A new exhibition celebrates the work of John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, a photographer who chronicled the 1960s counter-culture. As freelancer for ‘Melody Maker’, Hopkins met many of the decade’s leading lights, including John Lennon, who is pictured here with his trusty Rickenbacker guitar at Teddington Studios, south-west London, 1964.
Hopkins depicted the squalor and excess of the 1960s as well as its cultural achievements. This picture shows a junkie nodding out after a dose of heroin. “Caution – it’s easy to OD on heroin and die, but virtually impossible to do this with marijuana,” says Hopkins today.
Pot-smokers get busy in west London. “Getting ready for a party, the ‘tea-heads’ aka serious marijuana smokers roll hundreds of joints, somewhere in Bayswater,” says Hopkins of this picture.
Aside from hanging out with musicians, John Hopkins was equally adept at capturing the dark underbelly of the 1960s counter-culture – including London’s bondage scene. “Looking back through Hoppy’s lens, you get the whiff of the city – throwing off the shackles of class obedience, cultural timidity and moral hypocrisy,” says the writer/producer Joe Boyd. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
An anti-nuclear demonstration in Ruislip, north-west London. “On the
political side most people were galvanised by CND back in 59-61,”
recalls the author Barry Miles. “It was very similar to the US
anti-Vietnam movement, more moral than political. It certainly wasn’t
party orientated.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
A West London tattooist, one of many working-class characters shot by Hopkins on his travels round London. “Tattoo Bill had a tiny cramped shopfront in the Portobello Road, which in those days was full of boarded up and derelict premises. He worked mainly at night,” recalls the photographer. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
“Here are some Beatles fans, sub-teenagers in a screaming mob. Contrast them with the Stones fans, a different generation.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
LSD meets CND. “Easter Monday 1966 in Trafalgar Square, the end of the Aldermaston march. The acid heads merged with the crowd, and sold out all the copies of the Long Hair Moon Edition Times, the forerunner of the International Times, launched in late 1966”. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
“Youngsters with motorbikes bought on credit and with no training, in a nuclear armed world at the brink. Their home was ‘The Ace’ and their motto was live fast, love hard, die young. Then came Father Bill and the 59 Club, now with an identity, they were called Rockers!” (Mark Wilsmore, Managing Director, Ace Café). Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
Mick Jagger whips up the crowd during a gig at Alexandra Palace, north London, June 1964. It was a special all-nighter to promote the launch of their single ‘It’s All Over Now’. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
“Demonstration against the USAF base in Ruislip, c.1964.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
Hopkins: “This is Allen Ginsberg, the American poet, (‘Howl’) during his 1965 stay in London where he headlined the famous Albert Hall International Poetry Congress, for which I was photo press officer.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
A London transvestite, 1962. “I was commissioned to illustrate a book on the weird side of London, particularly the sex workers and other shady characters to be found around Notting Hill,” recalls Hopkins. “The people I met looked quite ordinary when they were not in costume and they were all quite friendly. Unfortunately the author committed suicide before the book was finished, so none of the pictures were published for about 40 years.”
Ringo Starr and The Beatles. “Ringo seems to be in a dimension of his own at the still point of a turning world,” says John Hopkins of this picture. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
The Rolling Stones. “We booked a studio for 11am and after five minutes I realised it wasn’t going to work,” recalls Hopkins. “They were half asleep and they were literally holding Keith up. Moral – don’t mess with rock stars before lunch!”
Among the non-musicians who fell into Hopkins’ sphere was William
Burroughs, author of ‘The Naked Lunch’ and (much later) a friend of
Kurt Cobain. Fellow author Barry Miles says of this picture: “On a trip
to New York, Hoppy took some memorable images of William Burroughs
sitting at his desk, looking a good deal more casual and relaxed than
in most photographs.”
“I caught up with Louis Armstrong, my teenage musical hero, at a rehearsal for the Jazz 625 BBC programme in 1965. Although now perhaps better known as a showbiz entertainer, his incomparable recordings with the Hot Five and Hot Sevens in the late 1920s stand for all time as the flowering of a musical genius.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
This picture of Marianne Faithful is one of many that make up ‘Against Tyranny’, an exhibition that takes place at the Idea Generation gallery in Shoreditch between now and July 19. “[Marianne] was always very personable and friendly and made you feel at ease,” recalls Hopkins.
Another picture of ‘Tattoo Bill’. “Hoppy always seemed in a process of discovery, treating his city as his research laboratory and uttering a delighted ‘Wow!’ whenever he came across something that pleased or interested him,” recalls the author Joe Boyd. Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
“Martin Luther King passed through London in December 1964 on his way to collect the Nobel peace prize in Oslo. While in London he met leaders of the UK peace movement, and is here seen listening at a meeting. He was assassinated in Harlem in 1968.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
“Paul McCartney whispers sweet nothings to a teenage fan, as the Beatles make a lightning dash into Teddington Studios from a riverboat.” Pic: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, www.hoppy.be
All these photos can be seen at a new exhibition, “John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins: Against Tyranny’, which takes place at the Idea Generation gallery in Shoreditch between now and July 19. For more information visit www.ideageneration.co.uk