Pamela Rooke, who became an icon of the British punk rock scene as Jordan, has died aged 66.
Her partner Nick wrote on Brighton and Hove News: ‘She passed away peacefully just a stone’s throw from the sea in her home town of Seaford, East Sussex in the company of her loving family at 9pm last night (Sunday April 3)… after a short period of illness, she succumbed to a relatively rare form of cancer known as cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile ducts). Jordan was a wonderful woman and will be remembered for countless decades to come.
With his highly imaginative make-up and clothing, Rooke was a kingpin of the London scene that produced the Sex Pistols, Vivienne Westwood and many others; his bold fashion sense helped fuse punk aesthetics of leather, rubber, cut fabric, partial nudity, and other provocative styles.
Rooke got a job at Westwood’s Sex Shop in his late teens. “I was running a gauntlet every day. People were scared of me,” she later said of her daring outfits. “And the funny thing is, I was actually quite shy.” The Sex Pistols were regulars – bassist Glen Matlock worked there on weekends – and Rooke became a mainstay at Sex Pistols gigs, occasionally stepping onto the stage.
In addition to leading Adam and the Ants, she performed with them, most notably on the song Lou which appeared during the band’s John Peel session. She also fronted Wide Boy Awake, with guitarist Kevin Mooney, whom she married – they divorced in the mid-1980s.
One of her greatest cultural contributions was something of a muse to filmmaker Derek Jarman, who cast her as one of the protagonists in the fantasy Jubilee, playing a punk called Amyl Nitrate. She also appears in her first film, Sebastiane.
Rooke turned away from artistic work to become a veterinary nurse and cat breeder. “Things had gotten too hectic. It sounds really corny, but normality saved my life,” she said.
She will be played by Game of Thrones actor Maisie Williams in Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols drama Pistol, which airs in May. Rooke recently described how she advised Williams on her performance: “What I said to her was, ‘You are able to play a very strong role, a strong woman and a special woman, really.’ I decided I wanted to be me, like a walking piece of art, if you will, and I was totally and utterly unwavering, so she had to bring that to the role.
Jonathan Ross was among those who paid tribute, saying, “An incredible woman. She changed our world. And she loved cats. So sad that she left. Glen Matlock said, “I’m gonna miss you girl.”