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International Times

The International Times ("IT") was an underground press paper started in 1966 in the UK, based in Ladbroke Grove, London. Editors and writers included founder John Hopkins (Hoppy), lead singer of the Deviants Mick Farren, Jack Moore, and Bill Levy. The International Times part of the name was changed fairly quickly to IT after objections from The Times newspaper, but IT never really shook off its original name.

"IT" was launched on 15 October, 1966 at The Roundhouse by a gig featuring Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd. The event It promised a 'Pop/Op/Costume/Masque/Fantasy-Loon/Blowout/Drag Ball. The All night rave to launch "IT" also featured Soft Machine, steel bands, strips, trips, happenings, movies. The launch was described as "one of the two most revolutionary events in the history of English alternative music and thinking. The IT event was important because it marked the first recognition of a rapidly spreading socio-cultural revolution that had its parallel in the States" by Daevid Allen of Soft Machine (1).

A Benefit gig "The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream" was organised by "IT" and held on April 28 1967 at the Alexandra Palace ("Ally Pally") in London which demonstrated the importance of the quickly developing UK Underground scene. Although "underground" venues such as the UFO Club and the Middle Earth Club were hosting counterculture bands this was certainly the biggest indoor event by that time and probably after. Bands who appeared included Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, Savoy Brown, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Soft Machine, The Move and Sam Gopal Dream (featuring a young Lemmy of Hawkwind/Motörhead fame/notoriety).

Col Turner was one of the people at "The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream" and recalled:

I believe LSD was now illegal.... As far as I know the first designer drug ever to hit the market surfaced that day. From memory it was called STP and was an offshoot of LSD [and was] distributed free to all who attended and wanted it. ... Also given out freely were banana skin joints which was the fad at the time thanks to Donovan's song "Mellow Yellow" (Don't try it, it doesn't work!). (2)

Many people who are now prominent UK figures wrote for IT, including such luminaries as the feminist critic Germaine Greer, poet and social commentator Jeff Nuttall, artist Caroline Coon , and the DJ John Peel. Leading contributors to the late 1970s IT were Heathcote Williams, Max Handley, Mike Lesser, and Chris Sanders. There were many 'part-time' contributors such as Patrick Emek and Georgina Churchill. In 1986 IT was passed on to performer Tony Allen and writer Chris Brook.

The logo for IT was a black and white photo of Theda Bara, vampish star of silent films. In fact the original idea was to use an image of actress Clara Bow, but Theda Bara was used accidentally.

From those first issues published in the 1960s it was printed (albeit sporadically) throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. It was relaunched briefly in 1986. It was contemporary to the other radical underground London magazine, Oz, and many people who wrote for one also wrote for the other.


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Last updated: 05-07-2005 16:33:34
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04