Rolling Stone Magazine goes Skinhead

Hi, everyone! Welcome to another post!

Next post is taken from an article in a Rolling Stone magazine from 1970. It is full of clichés, I won’t deny that; however, it does show some interesting bits such as the music and a kind of semi-sociological study on why hippies are hippies and why skinheads are skinheads. Nothing else to add, hope you have a good read.

Skinheads – Working Class Gladiators

By Jan Hodenfield

London – On the down escalator in a London Underground station. Boredom under midnight’s neon light. Catch up on the brassiere and girdle ads. Directly across, on the up escalator, young kids. Laughing. Meanly. There’s something strange about them. What? Start to stare. Rosy cheeks. Sheepskin jackets. Short hair. Very short hair.

Agggh. Skinheads.

Look away. Look straight ahead. The junior boogey-men.

At the bottom of the escalator, catch a breath, realize a wrong turn was taken back in the complexity of the station, turn towards the up escalator. It’s no longer working. Less than a minute before the skinheads were being carried up on it.


All those newspaper stories. The television documentaries and new features. The nice people who asked, with sweet concern, “Have you heard about our skinheads, now?”

They’re the rage. The hippies are all but… boring… if not forgotten. It’s Hippies vs. the Generation Gap on television plays. The Hippie season must be past.

But, after all, children of some of one’s best friends were hippies. Skinheads are vicious.

“Well, some of us go to fairs and that, and if you go down to the caffs and some big cunt comes over and says, ‘Scatter, the Highbrow lot’s after you’, we all get in a punch-up then”, says one “Reg”, a skinhead who doesn’t give his real name for interviews. (If he did, other skinheads would flattern him). “All of us have gone to a fair knowing what is going to happen, but we just go, to see it… I don’t know why… There’s so many of you it makes you feel good… It’s never a fair fight though…”

They even look mean. Their name was bestowed because of their short. Convict-short. Nothing softening around the fact. Sheepskin jackets, union tee shirts and button down shirts without ties, always under snap-on suspenders, which hold up blue jeans or Sta-Prest trousers, hitched up high to expose the boots. Heavy boots. Mountaineering boots. Construction boots. With stell toes. The police have now classified the steel caps as offensive weapons when they are spotted on short-haired kids. They were so handy for kicking in heads.

And these kids, the skinheads, just sort of… appeared. At football games in the beginning. Getting in punch-ups, destroying property. They just sort of appeared… out of nowhere. Younger brothers and cousins of the mods from the mid-Sixties… maybe… sons of the Teddy Boys from the middle Fifties… perhaps.

But they were concieved when the marketing men sat down at the beginning of the last decade and totted up their figures. They correctly forecast that the most powerful purchasing bloc of the Sixties was going to be the emerging generation of wa babies. A generation confronted with full employment, good wages, and, at least to start with, no household responsibilities.


A lot of loose money jangling about an it was, of course, necessary to channel it. New consumer outlets were created. Carnaby Street and hippy-dippy fashions and cosmetics to be worn for a season and then tossed aside. Music and its apparatus; records, transistor radios, stereos, discoteques.

Hair dressers and photographs and designers and pop stars became the oracle of a new sybaritic age and the media first reeled and then pounced; why, it was Swinging England. In disgust, the hippies emerged, turning their backs on a retch of materialism. Dropouts.

And finally, the working class kids, pounded by the publicity tattoo that promised them opulence and delivered hopelessness, are emerging as skinheads. The miss-outs. Their most fearsome aspect has been their proclivity for destroying property. If we’re not getting any, mate, then why should you?


Escalators in subway stations.

Kids whose predestination is to leave school at the state minimum age of 15, unqualified and desinterested, raised by parents who aspire to plastic and flowered wall paper, educated to be the laborers, van drivers, messengers, porters. Kids denied the affluent society promised by the all-pervasive media.

The first shock waves of these frustations bounced out from the Saturday football games. British football has a glamour of its own, provided by often-pretty/always-tough players from the working class who have made it on grit and physical style. Rock stars are heroes for the middle class.

Increasingly violent fights between rival factions at the games. Then fights on the trains leaving the grounds, followed by destruction of the trains, unlike boisterousness of earlier days. These were young hooligans destroying for the joy of destruction. Rip the seats, smash the light bulbs. Toilets came under particularly heavy attack.


And as the poets created romantic love in the Middle Ages, the media crystallized yet another cult.

Wanton frustration formalized, the skinheads took to ripping apart their adversaries’ clubs and smashing in cafes. Breaking windows and tossing over garbage pails.

And from property to those they consider their rightful enemies. The hippies – who’ve turned their backs on what the skinheads are denied, the greasers – some of whom are rockers, all of whom the skinheads denigrae for their long, slicked down hair, the fuzz and the Pakis, generally the Pakistani-Indian community in Britain, specifically those who are dark and frail and timid. The skinhead’s resentments against these groups are made almost respectable through the publicly-expressed views of some politicians.

The distate for the Pakis, however, is not based solely on their color. Indeed, West Indians are admired (‘they dress well’) and West Indians Reggae music, which used to be called bluebeat and consists essentially of lock-stepped island rhythms, is the favored music of the skinheads and is making an appreciable dent in the charts.

“They’re more like us, aren’t they? They like the same music, Reggae, Bluebeat, they wear flash mohair suits, they wear some smart things’, Reg explained”.

In contrast to their feelings or the West Indians, the skinheads have no liking for the Pakistanis at all. Skinheads have kicked shit out of them on several occasions.

The hippie kids choose to cross to the other side of the street if skinheads are sighted. “There is one good thing about them”, allowed one aging flower child. “There’s not nearly as many drug busts as there used to be; the fuzz haven’t got time”.


“I don’t like hippies, you know, but sometimes when I feel really rotten, I can understand why they get away from it all, I can really understand it, you know, it really gets you down, doing nothing at all”, Reg admits. “But I don’t know why they habe to dress like that, I can’t stand it, having their hair long like that… There was one in the paper and he and his mates admitted they hadn’t washed their hair in three months, they’re filfthy and dirty and they make me fucking sick. I can understand hippies sometimes, but why they have to go round like that I can’t understand, but some of their outlooks are alright, like world pace; as much as you say that skinheads like violence, this world peace lark is all right, isn’t it? It’s a bit different from fighting in the streets”.

Police retaliation has been stepped up against the skinheads. The protection of property, whatever the country, always is the overriding concern of the police. First and light offenders against the public properties are sentenced to every-other Saturday detentions under supervision at police gymnsiums with the threat of being sent up from three months to three years to keep them toeing the line, steel plates or not. “We do push-ups and call them ‘Sir'”, summed up one detained kid.

But it surprised no one when a group of 20 or so skinheads moved in on the Bentley of Who drummer Keith Moon in the first week of the new year and began punching his chauffeur who left the car to disperse them. The chauffeur was knocked down and Moon accidentally ran over and killed him. It was a front page story, but it wasn’t shocking anymore.

Across England’s green and pleasant land, a new identity has been created for adolescents in search of a role, sweet kids now ready to surrender to the barber and slip into four pounds of boots, ready to drop a sinister steel comb (with its teeth shapened for maximum terror-effect) in front of their distressed mums. And, just as certainly, a team of Time magazine reporters is undoubtedly packing up to spread the word of what’s going down now in Swinging England. Just wait, Shaker Heights.

And as always in parting, a nice little tune…



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