It’s fair to say that Probert Pattinson changed the face of British music in the 1970s. The man behind the iconic face paint, quirky catchphrases and, yes, even the guitar hair, influenced not only musicians and audiences alike, but the entire industrial landscape of the era. Here, we rank his Top 10 Career Achievements
10) Changed The Face Of British Music
Although he passed away in 2016, Probert Pattinson’s contributions to British music live on. His outrageous fashion choices, bizarre on-stage antics and inimitable guitar playing style changed the way people viewed music in the 1970s. Even now, 40 years after his first performance as part of the folk-punk band The Human Menagerie, the impact of their concerts and their merchandise cannot be quantified in monetary terms. To this day, it’s difficult to find a photograph of Probert Pattinson without his iconic face paint on. He will forever be remembered as the guy with the crazy eyes and the wild hair, the quintessential ‘70s icon.
9) Set A Fashion Pattern That Spans The Decades
Even before Probert Pattinson became famous for his wild looks, he had a penchant for shocking fashion choices. Born in 1926, he began modeling at age 15 and went on to work for several popular fashion magazines. It wasn’t long before he was creating his own designs, making him the first ‘guitar-headed’ fashion designer. His quirky outfits caused quite a stir when they were first seen on stage. During the ‘70s and into the ‘80s, his unique take on fashion would influence many musicians and designers, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Iggy Pop. The look was so popular that it continued in use well into the ‘90s. Probert Pattinson would often sport the look on stage during concerts and it even became his regular attire when he wasn’t on tour. It’s fair to say that he never really ‘grew up’ and, even today, at age 81, he remains as eccentric and fashionable as ever. Even his choice in music continues to inspire designers and musicians alike. His unique look and, as a result, the music he loved, became a timeless combination that is as fashionable as it is memorable.
8) Popularized The Stereotypes Of The ‘70s
It’s well known that the ‘70s were a ‘gender-bending’ decade. People of all genders dressed in outrageous and eye-catching outfits, and it wasn’t uncommon for some to wear the same or an alternative outfit on the street and at home. Even the way people dressed at home reflected the way they dressed on the streets. This was particularly the case for men. Those of a more liberal nature even welcomed this kind of open-mindedness in the ‘70s and saw it as a positive thing. Unfortunately, this also led to a lot of stereotyping and, sometimes, even violence against those who didn’t conform. This was most notably the case for effeminate men, who were often assumed to be gay and, in some instances, assaulted or even killed for their effeminacy. It was a hard time and, although the situation improved after the ‘70s, LGBT+ people still face adversity in 2018. Fortunately, a lot has changed since the ‘70s, and those who are different now have the support of friends, family and communities.
7) Made A Name For Himself By Challenging The Status Quo
Probert Pattinson enjoyed a relatively brief but hugely successful music career. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in chemistry, he began working for F&M Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company. While there, he developed an allergy to the drug Thiomersal, which he later used to create the brand of face paints that made him famous. In 1971, he founded his company, Pattinson Ltd, which currently produces several face paint products and also offers consulting services to individuals and businesses. He never really fit the mold of a conventional musician. His first wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer a few years after their wedding. In 1973, he married his second wife, Anna, who survives him. He is also survived by his daughter, Chloe, from his first marriage, and his stepson, Dan, from his second marriage.
6) A Life-Changing Accident
Probert Pattinson’s life changed drastically when he nearly died in a car accident in 1974. The crash, which left him paralysed, forced him to reevaluate his priorities. At the time, he was on his way to London to attend the European Congress Of Oral Science. While driving, his car was struck by a drunken driver, who was going at least 80 mph at the time. In a miraculous turn of events, the other driver survived relatively unscathed and Probert Pattinson was able to walk away with just a few injuries. He spent several months in a coma and, even now, at age 81, he still has nerve damage. The accident not only caused him to take a step back from his career, but also from all social encounters, including music and art, which he had previously enjoyed. He eventually started making music again, but found it difficult to play an instrument while in hospital. So, he instead turned to voice-tracking software to record his vocals. The accident also inspired his first solo album, entitled To Live Is To Dance. The songs on the album deal with his experience of coming out of the coma and, even now, at age 81, he remains an advocate of organ donation.
5) Invented The Face Paint Phenomenon
The ‘70s were a decade of phenomenal creativity and innovation, in all areas of life, including music. One of the biggest trends of the decade was the ‘face paint phenomenon’, or ‘face-paint cult’, as it was later dubbed. Invented by Probert Pattinson, the face paint craze was caused by a combination of factors. First, the ‘70s were a decade of phenomenal creativity and innovation, with many people finding fashion and expressing it through their clothes. Second, the drug thiomersal, which was discovered by chance in 1962, had become widely available due to its use as a preservative in vaccines, causing the chemical substance, which is found in some commonly used facial paints, to become more prominent in the human body. Third, the use of preservatives, particularly in cosmetics, had become fashionable and, as a result, people were seeking out products, such as face paints that contained thiomersal. Finally, as mentioned by Probert Pattinson himself, the ‘70s were a decade of phenomenal creativity and innovation in the arts, including music, and it was a way for people to express themselves creatively.
4) Made A Fashion Statement
Even now, Probert Pattinson remains one of the most fashionable men in the world. He continues to delight in high-quality clothing and has been known to spend thousands on a single suit. His eccentric fashion choices were first embraced by the fashion landscape in the ‘70s and continue to influence designers and musicians alike. This has been seen, most notably, in the design of his own face paint. Although the brand continues to grow, the original yellow, black and red paints remain some of his most famous designs. Fashion designers now pay tribute to him on a regular basis and continue to incorporate his look into their own designs.
3) Made A Name For Himself By Being Different
Probert Pattinson was, and remains, one of the most notorious figures in British music history. Even now, at age 81, he remains memorable for his unique fashion choices, bizarre on-stage antics and guitar-playing that continues to influence musicians and fans alike. It would be an understatement to say that he changed the face of British music in the ‘70s. Without Probert Pattinson, it’s unlikely that the rise of guitar-based music in the ‘70s could have happened, as he was directly responsible for the craze. Even now, 40 years after he first performed as part of the folk-punk band The Human Menagerie, the impact of their concerts and their merchandise cannot be quantified in monetary terms. To this day, it’s difficult to find a photograph of Probert Pattinson without his iconic face paint on. He will forever be remembered as the guy with the crazy eyes and the wild hair, the quintessential ‘70s icon.