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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Your 1970s: Music and fashion
Friends on holiday in Galloway in 1978
The 70s 'look' has become legend
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s and the 1960s and now focus on the 70s.

It was the decade of strikes, electricity shortages and piles of rotting rubbish on the street.

But among the hundreds of written memories you e-mailed to us, it was clear that the industrial unrest was only one part of the story.

For many of you the decade was defined by the music and the fashion. Here is a selection of your comments.


I was living in Suffolk in 77 (I was 15) when by older brother who stayed in London bought some music for me to listen to. It was a tape of a few punk songs that he was getting into.
Colin Cornish
A 17-year-old Colin Cornish in Westhorpe, Suffolk, 1979
Overnight me and my mate Tim were changed. My brother then would come down on the weekends and take us both to Cambridge in his MG (we took turns squeezing into the back, it was a two-seater), it was an hour's drive back then that was a long time (in those days anything beyond an hour and you were on holiday) and we went to as many concerts as we could. Best years of my life, young, having fun. I didn't really notice to much all the great problems the country was in happening around me. Punk was an important part of the 70s. One thing that is always lost about that time was Punk bought all races together, 99.9% of us didn't care if you were black, white, red or yellow.
Colin Cornish, Lake Worth, FL, USA

Growing up in West Yorkshire the early 70s were magical. Grow your hair, wear flares and bright clothes, learn about drink and drugs, discover sex and all against the background of the greatest few years of music ever - Zeppelin albums 2 - 4, Dark Side of the Moon, Deep Purple's Machine Head, Sabbath Vol 4, Yes and countless others all in that 1970 - 1974 period. I went then from 14 - 18 and wish we could get it back. Three day week / blackouts - yep, did my homework by candlelight (that was fun). Bus strikes - walked home (7 miles one night but sobered up). Strikes and militants were just part of your life to be got round so you could get back to the music and the fun - whose house is the party at on Saturday night, what records will I take, who'll be having sex with whom. Ah the true good old days.
Jonathan Brown, Farmington MI USA

I was born in 1959 and the 1970s were my teenage years. At school we used to turn the waistband of our skirts over to try and shorten the length of the regulation knee-length, pleated skirt. The height of shoe heels were supposed to be two inches high only, but few people complied and platform boots and wedged heels were prevalent.
Sue Ridings
During lunchtimes we would sit and listen to the radio. Some girls idolised Donny Osmond, others David Cassidy. I remember Slade getting the number one Christmas record. In 1975 everyone who left school either had a job or went onto further education. I remember the hot summer of 1976, two weeks of which were spent in Devon, there was a plague of ladybirds on the beach. Later in the decade I went to University, everyone had an adequate means-tested grant and we played and worked hard. There were no mobile phones, we used a payphone to ring home. Course work was handwritten. For final year projects we would either sit and type the report on a typewriter or pay someone to type the work. Computers were a subject people studied and had little impact on our day-to-day lives.
Susan Ridings, Mold, North Wales

Stephanie La Porta
My brother and I made bell bottom jeans so wide and weird they looked as though they could have been designed by Salvador Dali! All our friends wanted a pair.
Stephanie La Porta, West Vancouver, BC Canada

George Lee
Our flared trousers were so extreme that I was in danger of getting mine tangled in the wheels of my bike. Imagine three-foot bellbottoms on a six year old child.
George Lee, Vancouver (ex-Letcombe, Berks)

It can't have been so bad. I remember the hot summers, low cut bell-bottoms and skinny tops. Discontent there may have been, but for the young it was a time of great optimism; not least because working-class girls like me had their first chance to become someone, thanks to good direct-grant grammar schools and a free university education. Thank the Lord I was young during the 1970s!
Melanie Laing, Veruno, Novara, Italy

I was a young teenager growing up in Reading, Berks in the early 1970s. It is very interesting that I have little recollection of the events in this story, the labour unrest etc. I do remember the greasers and the skinheads, Doc Martens and hob nail Army boots. I moved to the West Coast of Canada in 1975 at the age of 14 and vividly remember all of the different government workers on strike there. Trash collectors, nurses, postal, local govt.
Fred, Spokane USA

WHAT WE'RE DOING
Read Andrew Marr's take on the decade in the Magazine every Tuesday
Watch his History of Modern Britain on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 2100 BST
Read and watch your written memories, pictures and videos every Friday in the Magazine
The 70s were my teenage years, born 1960. The party scene was great with the disco music, weed, long hair and brightly coloured fashions. The drought of 76 I will never forget with water rationing like never before. The blackouts and disgusting food at prep school in the early 70s will not be forgotten. I went to my first pop concert, Hawkwind in Leicester and saw Bob Dylan at Blackbush in 78 and afterwards slept on the Underground just like during the Blitz, with 100s of other people. These were fantastic times to be a teenager. The smell of piles of rotting rubbish in Leicester Square and the awful drab pub food. Great TV classics like the amazing epic War and Peace with Anthony Hopkins, The World at War and Upstairs Downstairs. The music scene was everything, and great rock guitarists of the time were Gods. The sexual freedoms of the age would be the envy of the young today. Badly made cars, empty roads and the worst service stations in Europe. Nothing worked or operated properly. To have been a responsible adult must have been a true nightmare. Rob
Rob Ellingworth, Wandsworth London

I remember the truly awful pop music that dominated the pop charts - The Osmonds, The Wurzels, The Bay City Rollers. I remember feeling cheated that the music was so bad when it was 'my time' and the breath of fresh air that was punk rock in the late 70s, .
Glenn Nicholls, Leighton Buzzard, Beds
I remember when Punk came out of NYC 1st with NY Dolls, Ramones, Blondie, fantastic, then came the Pistols, Siouxsie & the Banshees, X-ray Spex. There's been nothing since, feel sorry for kids now.
Eric, Glasgow

I was brought up in Runcorn in Cheshire, a small chemical industries town about 12 miles from Liverpool. In 1970 at the age of 17 I came down for a weekend in London to stay with my brother.
Howard Hill, 1970
On Saturday lunchtime I was wandering along Portobello market transfixed by the riot of colour and styles, which were only slowly filtering, into my hometown. Suddenly a man came running out of a pub wearing pyjamas. He was followed by a woman who grabbed his hand saying, "Oh don't be silly come back in," and without too much resistance dragged him back into the pub. What struck me was that no one seemed to take any notice and that one event made me determined that as soon as possible I would move flee the judgmental and narrow minded life of my home town and come to live in London.
Howard Hill 2007
At that time it seemed to me at home, that if everyone was wearing lace up shoes and I was wearing slip-ons some would inevitably have a comment to make, "Hey get you with those shoes. Who do you think you are!?" Now in retrospect I never was never that outrageous in my dress but I applaud the fact that London offered a freedom of expression and now after 35 years living here am proud to be part of the embracive character which seemed to grow out of the hippy movement.
Howard Hill, London

1977/78 and we were ready for change. Glam rock went out the window and we were back on the streets. We replaced our flared jeans and cheesecloth shirts with drainpipe jeans, ripped T shirts and leather ties. Stuck safety pins in our ears and cheeks and put black eye liner round our eyes. Spiked up the hair. Read Sounds magazine from cover to cover. My brother bought me The Damned's first album for my 16th birthday, it blew us away. We saw the Clash live at Leeds Queens Hall. Life was fast, raw and fun. Anyone remember the Anti-Nazi league and School Kids against the Nazis?
Katharine Hope, Rochester, New York

Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols arrived and everything changed
The Sex Pistols swept everything away - I remember not liking them at first - but gradually understanding the seething resentment. No. 1 in the charts with a banned record. Ha Ha. Does anyone else recall that very difficult Top of the Pops. The fact they haven't accepted the Hall of Fame - shows they are still true to their roots. It was the Sex Pistols (and others) that allowed us to think for ourselves - good luck Johnny Rotten - he should be knighted for being so truthful and for so long..... BUT the education of that period was excellent and for many free - Thank you UK.
Glenn Johnson, King, NC, US

