Ken Edwards or ‘Admiral Ken’ was a well-known sound system operator
and nightclub owner in the 1970s, who made frequent appearances at house
parties in Hackney and clubs like Four Aces and Hackney Town Hall. He
is captured here with his team behind him in Club Row in Shoreditch,
packing up their equipment the morning after a Saturday night party. The
trio in the van often performed with Admiral Ken, and consists of boxer
Dennis Andries on the left, DJ ‘Henry’ in the middle, and toaster
Frederick Howell on the right.
From the 1960s onwards Ken owned a
number of successful nightclubs around London, which attracted major
reggae artists and performers. Among these venues was the Palace
Pavilion club, formerly known as ‘Dougie’s’, on Lower Clapton Road,
which is now remembered as an iconic institution in the history of Black
music in London.
This image forms part of Dennis Morris’s
‘Growing Up Black’ series, a personal record of the photographer’s youth
in Hackney which captures what it meant to be young, Black and British
in London in the 1970s. Morris himself became a key figure in the visual
history of dub reggae music. Not only did he extensively photograph Bob
Marley in the 1970s, he also held the position of art director at
Island Records, performed in Basement 5 as a vocalist after Don Lett’s
departure in 1979, and designed graphics and album covers for the likes
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Bob Marley and Judy Mowatt.