Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men

At his Baggage Reclaim blog, Richard Sanderson celebrates the recent 40th anniversary of the Blackheath Morris Men. As he mentions, they started out at Goldsmiths College in 1969 and were originally known as the Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men. At their inception they were very much part of the freak counter-culture, playing free festivals and benefit gigs.

International Times, the main newspaper for this scene, mentions them several times. An alternative gossip column refers to an early (presumably) drunken incident: 'Long haired Morris dancing crew (Blackheath Foot & Death Men) in intensive training for Summer Festivals and Civil Insurrection narrowly escaped arrest after ejection from Woolwich Indian Restaurant due to the role of a meat cleaver in the performance of their traditional English dance' (IT, 11-25 February 1971).

Then there's is an advert for the Nasty Ball: '2 February, all night at Bumpers, Coventry Street, London W1. A great party in support of the Nasty Four, and Nasty Tales, shortly to be prosecuted for "obscenity". Tickets £1, 9.00—6.00 a.m. Why not come along and join us and the throngs of happy hippies bopping away the midnight hours.........Nasty bands include Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, Brinsley Schwarz with Magic Michael, Linda Lewis, Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men, Sonic Seven, Skin Alley, Steve Peregrine Took and there'll be movies, (very nasty!) greasy food and much madness'...... (IT 27.Jan-10 Feb 1972. Richard has the poster for this event here - Nasty Tales was an underground comic that was the subject of a 1973 obscentity trial - there's lots about it at Funtopia).

Finally there's the advert reproduced here from March 1972 (click to enlarge). 'Frendz and Greasy Truckers present Mutual April Fool and Idiots Party' with 'Help Yourself, Stars, Skin Alley, Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men, Serge, Mike Griggs... Free food plus stalls, horror films, DJ Andy Dunkley'. The event took place at Seymour Hall'. Frendz was a Ladbroke Grove-based underground zine, Greasy Truckers an alternative music promoter that put on free and benefit gigs.

Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men also played at the legendary Greasy Truckers Party at the Roundhouse in 1972, featuring Hawkwind. They danced on stage with the band Skinner's Rats (not sure where the advert below is originally from - I found it at Starfarer).

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