"In early 1954, on a late train from Southend, someone pulled the communication cord. The train ground to a halt. Light bulbs were smashed. Police arrested a gang dressed in Edwardian suits. In April, two gangs, also dressed Edwardian-style, met after a dance. They were ready for action: bricks and sand-filled socks were used. Fifty-five youths were taken in for questioning. The following August Bank Holiday, the first 'Best Dressed Ted Contest' was held. The winner was a twenty-year-old greengrocer's assistant. Thus the Teddy Boy myth was born."
A classic of British documentary photography, "The Teds" is a vivid and absorbing book combining the images of Chris Steele-Perkins and text by Richard Smith to tell a fascinating story that spans some three decades. The book presents Steele-Perkins' unforgettable photographs of the antics, clothes, hairstyles, and in the end, lives of the British working-class youth of the Fifties. The style was tenderly called "Teddy Boy" or "Ted" for short. It brought the American cowboy to the United Kingdom and turned him into (as Elvis Presley did in the United States) the overt and unabashed expression of potent male sexuality.
The "sexy" look has always been as cultivated, artificial, and precise as any other fashion or style that seeks to define a social class, a generation or a zeitgeist. What makes "The Teds" so unique is that the young men expressed all three and, intentionally or not, made the vitality, shamelessness, and exuberance of working-class British youth an enduring and permanent influence on global culture. The Teddy Boys are direct if ingenious representatives of one of the most seminal generations of the 20th century, captured here in stunning photographs by Steele-Perkins.
Smith's articulate, brilliant, and indispensable riff-essays complement Steele-Perkins's photographs in a seamless fusion. Originally published in paperback in 1979, "The Teds" has been re-issued in a hardback form by Dewi Lewis.
Size: 11 x 8"
Publisher: Traveling Light/Exit (London, 1979); Dewi Lewis Publishing Ltd. (London, 2002)