From the Vaults: Nick Kent’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir

Nick Kent Book Cover

The man himself. Photo by Joe Stevens (altered slightly).

Book review/article originally published in The Portsmouth Herald on September 19, 2010.

by Chris Hislop

“I got it!” exclaimed an ex-girlfriend of ‘big-shot’ rock photographer Joe Stevens back in the early part of the 1970s. “Let’s go to an airline and buy plane tickets…; Let’s go to London!”

Stevens, who currently resides in Portsmouth, claims this was at the very beginning of creditors sending out unsolicited credit cards to people — which is how they got Americans hooked on plastic — was poor at the time and this girlfriend of his was feeding him, etc.

“I said, ‘sure let’s do that,'” Stevens said, breaking into laughter. “So I went to my editor. I was working with the East Village Underground in New York at the time …; I said, I’ll be back in two weeks. I came back 10 years later.”

This one-way flight (Stevens would break up with his girlfriend shortly after their arrival in London. She promptly returned to New York), would ultimately lead to the beginning of his relationship with famed rock critic Nick Kent.

Stevens’ description of Kent is almost as colorful as the man himself. “Flitting his hair like Robert Plant (making the movement with his hand against his own hair). His eyes would flutter. Amazing, imaginative threads — the things he wore …; the scarves. Gifts from people, thefts from people, thrift shop stuff …; all topped with a tad of eyeliner. Always a little bit of eyeliner.

(He was) rail thin, and over 6 feet tall. He had a dope problem, which many thought would destroy him and his talents. We all thought it. I mean we knew a lot of junkies, a lot of dopers, a lot of alcoholics…; we didn’t worry about them too much, but we worried a lot about Mr. Kent.”

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Click on the thumbnails for larger images. All photos by Joe Stevens.