out of time. 

DIA: Tell us briefly what do you do today? Do you keep in touch with Andrew Yiannakou or your former band mates?
AMN: Andy has 3 daughters who have children but he is very much a grumpy old man according to his daughters! I married the singer of High Tide eventually as I married my Yoga Teacher first and have 3 children with him. Chris and I have a daughter Talitha who is beginning to think we are pretty cool now! I have a school that trains people to be yoga teachers. It’s an international school and I travel around the world training. I manage to work around my 4 children. Not one of them has gone into the music business but all are creative and have good business acumen. I was a businesswoman in the end. I still love my time in the industry. I was part of the original Punk scene too! I am writing a book at the moment about my life which I must say has continued to be …A SPLASH OF COLOUR!!
(A Dandy In Aspic, 2012) 

'Electric Blue' - Brilliant psych epic by The High Tide


Seb said...

Thanks for this. Really interesting stuff from Anne-Marie, who I remember well. I often visited her shop, and saw her performing with the High Tide.

The guy who sang later with the band was Grant (not Gary). He came from Brighton, and ran the Tangerine Temple club there in 1981. Otherwise, the only thing I might question is her comment on the role of The Regal. Obviously, it was hugely important, but at the same time the shop catered for a demand, which came mainly from the better dressed element among the mods, who were passionate about 60s music and fashion, and were looking for ways to express that passion that went beyond the more conventional mod look. The Regal tapped into all that, but did not actually create it.

Last point, in the Groovy Cellar scenes in the Groovy Movie, all the music is dubbed over. They never played 'new psychedelic' music there, only 60s, and one or two later things like the Flaming Groovies.

Check out James Millar's new book, published via Amazon Kindle, called Mods, Scooters and Soul. There's some interesting stuff in it on the psychedelic scene. There are more pics on the Facebook page, too.

Anonymous said...

well....Mr Andy says HI!

Anonymous said...

Tell Chris Iggy said hi.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

i used to buy from The Regal,mostly shirts for my shop called The End in Hull,Yorkshire in 1980-81.Very happy memories-John Lewis

Unknown said...

Went to sweet charity as often as my pocket money would allow ( I was only just 15 when I discovered it!)
No shopping experience has ever come close to the thrill of Kensington market & sweet charity in the early '80's!