Wednesday, 27 September 2017


LSD meets CND. Hoppy in London.
In the 2015 obituary for his friend, John Hopkins, John Boyd wrote the “counterculture took much of its inspiration from him, and he was the closest thing the movement ever had to a leader.”

Hoppy was central to so much of the 60s underground scene, his restless energy pivotal to sell-out poetry readings at the Royal Albert Hall; the creation of underground newspaper, International Times; the ground-breaking psychedelic all-nighter, the UFO Club; the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream at the Alexandra Palace; and even sowing seeds for the Notting Hill carnival. Hoppy was a scene-maker, creator and pied-piper, clearing a path for others to follow. The authorities were less enamoured with his activities, raiding his flat for a small amount of Mary Jane, they threw him in jail, calling him a “menace to society”.

Before all this took up his time Hopkins was primarily a photographer, with his focus on political protest, social issues and music, appearing in, amongst others, Peace News, The Sunday Times and Melody Maker.

Now, I’m delighted to see a website, HoppyX, has recently appeared dedicated to Hoppy, his life and achievements. The image gallery is stunning and the recollections from his friends are delightful and inspiring in equal measure.

“Hoppy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2007, around the time of his 70th birthday. The decline is slow but inexorable. Hoppy remains active in his chosen pursuits until his physical faculties fail him, graciously allowing himself to be interviewed many times by younger generations as they gradually discover his historical significance.”

I can vouch for this. After publication in 2008 of From The Hip: Photographs of John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins 1960-66 by Damiani, I went to Hoppy’s flat to collect a copy of the book. I expected to simply go there, pick it up and come away but was invited in, made a cup of tea, and we spent a long time going through the book, page by page, with Hoppy providing generous commentary to anything I paused on. I’d later purchase a print of a suitably steely-looking William Burroughs taken in New York.

After that, and with his health obviously deteriorating, I’d still frequently see Hoppy attending various exhibitions, talks and readings around London. That I’d see him more than any other person at these events always struck me as how deeply rooted and supportive he was – still - in the more marginal elements of the arts and society. He never gave it up.

Before you go to explore Hoppy’s site, the last word to the man himself whose inscription in my copy of From The Hip reads: “To Mark & Paula, Be happy for no reason, Best wishes, Hoppy.”

William Burroughs in New York. Photo by Hoppy.
Blues Inc. Alexis Korner, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Cyril Davies at the Marquee. Photo by Hoppy.

CND Fence Rest. Photo by Hoppy.
Allen Ginsberg point to the Royal Albert Hall. Photo by Hoppy.

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