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Portobello Road

[Photos © Phil Franks]
All Images Copyright © 1969 - 2010 Phil Franks, All Rights Reserved.

"So perhaps when Saturday comes, we'll find ourselves wandering once more down Portobello in the rain, knowing always that at the end of that road, Phil waits in his almost furnished flat with tea, choccy biccies, and roll-ups, all that's needed to help us make it through to Sunday afternoon." - Bob Greenfield

"Steve and Eddie installed us [Friends] in 305 Portobello Road; between Oxford and Cambridge Gardens - the Westway was just getting its finishing touches. It all very hippie twee. From what we could gather Famepushers - which was a candid name if nothing else - had one cheque for ten grand and at least ten accounts around which it proceeded as required. 305 was known as Motherburger and they had various enterprises operating out of it. There was us, on the ground floor were Bob Wilson with his sidekick Little Tony Korobin who was about 14 and whose father was apparently West London's top fence. Anyway, when he died his family found enough valuable bits and bobs to pay for the funeral. Now we'd call him streetwise: then he was a cheeky little bastard, but gradually we incorporated him into the paper. Next door was Teenburger, which was Barney Bubbles operating a freelance design studio out of one tiny room." - Jonathon Green

Alan Marcuson:
'Friends' was a crazy office, there was Back-a-Yard, the Black Power restaurant, next door, policemen coming in trying to cop us for smoking and saying 'Hey Alan can I get some stuff from you, man' and everyone who seemed to arrive in London seemed to turn up at one point or another. Uschi and Rainer the German revolutionaries, who we put on the cover, Pete Steedman from Australia, a renegade Hare Krishna with rose petals and rice chanting on the layout table.

Andrew Bailey:
"I used to go to 'Friends' on Portobello Road on Saturdays, it was the highlight of my week to go up there and score off Little Tony. 'Friends' was unbelievable. It was so exciting. They had these little IBM typewriters that they were actually making magazines on. People doing artwork in front of you on tables... nothing had prepared me for this: we had posh printers who did all this. There was 'Friends', ripping off every image they could find, doing it all on IBM golfballs and actually making a far more vibrant product than the supposedly professional techniques we used at Rolling Stone managed. The north end of Portobello Road on a Saturday morning to me was absolutely magic. I loved it. The wonderful thing was seeing Alan Marcuson and knowing him a bit then, and then many years later him moving in across the road from me in Muswell Hill and he had two children and I had three."

Aside from housing the Friends offices and Barney Bubbles too, Philm already lived up the street at 361a Portobello Road and it was there that he shot Graham Bond and Yes in his kitchen, and band friends like Gong and Hawkwind would sometimes sleep over when in the neighborhood...
Update March 23 2000: Will Birch's book, "No Sleep Till Canvey Island", is an in depth history of the British Pub Rock scene of the '70s containing a wealth of information on Brinsley Schwarz, Famepushers, Barney Bubbles, Stiff Records, Friends magazine, and other stuff mentioned on these pages. Now available in association with Amazon.co.uk.

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The interview texts are from
"Days in the Life: Voices from the London Underground 1961-71" by Jonathon Green,
used here with permission. Any reproduction is prohibited without permission from the author.
Days in the Life excerpts © Jonathon Green

All Images Copyright © 1969 - 2010 Phil Franks, All Rights Reserved.

contact: Phil Franks (freax AT arrakis.es)
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