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Photo Gossip: Angela Davis
Straight out of the 'Q' Club
'I Came, I Saw, I Photographed'
Is that Angela Davis? I asked the late photographer R A Albert one day, back in 2009. We were sat drinking coffee at his kitchen table, in Blythe Road, West Kensington, looking through a big stash of sixties and seventies black and white photographs. Albert had roped me in to do a spot of curating and I was happy to oblige. His pictures, a treasure trove of black and white photography, I was discovering, was a treasure trove.. He was a bit of a treasure himself in the black community, a much admired photographer; hailing from the West Indian island of Grenada.
Responsible for photographing a beauty queen or two. Indeed, Albert had been at the forefront of the Beauty Pagaent circuit from the late 60s to the mid ninieties, as a Promoter too, of amongst the many titles; Miss Black And Beautiful, the Miss West Indies In Great Britain, Miss Teenager of the West Indies In Great Britain, to name but a few and, was busy organising an upcoming photo exhibition. The first official Exhibition of his lifetimes work, entitled - "I Came, I Saw, I Photographed" - at the Hammersmith Information Centre. As proud as a peacock then, to confirm that it was indeed the Miss Angela Davis.
Sorting through his photos of beautiful women, them and the stash of reggae celebrities, I hadn't expected to find the Angela Davis in his collection and when RA confirmed that it was indeed, without doubt the Angela Davis, the details emerged!
Photographer R A Albert (1935-2009)
Turns out that the shot was taken whilst he was 'resident photographer' at a nightclub in Paddington, Not any old Club mind. The 'fabulous' 'Q' Club; which, back in the day, if you were into reggae, was one of London's hottest venues. At least it was amongst the reggae fraternity.
Based in Paddington, West London, the club back then, garnered legendary statues. A club frequented by the good and the great (and the rest) including the likes of Desmond Decker, the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Misty In Roots to name but a few. Some of whom R A Albert got to photograph!
Owned by the legendary Wilbert Augustus Campbell (1931–2014), better known as Count Suckle, a charismatic Jamaican-born sound system operator and club owner who was 'so influential in the development of Ska and reggae music, and African- Caribbean culture, in the UK', that according to one biogger, 'he's barely mentioned'!
'Suckle', as his friends called him, had already found reknown as resident DJ with his sound system at an iconic London Music venue, the Roaring Twenties. later called Columbo's situated in Carnaby Street, Soho, the Roaring Twenties hosting the creme de la creme of musicians - from the Rolling Stones to Bob Marley.
An 'important music venue' then. Nevertheless, Suckle who boasted amongst his friends 'the' Mohammed Ali (rip) jumped ship and opened up his own club.
Consciously upmarket, with a 700-capacity, it was aimed at London's black aspiring community - by then dubbed as 'buppies'.
Interspersing the hottest new sounds, direct from Jamaica and the US, the club thrived. And with the cream of black acts – the Drifters, Edwin Starr, Ben E King, even Jimi Hendrix – onstage, the 'Q' club was a colossal success, with a frequently stellar audience: from the late greats Marvin Gaye to Little Richard to 'Black Panther' Stokely Carmichael, a clientele of reknown too.
Suckle decided he need a 'resident photographer', which is how RA reknowned for his work on the Beauty Pagaent scene and a regular at the club, got to photograph the 'great and the good' who, when in town, headed straight for the Q Club. Fast becoming a 'one-stop' for the great and good to party the night away, the 'fabulous Q Club', delivered. Great music, great company and great fun. Add to that a stellar rosta of live bands performing and the punters flocked in.
The Beauful People
For the resident photographer, with a flair for photographing 'the beautiful people', you couldn't have gotten a better gig
In Great Company
Great company aside, apart from Ms Davis who were these in the picture with Ms Davis, I asked Raphael?
Turns out they are our very own ALEX PASCAL OBE, Journalist and Broadcaster pictured above and pictured below also our very own ARIF ALI, Newspaper Editor/Caribbean Times and Publisher/Hansib Publications and by the looks of it, they are all letting their hair down. And all up in a reggae club!?!
Indeed, with Angela Davis all about US rap (one would imagine with friends like Ice Cube) a reggae club? What would NWA say Angela?
