Monday, March 07, 2011

OH MY GOD! (Some History Will Never Repeat Itself)

After waiting more than an unbelievable forty years to see the light of day or be seen by anyone, glorious grainy black and white footage of The Deviants in Hyde Park in September 1969 has finally been posted on YouTube by a crew called VideoHeads out of Amsterdam, led by the legendary Jack Henry Moore. It makes me very happy for a number of reasons, not least of which – after taking so much shit at the time as the allegedly “worst band in the world” – we actually kicked ass in front an estimated audience of 80 thousand in a manner that would have been wholly acceptable and even lauded some six or seven years later. Russell and Sandy are a rock solid foundation. Paul Rudolph’s guitar is mighty, and, as for me, when did you see jackknife shaman dancing the like which closes the show? Okay, so Rudolph and I engage, at one point, in some the atonal freeform bellowing that we called “mouth music”, but no one seems to have a problem with it. And we always attracted Hells Angels and crazy naked psychedelic women.

What you have up on YouTube right now is two sections of around nine minutes each, which – believe it or not – make two halves of one song – what the Pink Fairies would title “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout”. I guess that was the real difference between the 1960s and 1970s. We could make a thrash last 17 minutes where the Clash or the Pistols would cut it off after three. And, by way of explanation for the opening harangue, the London Street Commune were staging a protest against homelessness by occupying the mansion at 144 Piccadilly at the other end of Park Lane. I’d been warned by the ranking cop at the park concert that my feet wouldn’t touch if I got into any kind of rant about the squatters who were about to be evicted in a massive police action. I just had to test the limits.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are some reminiscences from

“The most memorable bit for me was when The Deviants were playing and a semi-nude young lady got up on stage and began to dance. As she started to remove the rest of her clothes there was a huge cheer from the crowd. Then a Hells Angel also got on stage and took his leather jacket off to another great cheer but then he put the jacket over the young lady's shoulders and guided her off the stage, this time to a chorus of boos from the disappointed audience. It was though, another wonderful afternoon in Hyde Park with great music and relaxed atmosphere.” – Steve Trusler

“I remember Al Stewart sitting down on a chair on stage and playing a mellow set of bedsitter folk songs. Quite a few people seemed to like him, but I found him rather wishy-washy (yawn). I remember that the Deviants were absolutely not wishy-washy ~ very aggressive and angry. I've heard them described as being the first real punk band. Works for me. But most of all I remember being entranced by the sublime musicality of the Soft Machine. A brilliant band. So totally outside. Imprinted on my memory is the sight of Robert Wyatt singing, and playing amazingly complex drum patterns, wearing just a pair of Y-fronts.” – Jeremy S.

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2

The secret word is Afternoon


DaveO said...

Nice one Mick.. Awesome footage of the Deviants.. love it! You guys were cool.. I was one of the later 70's generation with our 3 minute tunes but if i'd been a bit older I'd have been there.

Mark Haspam said...

Amazing. "bombed like hiroshima"

slim tim slide said...

Telling your audience to start masturbating is a new one on me, I wonder how that would 'go down' these days - some great audience shots as well as classic footage of the band, what a find!

Anonymous said...

Mick -

For the record, you were never ever "the worst band in the world". There are many others out there in the perfect shit storm that is the music industry at large far more deserving of that title. The footage is great, has historical merit and relevance, and should be available on dvd. The fact that the clash and pistols would close their barnstormers at three mins and you guys could/would go on for seventeen just shows you had stamina and cahones.



some girl said...

wowee, micky! awesome stuff. who's that little kid watching from the side of the stage?

Andy the Deviant said...


What a revelation to see footage of the Deviants after following them for so long, and to see that they were superb. The Stooges and Iggy himself could not better that.

Is that Boss occasionally glimpsed in between the speakers?

Who was the dancing girl on the stage?

What a silly mechanical dance the three hell's angels are doing!

More more more!

Maggie M'Gill said...

A wonderful find - after all Mick's remarks over the years, I'd no idea the Deviants were that good. Bloody hell, it's like opening a window into a different world.

rpizur said...

Love you Mick on the printed page. This is not a "laudable performance" at the time or even "six or even years later," Sorry.

Forgive me for that, but I love your writing so much more than your talking through a mike in the long ago and calling it music.

Drunk/Drugged up frat boys still listen to such bands in their frat houses. Doesn't mean the band is good, just means the intoxicated brain's perception is that it is good. Nothing wrong with that. Perception is what we make it - no matter the source.


Anonymous said...


I say that from this moment forth, one ought be all about the epic-win.

WV = antopl

seeformiles said...

Fantastic stuff - been waiting to see this for years! Paul Rudolph is especially awesome.

seeformiles said...

Love the mic twirling in pt2 - like Roger Daltrey but with more drugs! ;)

Steve Lafreniere said...

This is glorious. The performance just builds to a boil, almost like a V.U. groove, but with the heavy space guitar leads.

One of the best things about it is that it's shot on video, not film. Portable video was just beginning to come in then as a method of recording, and what is so different is its feeling of immediacy. Film still creates a dreamlike distance between the viewer and the viewed. Video registers in the brain as considerably more "real." I feel almost as if I'm there, even if the tape itself is rather degraded.

I've watched this several times now and it's like a time machine. It folds the time and space between that afternoon in 1969 and today. Wonderful.