Jesse Hector and The Hammersmith Gorillas

gorillas_1222425753_crop_400x270LOCATION: London

DOCUMENTARY: A Message to the World [dir. Caroline Catz]

WORDS: Gareth E. Rees

This is a fine slice of unofficial rock history, helping quash any notions that somehow the Sex Pistols and the Damned were created by some lightning bolt from the stars.

Caroline Catz’s documentary A Message to the World takes us to the London of the early ’70s when guitarist Jesse Hector was strutting his stuff, first with his proto-punk underground garage band, Crushed Butler, then the Hammersmith Gorillas. With his proto-glam mutton chops, mod stylings and heavy, heavy riffs he was one of the many forgotten progenitors of punk. Some claim that The Gorilla’s version of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me was the first British punk single.

photo_jesse

These days, Jesse Hector is a cleaner at the Hackney Empire. Mixing flashback with contemporary interviews, A Message to the World follows Hector as he’s cajoled into performing live once again for his small legion of devotees.

Cue: scenes of soul searching as Hector stares at himself in the mirror and wonders whether he could ever reclaim the spirit that made him great – albeit unrecognised, uncanonised, and left out of British rock’s storyline.

Will he return to reclaim his place? Or is he too bloody rock and roll for all that?

If you get the chance to watch it, do so. It’s great stuff.

Crushed Butler ~ It’s My Life…

The Hammersmith Gorillas ~ ‘You Really Got Me’.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

He's 128Gareth E. Rees is author of Marshland: Dreams & Nightmares on the Edge of London. His work appears in Mount London: Ascents In the Vertical CityAcquired for Development By: A Hackney Anthology, and the album A Dream Life of Hackney Marshes.

 

 

More Articles for You

Edgeland Visions: Heraldic Relics from an Imaginary Time

In advance of his exhibition in Margate, Matt James Healy shares his abstract visions of a world on the edge

Beer Cans, Wildflowers and a Dead Dog’s Ashes – A Dream Life Beneath the Pylon of Hackney Marsh

With the remains of his dead dog in a cardboard tube, Gareth E. Rees returns to the pylon that sparked his edgeland obsession

A Murdered Cyclist on the Pevensey Levels

In this film, Gareth E. Rees revisits the site of the strange murder in his new book, Terminal Zones

A Walk Through the Pre-Industrial Landscape of Heathrow’s Hinterland

Marcus Liddell explores the semi-rural environs of London’s largest airport

The Incident of the Blindfolded Hypnotist and the Ilford Car Crash

Dan Carney tells the little-known tale of a very unusual car crash in 1977

The Sperm Whale and the Volvo 245

WORDS & PICTURES: Peter Riley – this is an extract from his book, Strandings (Profile Books, 2022) When I was …