Chris Steele-Perkins & Richard Smiths Teds and rough, tough’n’tumble 1970s British subcultural style

  • The Teds-Chris Steele-Perkins-Richard Smith-Travelling Light-Exit-original edition-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity The Teds-Chris Steele-Perkins-Richard Smith-Dewi Lewis Publishing-Afterhours Sleaze and DignityOne of the things that struck me when I recently revisited Chris Steele-Perkins photographs in his and Richard Smith’s Teds book is just how much many of the photographs are a document of a certain kind of British 1970s style.

    Although the sharpness of 1950s Teds (which if you look back at you can possibly see the very early roots of mod concerns) is there but side by side with it is a kind of laddishness at points, a looseness to the style: not loucheness necessarily but if there was a 1970s working class subcultural equivalent I’d be using it about now.

    The Teds-Chris Steele-Perkins-Richard Smith-Dewi Lewis Publishing-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity-3

    Which sounds like I’m knocking the book but I’m not – I think it’s a fine piece of work, a fine snapshot of a particular cultural gathering and point in time.

    In some ways, the photographs reminds me of the impression Richard Allen’s 1970s skinhead fiction books can leave you with – tough, rough and tumble 1970s subcultural style and living – without the more overt harshness and violence of Mr Allen’s books.

    I suppose one of the things that the book brings home is just how much the 1970s incarnation of teds / teddy boys / teddy girls was an adapting to then modern day times, styles and attitudes, rather than being a slavish recreation.

    The Teds-Chris Steele-Perkins-Richard Smith-Dewi Lewis Publishing-Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity-2

    The original 1979 edition is now long gone and considerably out of print, as is the second 1987 edition, also published by Travelling Light / Exit and I’m afraid to say that the third 2002 edition published by Dewi Lewis has also wandered off the shelves (one of the earlier editions is on the left above, the Dewi Lewis edition is on the right above).

    …you can find a copy but it’ll cost you a few pence or more – interestingly when I looked here the original edition was available at not all that much more than the 2002 edition.

    Visit the book at Dewi Lewis Publishing here.

    View a selection of images from the book at Pony Boy Magazine here and Chris Steele-Perkins here.


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