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Saturday, August 13, 2011

John "Hoppy" Hopkins Pioneer of the Undergound Scene

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One of the pioneers of the London Underground Scene during the sixties. To know him was to have your finger on the pulse of the Hip Counterculture scene of the swinging sixties in London. Also a British photographer, journalist, researcher, and political activist. John "Hoppy" Hopkins was a nuclear physicist and graduated from Cambridge in 1958. He received a camera from a relative for his graduation present, and fell in love with photography and here is where the rubber met the road for his career in photography and journalism. Hoppy arrived in London on January 1, 1960 and landed a job as an assistant of a commercial photographer and within a year was established as Fleet Street Freelancer. He worked for the Sunday Times and The Observer papers in London. He also freelanced a magazine called Queen.In this one he did the first ever article on Cannabis in England. He worked for music magazine Melody Maker and took some iconic beautiful shots of jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Miles Davis just to name a few. Hoppy helped out Peace News and the CND magazine Sanity, where he documented the protest movement against nuclear weapons.He was a photographer from 1961-66 during this time he took beautiful photographs of the Beatles, the Stones, Alan Ginsberg, Malcolm X,and the less fortunates of London.He captured the times that are now, long gone.His photos were lost for 30 years and accidently rediscovered and have been on display twice at two London Galleries. Once in 2000 at the Photographers Gallery, a screening for a book on Hoppy and his iconic photos entitled "From the Hip" the first ever publication by Sartoria Communications and Damiani Editore which was quietly sponsored by Lee Jeans. His latest display is at the Adam Street Gallery off the Strand in London, now through September 18. Hoppy took his first lysergic trip in 1964. By 1965 he helped set up the London Free School in Notting Hill. That led to Notting Hill Carnival with the help of Rhuane Laslett. The school newsletter was called "The Gate" and that led to "IT" or the International Times which was known as the 'bible' for the counterculture movement and was published in 66.. The legendary UFO Club was founded was founded by Hoppy and record producer Joe Boyd in 1967. It was without question the hippest trip in London where Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd's notes floated up and mixed with the incense and snowy colored lightshows that was born there. On June 1, 1967 Hoppy, who had been arrested for a small amount of weed in America,took trial by jury and was slammed into Wormwood Scrubs prison for 9 months by an unhappy judge. The "Free Hoppy" movement set about and Stephen Abrams co-ordinated a campaign for the liberalisation of cannabis laws and hence The Times magazines birth.It published a full page ad on July 24 stating the laws were immoral in principal and unworkable practice. This was signed by Dr. Francis Crick and member of Parliament Graham Greene as well as the Beatles. As a tribute to Hoppy this ad was sponsored by Paul McCartney. In the 70's Hoppy put down his camera and started working with video and researched for UNESCO, and the Arts Council. He edited the Journal of the Centre for Advanced TV Studies. He also worked as a technical journalist in the video trade press. His last gig was macro photography for the University of Westminster. He also founded BIT, an information and agitprop arm. If you live in the UK, you can still catch Hoppy's exhibit at Adam Street Gallery off The Strand. It will run through September 18.


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