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First of all, happy New Year sistren and brethren of the
Church. These wishes do not only come from the Reverend but also from
our mutual point of adoration, our nadir and zenith, Ms. Iggy Rose. With
every contact she proves to us that she still is extremely exuberant,
hilariously silly and all together daft as a brush (all used in a
Today, the 6th of January, is a special day as well for Sydaholics
all over the world and it rejoices us that Iggy has been a part in the
life of the diamond. Our wish to you, dear Iggy, is not to change a bit,
because wherever you walk rainbows magically appear. We take the small
inconvenience for granted that our ears are ringing when we lay down the
phone. Keep on shouting to the world, Iggy, not only your anger, but
your happiness and joy as well.
So now it is about time for La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal to
return the favour. Antonio Jesús Reyes from the Spanish
Syd Barrett blog has finally found the time to add his version
of the truth and nothing but the truth.
Antonio Jesús Reyes, a new career in a new town
Tell us about your Syd-Floyd connection. How did you end up living in
This is a short but complex story. I met an English girl in Seville
whose mother was moving to Cambridge and I ended up going out with her…
no, not with the mother! So, we decided at some point to move from
Seville to Cambridge although I did not know what to expect.
Things began to get surreal when we went to the first City Wakes concert
(2008). I was introduced to Rosemary Brent, and after the show we
had a drink (without Rosemary). In the pub I introduced my girlfriend’s
mother to a good friend of Syd, who had played the drums in Those
Without (I remembered his name from a picture I saw years ago).
From that moment on, and for the rest of my stay there, these two years
were sydbarretianly amazing. I nearly met every Cambridge mafia
member in town. Two years after the end of it all, I’m still realizing
that I was often ignorant of the fact that I met these people who had
been part of Syd's and the early Floyd’s life.
So coincidentally Stephen Pyle almost became my father-in law. He
told me lots of anecdotes. We talked about films, paintings, music and
his work for The Rolling Stones, Queen, U2… I miss him most of all.
I worked with him at The City Wakes. One day he introduced me to Jenny
Spires at Mick Brown’s and it was only after thirty minutes of
conversation that I realized that I had heard that name before. She was
quite kind to me and has an extraordinary good taste in music.
The Cambridge experience was incredible. My literary idol, Laurence
Sterne, ‘studied’ where David Bowie played in the 70’s and… ...well,
there are too many stories to tell them all.
My relationship finished some time after returning to Seville. Let me
quote John Milton’s Paradise Lost, I can affirm that it is "better to
reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven". My Cambridge bonds are mostly
cut off now but I still appreciate the friendship forgetting they were
connected to one of my idols.
How did you begin to listen to Syd-Floyd music?
I hope I can tell you in a chronological way:
First: in 1994 I was watching a documentary about the career of
Pink Floyd. I remember someone saying something like “If we could make
it without X, we can make it without Y”. I was reading or writing
something while watching it, so I was not paying much attention. First
there came a lot of noise from the TV speakers, which annoyed me… and
then… a piece of music that was enchanting. It was A
Saucerful of Secrets, performed live in Pompeii. It was a
life-changing experience forgotten in a minute or two. I was a teenager,
and it was summer, please, understand me.
Second: one day while listening to the radio, I heard a song that
really touched me. It was 'Wish You Were Here’. I completely
misunderstood every single thing the radio show host said and thought it
was written by Syd Barrett.
Third: in a record store I found the Crazy
Diamond Box. I quickly read the info and I remembered all I seemed
to know about him. There was a mistake in the price as well as one of
those boxes was priced 1700 pts instead of 7100 pts. You don't have to
guess which one I bought.
When I got home, and listened to it, I did not like it at all. With the
passing of time (a year or longer!!) I tried to listen to Opel
and found that it was so different to the stuff I was usually listening
to, that I got hooked.
By chance, a friend of mine lent me The Piper at the Gates of Dawn… I
began to listen to Pink Floyd, the band founded by the Opel guy.
At the time, I was studying English Language and Literature, so Syd was
a source of knowledge here (Lewis Carrol, Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear,
Wontcha tell us about your blog?
Why not? It all began when I posted Here
I Go, sung by David Gilmour on a radio show. I noticed this post got
some visitors and as it was the only Syd blog in the Spanish language on
this side of the universe, I decided to do something about it.
After some entries I added a device to translate the entries into other
languages. I thought that other people would be interested in some of
the posts like, for example, the ones offering essential and very good
bootlegs. I even dared to share a home-made compilation of the Have
You Go It Yet? series. Things are growing rapidly and news is
becoming the core of the blog.
I also wanted to share things that haven’t got a place in the project
I’m working on, that is, a book about Syd… which is going to be a quite
hard task to do. Time & money, apart from Pink Floyd songs, are quite
annoying. I cannot say much about this yet. There’s always the
bittersweet risk of giving up, so don’t hold your breath, or you’ll
suffocate. I’m trying to do my best, I swear.
