"This thoughtful, troubling film from Don Letts shows how a joyful movement became hijacked by thugs and bigots. To the point where even the title of this programme will be off-putting to some. But the precursor to all the hooliganism was a teen obsession with Jamaican ska. Kevin Rowland recalls, 'We saw the Pioneers, we saw Desmond Dekker and we loved them. It was completely multiracial.' And Letts is at pains to celebrate both the fashion before the fascism – reflected in increasingly ugly 70s archive – and the style revival."
"An extension of the UK skinhead movement, the roots of sharp lie in the influx of European immigrants in Australia in the early 1960s. By the late 1960s the Sharpie subculture had evolved and existed in the mainly working class and migrant inner city suburbs such as Richmond, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Brunswick where Greeks, Italians, Yogoslavs and English immigrants all lived side by side. But as street corners gradually changed to shopping centres, by the early 1970s, the Sharpie movement started to spread to the outer suburbs of Melbourne where a 'rough as guts' working class ethos existed.
The name 'Sharpie' originated from the fashion. It was all about the clothes and looking sharp, and flash. The first wave of Sharpies from 1966 – 1969 were strongly influenced by UK Mod fashions, the 1964 Rockers and the style of certain Italian migrants. Demeanor was tough, hair was short back and sides and clothing was custom made by European tailors, thus allowing for a blend of neo–thirties suave combined with a contemporary larrikin attitude. Dances were also a big part of the Sharpies social fabric, with bands such as Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, Wild Cherries, Ray Brown & the Whispers, and Max Merritt & the Meteors being popular choices.
From 1970–1980, the second wave of Sharpies were following hard, tough rock'n'roll bands like Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls, Buster Brown, Rose Tattoo, The Angels and ACDC. Sharpies were now often congregating in large numbers, regularly attending live band concerts at town hall and high school dances as well as early discos. But due to their sheer numbers, Sharpies were often perceived as being untouchable by the police and were often associated with excessive violence, regularly taking part in fights."
(Melynda von Wayward)