Column - Rodriguez, Can, Beatles, Sex Pistols... Rock'n'roll's lost treasures rediscovered
Across the world - you just need to know where to look - there stands a number of lovingly preserved, illuminating monuments in which landmark events in rock-and-pop history have irrevocably played out (think Whisky a Go-Go in west Hollywood where everyone from The Byrds to The Doors began their careers; Memory Motel in Montauk, where The Rolling Stones penned the ballad of the same name; or Sun Studio in Memphis, where a young Elvis Presely made rock'n'roll history).
Taking rock'n'roll archaeology into the personal realm, in new film Searching For Sugar Man (out 27 July) Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul has unearthed not just the story of singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez and his "disappearance" after his two album's flopped at the start of the 1970s, but his unknown legacy in South Africa where he became bigger than The Beatles in his absence - read our Q&a with the man himself now.
To celebrate the re-emergence of Rodriguez, here are some more rock relics that have been recently unearthed, Indiana Jones-style (well, without the whip... or the shooting) for posterity.
Johnny Rotten's graffiti discovered in old Denmark Road flat
A momentous portion of Johnny Rotten's legacy, discovered in the form of rebellious but rudimentary graffiti, has been celebrated by academics, who've claimed that his cartoon drawings are of more importance than the findings of early Beatles recordings. Dr John Schofield, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: "The tabloid press once claimed that early Beatles recordings discovered at the BBC were the most important archaeological find since Tutankhamun's tomb. The Sex Pistols' graffiti in Denmark Street surely ranks alongside this and - to our minds - usurps it." The graffiti consists of eight cartoons sketched in black marker pen and depict Rotten himself, the other members of the band and their manager, the late Malcolm McLaren.
The crumbling, three-bedroomed Victorian terrace at 9 Madryn Street in Liverpool probably doesn't strike too many as a rock keep-sake, least of all Ringo Starr whose family moved out of the house when he was a baby. However the drummer was indeed born there on 7 July, 1940, and as a result Fab Four fans have been fighting to keep it in one piece ever since it and the houses around it were earmarked for demolition in 2005. Well earlier this year the campaigners won and Madryn Street has been given a stay of execution, though those who witnessed housing minister, Grant Shapps pun-heavy speech may have questioned the wisdom after all, with the MP quipping: "With the Help! of Liverpool residents, we worked it out and Madryn street can be saved for the
nation." Please (please, me)!
Can's Lost Tapes
During the 60s and 70s, Krautrock sonic adventurers Can prophesised everything from proto-punk to techno with a string of fierily influential albums including Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi. Though the band have been defunct for decades, original keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and his cohort Jono Podmore have rifled through the band's extensive archives to cut and paste together three discs worth of unheard experimental journeying. However, Schmidt told MTV Hive that the tapes were never literally lost: "They were always there," explained the 75-year-old keyboardist. "They were first in Can's studio archive, then when the Can studio was sold to the German rock museum, everything was sold except, of course, the archive, so this was transferred to my place. It was very unorganized." Still, for Can-heads round the world, this is an extremely exciting restoration.
The Sir George Robey, Finsbury Park
During the 80s, punk venue The Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park hosted gigs by artists as artists varied as Jesus & Mary Chain, Steve Marriot of the Small Faces, The Exploited, Hawkwind and even Blur. As Guardian travel writer Joe O Connor romantically remembers it: "In the 80s, when I first came to London, I would go to the Robey to see new bands, the lyrics of whose songs seemed to be exclusively made up of the words, Thatcher, fight, miner, fascist, bastard, kick, struggle, bludgeon, stab, gouge and Mandela, rearranged in more or less random sequence. Ah, those glorious days of the 80 benefit gig!" The venue was shut down in the 90s only for the reigns to be taken up by Mean Fiddler, who subsequently renamed it the Powerhaus. However the tenancy quickly dissolved and the venue immediately became derelict, destined to be converted into flats. Until May this year, that is, when the freehold detached, listed building was auctioned to the public, with the clear possibility of it being restored to its former punk glory.
Jamie Skey @jamie_skey
10:14 AM | 18/07/2012
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