If you would like to join the HitsvilleUK.com mailing list, please contact Russ at the email address below.
Various printed material from the Hitsville UK exhibition is also available for sale, including the last few remaining exhibition catalogues, A2 double-sided posters of the UK punk chronology/geography matrix, and large format board-mounted sub-genre panels. Please contact Russ to enquire about prices and shipping.
Russ Bestley was born in Kent in 1962, and spent his teenage years in Tunbridge Wells, where he first encountered punk rock through the News of the World and the BBC Six O’Clock News, then John Peel at Radio One and Stuart Henry at Radio Luxembourg, and subsequently by seeking out new punk record releases as they appeared in various retail outlets including the High Street electrical shop, Boots, Woolworths and the local newsagent. Once he began venturing to punk gigs in London and Brighton, as well as the local ‘events’ in church halls and youth clubs featuring various hit-and-miss teenage interpretations of the punk style, his commitment to the subculture was sealed – though, at the time, he had no idea what a ‘subculture’ was. One local group, the Anti Nowhere League, even made it out of those church halls and into the big time in the early 1980s.
After some time working on live gigs, as a roadie, lighting and sound technician and general dogsbody, he eventually drifted into employment in a record shop during the mid 1980s. Following redundancy in the early 1990s, he returned to college to study graphic design. Since then, he has become a noted writer on the subject, publishing books on poster design, editorial design and research methods, and progressed within education to eventually become Head of Postgraduate Graphic Design at the London College of Communication. This research project has allowed Russ to explore two areas of interest, and to draw upon his specialist knowledge of both subject areas. It has led to a reappraisal of the graphic design of UK punk, and of a number of well-worn clichés in contemporary punk history, and has involved once again looking at and listening to these records, but this time in a very different light. The threads of a ‘new’ history which weaves through the various interpretations of punk, and locates the geographical origins of groups right across the country, have been teased out and their story told.
However, the benefits of the project are not just academic. The research has also provided a reason to dig out many obscure and long-forgotten classics, and not-so-classics, and play them once again, the chance to meet and talk about punk styles and histories with those involved from right across the punk spectrum – from the famous names to the unknown fans – and the opportunity to show a new audience just how exciting, radical, innovative and unique the punk movement really was.
Rob Bevan for programming and web/interface design, Roger Sabin, Alex and Chrysostomos at Company, Les Buckingham at the Millais Gallery, Alex Ogg, Wayne Daly, David and Tony at Spin, Darren and Jenny at Rebellion, the LCC Research Department, MAGDLCC, and of course Sarah for her help and support at all times.