We Can Be Heroes Londons New Romantics

Author(s): Smith Graham


In the early 1980s, when a small group of misfits began acting out their nocturnal fantasies, London nightlife blossomed and fashion, music and clubbing would never be the same again. Against the backdrop of recession-hit Britain, this was the birth of club fashion, style magazines, futuristic synth pop and blue-eyed funk. Energised by punk's do-it-yourself attitude and David Bowie's ceaseless image shifting, a new generation of pop stars, designers, journalists, artists and filmmakers emerged, adopting wild, theatrical attire and an ethos of continual change. Led by the enigmatic Steve Strange and the ever dapper Chris Sullivan, their scene flourished in a succession of legendary clubs: from Billy's and the Blitz via Le Beat Route and the Mud Club, to the Wag and the Dirt Box. It gave us stars including Boy George, Sade and Spandau Ballet, as well as the faces who would shape London nightlife up to the rave era. The press dubbed these nightbirds the New Romantics; in truth this was just one stage of their endless reinvention. Together with his schoolmate, future broadcaster Robert Elms, and art-school buddy Chris Sullivan, Graham Smith was at the centre of this creative cult.
He designed its record sleeves, cultivated its graphics and captured its characters, taking extraordinary pictures throughout the period, most of which have never been reproduced before. There are interviews with all the major players, incendiary and hilarious text by Chris Sullivan, an introduction by Robert Elms and forewords by Boy George, Steve Strange and Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp. This beautiful book is the first insider account of this uniquely creative time.


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'Brilliant! This book brings back so many wondrous memories and for once it has been put together by someone from the scene' Boy George

Aged 18, in the midst of the punk explosion, Graham Smith picked up a camera. Luckily for the rest of us, he would spend the next six years photographing bands, most of them his mates and contemporaries, becoming unofficial house photographer to the burgeoning London nightclub scene. During this period he also designed the record sleeves for most of the scene's key performers including Spandau Ballet and Sade, while creating the flyers, posters and tickets for many of the clubs. In the 'just-do-it' spirit of these pioneering days, he also DJed and ran one-nighters with fellow DJ Robert Elms and promoter Chris Sullivan at the St. Moritz and Le Kilt, followed by a two year residency as DJ at the original Fridge in Brixton on a Saturday night. Graham is now a freelance magazine art director and married to Lorraine Davies-Smith, who he met in the Spice of Life pub, on his way to Le Beat Route, in 1982. They have two grown children, Carla and Dexter, and live in Bushey, Hertfordshire. He still likes a dance. Born a long time ago in Merthyr Tydfil, Chris Sullivan studied at Camberwell and St Martin's Colleges of Art and in 1978 began running regular warehouse parties, followed by one night clubs such as the St. Moritz, Le Kilt and Hell with Steve Strange and Rusty Egan. In 1981 he signed a record deal with Virgin Records for his band Blue Rondo a la Turk. Two years on, fed up with life as a pauper, he opened the Wag Club in Wardour Street, which he ran for the next 18 years, ruining his health. His career as a writer began with The Face in the early 1980s. By the mid 1990s he was a regular contributor to Loaded and Style Editor at GQ. In 2000 he turned freelance and wrote the highly acclaimed book Punk. Now a full time scribe, he writes for several newspapers and style magazines and is the resident film critic for Redbull.com. He lives in West London with his extremely patient better half Leah Seresin, their six-year old son Finbar and Nancy the cat.

General Fields

  • : 9781908717658
  • : Unbound
  • : Unbound
  • : November 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Smith Graham
  • : Hardback
  • : 511
  • : 320