Steve Goodman: an early seventies skinhead in 1988 (video)

The clip below, taken from an 80s student movie, was kindly forwarded to us by the filmmaker himself with the promise that there’s “more to come”. It features an interview with an early 70s skinhead at the first International Ska Festival, which took place at the Brixton Fridge in 1988. The skinhead isn’t wholly unknown: Steve ‘Grogger’ Goodman, editor of the 80s skinzine Chargesheet, author of the subculture novel England Belongs to Me (1994) and writer of the film script Pressure Drop (which is apparently still for sale if you fancy making an OG skinhead movie).

He became a skinhead round about 1972, he says in the interview, which strikes me as an odd year to become a skinhead in London. The accepted narrative, after all, confirmed by countless original skins through the ages, is that the style began shifting towards suedehead by 1970 and then smoothie and bootboy in the following years. By 1972, the original skinhead look would have been seen as hopelessly outmoded by most Greater London kids, who were probably Bowie boys/girls by then.

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Buzz Buzz and the Common Oi: Reaction EP

How’s that for a bizarre band name? The nice folks of Maximum Labour Records who sent me this slab of vinyl are certainly Oi historians: they have unearthed and remastered the demo tapes of a band from Brussels that had donned a skinhead image years before it occurred to any other Belgian punk band to do likewise. As early as 1980, Buzz Buzz and the Common Oi were seen on Belgian stages with closely cropped hair and – customary among first-generation Oi bands from the continent – more or less improvised skinhead gear. That’s early if you consider that it took the Germans and the French another year or two to get there – ‘Oi! The Album’ had only just hit the shelves.

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Letter: A Crombie Can Get You Arrested

A reader’s letter in response to our old article on crombies has just reached us. We’d like to thank Dave from Liverpool for his anecdote:

“Thanks for the fascinating article.

My first crombie was made to measure from Burtons in early 1971. Just turned 15 and paid my Mum back 10 bob a week from my window cleaning round.

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The Germans are coming: an interview with Björn Fischer about Rock-O-Rama

It was 1980 in the centre of Cologne. The sign on the shop spelt ‘Rock-O-Rama: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Punk’. Inside, small handfuls of teds and punks were swapping suspicious glances while trying to avoid each other – not easy in a room that couldn’t hold more than 10 people. The burly man behind the counter, well into his 30s and sporting a quiff, a tache with friendly mutton chops and white ankle boots, put a record on: the first production of his very own Rock-O-Rama label, Punks Are the Old Farts of Today by Vomit Visions. For once, the bewildered teds and punks were in agreement: this racket was completely unlistenable.

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“A constructive rebellion”: A Wroclaw skinhead’s journey from brown to red


Investigating the history of Poland’s skinhead scene, you’re bound to get your hands dirty. That is to say, although the mid-80s beginnings were relatively apolitical (see our article on Kortatu’s visit to Warsaw in 1987), no neat separation between ‘boneheads’ and others is possible until at least 1992-93. Although the information flow from Western Europe to the Polish People’s Republic was somewhat hampered in the 80s, whatever made it through the Iron Curtain in the form of zines and tapes was happily absorbed. This included the likes of Blitz, Kortatu, Symarip and Angelic Upstarts – all of which received mention in the pioneering Polish skinzine Fajna Gazeta – but also Skrewdriver, provocative nazi posturing and ultra-violence against enemy tribes. All of these influences added up to a subculture made up of hooligan ex-punks, determined to make a name for themselves as the most fearsome youth cult of all.

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‘Scorcha! Skins, Suedes and Style From The Streets 1967-1973’ reviewed by Stewart Home

Scorcha! Skins, Suedes and Style From The Streets 1967-1973 by Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson and Mark Baxter (Omnibus Press, 2021)

With words and images, Scorcha! sets out to document one strand of UK working class youth culture in the pre-punk era. The pictures provide a far more accurate depiction of late-sixties and early-seventies street style than slick fashion photos using models, stylists, make-up artists and professional photographers ever could. There are a slew of previously unpublished photos of ordinary kids all pilled up and with only a handful of places to go. Some of those in the pictures have also been interviewed – alongside a few pop personalities ranging from former BBC Radio One DJ Emperor Rosko to mod revivalist Paul Weller. Alongside this, there is record art and other promotional schlock I’ve seen before, but it provides needed context.

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Review: ‘Packing a Punch – Brief History of Skinhead Zines’

Packing a Punch is that rare thing: a documentation of 80s British skinzines completely without celtic crosses or crude drawings of glue-addled ‘super skins’. And it isn’t a coffee-table book either. Instead, it’s brogues, Jaytex and razor partings all over – the focus is on what the author considered the rightful heir of the original skinhead, namely the ‘sussed skin’ of the 1980s. This scene, from which George Marshall also emerged, was based around zines such as Spy Kids, The Bovver Boot, Tighten Up and The Suedehead Times. And the little book at hand that guides us through their evolution is a kind of zine too, written by someone who was part of it all. He’s still around today and as committed as ever.

The history kicks off with Skins, the original croptop zine edited by a Chelsea FC and Sham Army skin named John Smith from late ‘79 or early ‘80 – the exact date is hard to establish – and printed by the Last Resort shop in the East End. While reporting on contemporary stuff such as the Southall ‘81 riot, Skins also had an acute sense of tradition: there was always room for Motown, reggae and original skinhead history in its pages. Skins ran for five issues, the contents of which are all listed individually – a treatment awarded to all zines discussed in Packing a Punch.

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Warsaw Uprising: Kortatu’s incendiary visit to 1980s Poland

Western punk bands didn’t get to play the Polish People’s Republic too often back in the 80s, not to mention bands linked to skinhead culture. In August 1987, however, Kortatu from Basque Country were invited to play at Róbrege, a 3-day festival in Warsaw largely featuring native punk, reggae and new wave acts. Although a Basque independentist band with radical left-wing leanings, Kortatu thus appeared at a festival that was generally perceived as a kind of cultural opposition against the socialist government. And even though Kortatu were something of a skinhead group – cropped hair, Harringtons and DMs visually accompanied their punk, ska, and reggae hybrid – many say that the Polish skinheads who came to Róbrege were more interested in disrupting the festival than they were in dancing. Some even go as far as to imply that the skins were operating in cahoots with the state security services…

These are just some of the contradictions that made it seem like an interesting event to explore. Although this article should be seen as no more than an attempt to reconstruct what happened, based on a mere handful of sources, I still hope it’s an engaging account that doesn’t draw on too many ‘when punk brough freedom behind the Iron Curtain’ cliches… 

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‘Skinheads’ by Davide Skin from Genoa, 1988

This is a short article by Davide ‘Skin’ that originally appeared in Italian Gradinata Nord, a zine providing “culture and free information for the Fossa dei Grifoni”, the ultras of Genoa CFC, in 1988. We would like to thank Guendalina Buonavita for sending us this little gem.

Photo by Fabrizio Barile
Translation by Francesca Chiari

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Rimini skingirl: an interview with Betty Reazione

Ah, Rimini – one of Europe’s major tourist destinations, home to a sandy beach and over 1,000 hotels. But also the birthplace of important Italian Oi bands such as Dioxina, who were active from 1981–1986, and Reazione, who have carried on the flame since the 90s. Francesca Chiari interviewed Betty Reazione, founding member and long-standing bassist of the latter band.

Part of our Skingirls Italia series (click here for part 1 and part 2)

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