Lest we forget,, NWA are famed for being the 'legendary rap group' who rose to fame having 'sruggled to navigate life in Compton amid routine police brutality' in the US a theme close to Ms D's heart - https://talkingpointsmemo.com/theslice/how-political-was-nwa-really - and . were responsible for 'Straight out of Compton' - https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/08/straight-outta-compton-nwa/401279/ - a 2015 American biographical film directed by F. Gary Gray, depicting the career of gangsta rap group N.W.A. Titled after N.W.A's 1988 debut studio album, the film focuses on members Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre, and the rise and fall of the group. Essentially a rags to riches story, close to all our hearts.
Finding Time To Rock
Certainly many of us would have caught (or not) the Angela Davis's Civil Rights struggle through the black press back in the day; a Davis described at best as - an 'early radical' or a ' Poster Girl for African Americans', 'an American Intellectual'. 'a Black Activist, feminist - prison campaigner - a revolutionary', a 'Black Panther'.
There's more. Ms Davis was named 'a terrorist’ and placed on the top 10 most wanted List in the USA by 'two American Presidents' With all that, I wondered how Ms Davis found time to rock!
The Importance of Reggae
It Is worth remembering that during the late '60s and early '70s, 'a revolutionary or two' emerged; on the world stage; from Fidel Castro to Che Guevara. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jan/30/reggae-revolutionary-bob-marley-britain
Indeed, reggae was also spoken of in the same breath- as the likes of the late greats: from the Hon. Bob Marley to Peter Tosh, them and Burning Spear and bands like Culture, & Roots Radics and Misty In Roots from the UK, and many other 'musical revolutionaries' having emerged, stateside, the Americans couldn''t have failed to notice. - https://www.nwfolklife.org/reggae-rising-hip-hops-roots-in-reggae-music/
Reggae Round The Globe
Certainly there's no missing reggae round the globe....
The Lover's Rock Lounge, London -
ZIM is home of Reggae Mojo - https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2015/11/19/zim-is-home-of-reggae-mr-mojo
Reggae Poland - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_reggae
Is Japan the next Reggae Capital? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRcueVUt6Oc
Ghana Reggae Artists Keeping the Flame Alive - https://omgvoice.com/entertainment/reggae-dancehall-ghana/
'We're Jammin' - in Turkey! - http://yabangee.com/reggae-scene-in-turkey/
Reggae Lover's Rock Club, USA - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/fashion/lovers-rock-a-reggae-bar-in-bedford-stuyvesant.html
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A Huge Welcome In The UK
A Living Witness
Reggae times aside, Ms Davis awlways gets a big welcome in Blighty..
In 2017, at the Southbank Centre, speaking to Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE about women, race and class .... https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/120680-angela-davis-conversation-2017
Indeed, amongst the great and the good, Angela has been dubbed something of ' a living witness' to the historical struggles of the contemporary era, not least for her classic 'outspoken' style.
The style that told the world in 2014 (Having met up with the late Stuart Hall, the renowned Jamaican-born cultural theorist and sociologist, dubbed ‘the Godfather’ of Multi-culturism. back in 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/10/godfather-multiculturalism-stuart-hall . ) that: - “It’s about recognising the connection to racist violence to the profit machine” - .http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/dec/14/
Portrait Of A Revolutionary
Certainly its a style that's said 'still resonates today -
And from the 2016's 'Angela Davis: Portrait of a Revolutionary' a feature length documentary made by an american student (U.C.L.A) Yolande DuLuart , documenting her and the role of Women in the Black Panther Party, a film that marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party(1966 – 2016) to 'Manifestation Pur La Liberation D'Angela Davis' (1971), to 'Mountains That Take Wing Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama' also a full length documentary and the Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975' (2011) documentary film, directed by Göran Olsson, examines the evolution of the Black Power movement in American society from 1967 to 1975 as viewed through Swedish journalists and filmmakers is a feast of the Icon that is Ms Davis.
There's more.. Not forgetting the Lenin 'Peace Prize' Ms Davis accepted in 1979, an epic biog is in the pipeline, showing just how much Ms Davis has become truly a phenomenon in our lifetimes.
Can't think of anything else but to wish Angela Davis all the best!
The Peace Prize
Welcomed Around The World
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In 1984 and in 1988, she ran as the vice presidential candidate of the United States under the banner of the Communist Party.
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A Who's Who
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The Late Grenadian Raphael Augustus Albert passed away aged 74.
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© 2016 Julie Henry