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Rock shoes:A brief history of Rock Shoes (1956-1990)


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If there was ever an item of clothing to epitomise the style and fashion of an era it would have to be shoes (or
their absence). The following presentation is a brief review of rock shows in the later part of the 20th Century.

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Rock shoes:A brief history of Rock Shoes (1956-1990)

  1. 1. A BRIEF HISTORY OF ROCK SHOES (1956-1990) Cameron Kippen
  2. 2. Iconiclastic Footwear If there was ever an item of clothing to epitomise the style and fashion of an era it would have to be shoes (or their absence). Pick up a dozen covers of compilation hits and a significant number will depict the age with fashionable shoes of the time.
  3. 3. Blue Suede Shoes The most famous shoes of the rock and roll era were Carl Perkin's Blue Suede shoes. Although Elvis Presley had the big hit the credit was always given to Perkins. The idea for the song came from his early days when he and Johnny Cash were queuing for some tucker. Someone in front cried a warning to another in the queue not to tread on his foot. 'Hey don't step on my blue suede shoes". Cash was moved to say to his companion that would be a good title for a song.
  4. 4. Penny Loafers Penny Loafers were much favoured by the ‘Preppies’ in the US. Essentially a two-piece moccasin with a hard sole and a strap or saddle, made of leather, over the instep. KerrybrookeTeenright Smoothies often had a good luck penny stuck in the leather saddle. At the time suede was a shoe cover preferred by effeminate men so the kids took to them, to flaunt convention. Buddy Holly, by contrast wore brown suede shoes.
  5. 5. Brothel Creepers In the UK Teddyboys in the UK; Halbstarke in Germany; and Blousans noirs in France wore a more crude Suede shoe called Brothel Creepers. These had two inch thick crepe soles and were a hybrid of the desert shoe. Worn originally with drapes and drainpipe trousers
  6. 6. The Baby Boomers Young American men wore Converse All Stars (Chucks), a sneaker designed for basketball star Chuck Taylor (Buffalo Germans and Akron Firestones). Teenage cheerleaders wore tight sweaters, short skirts, ankle or bobby socks with canvas topped shoes called to Keds.
  7. 7. Skiffle In the mid fifties skiffle enjoyed brief popularity in the UK . Similar to the 1920s Jugs bands of Chicago skiffle groups played makeshift instruments and wore non conventional clothing including sandals (thongs) on stage. UK Skiffle was contemporary with the hip generation and Bohemian Beatniks Outside the US Lonnie Donnigan became one of the first guitar heroes of modern music
  8. 8. Hip Sneakers In Jailhouse Rock (1957 ) fans Caught sight of 'The Pelvis‘ sporting sneakers. The fashion was officially sanctioned when James Dean was photographed wearing Levi jeans and white Converse Jack Purcell's.
  9. 9. The Barefoot Stomp By 1957, Sydney's bodgies & widgies (Australian Teddyboys and Teddygirls) abandoned their restrictive "St Louis Blues" (rhyming slang for shoes), and came to dance in their bare feet.
  10. 10. The Wild Ones 'Ton Up Boys' (Rockers) considered themselves Outlaws and tougher than the Teds. Their main obsession was motor bikes and they wore leather jackets (with or without gang colours), white Ts, blue jeans, studded belts, and engineer's boots. The significance of the above the ankle boot was very sensible as it protected the lower leg from the damaging heat of the bike's exhaust. The heavy boots also, by coincidence provided a useful offensive weapon to use in the ubiquitous rumble with sworn enemies. Inspired by 'The Wild One" (Marlon Brando) the bikers liked to Rock’n Roll.
  11. 11. Juvenile Delinquents Every country had their own "Wild man of Rock", the original was Jerry Lee Lewis and all others paled into insignificance.
  12. 12. Hush Puppies By the late fifties the anger was taken out of the first wave of the rock generation and conservative Tin Pan Alley once again produced novelty records for teenagers. Suede shoes (i.e. Hush Puppies) become the preferred fashion of the university students with their duffle coats, college scarfs and a commitment to the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament (CND) tempered with their love for Trad Jazz. This thinking generation were the new moderns and forerunners of the Mods.
  13. 13. Sneaks kick the loafers By the time West Side Story screened in the early 60s the sight of freuding Jets and Sharks wearing sneakers was art imitating life. Sneakers were cool and just as well because the jive was especially energetic dance. Its spasmodic body movements interspersed with vigorous gyrations meant lightweight durable footwear was ideal. The shoes encouraged freedom of movement as well as offering greater traction on the dance floor. As fast as you could sing "High Heeled Sneakers" canvas topped shoes replaced "Blue Suede Shoes" as the symbol of youthful rebellion.
  14. 14. Preppy Cool Set The Peppermint Lounge meant venues for listening and dancing to music changed. Restricted space dictatd popular dance took place standing in one spot. The Twist required shoes to be twisted, circular fashion, against the floor in a left and right manner, as if flattening a cigarette butt. This was combined with swinging the arms and hips as if an imaginary towel was drying the back. These gyrations were best viewed when the dancers wore tighter clothing showing off their long legs. Winkle pickers or needlepoint shoes replaced the cumbersome crepe soled shoes for men. The pointed toes were a reworking of the scandalous poulaines of the Middle Ages.
  15. 15. The Stiletto Heel Courtship took place on the dance floor and ability 'swing right' was essential. The new innovative pantyhose meant women's hemlines became even shorter. During the early sixties the instrumental made a popular come back. The preferred instrument was the electric guitar and the music had a strong beat with an obvious percussion driving it.
