Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll: A History of the King’s Road

Last night’s launch party for Sex Drugstores and Rock & Roll at Proud Chelsea was so much fun. As the champagne and beer flowed, so did the music and some dancing. Both floors were packed. People spilled out onto the streets and as I looked around the gallery, there were some very interesting faces in both rooms. These faces looked like they had been here, on the King’s Road, when the upstairs photos were taken. They had turned up to revisit history whilst the rest of us admired the images as if they represented a romantic period of a long lost era.

King's Road Boy is Ad Hoc today © Janette Beckman

The photographers involved in the exhibition included: Colin Jones, Janette Beckman, Harold Chapman, William English, Bill Zygmant, Philip Townsend, Romano Cagnoni, Laura Asprey and Terry O’Neil. Their images captured King’s Road at its height; the 60’s to the 80’s. This was a time when The Rolling Stones and The Who were fresh faced and King’s Road was their shopping destination. This was a time when idiosyncrasy defined the street. Shops were boutiques rather than a small part in a large chain and fashion was experimental and a form of expression, from rock and roll to punk.

One of my favourite photos is the one of John Lennon standing outside Apple Tailoring. His flamboyance and style defined the boldness of this era. This was also the first public appearance of John and Yoko: what an historical moment. Over the decades, Apple Tailoring has changed facades but today it stands as Proud Chelsea.

Knowing the history of this venue added something special to last night. It was as if the history of King’s Road had come back to life, if only for a couple of hours.

© Bill Zygmant

Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll: A History of the Kings Road, Proud Chelsea, 24th March – 8th May 2011,

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