Digging the Scene
The boom in vinyl records has been a boon to traditional record shops, so many of which are, by their very nature, truly independent undertakings driven by a passionate commitment to their cause. Honest Jon’s is a case in point. Since starting life in 1974 – just a few years before London’s punk scene began to take off – it has been a much-loved (and hugely influential) fixture on the capital’s music scene.
While never a purveyor of punk itself, the brand was a magnet to many of those who were. It was launched in west London’s Portobello, then home or hangout to some of the movement’s leading names – the likes of Johnny Rotten, Malcolm McLaren, Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer and DJ Weasel, who helped introduce the punk scene to reggae.
Since then, Honest Jon’s has been a leading light in London’s musical subcultures from rare groove, funk, soul, club jazz and – after a young James Lavelle started working behind the counter, peddling a new form of jazz-influenced hip hop that led to his own label, Mo Wax –trip hop.
Another well-known local, Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz and the rest) is part of the creative partnership behind the brand’s eponymous record label with owners Mark Ainley and Alan Scholefield (who took over from one of the original owners, ‘Honest’ Jon Clare) in 2002. To say the brand has a knack for operating ahead of the curve is a bit of an understatement.