Hapshash and The Coloured Coat was the name adopted by graphic artists Michael English and Nigel Waymouth.
English had gone to art school with Pete Townshend, designed the shop front for the Hung On You boutique and was responsible for the first glorious toothpaste poster advertising the UFO club in late 1966.
In early 1967, UFO club co-founder Joe Boyd introduced him to designer Waymouth who was also a partner in the hip clothing establishment Granny Takes A Trip. A collaboration was born.
Their first collaboration (under the name Cosmic Colours) was – aptly – a poster for The Purple Gang‘s Granny Takes A Trip single (produced by Boyd).
They began to operate as Hapshash and The Coloured Coat from March 1967, the name Hapshash being a corruption of the name of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut.
English and Waymouth were given commissions by Osiris Visions (set up by Boyd and his partners) to produce posters for live events and record companies like EMI, Transatlantic, Track and Parlophone.
Hapshash posters were visually stunning. Like the thriving poster scene on the West Coast of America, Waymouth and English developed a style that was unique. Their work defined the romanticism of the English ‘underground’ movement and included posters promoting the Soft Machine, Tomorrow, Jimi Hendrix, and Arthur Brown.
The original artwork for each poster was in black and white, with the colour visualised in their heads until it was added in the silk screen process.
Having become acquainted with producer/svengali Guy Stevens, English and Waymouth recorded their debut album in 1967.
Featuring The Human Host And The Heavy Metal Kids featured lengthy, semi-improvised pieces fused to hard, repetitive riffs and chanted vocals. The accompaniment was supplied by Stevens’ protégés, Art – later to become Spooky Tooth.
Housed in a de rigueur psychedelic sleeve and pressed on red vinyl, the album became a lynchpin release of the English ‘underground’ movement.
With Stevens now in absentia and English preferring art to music, it was largely left to Waymouth to record Western Flier (1969). Groundhogs‘ guitarist Tony McPhee and future Wombles producer/songwriter Mike Batt assisted on a set encompassing pop, prog rock and Cajun styles, all delivered in a suitably quirky manner.
English and Waymouth sundered their partnership shortly afterwards.