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Blonde on Blonde: That time two topless models released a disco cover version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’

“Page Three” might not mean much to readers outside of the UK. It was a term used to describe the photographs of topless (sometimes naked) glamor models published on the third page of tabloid newspaper the Sun. It was first introduced by (who else?) Rupert Murdoch as a way to increase sales of his newly acquired but failing newspaper. The Sun was in decline having gone from the popular Daily Herald to a less successful rebrand as the Sun in 1964 before Murdoch bought it in 1968. Old Rupert thought sexy glamor models would bring more male readers to his paper. It did but Page Three wasn’t truly successful until editor Larry Lamb made them topless models. The Sun then started to sell by the millions. Lamb launched the first Page Three in November 1970. “I don’t think it’s immoral or indecent or anything,” said Rupert Murdoch later said of Page Three.

But show it to me in any other newspaper I own. Never in America, never in Australia. Never. Never. Never. It just would not be accepted.

Though it did increase sales and made several of the Page Three models rich and famous it was never quite fully accepted by everyone in the UK. Page Three was a source of great controversy and considerable feminist anger—leading to one famous campaign to have Page Three banned. Eventually the Sun agreed it was no longer suitable and the Page Three girls stopped appearing in the paper in 2015.
Glamor model and former Page Three girl Jilly Johnson on the cover of ‘Hot Hits Volume 19.’
Being a Page Three girl was like being a Playboy Bunny—it was a means to achieving a better career. Among those many women who became famous from appearing topless in the Sun were Samantha Fox (who went onto become a pop star and actress and infamously co-hosted the Brit Awards with Mick Fleetwood), Debee Ashby (who had a fling with Tony Curtis—“He wanted company. It wasn’t just my boobs…”), Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls), Penny Irving (who became an actress in Are You Being Served? and House of Whipcord), Melinda Messenger (now a TV host and celebrity), Jayne Middlemiss (TV host) and Jordan (aka Katie Price who’s now a multimillionaire TV star, celebrity and author).
Glamor model and former Page Three girl Nina Carter on the cover of ‘Top of the Pops Volume 44.’
Nina Carter and Jilly Johnson were two of the early Page Three girls. Both were highly successful glamor models in their own right and were famous from their work on fashion shoots, magazines and album covers. Nina and Jilly were two of the best known glamor models working in Britain during the 1970s—both earning the nickname “The Body” long before Elle Macpherson—though they probably weren’t the first.

But wait—we’re not here to talk about Nina and Jilly’s long and successful modeling careers but rather about the time they formed a band in the late 1970s called Blonde on Blonde.
Blonde on Blonde ‘Whole Lotta Love.’
Blonde on Blonde was a short-lived pop band that made little headway in the UK but was a big hit in Japan. “We have Japanese men coming up to is and begging us to let them be our slaves!” Nina told the Evening Times in 1978. Nina and Jilly were serious about their pop career but as Nina explained at the time:

Unfortunately we are having difficulty persuading the music business in this country to do the same. People tend to dismiss us a gimmick.

More from Blonde on Blonde after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
David Bowie performs on ‘The Kenny Everett Show’

Those lucky enough to grow-up in Blighty during the 1970s will remember the joys of The Kenny Everett Show (aka The Kenny Everett Video Show), with its mix of anarchic comedy, essential music, and heavily suggestive dancing from those naughty bods, Hot Gossip. The show was a must for those of a punk sensibility, who were bored with Top of the Pops and its hideous preference for anodyne, day-time television music from The Nolans, 5000 Volts and Paper Lace.

Everett’s show was outrageous, unpredictable and guaranteed to delight. A comedy genius and a brilliant radio DJ, Everett started on Pirate Radio before being chosen by The Beatles to cover their US tour. He joined the newly formed Radio 1 in 1967 and became famous for his incredible radio shows, where he multi-tracked himself in sketches and songs, creating his own distinct and unforgettable comedy.

In the 1970s, Everett helped launch Queen’s career by pushing for the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” when he played a demo of the song 14 times on one program. Indeed he had a very close friendship with Freddie Mercury, until they fell out over cocaine. Everett, as radio pal Paul Gambaccini once said, lived an interesting life with his drugs, bondage, 2 husbands, classical music and hoovering. But it was his unforgettable TV show which I will certainly always be grateful.

One of his most memorable guests was David Bowie. Here the Thin White Duke performs “Boys Keep Swinging” and “Space Oddity”. Now how fab is that?

“Boys Keep Swinging” from The Kenny Everett Show 1979

“Space Oddity” from The Kenny Everett Show 1980
With thanks to Alan Shields

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip: I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper
06:34 pm


Hot Gossip
Sarah Brightman

Ridiculously catchy late-70s disco single by future Phantom of the Opera star Sarah Brightman, then a teenager, and the Hot Gossip dance troupe from The Kenny Everett Video Show. Not exactly sure what a bunch of dancers had to do with the recording of this ditty, but I can sure see why they were in the video. From the Wikipedia entry about the song:

The song is a lightweight space disco track that cashed in on the media hype surrounding the original Star Wars film: the lyrics include the lines “And evil Darth Vader has been banished to Mars” and “Or are you like a droid, devoid of emotion”. The song also samples music from Star Wars and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Many of the lyrics contain mild sexual innuendo; for example, “Take me, make me feel the force”. Other television and film science fiction references are “Flash Gordon’s left me, he’s gone to the stars”, “What my body needs is close encounter three”, and “Fighting for the Federation” and “Static on the comm - it’s Starfleet Command” (both Star Trek, or the Federation from Blake’s 7; alternatively, “the Federation” and “Starfleet Command” are evident references to Starship Troopers).


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment