The Film

"East End Babylon" is the story of the Cockney Rejects and the area that spawned them beginning at the turn of the century with the industrial revolution in full swing, the heaving poverty surrounding the largest docks the world had ever seen, and the unconquerable spirit of it's people - proud, unbowed, and, as world war two was later to prove, unbeaten.

"From the bombs that flew through world war two, from the Albert docks to Bow, we could never show our fear, the world could never know" sang the Rejects many years later, and they knew what they were talking about. Sons of dockers whose parents had survived such horrific times, they were born into the upheaval and austerity of the post war East-End, where, amongst the debris and dock strikes and social upheaval they found solace and meaning in three things - football, boxing, and rock'n'roll!

Football to generations of East Enders could mean only one thing…West Ham United. Probably the most financially fragile of all the big London clubs, it has always had the most fanatical grassroots support, born of a total sense of community that only poverty and a sense of belonging could instill.

'East End Babylon' takes us through these times, as Eighteen year-old seamstress Jean Geggus and her docker husband Fred bring up seven children in a bomb damaged council house, two of which, Mick and Jeff Geggus, take to the mean streets, eventually embracing the other sporting fixation of the East end - Boxing, at which they both excel.

But amid the dock strikes and social upheaval of the mid seventies, this new generation found themselves drawn to a third medium - Rock'n'roll. Fascinated by the antics of Sweet and Slade on Thursday nights' Top Of The Pops, the boys fostered dreams of forming a band. After hearing the guttural rasp of Johnny Rotten in 1977, they decided to do so.

Despite having no songs or equipment but armed with buckets of cheek and blag, the boys "conned" their way into journalist Garry Bushell and punk icon Jimmy Pursey, resulting in a record deal with EMI records.

Having recruited fellow West Ham nut Vinny Riordan on bass, the boys then proceeded to play regularly at their local venue, Canning Town's infamous 'Bridge House', where they developed the blueprint that would be imitated, but never equaled by a thousand bands.

Whereas the first wave of punk bands had been mainly middle class art students faking working class credentials, the Rejects were as tough and cynical as the streets that gave them birth. The socio-political ramblings of their punk forefathers were not for them, instead they sung about the things that they lived with, every day - street fights, police harassment - and football. Never before had a band welded the terrace singalong to driving rock rhythms, and the result was devastating : the perfect blend of rock'n'roll and football.

It was also at the Bridge House that they cultivated the Rejects "firm"- their loyal band of followers, many of whom would later go on to form the hardcore of the ICF, West Ham's notorious hooligan gang. Despite having signed a disastrous management deal that would later leave them penniless, the band started having success, as the singles, then the albums, began to chart. Never able to suffer fools, they also burned bridges within the music industry, with several journalists and industry movers and shakers being told in no uncertain terms where to get off. It was also at this time, at the height of gig violence sweeping Britain, that they enforced their "no security" rule - if people were getting hurt by bully boys in the crowd, or if the band themselves were threatened, they would jump offstage mid-show and batter the troublemakers out of the venue.

By that time, they were pretty much despised by many in the music industry (strangely enough the same music industry that would later wet themselves over gangsta rappers) but being who they were, they stayed true to their upbringing and told it like it was.

Around that time, gigs in London were being targeted by the ultra right-wing British Movement, who had wrecked several bands careers including that of 'Sham 69'. Having always despised bullies, the Rejects met them head on, culminating in a bloody battle at Barking station in which the "master race" were handed a severe beating after which they never showed their faces at a single Rejects' gig.

Soon, they realised their childhood dreams and appeared on "Top Of The Pops", but on their second appearance, promoting their version of West Ham's anthem "Bubbles" (West Ham had reached the F.A cup final in 1980) their high spirits got them banned from the show forever.

That was only the start of their problems - by aligning themselves so vehemently with West Ham, they had alienated themselves from other testosterone fueled football supporters up and down the country, which culminated in the "battle of Birmingham", in which the Rejects and their crew defeated 250 Midlands football hooligans in a vicious hand to hand combat, which has since been described as the worst gig violence in history.

With court cases hanging over the band like ominous dark clouds, they were dropped by EMI and were virtually finished as a touring band. They briefly turned their considerable musical skills to their first love, hard rock, and despite making a great record ("Wild Ones" produced by Pete Way), their fans never let them forget their past. Their management having drained them of every penny they made, they reluctantly called it a day, ironically around the same time as their symbolic twins, the London docks, closed forever.

As the years passed, and the band went their separate ways, in the USA and Europe, something was stirring. A new generation of fans were discovering the Rejects, and bands such as 'Rancid' and 'Green Day' were describing them as major influences on their music. In Europe, they were being embraced by thousands of football supporters who had taken them and their ethic to heart, openly pledging their allegiance to West Ham United and the Rejects. The same was happening in Japan, Australia and South America - all across the world, in fact.

Mick Geggus only got an inkling of this one night in 1999 as he watched a Levi?s ad on TV, which featured the Rejects song "I'm Not A Fool". Suddenly, the phone calls started. Having never played outside of the UK, they were stunned to find that they were in demand across the globe. With bass player Vinny long gone, Mick and Jeff recruited old friend Tony Van Frater on bass and Andy Laing on drums, and went out on tour again. In the UK, they found that the old animosities had disappeared, and that fans accepted the Rejects link with West Ham and were prepared to party with the band. But, the biggest surprise was when they toured outside the UK for the first time - thousands of kids from all over the globe flocked to see them, a sea of West Ham shirts from all nationalities knowing the words from every song. In Croatia, they were gobsmacked as sworn enemies Serbs and Croats danced and sang together at the top of their voices. Politicians can't do that, observed Mick, we can!'. On the home front, stars like Morrissey, Stone Roses' Ian Brown, and Primal Scream all went on record as saying they loved the Cockney Rejects. And on it goes.

