Friday, December 28, 2007

Don Letts in Forest Hill



I have been reading 'Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers' (SAF: London, 2007), the autobiography of Don Letts, DJ, film-maker, member of Big Audio Dynamite and general mischief maker. Don grew up in Brixton, going to Christchurch Primary School and Archbishop Tennison secondary, but during the punk period when he was DJing at the Roxy club (early 1977) he 'moved to a grand old house in Forest Hil, built on the second highest point in London' with his then girlfriend Jeanette Lee - later a member of Public Image Ltd and later still co-owner of Rough Trade records. Leo Williams and JR, who were in black post-punk band The Basement 5, lived there and 'Both Joe Strummer and Chrissie Hynde also lived there at different times'.

Letts also mentions 'hanging out with John Lydon after the Pistols' gig at the Nashville. We went back to my house in Forest Hill and spent the whole night talking about reggae music and Jamaican culture'. 'After the shows at the Roxy, Chrissie Hynde, some of the Slits, the Clash, Generation X and the Pistols would hang out in Forest Hill, often all at the same time', while Letts spliced together the super 8 film that would become 'The Punk Rock Movie'. All in all, the house in Forest Hill sounds like a punk powerhouse. Not sure of the address or whether the present occupiers would necessarily want to know if they've read the book which also describes a sad teenage suicide in the house.

2 comments:

mike cupcake said...

Nice bit of musical history there! He read from the book in our tent at Elefest, didn't get chance to say hello personally but was left with the impression of a man very sure of who he is and who'd seen and done a great deal. When our battery banks (we're solar powered) needed swopping that prompted him to ditch the mic for the rest of the reading and stand with the audience rather than up in front.

there's a few photos here

Martin said...

Good to hear that Forest Hill has a part in Punk history! I've just done a post on the Band of Holy Joy, whom I rediscovered after reading your post on them from last year. Have been following Transpontine for a while now, cheers!