2009-11-01

A Bay of Hope

Syd Barrett flat pictures
Syd Barrett flat.

To all our sistren and brethren, hail! Might you wonder if the Church is dead the answer is clear and simple: no! The Church is contemplating its path and went into an early hibernation to, as the French say, reculer pour mieux sauter.

One of the main occupations of any holy man is to study the scriptures and that is what we have been doing so far. The next post is very academic and thus, by definition, boring, although it starts rather user-friendly.

Last week a professional rock memorabilia seller put some pictures for sale that he described as:

SYD BARRETT FOUNDING MEMBER OF PINK FLOYD
4 X ORIGINAL MICK ROCK PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN AND PRINTED IN 1974 SHOWING SYD IN HIS FLAT WITH PAINTED BOARDS,
EARLY MICK ROCK PHOTOS ARE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AND NOW HE PRINTS PHOTOS AT 1000 POUNDS PER PHOTO.
THESE ARE ORIGINAL 6 X 4 INCHES PRINTED BEFORE MICK ROCK BECAME FAMOUS, LONG AFTER SYD WHO WAS ALREADY FAMOUS.

The 4 prints show Syd Barrett in his apartment and date from The Madcap Laughs photo sessions where both Mick Rock and Storm Thorgerson showed up.

The Church has created some controversy concerning the date of the photo shoot. It has been published in most biographies that the pictures were taken in the autumn of 1969, but JenS, who was a Cantabrigian friend of Syd Barrett and knew Ig as well, pointed out that the pictures were probably taken in spring. The Church further narrowed the date of the photo shoot to the week between the 14th and the 21st of April 1969, and certainly not 1974 as the seller wrote.

The account of the photo shoot also differs from the point of view of who is telling the story. Storm Thorgerson claims that he shot the sleeve of The Madcap Laughs, but - in the past - Mick Rock hinted that he was behind it all.

An unconfirmed story goes that Mick Rock was taking pictures on behalf of Hipgnosis and gave (some of) his film rolls to Storm Thorgerson who developed and used some of the pictures for The Madcap Laughs record sleeve.

It takes a rascal to recognise another one. Mick Rock kept some negatives in his back pocket and forgot these until he could show off with his own little private project called Psychedelic Renegades. (In retrospect this wasn’t a bad thing as Storm Thorgerson has apparently lost all the negatives he had in his possession.)

When, a couple of years ago, probably at The Other Room exhibition, a fan asked Mick Rock to autograph the sleeve picture of The Madcap Laughs he mysteriously grinned and said something like ‘I can’t sign pictures that weren’t taken by me, can I?’ and it still isn’t sure if his comment was ironic or not.

The Church looks at its flock in awe and admiration, which is in shrill contrast with those other religions that take their believers for total nincompoops, and the Reverend will let you decide for yourself after only a tiny amount of brainwashing.

On the Madcap Laughs shooting day several photo series were made. The series of Mick Rock may have taken two consecutive days instead of one, but nobody, not even Rock himself, remembers it very well.

THE MICK ROCK COLLECTION

Outside pictures (B&W)

¤ Syd on and around his car, sometimes with Iggy.
¤ Syd & Iggy on the pavement.
¤ Syd with guitar case and guitar.

These black and white pictures show Syd and Iggy in front of the house. Syd is sitting on, standing next, leaning against the car, claimed by Mick Rock to be a pink Pontiac, while it was naturalmente blue. On some pictures Syd wears a necklace, on others apparently not. Some cut-outs of these pictures can be found in our Street Life gallery.

Inside pictures (colour)

¤ Syd with (naked) Iggy.

Syd wears a brown jacket, a yellow shirt, and reddish trousers. These are about the same clothes as on the outside session (the shirt may be different). Some cut-outs of these pictures can be found in our gallery: Bare Flat.

¤ Syd without Iggy.

Syd with blue tie-dyed t-shirt, red trousers, necklace and daffodils. No shoes. Other pictures have him sitting on the mattress, drinking coffee.

¤ Syd kneeling shirtless on the floor.
¤ Syd and his record player.

Barrett is shirtless, wears his red trousers, has the necklace (at least in one picture). Should you care to know, the record player in his room is a Garrard SP25 MK2 (thanks mrlimbo!) and the record on the player is from the soul label Direction, a subsidiary of CBS (thanks infantair!). (Information grabbed from Late Night.).

A few of these pictures appear on the inner sleeve of the double album Syd Barrett, but none have been directly credited to Mick Rock (the credits go to Blackhill, Lupus, SKR and Hipgnosis).

Update 27 December 2012: It took some time but Göran Nyström (from Men On The Border) and Giulio Bonfissuto have found enough evidence to conclude that the record on Syd's turntable is Taj Mahal's The Natch'l Blues. They did this by comparing the tracks that are visible on Mick Rock's pictures with the track listing of the record: "4 rather equally short tracks first and then one that is longer. This should be the album". (Source: Göran Nyström at Laughing Madcaps [dead link]. Other source at Late Night forum: Syds Record Player!)