Redemption is a hard thing to come by. But as the band once sang, "the kids they come from everywhere, the East End's all around", that lyric would turn out to be prophetic, because it is. And the Cockney Rejects are still going, playing white hot live sets to kids across the globe.

From the humblest of beginnings they came, from the streets and terraces and smoky boxing clubs and piss stained boozers, most of which are now long gone. But they have been and still are an inspiration to a generation and this is their story.

This is East End Babylon.

Press Box

"A no frills look at the career of the band who were probably had more punk attitude that almost anyone else. Honest, brutal and always entertaining."

Malcolm Dome Total Rock / Classic Rock

"Jeff Turner was obviously singing to avoid killing someone."

Morrissey

"The Rejects were the real deal"

Joe Strummer

"Rejects and director Richard England unveil what could well be the documentary of the year."

Vive Le Rock

"An unflinching, bloody and bloody funny account of one of rock'n'roll's rawest tales - and an elegy to the East End that spawned it."

Nick Hasted, The Independent/Uncut

“At last a real film about the East End of London”.

Anon

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About the Director

Richard England is a music business manager and producer. After exec-producing “Oil City Confidential” and inspired by Julien Temple to “learn from the master”, Richard decided to undertake his directorial debut with East End Babylon. Born in 1968, the year of counter-culture, a West Ham fan and spiritual East Ender, Richard took his love of punk rock, Orson Welles films and a Sony A1 mini dv camera and followed the Rejects around the world on an incredible musical and football odyssey.

Cadiz Music

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Established in 2003 Cadiz Music is a music company working with all kinds of music from rock, punk and heavy metal to folk, jazz world and urban. Cadiz was the first independent company to enter the digital arena in 2004 with Cadiz Digital Ltd which has become one of iTunes key suppliers.

Read more: Cadiz Music

The Crew

Crew :

Director / Producer : Richard England
Executive Producer : Mick Geggus
Associate Producer : Karen Janody
Director of Photography : Steven Organ
Editor : Henry Stein
Original music by : The Cockney Rejects


Get in touch:
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EastEndBabylon Facebook EastEndBabylon Twitter

Review: Street Voice

Q REVIEW

Canning Town teenagers Cockney Rejects signed to EMI in 1979. A year later, their cover of West Ham FC's terrace song 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles' went Top 40, leading to horrific gig violence and the unwanted patronage of right- wing skinheads. Produced and directed by Richard England (of the Dr Feelgood doc 'Oil City Confidential' fame), this is a shocking but very funny tale vividly brought to life, especially by motor-mouthed singer Jeff "Stinky Turner" Geggus. He suggests that had he not been in the band "I'd have stuck a stocking over me head and walked into a NatWest". Inevitably, it all went wrong in the early 80's, with Jeff's brother and Rejects guitarist Mick facing GBH charges following one particularly chaotic gig in Birmingham. When scores of later US punk groups started dropping their name, the Rejects came back to life in 1999. A happy ending of sorts then; albeit with a lot of bloodshed along the way.

**** Q Magazine

Street Voice

THE COCKNEY REJECTS – East End Babylon DVD: Fuck me! This is one of the best punk rock DVD’s ever released and I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it. The story starts off with the family back of the Geggus brothers which was interesting in it’s own right with their proud mum having lots to say. Then you’re hit with the story and where it all started. Not only is a great story told with some awesome footage you’re also treated to some of the best Rejects tunes ever released. Lots of people are featured including Garry Bushell who helped push the band at the very beginning. The madness that surrounded the band was mad and that’s what made the Rejects such a legendary punk band. If they weren’t fighting other football hooligans they were battering the shit out of Nazi’s. Dangerous times! In fact after watching this I just wanted to play some Cockney Rejects and go and kick some ones head in! Ha! Brilliant! A DVD that should be on your shopping list if punk rock is your thing! 10/10

FULVUE DRIVE-IN

FULVUE DRIVE-IN

Richard England's East End Babylon (2013) tells the story of the rise of the Punk band Cockney Rejects, and how they amazingly became a band against many odds from the fall of their industrial town due to Thatcher-era dismantling of the UK's industrial base to managing to get signed to the now defunct EMI records and cutting some very important and influential music in their teens.

The band too is saved from the problems around them to a great extent by art, but they do not get the respect or money they should have initially, have problems with skinheads, they get banned from the BBC and as is apparent from this 104 minutes, were targeted by the Thatcher forces more than anyone interviewed seems to realize including being duped into a TV appearance designed to make them look like troublemakers they were not.

Despite all being in the dark about what exactly transpired (including the director?), this is a valuable chapter in music history that had to be told, is filled with its moments of irony and great music as all the members, relative and friends are interviewed throughout. It also echoes more than a few similar 1980s stories of rollback politics and the dark exploitation that resulted on both sides of the Atlantic. You should see this one at least once.

Extras include a booklet inside the DVD case, while the DVD adds ten featurette clips and an additional band performance.

COCKNEY REJECTS ON TOUR IN THE USA IN 2014

MAY

14 Santa Cruz, CA
15 San Francisco, CA
16 Orange County, CA
17 Los Angeles
18 San Diego
20 Pomona, CA
22 Phoenix, AZ
23 Las Vegas / Punk Rock Bowling
28 DC
29 Phili
30 NYC
31 Boston

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