The self-interview section is my favourite. I got Duggie Fields, some
Belgian Reverend and Kiloh Smith to interview themselves for the blog
and others are in the pipeline. It is not easy as you run the risk of
being misinterpreted when choosing the subjects. Basically there are
only two rules:
1. Have fun. 2. Free subject matters.
What's next? It was a surprise when I found that www.sydbarrett.org.es
was free… so my blog points to this URL as well. One problem is that my
computer skills are limited. I need designers for the bootlegs and
layout artists for things unseen in the sydbarretian world. The
number of visits is high, the collaborators are scarce. The pipe of the
pipeline is going to explode.
Why Syd Barrett?
His music works like a hyperlink (a thing he has in common with David
Bowie). It’s because of him that I got to know some writers I didn’t
study at the university. His musical influences are quite rich. By
scratching the surface you end up knowing lots of amazing musicians and
albums like Zappa’s Freak-Out, Love’s Forever
Changes, the works of Kevin Ayers, and The Byrds to mention a few.
It made me fully appreciate other genres like psychedelic folk and
blues. Syd's friend, Stephen Pyle, showed me to appreciate blues. He
used to play Bo Diddley (whom he met once!), John Lee Hooker, Jimmy
Reed, Buddy Guy...
With Barrett, I learned to see what’s behind a song. Some of those, for
reasons we know, were under-produced (sometimes, even less than that)
and yet they have reached a kind of status that will make them last
forever. You know they are quite good songs even without a proper
production, even with a quite imperfect performance.
Today, we see the contrary. No matter the means musicians have today,
most of contemporary music seems to suffer from a dance song fate
and their perishability is faster than the yoghourts in your fridge.
There must be something extremely special in those under-produced Syd
Barrett tracks, rougher than demos, that makes them what they are.
Tell us about your favorite music.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Kevin Ayers a lot, and The The. Also
The Beach Boys are on my mp3 player. They are something special. The
sound and the songs of The Beach Boys have a special quality which makes
this music a kind of healing experience, the kind of help we need to
survive modern life. …The Manics, Travis, Maximilian Hecker, Sun Ra…
Spanish singer-songwriters like Nacho Vegas and Diego Vasallo… Good old
rock and roll, like Chuck Berry, Jerry-Lee Lewis, Elvis…
You could say I’m a kind of David Bowie connoisseur. I collaborated on
Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie proposing some
ideas I found interesting. I strongly recommend it. Bowie’s 1967 album
is very avant-garde, and very ironic.
In general, I like artists who are innovative, like producer Joe Meek,
and those who can transform the past into something completely different
or revive it in a new and exciting way, like Suede.
What do you think about the recent Pink Floyd
Those are not my cup of tea. These boxes have so much useless gimmicks
and several music stuff is simply repeated! The unreleased material of
every album could have been compiled in the way of The Beatles Anthology
and then everyone would have been satisfied. The Pink Floyd vaults seem
not to be very deep, but the treasures are so hard to get!
I understand that EMI intends to make business, however, at the same
time and paradoxically, they don't make their customers happy. So what’s
this for? To get cash and disappoint people? It makes people eager to
download the stuff instead of buying it.
I don’t need a Piper / Saucerful Immersion set. I don’t want those
marbles, I don’t need a scarf, I don’t use placeholders (I got plenty of
them during my stay in Belgium). I haven’t got a Blue-ray player. In
summary, I don’t want to create more needs… Do ya?
Would Barrett have become a second Bowie if only?
The otherness in Barrett could have derived into something different
from Bowie or the other way round, but never would he have become a
second Bowie. They would have provoked some kind of artistic turmoil in
the best of the senses. Along with Brian Eno, both are (were) aware that
"music is where you can crash your plane and walk away”. Songs like
Arnold Layne, so childlike, or Astronomy Domine, with such an exciting
and new sound, were made with a goal. Bowie and Barrett are the kind of
artists carrying that old Monty Python sentence: “And now… for something
completely different”. That’s what Barrett did most of the times. Every
Syd tune was different.
Best memories of England?
It was all quite surreal. I remember walking on the grass of
Grantchester Meadows, having coffee in The Cambridge Corn Exchange, and
feeling like in a dream I had never dreamed, just because I was there by
chance. I visited every place I had read about in the books, like St.
Margaret Square. I also did the same in London, the three times I went
I arrived there in a sort of tele-transportation. I did not have the
time to think of the things I knew I would see there. And surprises came
in little by little; I did not know the grass of King’s College was the
one mentioned on ‘Brain Damage’, for example.
I remember working for The City Wakes, restoring old magazine adverts
for concerts and saying to myself… “What is this where I’m in??!!”. The
result was part of a collage by Stephen Pyle (again), and it ended up on
the wall of a jazz bar (and part of a postcard collection).
But life was not always easy for an immigrant. All in all it was a
beautiful and wonderful bitter-sweet experience.
Apart from the aforementioned people… who else did you meet?
I met Storm Thorgerson during one of his exhibitions. I had some kind of
problem with him. I had a City Wakes poster with me he made the artwork
for and he put his autograph on it. I was going to leave, when he said
“you have to pay 20 pounds”. I said I did not have a penny! And he let
me go in a… special way.
