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London’s top ten teenage rebels

Posted at 10:15 am, January 26, 2014 in Fun London

1. John Lydon
Long before he donned the tweed and started selling butter, John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten – was the face of punk and the very embodiment of its antiestablishment ethos. Just 19 when he became the singer of the Sex Pistols, the Holloway-born dropout sparked fear and outrage through middle England and helped to send safety-pin stock prices soaring.

2. Dora Thewlis
Dubbed the ‘Baby Suffragette’ by the press, this working-class lass was one of the youngest members of the struggle for women’s votes. At 16 she joined protestors trying to storm the House of Commons, became a tabloid sensation and was sent to prison after refusing to return home to Yorkshire. Growing tired of a chauvinistic, alpha-male-dominated society, she later moved to, er, Australia.

Dora Thewlis

3. Royston Ellis
The UK’s very own beat poet, Royston Ellis was a mover and shaker in early ’60s London. According to John Lennon, ‘England’s answer to Ginsberg’ gave The Beatles their ‘first dope, from a Benzedrine inhaler’, and facilitated ‘perverted sex in a polythene bag’ between Lennon and a girl from Guernsey. It’s thought that he helped to inspire ‘Paperback Writer’, and he claims that the misspelling of the band’s name was his idea. Quite how he remembers after all that Benzedrine is anyone’s guess.

4. Amanda de Cadenet
Before Peaches and Cara came Amanda, London’s original wild child, who blazed a trail for any teenage girl whose ambitions don’t extend much beyond falling over drunk in front of a pap’s camera. She became a model at 14, a presenter on ‘The Word’ at 17 and married Duran Duran guitarist John Taylor at 19. In 1992 she fled the drink and drugs of the London party scene for the cleanliving sanctuary of… LA.

5. Keith Moon
Whatever outrageous antics the other bad boys of the era got up to, the late drummer went a step further. Having started his self-destructive odyssey when he joined The Who at the age of 17, ‘Moon the Loon’ embodied the mischief-making of many touring bands. He loved explosives (particularly in hotel toilets) and his twenty-first birthday party set the standard for rock ’n’ roll depravity: a two day bender culminated with him driving a limo into a hotel pool.

6. Arthur Rimbaud
Talented and influential, French poet Rimbaud was also a hard-living hedonist who could have drunk most bands under their amps. During an absinthe-soaked year in London in 1872-73, the 19-year-old became the definitive enfant terrible, going on debauched and violent rampages, but still managing to produce some of the most glorious verse of the age.

7. Siouxsie Sioux
Many teenagers rebel against the staid values of their suburban upbringing, but Bromley-born Siouxsie Sioux took it to the next level. Having started as a Sex Pistols groupie, the young singersongwriter went on to become the first lady of UK punk, embracing the shock and provocation of the music with a dominatrix-style image and various outrageous stunts, not least her appearance in a Bromley wine bar with a scantily clad male ‘slave’ on a leash and all fours.

8. Jeff ‘Stinky’ Turner
In the late ’70s, punk and football were marr(i)ed by the illustratively named Oi! genre, of which Cockney Rejects’ teenage frontman Jeff Turner was the poster boy. The West Ham-mad band caused riots whenever they played outside the capital, including a 1980 show at Birmingham’s Cedar Club dubbed ‘the most violent gig in British history’. The Rejects were immortalised in the 2012 doc ‘East End Babylon’. Oi!, however, was consigned to history with flares, fondues and Ford Capris.

9. Sergei Polunin
Ballet doesn’t lend itself to a debauched lifestyle, but Ukrainian prodigy Polunin is no ordinary dancer. In 2010, aged 19, he became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal, winning rapturous acclaim before sensationally quitting two years later. It then transpired that there was more to him than his pas de deux, when he revealed ‘Lots of times I performed on coke.’ Thus the ‘ballet bad boy’ was born, much to the delight of fans of alliteration and oxymoron.

10. Dizzee Rascal
The young Dylan Kwabena Mills really was something of a rascal. As a child in Bow, he was expelled from four schools and spent his free time stealing cars and robbing pizza delivery men. Even after he made his name as a grime MC, he was involved in feuds with other rappers and was stabbed six times by youths who attacked him in Cyprus in 2003. But then he fixed up and looked sharp, and even told Jeremy Paxman he saw himself as one day perhaps becoming prime minister. Bonkers indeed. Compiled by Dan Frost

Read other London top tens including:

➢ 10 urban myths
➢  10 baffling statues
➢ 10 hauntings
➢ 10 movies on the tube
 10 weird shops

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