Roundhouse Youth Blogger Rachel Santa Cruz speaks to Claire Palmer, current employee at International Times about its radical beginnings and recent relaunch as an online publication.
I got involved with International Times via Heathcote Williams in 2011. He was one of the originators and I’d known him from living in Oxford since back in the early 90s. Another of the original IT crew, Mike Lesser, had arranged to have the entire archive put online and this was financed by his friend James Moores, the Littlewoods heir. It cost a lot, and it all looked so impressive I think it gave Mike the idea to start the magazine up again. I joined as one of the in-house artists but by October 2012 I was more or less in charge of producing it. It’s very much dependent on a great pool of literary, political, poetic and artistic talent that I assemble into an online magazine every week.
International Times was one of the foremost publications in the 1960s that captured and represented the burgeoning counter-culture of the times. There was Oz in Australia and a few others, but IT was one of the more polemical and political. You have to remember most of the press back then was still stuck in the very conformist establishment style of the post-war 1950s, even to some extent publications like Melody Maker which was a jazz and blues magazine. Suddenly IT came along and was informing the 60s generation of happenings, political events, festivals, marches, gigs, exhibitions, everything radical and exciting that was taking off back then. It had a big listings section, interviews and music reviews, the forerunner of Time Out and NME, and was renowned for its satirical and often scathing commentaries and radical journalism. It helped launch the careers of the likes of DJ John Peel, Germaine Greer and Pink Floyd. It championed free festivals like the very first Glastonbury Fayre in 1970. So much of what is now mainstream culture had its beginnings in IT.
IT was initially started by Barry Miles (known as Miles) and John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins. Both hugely influential movers and shakers. They say if you didn’t know Miles in London in the 1960s then you weren’t really there. Hoppy was a photographer to the stars like the Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd and together they organised the magazine’s fund raiser launch party at the Roundhouse. Jim Haynes, Jeff Nuttall and Mick Farren were also highly influential in the paper’s origins, and writers like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, to name but a few. As explained above, I think they started it because there wasn’t really anything out there in Britain that reflected the interests of a very switched on and politically active generation, and with the creative explosion across the arts that was going on here and in the US, it was the perfect vehicle. They caught the moment and ran with it. There was also a very enthusiastic pool of writers and artists willing to get involved and make it a groundbreaking publication. It was more than a magazine, it was a work of art.
IT in 2012 was obviously going to find itself in a very different world to the 1960s. The crew includes some of the people who started IT, but our contributors cut across seven decades of age ranges with the past, present and future in mind. There’s a very popular Facebook page and we’ve published three printed copies of IT in 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary, with more to come: very much the work of young people in their 20s and, being printed, they capture some of the essence of the original IT in a way perhaps an online version can’t. Artworks by seminal artists Stanley Donwood and Jimmy Cauty graced two of the covers. I like to think the core concerns and values today are still very much the same as they were back then – the pursuit of justice, the fight against oppression and tyranny and ultimately the promotion of peace and love! It’s also still a place where poets, writers and artists can have their voices heard when perhaps the mainstream won’t listen. They are the voices of tomorrow, as the 1960s International Times has proved, and I believe the existence of alternative media is more crucial than ever. Still beating the drum of non-compliance with bad authority, aka anarchy.
As well as our 50th Anniversary, we’re also celebrating 5 years of IT online, something I’m very proud of. Five very pivotal years in human history captured on IT without the influence or interference of the establishment or increasingly mind controlling, elitist mainstream media. The crusade goes on, as long, I hope, as crusades are needed.