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Adam Ant Kings Costume at the BME

Kings of the Wild Frontier Hussar's jacket Kings of the Wild Frontier hankerchief Kings of the Wild Frontier Hussar's jacket embroidery

The British Music Experience opened at the O2 Arena, London in March 2009 and is a celebration of British popular music from the 1940s to the present day. The displays and exhibitions detail the history and include some of the defining moments over these decades and have on display costumes and memorabilia from Bowie, The Beatles, Stones (Rolling and Roses), sections on Punk, Two Tone and Brit Pop amongst many others.

Of special interest to adam-ant.net in the exhibition / experience is the inclusion of one of the Kings of the Wild Frontier Hussar's jackets as worn by Adam during the early eighties (he did own more than one).
The jacket is part of the stage costumes as worn during the Ants Invasion, Frontier and Stand and Deliver tours in 1980 and 1981.
Adam wore a white shirt for the 1980 tours and the black shirt on display here for the 1981 tour. The leather trousers, leather boots plus all of the extra items such as belts, chains, whistles, feathers and bandanas were mainly worn during the two 1980 tours.

Adam acquired the jacket in May 1980 in preparation for the first tour that would showcase the new Adam and the Ants along with a fresh and exciting sound.
The accompanying look was a colourful mix of buccaneer and native american.

Speaking in November 2009, Adam said:
It's smashing, they did a really good job there. My stuff looked good, it was in really good shape.
I'll eventually give them (the V&A) everything that I can find.

The jacket had previously been used and worn by the actor David Hemmings for the 1968 film The Charge of the Light Brigade where he played the part of Captain Louis Edward Nolan, the Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier-General Airey.
The film revolved around the actual disastrous charge that the British cavalry made against the Russians at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean war. Nolan was one of the first soldiers to be killed on the battlefield after a Russian shell exploded above the troops and a piece of shrapnel pierced his heart.
Several regiments made up the charge, Nolan was part of the 15th Kings Hussars and was only 36 years old when he was killed.

BME website

On the BME website there is a specific section giving brief details of the history of Adam and the Ants.
There are a few errors in the write up as follows:

  • It states that the Dirk album was not a success. At the time Dirk Wears White Sox was a massive independent success.

  • It is implied that Paul Flannagan was the drummer during the early years and gives no mention to Dave Barbe who was with the Ants for almost 3 years.

  • Gary Tibbs did not play bass on the Stand and Deliver single, that was done by Adam and the B-side had Kevin Mooney playing on the track Beat My Guest

  • Adam and the Ants did not sieze their opportunities provided on the MTV channel as MTV didn't start nationally in the States until after The Ants had split up. It was Adam's solo years in the States that really capitalised on the MTV boom.

  • 1 2 3 4 5 6
    Hussar's jacket left click to enlarge
    Hussar's jacket right Scene from the film The Charge of the Light Brigade The moment David Hemmings character is killed on the battlefield David Hemmings as Capt Louis Edward Nolan

    Shown here are close up photographs of the costume taken at the exhibition and parts of the video display (Top of the Pops performance of Dog Eat Dog) that accompanies the Adam and the Ants section, the text of which is below:

  • Kings of the Wild Frontier was a pop album released by Adam and the Ants in 1980.

  • Unique in style and incorporating Burundi-style drumming, the album verged on post-punk in sound.

  • The band were heavily influenced by both Vivienne Westwood's sailor chic collections and the emerging "New Romantic" movement.

  • The combination of military outfits, make-up and perfect pop songs, such as "Prince Charming" and Stand and Deliver"

  • was a compelling mix and the band became pin-ups for a generation.

  • This particular outfit was also worn by David Hemmings in the film The Charge of the Light Brigade, released in 1968.

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