I am absolutely delighted to have Stuart Bailie as my next Clothes We Were Wearing participant. I first met Stuart many moons ago when one of my teenage bands was playing at a pub somewhere in North London. We did a cover of ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and Stuart said ‘Any friend of Van’s is a friend of mine’ or words to that effect. He then gave us a write up in ‘Record Mirror‘. Our paths have crossed a few times since, with me as a press officer for Ultimate Records when Stuart was Assistant Editor at the NME, and then when he played some of my solo music on his radio show on BBC Radio Ulster a few years ago. His excellent book, Trouble Songs: Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland is available at troublesongs.com. Stuart also has a blog: www.digwithit.com
Here we go, this is absolutely brilliant!
Niagara Falls, July 1978. I’ve just turned 17 and I’ve got a new pair of Adidas Gazelles and I like them a lot. Black cap sleeve T-shirt. It was the summer of the ‘Grease’ movie and cap sleeves were briefly cool, in Belfast at least. We got our basic gear from a shop called John Frazer on North Street, outfitter to corner boys and wastrels.
Adidas Trefoil shirt. A look that was later favoured by These Animal Men. On the beach at Portstewart, Co. Derry, 1978 or maybe 1977.
With my first band, Acme Music and a gig at the Harp Bar in the Spring of 1979. Alan Giddings on guitar and Ian Hannah on drums. In my mind I was cool like Joe Strummer and that’s a black Harrington jacket, the first of many. The Harp Bar was on Hill Street and it was Belfast’s equivalent to CBGB’s or the Roxy. It smelt of sick and armpit and the regulars were often hostile. Northern Ireland was a bit scary back then and the entrance to the Harp was protected by iron bollards, chicken wire and security cameras. Bands like Rudi, Stiff Little Fingers and the Undertones were being played on the John Peel show and getting record deals. It was a thrilling time, but Acme Music weren’t so great.
Family of Noise supporting Rudi at Queen’s University, 1982. The band had recorded a great single, ‘Young Rebel’ for Good Vibrations, but the label went bust just before it was released. Gibby was a cool singer, but she didn’t care for performing and left soon after. I’m wearing a bowling shirt from a shop called American Madness on Howard Street. The sleeves were chopped out, because that’s what the Clash did.
The second version of Family of Noise, with Linda Henry on vocals, 1983. I’m wearing my pointy DM shoes, purchased from Robot on the King’s Road, London. My mate Johnny worked there and I used to hang out on summer visits.
Meeting Joe Strummer, backstage at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, March 12 1984. Bless him, he talked to every one of us no-marks for a hour or more. I’ve got a leather ‘Geno’ jacket in homage to Dexys Midnight Runners. That was the Clash minus Mick Jones and Topper and it was all a bit ragged.
With Paul Hookham of the Redskins, possibly Liverpool, 1985. I was freelancing for Record Mirror and the Redskins were righteously outraged by the Miners’ Strike and the Wapping dispute. What a band. I saw them a load of times and appeared on one of their records, ‘The Power Is Yours’, interviewing them in Paul’s Morris Oxford as we circled the Westway. I’m wearing a green MA-1 jacket, one of the staple items of that era, sourced from Camden Market.
The hair clippers have done their work in 1986 and the Zodiac Mindwarp shirt is go. We put Zodiac on the cover of RM for the first time and various A&R guys were livid because the asking price for the band went up by £50,000. Sunglasses by Robot.
With Sushil from the Soup Dragons, circa 1987. Letterman jacket from Flip in Covent Garden. I can’t quite remember where this was taken – maybe the Clarendon in Hammersmith, where the shamblers and rockabillies used to hang.
With Shane MacGowan, just after the Pogues had filmed the video for ‘Fairytale of New York’, November 1987. In a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan – we drank formidable amounts of sake. This was a cover story for Record Mirror. I’m wearing Shane’s Homburg and he’s wearing my paperboy cap and feeding me ice cream. According to angry staff at Stiff Records, we spent most the early proceeds of the single in one night.
Also in New York with the Pogues, 1987. I’m in Times Square, outside the Bond Building where the Clash had played their 17 gigs in 1981. Rocking the MA-1 jacket and paperboy cap. Levis with the red selvedge stitching – as recommended by Robert Elms in the Face. Around this time I got some suede ‘Bullit’ shoes from John Simons in Covent Garden, but I was never mistaken for Steve McQueen.
In the George Robey, London with Steve Lamacq, 1990. We were writing an NME feature on the continuing adventures of ska music and we interviewed Prince Buster and Gaz Mayall just after the photo was taken. Fred Perry shirts akimbo.
My wedding night, October 3, 1992. Onstage with the Earls of Suave at the Manchester Irish Centre. I’m wearing a suit that I’d bought in a La Rosa, a vintage shop on Haight Street, San Francisco. It had originally belonged to Gene Autry, the legendary singing cowboy and was a perfect fit. The night came to a messy conclusion when one of the Earls fell onto a beer glass and cut his forehead open.
Stu Bailie, 2018. Back in Belfast. Broadcaster and author of ‘Trouble Songs: Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland’. Co-founder of the Oh Yeah Music Centre, freelance journalist and persistent ducker and diver. My favourite clothes shop is still John Simons, relocated from Covent Garden to Chiltern Street, London. They do amazing Ivy League gear but it’s often beyond my budget. I look at their ideas and make do with sales, online bargains and charity shops. Button down Oxford shirts or button-up Smedley merino tops. Wingtip brogues, summer Weejuns and selvedge. The Harrington jacket upgraded to a Baracuta G9. Trying to go gracefully, but others may disagree…
Thanks very much Stuart!