HOW THE EAST WAS WON
The Cockney Rejects fell from fame (if not fortune) to the gutter. But as a new movie, East End Babylon, makes clear, they rose again. Tim Peacock charts the punk legends’ lengthy uphill battle
As the crow flies, there’s barely 10 miles between Chelsea’s trendy King’s Road and Canning Town in the heart of London’s East End, yet they could have been on opposite sides of the world when punk’s shockwaves first hit London in 1976.
In Custom House, Canning Town’s neighbouring manor, two lippy young upstarts, Mickey Geggus, 16, and his 13-year-old brother Jeff, were still in love with their steady diet of Queen, Led Zeppelin and Boston. Then they heard The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen for the first time and knew there and then what they wanted to do with their lives. Forming The Cockney Rejects before Jeff had left school, they embarked on a crash’n’burn career which took them from the dizzy heights of Top Of The Pops to the depths of the dole queue within barely three years.
The Rejects’ history is among the most controversial and cautionary of all rock’n’roll tales, yet it’s eluded the wider public for three decades. It was first told in all its no-holds-barred glory by vocalist Jeff Turner (AKA Stinky Turner) in his 2005 book Cockney Reject (co-written with long-time champion Garry Bushell) and this became the catalyst for a new documentary East End Babylon.
“There was definitely interest in making a biopic after …
by Tim Peacock
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