OTHER 1970s MEMORIES
Even though I was relatively young at the start of the 70s I still have vivid memories. Some of the memories particularly those caught on camera have caused harrowing flash backs. Being dressed up as a young school boy in a Star Jumper, patch pockets and some Beatle Crusher shoes did nothing to enhance my street cred. Although my parents thought it was fun. There was also the home haircut sported by many a young 'boy about town'. However remember some of the joys, for example when a 10p mix up needed a wheel barrow to take home, when Refreshers couldn't fit in your pocket. A 2p bus fare would take you into town. Thank God when punk and the new wave arrived I was old enough to join in, to my parent's dismay. I had a great time, just as I was exploding with hormones it felt like the whole world was, it was fantastic.
Martin Colgan, Manchester

My memories of the 70s when I went through my teens are overwhelmingly musical. There was so much fabulous music made in Britain then (Dark Side Of The Moon, Led Zeppelin to name the obvious) Oh, yes. Almost forgot, my football team (Spurs) were quite good then. It really was the golden age!
Tigger Wegwermer,
Seeing Deep Purple for the first time on Top of The Pops performing Black Night. My school forced us to cut our hair short so I was green with envy at the sight of their shoulder length locks and their music is still up there for me. From 17, I had three years of sporting golden tresses and monster sideburns (which my ex-military father detested) before I started going bald!!!
Chris, Kent

Gareth Bennett
For me, the 1970s were a time of growing up; Punk came in and everything changed for me. For some, it seemed to be a kind of movement, with political and anarchist overtones, and you can see the anti-globalist fringe having their roots in Punk. However, for the great majority, it was a fashion and a chance to dress up and have fun, and it did, for a time, shake up the music establishment. I didn't actually see the Sex Pistols swearing with Bill Grundy but I well remember the reaction at work the next day. Anybody would have thought that Johnny Rotten and co. had eaten babies alive on camera. "The Filth and the Fury" was the famous banner headline, and there was the story of how one chap had hurled his TV out of the window...and then called the newspaper to tell them of his stupidity?
Gareth Bennett, Guadalajara, México

I'll never forget the day my Dad proudly showed me his brand new copy of Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols. I was only a small girl and had no idea what the excitement was about, but I liked the bright colours on the sleeve. I think it was that which inspired me to be an artist. I remember the 70s being a very colourful time all round really, it helped that the blazing summers really made everything shine!
Amanda Cox, Horley, Surrey

My most vivid memory of the 70s is seeing David Bowie at the Bristol Colton Hall where he played the Ziggy Stardust set, after the first two numbers we moved to the front as it was almost empty. He wore jeans and a T-shirt. The next gig a couple of months later was totally sold out when he performed the full costumed drama.
Paul French, Ashcott, UK
1969 when I was 17, going to the Round House 'Implosions' in London's Chalk Farm, held on a Sunday. I used to go out with a pair of white plimsolls in my bag and change into them when I was out of sight of my parents. I'd decorated them with psychedelic patterns with felt tips. They went really well with my Afghan coat. Seeing bands like the Pink Fairies, Deep Purple, everyone smoking joints (I didn't, of course!) and living the north London version of the California peace and love era.
Val, London

I was a teenager in the 70s and the thing I remember most was the music. Everything from Slade to Donny Osmond, disco to punk. It all seemed to happen then. I lived with my two sisters, parents, grandmother and two aunts in a small two bed semi. It was very cramped and us three girls were expected to share a bath as there was never enough hot water for all. As I was the oldest I got to go first. We were pretty hard up and I remember having to wear my aunt's shoes to school when I had grown out of mine. It was very humiliating as all the other girls seemed to have parents who could afford to buy them clothes. I used to baby sit from the age of about 13 in order to have some money but I don't remember ever getting paid more than about 50p.
Ann Storey, Dartford UK





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