Friday, 30 October 2009

Context of the times No.1

July 1971 Angry Carnival at Notting Hill

In the run-up to the Angry Notting Hill Carnival of 1971, Frendz made ‘a call to all progressive people; black people smash the racist immigration bill; workers of Britain smash the Industrial Relations bill. All progressive people unite and smash growing fascism. Rally and march July 25, Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove 2pm. Black Unity and Freedom Party.’ On the gatefold sleeve of Hawkwind’s 1971 album ‘X In Search of Space’, designed by Barney Bubbles, the group are pictured playing a free gig under the Westway. That summer Hawkwind appeared on several occasions at different locations under the flyover, including the Westway Theatre on the site of the Portobello Green Arcade and to the east (where Neighbourhood nightclub would later appear). These gigs were usually benefits for local causes, during which they would merge with the Pink Fairies as Pinkwind.

The underground press ad for the ‘People’s Free Carnival August 29 – September 4 1971’ proclaimed: ‘The Streets of Notting Hill belong to the people – rock’n’roll – steel bands – street theatre – many goodies – any bands, people, ideas, or help of any sort, contact Frendz or People’s Association, 90 Talbot Road W2.’ The FreeFrendz ‘Blow Up’ Angry Brigade special reported that the ‘People’s Carnival got off to a joyous start. The street fest continues all this week so do it in the road as noisily as you can.’ The Pink Fairies were pictured amongst the kids in the Powis Square gardens, ‘at a quieter moment during the Notting Hill Free Carnival, a fantastic week of music, theatre and dancing in the street. Everybody got it on and the streets really came alive.’ Pictures of Mighty Baby and Skin Alley playing on the site of Portobello Green were captioned: ‘The weekly Saturday concert under Westway in Portobello Road pounds on. Next week Graham Bond, Pink Fairies and Hawkwind.’

The local street hippies Skin Alley told Frendz of an anti-common market demo in Powis Square, with Julie Driscoll and some ‘very far out modern jazz trios’ who didn’t go down too well with the kids. Powis Square, during the 1971 Carnival, was also the unlikely venue of the debut with Hawkwind of the former Hendrix roadie, Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister (or Kilminster), later of Motörhead. The Carnival procession consisted of a steel band led by Merle Major, an angry West Indian mother of 6, chanting “Get involved, Power to the People”; from her old house on St Ervan’s Road to Powis Square, where the People’s Association had opened a squat for her. As an effigy of her landlord was burnt, Merle Major sang the ’71 Carnival hit, ‘Fire in the Hole’, which included the line, ‘the people of the borough pay for your car.’ The Angry Carnival HQ on Talbot Road was subsequently busted by the bomb squad.

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