Jordan, born Pamela Rooke and later named Jordan Mooney has passed away.
I read the news via a tweet from Jonathan Ross followed by the inevitable fully of responses ranging from the absurdly grandiose ‘without Jordan there would be no punk ‘ to the more mundane ‘who?’.
It may seem absurd to those of us who lived through the punk wars that there are people who need to ask that question but it kind of makes sense that in the scale of things Jordan played a minor role for a couple of years and then faded from view.
Jordan worked at Malcolm McLaren’s shop SEX which was to become the epicentre of punk and the birthplace of the Sex Pistols. She was involved in the whole scene and later took over management of Adam and the Ants who had been sucked into the void created when the Pistols imploded. She married later Ants Bass player Kevin Mooney and appeared in two films, ‘The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and Jubilee which both could be described as ‘of their time’.
It was for her physical appearance that she will best be remembered by those of us who weren’t involved in that scene. It might sound trite but in 1976 she was genuinely shocking. Women in general and women in music in particular were supposed to be attractive. There was a bit of a leeway for the ‘rock chick’ Janis Joplin template but it wasn’t an overcrowded marker. Jordan was, despite her predilection for fetish dressing quite an asexual figure, almost an alien. One had the impression that she had dressed entirely to please herself. Not only that, having done so she took the train from Sussex to London dressed like that every working day!
It might not seem such a big deal today but despite glam rock which allowed men to wear make up 70’s Britain was visually very conservative. In a two hour commuter trip people would have been dressed for work some men even still wore bowler hats, Jordan would have been the most exotic/provocative/weird/outlandish person they would have ever seen. Its almost impossible today to evoke the shock that people could evoke my their dress. 5 Years later Boy George was to do the same thing on a larger scale which completely confounded the public, was he a man or a woman or something else. It didn’t take a lot to get us confused.
Jordan herself denied any particular bravery say she just didn’t care about other people’s opinions which in itself is pretty remarkable when one considers that she was only around 20 years old at the time. The make up helped, it was usually impossible to read any emotion from Jordan’s appearance.
For a couple of years she was all over the music papers and the tabloids sharing photo opportunities with the likes of the Slits, Souxie Sioux, Chrissie Hyde, Vivienne Westwood and the long lost Soo Catwoman. She wore a swastika and threwchairs about at the first TV appearance of the Sex Pistols, she had her top ripped off at another appearance by the band. Yes, it wasn’t all big or clever and would cause a complete twitter storm these days but these were different times.
Sensibly she never tried to expand her role beyond its capabilities, she never formed a crap band (although she did sing one song for Adam and the Ants), she didn’t appear on endless chat shows or celebrity competitions. Instead, she went to work as a veterinary nurse in her hometown of Seaford on the south coast. Stating she preferred animals to people she also bred Burmese Cats where she spent the next 40 years pretty much out of the spotlight although she did release an auto biography a couple of years back.
I never met her, never even saw her and its quite possible I wouldn’t even like her but somehow it seems yet another piece of our cultural history has passed on.