  16. 16. The British Invasion When the Beatles arrived, they came wearing boots with Cuban heels. Brian Epstien commissioned the Mayfair firm of ballet shoes makers, Anello and Davide to make the Fab Four, distinctive footwear. Beatle boots were high heeled, Chelsea Boots which instantly became vogue. Chisel toes soon relaced the sharp toe and for the price of one pound, local cobblers would oblige you by converting your peaks into the new chisel toe fashion. They just chopped off the end. Fashionable Beatle Boots often incorporated a French seem or central stitch running from ankle to toe on the upper. In the convention of symbols this referred to female genitalia rather the phallus of long toed or winklepicker shoes.
  17. 17. Bad Boy Sneakers If the Beatles had the 'boy next door' image then their nemesis the Rolling Stones had to be different. For a short time the lads wore Clarke's dessert boots to counteract the Beatles leather Chelsea boots. However as anarchy ruled, and the scruffy London, five piece appeared on stage wearing the clothes they wanted to wear. No Saville Row suits for them and the order of their day was casual and not necessarily smart. Something which did bind them together however was their footwear because they all sported sneakers. Mick Jagger was such a devotee he wore his Chucks (Chuck Taylor Converse All Star's) to his wedding with Bianca.
  18. 18. Pantyhose and Mini Skirts Tights and mini skirts meant once again female legs became the focus of attention with the sixties generation. The longer the leg the better and girl singing groups like The Shangri Las captured the sultry look perfectly. The Vietnam War meant many young conscripts went into battle with only a pin up image of the sexy girls waiting for them at Home.
  19. 19. The Regency Revival Jim Proby (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 an English 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).
  20. 20. The Mods In the UK the nouveaux moderns (or mods), followed the black music of Motown and wore expensive designer clothing. They were the sworn enemies of rockers and took every Bank Holiday opportunity, according to the popular press, to terrorise coastal towns by fighting on the beach. Mods wore lightweight dessert boots (Chukka Boots) to protect their ankles from the exhaust pipes of their Italian scooters. The Who were the Mod band and wore Italian made bowling shoes.
  21. 21. Barefeet and the Love Generation 60s Pop Diva 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.
  22. 22. Going Underground The cream of pop culture came together for three days of love, peace and music at Yasgor's Farm. Hippies and rockers united to show it could be done.
  23. 23. Bluebeat and Skinheads Towards the end of the sixties as music went underground (heavy metal) and grew their hair. An alternative sprung up listening to the music of Jamaican Ska. Blue beat suited the small clubs where the early ravers danced the night away. Robust footwear was the order of fashion and Doc Martin became the shoes to wear. ervicable yet fashionable the heavy duty boots were useful in a rumble and could be worn by either sex. Unisex was definitely in fashion. Suede heads, then skin heads wore eight eyelet 1460 Doc Marten (DM) boots The counter movement to Hippies became the urban bad boys and girls who were the remnants of the Mods.
  24. 24. High and Mighty By the seventies Glam rock had arrived with larger than life groups parading on stage wearing platform shoes. The androgyny unisex style of the glam rockers pop stars such as Bowie, Rod Stewart and Elton John made them firm fixtures in the charts. Tiny Elton John needed the extra leverage of his boots to gave him the necessary reach to make contact with the piano keys on his Steinway during live performances.
  25. 25. And then there was Abba More sophisticated sounds meant nightclubs and lavish clothing. During the seventies Abba , from Sweden, became the toast of the Disco. Eagerly followed and lavishly copied the outlandish costumes they wore soon became the elegant sartoria of straights, cross dressers and drag queens.
  26. 26. Punks and DMs By the mid seventies working class kids from the suburbs rejected the sophistication of studio based music preferring home made live music . The Punks or Thatcher's no Future generation wore clothes more suited to bondage with the proverbial DMs
  27. 27. The Quiet Revolution In the late 70s mothers of teenagers found a new outlet for music and thanks to execise innovators, such as Jane Fonda, a new aerobic revolution began. Out went the old sweatshirts and daks and in came designer Ath Fashion including chic designer trainers. Keeping fit set to music started a movement which affected all ages . Shoes needed to match the outfit and to keep demand high adidas and Puma regularly brought out new ranges of colourful trainers with eye catching designer logos. The young enjoyed the exclusive, designer element and older people found the broad based cushioned footwear comfortable to wear.
  28. 28. Hip Hop Marketing was targeted firmly towards inner city youths, mainly Afro American, Hispanic or Asian. No street kid could be seen in anything other than the latest fashion.
  29. 29. Drug Shoes A combination of clever marketing and the teenage desire to rebel against conservatism assured the sneaker culture endured. Some companies were accused of cashing in on street drug culture by using street slang as names for their latest wears. Trainers were often referred to as 'drug shoes' or 'Chronics'. Celebrity endorsement extolled the virtues of being cool in the latest styles and peer pressure ensured parents parted with enormous amounts of money to buy the latest hip kicks.
  30. 30. The Soccer Casuals Despite an economic global down turn, the importance to look cool continued and when the English Soccer Youths savoured the Continental styles during their frequent forages to follow their national Soccer team, they soon discovered Italian designer's shoes and trainers which were proudly worn as a badge of office. The fashion caught on and no self respecting Casual of the eighties would be seen in public, unless they were wearing expensive designer footwear. Many of these young people had no visible means of income and hence association was made with criminal activities including illicit drug trafficking.
  31. 31. New phase, new wave, dance craze How about a pair of pink sidewinders (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’s Still Rock’n Roll to me
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