My friend, the fabulous photographer Justin Thomas, has recently found a large collection of his wonderful photos which have previously not been seen. I am lucky enough to have been given the honour of sharing them.
Among the many London venues Justin visited was The Rock Garden in Covent Garden. That venue went through a several incarnations, as the surrounding area changed and regentrified. The late ’70’s to mid ’80’s version was a brilliant one. Loads of incredible bands played there, the venue manager was the charismatic Belfast man, Sean McDonnell.
In later years it became a tourist haven, with as many unsigned bands as it was possible to squeeze in on one night, paying to play to friends and people they dragged off the streets, with their special reduced admission tickets. It also hosted some of the coolest Boys Own era club nights with The Yellow Book Club. DJs such as Andrew Weatherall and Terry Farley played records on many a classic Friday night. The premises are now The Apple Store. The times they are indeed, a-changin’.
But back on October 1st 1980, when The Associates played there, it was a sweaty, vibrant, basement club.
The Associates‘ debut album ‘The Affectionate Punch‘ had been released a couple of months earlier on Fiction Records. Justin says he remembers how well dressed Billy MacKenzie was and being knocked out by both Billy’s voice and Alan Rankine’s guitar playing. He was also intrigued by the one-string guitar!
All Photos © Justin Thomas 2017
For more of Justin’s photos, please visit www.justinthomasphotography.co.uk