The 1970′s_Age of 50′s Nostalgia

Vivienne Westwood Let it Rock

Back from the New Year & I’ve received the below e-mail from ‘Skinerjack’:

Hello Ben
I found this video with clothes from the “too fast to live too fast to die” shop. It’s Elkie Brooks when she and Robert Palmer were in Vinegar Joe from 1973. It would make a good piece for your blog if they are the real thing.
Have a good new year
I checked out the link & yes indeed Elkie Brooks (better known as a solo artist in the 1980’s) is wearing a Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die ‘Elvis’ T-shirt & a studded & fringed …Too Young to Die mini skirt.
I showed the link to Vivienne as I wanted to know what the word studded on the skirt read.

She said that ‘Sha Na Na’ was the name of a Rock & Roll group, liked by both her & Malcolm & well known at this time as they were a contributing part to a 1950’s nostalgia craze which started at the beginning of the 1970’s & lasted for most of the decade.

The name Sha Na Na comes from nonsense syllables sung in the 1950’s doo-wop song ‘Get a Job’ by the Silhouettes. Sha Na Na first came to major public attention when they were the preceding act to Jimi Hendrix in the 1969 Woodstock festival. Their speciality was covering old 1950,s Rock & Roll songs.
The shops Let it Rock & Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die were a part of this 50’s nostalgia, the name of Let it Rock itself coming from a Chuck Berry song on his 1960 album ‘Rockin’ at the Hops’.
Thinking about it myself, I remember all this 50’s nostalgia when I was growing up.
James Dean (for whom the phrase ‘Too fast to live, too young to die was coined) & Marilyn Monroe were the already dead icons & they were everywhere. 1950’s American cars were the cool classics to have. Cult movies like George (Star Wars) Lucas’s ‘American Graffiti’ & the later John Belushi, ‘Animal House’ were being made & the many independent cinemas would play old 1950’s Rock & Roll films like ‘Rock Around the Clock’, ‘Mr Rock and Roll’, ‘Rock, Rock, Rock’, ‘Don’t Knock the Rock’ & Blonde Bombshell Jane Mansfield in ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ (I remember going to a Rock & Roll film all-nighter with Mum, Joe & Malcolm at a cinema near Goodge St one rainy night).
In fact later on when we hear of Punks fighting with Teddy Boys on Kings Rd, it was the Teddy Boys of course that were the traditional street expression of this nostalgia. There were a lot of them in the 1970’s.
To Vivienne, Malcolm & everybody else, 1950’s Rock & Roll had given the motives for teenage rebellion, so popular in the 60’s & 70’s.
Vivienne told me an expression that they used at the time ‘See you later daddy, you’re too square’ & this kind of went with the idea of then putting on your jumper back to front & running up the road in high heels..
I thought that I might put up an image on this post of the Let it Rock pricelist flyer created for the shop at the time & a photo of Sid Vicious wearing the ‘Vive le Rock’ T-shirt, the photo on it being of the 50’s Rock & Roller Little Richards.
Let it Rock

Sid Vicious


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6 thoughts on “The 1970′s_Age of 50′s Nostalgia

  1. Thanks for this fun post, Ben! I remember seeing Sha Na Na on American television in the 70′s when I was a kid, and I always enjoyed their music. I didn’t know about the connection with Let It Rock and Vivienne’s clothes until now, so this was really great to read!

    Best Regards,

  2. Dear Ben,
    I just finished reading the biography of Vivienne, in which you are also beeing a good part and I was sooooo touched and overwhelmed. I was always a fan of Viviennes clothes and her work and actions, but for a long time I couldn’t afford it, but it didn’t matter, I loved it and I still do and I hope you and your brother and Andreas are continuing forever. Thank you for the book and please send my best wishes to your mother. I adore her.