Inside pictures (B&W)

¤ Syd with record player and trimphone.
¤ Syd sitting on mattress.

Syd is wearing a tie or a scarf, a tie-dyed t-shirt and a different pair of trousers (dark with rows of lighter spots). A newspaper and a trimphone are lying next to the mattress. The record player has got a different record (the one with the Direction label is lying (unprotected) underneath another one). There is no sign of Iggy in this series.

¤ Iggy nude study.

The (in)famous series of Ig. No sign of Syd here. This series can be found in our gallery: Rock Bottom.

(The Lost in the Woods home movie, probably made by Mick Rock, has Syd walking around in a yellow shirt and blue jacket and trousers. For completists: the yellow shirt is not the same as the one he is wearing on some of the pictures mentioned above.)

Syd Barrett compilation
Syd Barrett compilation.

THE HIPGNOSIS COLLECTION

The only way to consult the Hipgnosis archives is to wade through record sleeves and the books from Storm Thorgerson, as most of the negatives have been misplaced through the years.

The best overview of Storm’s pictures on that day can be found on the inner sleeve of the compilation album Syd Barrett that appeared in 1974. Thorgerson has the following to say about its cover: "I made up the design from photos already taken at The Madcap Laughs session and added special insignia."

Outside pictures (colour)

¤ Syd leaning against car (with guitar case).
¤ Syd sitting on car.

Storm Thorgerson took a few colour pictures during the outside sessions. One of these pictures was used for the cover of A Nice Pair (Pink Floyd compilation album, that has had different editions with slightly different covers). Another picture can be found on the following Church page: When Syd met Iggy...
Update 2001 02 19: Iggy has confirmed to the Church that she took the Polaroid picture of Syd Barrett sitting next to the car: Give birth to a smile... 

Inside (B&W)

¤ The yoga session.

Syd sitting shirtless and shoeless on the floor and showing his gymnastic skills. Update October 2010: the Church is now of the opinion that the yoga pictures may have been the 'real' autumn Madcap Laughs cover shoot, commissioned by Harvest director Malcolm Jones, when the album was in its final stages: The Case of the Painted Floorboards 

Inside (colour)

Until now we only knew the pictures that were used for The Madcap Laughs and for the Crazy Diamond CD compilation.

¤ The Madcap Laughs front.

Syd, shoeless, in blue shirt and pink trousers crouching (daffodils in front of him). A bigger version of this photograph can be found on Crazy Diamond. (See also: Stormy Pictures.)

¤ The Madcap Laughs back.

Syd with yellow shirt and necklace (in red trousers) with Ig leaning artistically on the chair. A bigger version of this photograph can be found on Crazy Diamond (Syd Barrett CD box, 1993).

¤ Syd in brown jacket, sitting on the floor. Ig walking towards the chimney.
¤ Syd with a toy aeroplane (and daffodils) in front of him.

This last picture can also be found on A Nice Pair, but not on the edition that has the Syd Barrett car picture (several version of the Nice Pair sleeve do exist, as you have figured out by now).

According to the above information the four pictures that were sold on eBay belong to the Hipgnosis collection and not to Mick Rock.

1. Picture one is the famous Madcap Laughs front-sleeve but in its entirety.
2. The second picture, with Syd and a toy aeroplane, has also been published before, but this version is not cropped and shows more of the surrounding room.
3 & 4. Pictures 3 and 4 have been unknown until now and have never been published before.

The four pictures were sold for a mere 127.00 £. The Church duly hopes that the buyer is an authentic fan who will share hi-res scans with the Barrett community.

Syd Barrett Pontiac
Syd Barrett's Pontiac.

The seller of the pictures has previously sold one other Syd Barrett photo from the same session. It was un unknown picture of Syd sitting on his Pontiac, taking away, once and for all, the rumours that his car was bright pink. The Reverend wonders if claytonpriory still has other pictures to sell, perhaps with Ig on the background, although it is of course regrettable that the collection is divided and sold in separate pieces.

Did this post confuse you?

It confused the Reverend as well, especially when he found out that one picture, entitled to Mick Rock, actually needs to be credited to Hipgnosis. Or is it the other way round? That will be discussed in a later post: A Bay of Hope (update).

Until then, my brethren and sistren, live long and prosper and don’t do anything what Ig wouldn’t have done.


Sources (other than the above internet links):

Thorgerson, Storm: Mind Over Matter, Sanctuary Publishing, London, 2003, p. 204.

A new gallery, called StormWatch has been made and contains the Madcap pictures, made by Storm Thorgerson and discussed in this entry. Play the Storm Thorgerson or Mick Rock Iggy picture quiz!

The second part of this article can be found at: A Bay of Hope (update).