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Quadrophenia: A Way of Life (Inside the Making of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film)

"Look, I don't wanna be the same as everybody else. That's why I'm a mod, see? I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain't ya, or you might as well jump in the sea and drown."

It’s 35 years since Quadrophenia, the iconic Mod cult film, hit the world’s cinema screens. The film follows the story of Jimmy Cooper, a London Mod, disillusioned by his parents and his job as a post room boy in an advertising firm. Jimmy’s search for identity is portrayed against the backdrop of 60s Brighton and the May Bank Holiday riots, as the film perfectly captures teenage angst and the need to belong and identify with your peers.

By late 1978, a new generation had become bored with the punk explosion. The commercialisation of its original ideals, along with the failure of second-generation punk bands, all contributed to the decline of punk.  A fresh approach was needed, and British youth looked back to the 60s for inspiration. The late 70s saw The Jam emerge onto the scene. Paul Weller, the suit-wearing, self-confessed Mod who played fast and furious 60s style rock fused with Punk ethos and edge.

The Who’s 1973 album Quadrophenia got the ball rolling with the Mod Revival, but the film (released in 1979) caught the imagination of British youth. Quadrophenia made the Mod scene more accessible and exciting to a new generation of British kids. Considered wardrobes and dance moves, pushing slashed trousers, pins and zip addenda aside. That was then, this is now: Modernism future focused and refreshed. With Jimmy, the film’s protagonist wearing the Fred Perry shirt in the film, the pure and minimalist shirt naturally became a core part of the Mod revival wardrobe.

As the Mod Revival progressed into the 80s it receded and went underground. All-nighters, scooters and amphetamines became a way of life in the harsh environment of the early 80s post-industrial Britain. As mainstream music labels looked to cash in on the ‘scene’, the Mods looked back to music with meaning. Soul music started to return to record collections, with bands such as Secret Affair covering old Soul records such as “Going to a Go-Go” by Smokey Robinson.

The Mod Revival was mutating and splintering – like all true British Subcultures. Just as it was acknowledged by the mainstream, it altered and changed its appearance and approach. The unique chameleon ability of British youth, to look the establishment square in the eye and subvert it.

The movement now embraced a variety of influences, alongside its obsession with sharp clothes and 60s style. Giving working class youth an opportunity to make a statement about their self-belief. The revivalist Mods, and the Quadrophenia film, redefined a culture that lives on today. Clean living in difficult circumstances.

Published by Countdown Books earlier this year, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life explores the making of the cult mod flick and its subsequent influence on popular culture. The book features interviews with principal cast members, along with director Franc Roddam, scriptwriter Martin Stellman and other involved in the creation of the film, it is the definitive account of Britain’s greatest cult movie, as well as the embodiment of the 70s Mod Revival.

You can order Simon Wells' "Quadrophenia: A Way of Life" from Countdown Books, along with their other excellent titles dealing with British Subcultures of the Twentieth Century.

Images: (Top) We are the Mods - Toyah Wilcox, Sting, Phil Daniels and Leslie Ash in the iconic Mods and Rockers stand-off. (Middle) Cameras and crew brave the waves to shoot the infamous Bank Holiday Riot scene. (Bottom) Director Franc Rodddam on set.

All images courtesy of Countdown Books.

The Tipped List - Alex May Hughes

Photographs from behind the scenes with Alex May Hughes, screen printer and typographer from North London and member of the Tipped List - young creatives Fred Perry are tipping for success. Read more about the Tipped List HERE 

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See more from Alex May Hughes HERE


Find out more about the Tipped List HERE 


Send us your best tipped Fred Perry Shirt style through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #WEARETIPPED and tagging your location. Find out how to enter #WEARETIPPED HERE 

The Tipped List - Rob Whoriskey

Photographs from behind the scenes with Rob Whoriskey, illustrator and painter from London via Donegal, and member of the Tipped List - young creatives Fred Perry are tipping for success. Read more about the Tipped List HERE

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See more from Rob Whoriskey HERE

Find out more about the Tipped List HERE  

Send us your best tipped Fred Perry Shirt style through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #WEARETIPPED and tagging your location. Find out how to enter #WEARETIPPED HERE