Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rock Shoes Part II (1963 – 1979)

The start of the sixties saw styles change and polished performers like Bobby Darin wore tailored suits and patent leather shoes. Foot tapping replaced hand jiving as the acceptable form of music appreciation as beat music and the transistor radio became more ubiquitous. The new teenage kids on the block were instrumental groups, and they began to pop up everywhere.

Polish was the order of the day and trendy men’s jackets were now worn short and fitted and in a bolero style (also called bum freezers), the match two piece tailored suit was complemented by submissive winkle pickers.

Girl’s dressed in chiffon blouses with pencil skirts (raised hemline with the introduction of pantyhose), toes squeezed into stiletto-heeled shoes and peroxide hair back-combed into bouffant, and stiffened with lacquer (Madge Simpson style).

The Beatles wore boots with Cuban heels after their manager Brian commissioned Anello and Davide, a Mayfair firm of ballet shoes makers, to make the Fab Four, distinctive footwear. Beatle boots were high heeled, Chelsea Boots with chisel toes instead of sharp toes. A distinctly softer less aggressive style than brothel creepers and winkle pickers.

Their nemesis, the Rolling Stones, preferred sneakers.

Tights and miniskirts meant female legs became the focus of attention. The longer the leg the better and girl singing groups like The Shangri-las captured the sultry look perfectly by wearing slacks and high heeled ankle boots.

The Stomp was inspired by the actions of walking on hot sand. It became the official surfie dance of the 60s in Australia. To do the dance properly, dancers had to be barefoot. Away from the beach and dance floor, surfies wore dessert boots. Thongs, then were distinctly, uncool. To get boots ready for wearing, real surfies dragged them behind their woodies for a couple of miles.

In California, the Beachboys wore sneakers, but of course, only one of them, was a real surfer. The sworn enemy of the Australian surfie was the sandkickers or boot wearing, Rockers. At every opportunity the two groups would have a blue (Australian slang for rumble). In the UK teenagers met at the seaside and fought in the infamous, Mods and Rocker riots.

Mods wore lightweight dessert boots (Chukka Boots) to protect their ankles from the exhaust pipes of their Italian scooters.

The Who became the Mod band and wore Italian made bowling shoes.

Jim Smith (aka PJ Proby) will probably be best remembered for his trouser splitting performances in 1965. His sartorial style was inspired by the film of the season, 'Tom Jones', the Henry Fielding classic. Albert Finney played the lead role in this raunchy tale of a larrikin. Proby wore his hair in a bow and the tight pants and high heeled court shoes with silver buckles. Similar in style to those worn by the Sun King (Louis XIV).

Regency buckles on slip on shoes was short lived but not before a certain Welshman was quick to put the name to good use.

Sandie Shaw seldom appeared on stage in shoes and preferred to sing barefoot.

A habit she shared with many young idealists now following the road to enlightenment and self-discovery. Perhaps as a reaction to Vietnam and rejection of western materialism, Hippies symbolically went without shoes. Thongs, kaftans, bells, loons and Afghan coats were the uniform of the love generation. The cream of pop culture came together for three days of love, peace and music at Yasgor's Farm in 1969.

Hippies and rockers united to show it could be done, many of them barefoot. At the turn of the decade an alternative urban culture sprung up listening to the music of Jamaican Ska. Blue beat suited small clubs and these ravers danced the night away wearing robust shoes.

Doc Martin’s boots were serviceable and fashionable and pretty useful in a rumble too, perfect for both sexes they were ideally suited for Unisex style. Long hair was out and youths shaved their heads.

By the seventies, Glam rock arrived with larger than life groups parading on stage wearing platform shoes. Bowie, Shirley and Elton John all towered over all they ruled.

One exception in the glitter of glam was the Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan, who preferred ballet pumps to emphasise his delicate frame.

More sophisticated sounds meant discos were places to be seen and what better than lavish clothing and platform boots. Disco sartoria was championed by Abba. All this was taking place as the Baby Boomers were reaching thirty something and putting on weight. Jane Fonda had the answer with aerobics.

Not enough to do the physical you had to look good too and Adidas, Puma Nike provided the necessary designer footwear and accessories. The rest as they say is history, or as Billy Joel sang:

How about a pair of pink sidewinders (sic. sandals)
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers."
Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me."
Billy Joel

Worth a listen
Bobby Darin
Beyond the Sea (1960)

The Shadows
Man of Mystery (1960)

Acker Bilk
Stranger on the Shore (1961)

The Rolling Stones
I wanna be your man (1963)

The Shangri Las
Walking in the Sand (1964)

Bee Gees
Let’s stomp Australian way (1963)

The Who
My generation (1965)

Mathew’s Southern Comfort
Woodstock (1970)

Dancing Queen (1976)

Olivia Newton John
Let’s get physical (1981)

Billy Joel
It's still rock and roll to me (1980 )

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