SEWING THE SEEDS OF RUSH
Rush. They were the mainstay of heavy metal sewing circles across the UK in the late ’70s. Seriously. It’s an art that’s long since died out, but back when I first got the rock bug embroidered denim jackets were absolutely de rigeur for the wannabe British rock fan. And if you hadn’t ‘done’ Rush then you were frankly no-one!
How, why and when this phenomenon started I have no idea. Anybody who has a clue, please e-mail. But at the age of 14 the embroidered denim was every bit as much a part of the ritual of gig-going in Britain as the lights and the sounds and the ridiculously tight trousers.
Now doubtless there were thousands upon thousands of patient mums up and down the land working hard to perfect such sewing trickery as required by UFO with their devilish little flashes, that sinewy Led Zep lettering or the rollerball-derived workings of Scorpions. But I’ve heard dark mutterings about gangs of hairy young men (possibly featuring Saltyrockz designer Hunnsy!) meeting in secret hideaways, needle in hand. No, they weren’t shooting heroin. They were embroidering together. Swapping tips on how to make those logos look ‘just so’ on their backs. It all sounds hilarious now, but it was a deadly serious business back then. And the holy grail in these rock’n’roll sewing circles was undoubtedly Rush.
Rush’s logo was a bitch. Like their music, it was complicated and not a little spooky. The all-seeing, overpowering star seemingly looking to overwhelm the naked, defenceless man. What did it all mean? Nobody could figure it. Was it ever-so-slightly homoerotic to be sewing a fella’s butt cheeks onto your own clothing with such care and attention? Nobody was letting on if it was. But one thing was certain. If you didn’t make an absolute pig’s ear of it and could produce an authentic-looking Rush logo for the back of your jacket, then you were most definitely cock of the walk.
Me? I was well jealous of the rockers who’d pulled it off. Did they have super-human powers in their fingers? All I’d managed to sew was a tremendously poor Scorpion in lime green, overly-thick wool that ended up looking like a radioactive blob! Rush was out of the question. I could have bought myself a Rush patch, of course. Saved myself all the bother. But what was the point in that? That was a cop-out that would gain you no respect and risked you being dismissed as an amateur metaller, a poseur and a Johnny-come-lately without the true HM stamina required to stick at the ultimate task in sewing. Where was the glory?
Were Rush themselves blissfully unaware of the Battle of the ’Broidery? Did Alex, Geddy and Neil know of the man hours that were going into this bizarre ritual of fan appreciation? It’d be nice to think that they did, but I suspect they had deeper things on their minds at the time. Like the battle for hearts and minds on Cygnus. And which kimono to wear. But as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t and won’t ever alter the eternal and honoured link between Rush and sewing.
Mind you, it’s so much easier to buy a T-shirt at our age, isn’t it?!
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HoJo rocked as a top journalist on legendary UK metal magazine
Kerrang! and now runs a way-cool rock T-shirt site at www.saltyrockz.com.