Worldsenders

Some of you won't recognise the picture above, probably taken in the thirties from the eastern corner of Langton Street, looking south south-west across the World's End towards the power station. The road running from left to right is the King's Road. The World's End pub is just off picture to the left; the bus is standing roughly in front of what is now the World's End Pharmacy.
I like to think of the young lady with the long hair, third from the left, walking towards us as Beckett's Celia:
"She had turned out of Edith Grove into Cremorne Road, intending to refresh herself with a smell of the Reach and then return by Lots Road, when chancing to glance to her right she saw, motionless in the mouth of Stadium Street, considering alternately the sky and a sheet of paper, a man. Murphy"
Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jesse Lawrence

Music Videos by VideoCure

The music is One Love recorded in 1977 by Bob Marley and named 'Song of the Millennium' by the BBC in 1999; the video was made by Don Letts in 1984 to accompany the posthumous Bob Marley compilation album Legend, Marley having died in 1981; the boy featured in the video is Jesse Lawrence - more of him later.

British Grammy-award winning film director and disc jockey, Don Letts, who can be seen on the video grooving with Paul McCartney at 1:36 and shaking hands with a police officer at 2:14, had been a friend of Marley's ever since 1976 when he famously sneaked into Bob's hotel following a gig at the Hammersmith Odeon and spent the night chatting to him.

Don Letts is also credited with having brought together the two musical styles of punk and reggae, resulting in, for example, the Clash recording Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves on their debut album The Clash in 1977 (though Murvin's first comment on hearing it was "They have destroyed Jah work!"), and in Marley's own Punky Reggae Party.

In the mid-70s Letts ran the King's Road clothes store Acme Attractions in the basement of Antiquarius, selling "electric-blue zoot suits and jukeboxes, and pumping dub reggae all day long". The store attracted the likes of The Clash and the Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry and Marley himself, and is often cited as the "cradle of punk". Letts subsequently became resident DJ at the Roxy. By early 1977 not enough punk songs had been recorded to provide an evening's entertainment, so Don filled the gaps with selections from his dub and reggae collection. And that is the story behind the punk/reggae connection:

"The Wailers will be there, The Damned, The Jam, The Clash – Maytals will be there, Dr. Feelgood too." (Punky Reggae Party, Bob Marley & the Wailers)

When the One Love video came out, a lot of people automatically assumed the boy seen walking down the King's Road was one of Bob Marley's sons, but in fact his name is Jesse Lawrence, he's British not Jamaican and he was brought up on the World's End Estate. The opening shot shows one of the Estate's towers: Jessie lived up there on the eighteenth floor. The indoor shots were filmed in his flat. Jesse's parents Bernie and Paul had been part of the punk scene in the 70s and were friends of Don Letts'. Bernie was famed for her culinary skills and had a part-time job cooking for John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) while he lived at 45 Gunter Grove. She was once asked to model for Vivienne Westwood but had to refuse due to her commitments in looking after a young family. As Bernadine Lawrence she went on to write the best-selling How to Feed Your Family for Five Pounds a Day.

Alongside shots of the Estate and Lots Road Power Station, there are also two particular sequences at 1:07 and 1:19 of Jesse looking into someone's window halfway down Slaidburn Street. You can see the lights of what is now Somerfield and the red brick of the World's End Estate in the background.

In the closing sequence, filmed in the piazza at the junction with Royal Avenue, you can see Jesse's little brother Rene, in particular at 2:17. At the front of the crowd behind Jesse are members of the Birmingham pop/reggae band Musical Youth, one of whom is holding Rene. They had a big hit in 1982 with Pass the Dutchie and the video was made by ... Don Letts.

Jesse, who also stars in the "Waiting in Vain" video, went to Park Walk School and is a true Worldsender. He studied painting and photography at the Chelsea School of Art & Design, and wrote and acted in the theatre before becoming turning his hand to film-making and co-founding the production company la famiglia together with secondary school friends and fellow West Londoners Cristian Solimeno and Kaleem Aftab. With la famiglia he wrote and directed, among other things, the UK Film Council backed short Mash Up (2006), including location shots filmed in Ladbroke Grove and on Albert Bridge, and Much Ado About A Minor Ting (2007), funded by the prestigious Cinema Extreme Scheme, and filmed around West London's famous Trellick Tower. More recently he has been collaborating with other production companies.

Special thanks to Jesse for confirming all the details of this story and for adding a few more.

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