Published on 23 Jun 2014

Felix Dennis – symbol of a revolution

Felix Dennis was unlike any man I have ever known. A complete one off. He was a rebel in every dimension.

He was a key component of Oz magazine. It was a publication so fabulously satirical and provocative to and about the establishment that eventually he and others on the magazine landed in court, in the celebrated Oz trial.

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Felix was emblematic of the screaming revolutionary sixties – an era thought by the establishment to be about revolution, and by many involved (including Felix) to be have been about having a whole load of politically motivated fun.

Felix had fun in spades. Indeed to those of us who knew and loved him, he had so much fun that many wondered whether he would live past 40. But he did, and lived life to very fullest.

Felix was a brilliant wordsmith, discovering his poetic muse relatively late in life and then delighting tens of thousands with his live performances at which he dished out liberal quantities of fine wine. His show Did I Mention the Free Wine? filled theatres and public spaces across the UK – tens of thousands enjoyed live poetry as rarely before.

He wrote half a dozen books of poetry – the last and I think the best is Love of a Kind, written when he was already suffering from throat cancer.

But of course Felix was also famous for being rich, I mean staggeringly rich, and equally generous. His wealth derived of his supreme business judgement and enterprise – he was into computer magazines before many realised there were even computers to be into.

The company he founded and ran, Dennis Publishing, also owned the Week and one or two saucier magazines Like Maxim in the US.

True insight

For all his unorthodox life – more than his fair share of drugs, women, and song – Felix had a Midas touch when it came to business. He spotted and spawned success all his business life.

His wealth was expressed in part by the manor and estate where he lived in Warwickshire and the house he bought from David Bowie. I came to know him through trying to blag money off him for the charity I work in – the New Horizon Youth centre for homeless teenagers in London.

Needless to say, he looked into what we really needed, which was computers, and computerised the entire centre and had a computer training room established for our users.

Finally, Felix has left his vast wealth to one singular project – his greatest love – trees. Yes his entire fortune , or most of it, is to be dedicated to his Heart of England Forest project. He’d already seen its millionth tree planted before he died.

It is today the largest privately owned forest in England – sited as it is in his home county of Warwickshire. He will be buried beneath its trees.

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10 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Jon,

    So why did C4 News and the rest of mainstream media virtually ignore the anti-theft (“austerity”) march of 50,000 in our corrupt capital? Doesn’t augur well for a British Spring does it? So now you think back…..do you reckon C4 News was had off about the Arab Spring, and if Yes what do you intend to do about it?

    As for the 1960s as “…an era……about having a whole load of politically motivated fun…” – what a load of bollocks. It might have been for a few empty-headed idiots but it wasn’t so for those who wanted to improve society and had serious ideas of how to achieve it. Small wonder, for instance, the Yank establishment eventually closed the era with the unsolved murders of four students at Kent State. There wasn’t much laughter around the numerous political murders of the period either. Or the Vietnam War. Or the beginnings of the destruction of the Post War Settlement.

    You may have done a lot of laughing at your encounter with the filing cabinet at Liverpool Uni, but that tells us more about you than anything else.

    Now……tell us again about the anti-theft march in London……

    1. claire allain says:

      great comments, hard to get people serious about anything now. Love the anti-theft slogan not heard that before

    2. jon. snow says:

      Philip you are one angry man..there’s no competition to prove who was the better sixties revolutionary..If you have forgotten flower power and the rest of it I feel sorry for you….you may wish to prove your hardship credentials..I don’t feel that need. As for the march..how come you have attached no photos..no images, no video? It doesn’t take me, you could have done it yourself…time to get off your bottom Philip, get your iPhone out and start some citizen journalism yourself..democratise!

      1. Philip Edwards says:

        Jon,

        Thank you for taking the time out to respond. This is much appreciated. That’s the good bit.

        However, I must say I marvel sometimes at your ability to completely miss the point. Your response seems to forget that you are a public figure working for a multi-million pounds news-gathering organisation with huge resources. Whereas I am merely a Joe Citizen with a point of view.

        The point at issue has nothing whatever to do with me “proving….who was the better sixties revolutionary”…..or “forgetting flower power”…..or “proving hardship credentials” (whatever that means)…..or me “attaching photos, images or video”.

        The point is C4 NEWS DID NOT REPORT A DEMOCRATIC MARCH OF 50,000 PEOPLE WITHIN A FEW MINUTES OF YOUR STUDIO. It was a peaceful march from all parts of the country protesting at the core of government policies. And C4 News, like all other mainstream outlets, virtually ignored it. This, with all the resources at your disposal. The valid democratic question is this: Why did you and all the other London based media people behave the way you did?

        f it is right and proper that we call politicians to account, it is equally so that we call mainstream media public figures to account also; and especially when they behave in ways that support a disgusting, reactionary neocon government with censorship by omission or silence. This is why I found amusing your recent “discovery” of the loathing in Scotland for the London government and media – it showed just how out of touch with the reality of British life you people are. And don’t think that Scottish feeling stops at the border.

        Additionally, if you choose to paint the 1960s in hazy primary colours that is your choice. But it doesn’t accord with the facts or the reality of the era. You may not have been serious about it – which may account for your continued employment in mainstream media – but there were and are plenty of those who were and are, and who managed to laugh too. Sadly, occasionally, your kind of attitude demeans those who seek improvement in any era, not just the 1960s. It takes more than a few self-satisfying patronising acts of charity to effect change. It takes acts of courage, not useful conformity. Too often you and C4 News fall short. It could be so much better.

        Now, you may choose to describe my pointing out these matters as “anger”. I prefer “outrage,” since that is the way I feel at the way this country is owned and governed and the way it is taken to wars nobody wants but corporate and transnational banking interests. Add in a Parliament of Scoundrels and mainstream media with little or no conscience and I think my outrage more than justified.

        But given your response I don’t expect you to understand that. Put your own media house in order before you preach about democracy.

        And don’t you think it is time to tell everybody about the filing cabinet episode?
        :-)

      2. claire allain says:
    3. Slow Pete says:

      Ha! Was that your letterbocks submission for this month?

    4. Rich says:

      It’s irrelevant what the media does or does not report if the movement is real. Do you think the BBC advertised the sixties. Stop moaning.

  2. Philip says:

    Long Live Dave Spart!

  3. martindale says:

    For an article about Felix Dennis, there seems to be a severe lack of comments about the man himself. Good article Jon, about a great man, sorely missed by those who knew him.

    1. Slow Pete says:

      That was what the ‘letterbocks,’. Comment was for. Innit.

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