I had the chance to meet Mick Rock, but I did not make the effort to
avoid another disappointment. Steven Pyle and Mick met… and… during a
chat in a bar, they removed a Syd poster from a wall and Mick dedicated
it to me. Stephen said he was a very nice person, to which I thought…
“****!”, it was like winning the lottery without having a coupon. A good
summary of my stay.
What more can you say?
Not much. Visit Solo
En Las Nubes using the translation tool or read it like that in
order to improve your Spanish. There are a lot of surprises to come, not
only for the Spanish speakers. Cool compilations, some material to read
(in English too) and lots of music recommendations.
The Holy Igquisition has got a little black book with Roger
Waters' interesting quotes in. Needless to say that this is a very
thin book, with lots of white space, but here is a phrase from the Pink
Floyd's creative genius (his words, not ours) this article
would like to begin with.
There are no simple facts. We will all invent a history that suits us
and is comfortable for us, and we may absolutely believe our version to
be the truth. (…) The brain will invent stuff, move stuff around, and so
from 30 years ago (…) there's no way any of us can actually get at the
The Reverend would – however – first want to ask one fundamental
question, of which our readers may not be quite aware of the
significance of it... If Roger Waters is such a creative genius writing
poignant one-liners criticizing his fellow rock colleagues:
Lloyd-Webber's awful stuff. Runs for years and years and years. (…) Then
the piano lid comes down. And breaks his fucking fingers. (It's
A Miracle, Amused
...why then does he agree to release hyper-priced Immersion boxes
containing a scarf, some marbles, carton toasters, playing cards, other
debris and, oh yeah, incidentally some music as well? One can only
conclude it's a miracle. Let's just hope he doesn't get near a
piano for the next couple of years.
But probably we are too harsh in our criticism, Roger Waters has told
the press before that he is simply outvoted by the other Pink Floyd
members. This is a situation that used to be different in the past when
he reigned over the band as the sun
king, but like he will remember from his Ça
Ira days, these are the pros and cons of capitalist democracy.
A typical Floydian example of false memory syndrome is the visit of Syd
Barrett in the Abbey
Road studios on the 5th of June 1975. It is a mystery to us why EMI
didn't ask for entrance money that day as a complete soccer team,
including the four Pink Floyd members David
Mason, Roger Waters and Rick
Wright, claim they have seen, met and spoken to Syd Barrett.
Roadie (and guitar technician) Phil Taylor remembers he had a
drink in the mess with Syd and David. Stormtrooper Thorgerson
has had his say about it all but if one would give him the opportunity
he would argue – probably in yet another book rehashing the same old
material – that he started the band Pink Floyd at the first place. Other
'reliable' witnesses that day include (alphabetically sorted): Venetta
Fields, backing singer and member of The
Leckie, EMI engineer and producer (but not on Wish
You Were Here) Nick
Sedgwick, friend of Roger Waters and 'official' biographer of Pink
Shirley, Humble Pie drummer and friend of David Gilmour Carlena
Williams, backing singer and member of The Blackberries
Some say that Barrett visited the studio for two or three days in a row
and three people, including his former managers Peter
Jenner and Andrew
King, claim they spoke to Syd Barrett about a month later on David
Gilmour's wedding while the bridegroom himself claims that Syd Barrett
never showed up. To quote Pink Floyd biographer Mark
Blake: “...not two people in Pink Floyd's world have matching
stories...”, and neither do two biographies...
(A more detailed article about Barrett's visits during the Wish You Were
Here sessions, with pictures!, can be found at: Shady
In his most recent, but probably not his last, picture book about Syd
Rock writes the following:
He (Syd Barrett, FA) asked me to take photos for the sleeve of
his first solo album The Madcap Laughs that autumn. At the time he was
living with yet another very pretty young lady known only as Iggy the
Eskimo. She wasn't really his girlfriend although clearly they had a
sexual relationship. But of course her presence in some of the photos we
took that day added an important element that enhanced their magical
Most biographies (all but one, Julian Palacios' Dark
Globe, in fact) put the date of The Madcap Laughs photo shoot in the
autumn of 1969 and this thanks to testimonies of Storm
Thorgerson, Mick Rock and, most of all, Malcolm
Jones. The Church, however, beliefs there is a 'misinformation
effect' in play. Researchers have found out that people will
automatically fill in the blanks in their memory if a so-called reliable
witness comes with an acceptable story. This would not be the first time
this happens in Pink Floyd history. And probably there have been 'cover
picture' meetings after summer between Harvest
perhaps even leading to an alternative Storm Thorgerson photo shoot (the
But in the end it was decided to use the daffodils session from
That the Church's theory (with the help of JenS) wasn't that far-fetched
was proven in March 2010 when the rock magazine Mojo
consecrated a three pages long article to pinpoint the date of the
shooting of The Madcap Laughs, with testimonies from Duggie Fields, Mick
Rock, Jenny Spires and Storm Thorgerson. The article and the Church's
comments can be found at Goofer
Dust [(I've got my) Mojo (working)... Part 2].
We know from JenS, Duggie Fields and Gretta
Barclay that Iggy arrived early 1969, and helped painting the floor,
but the only person who didn't comment on this was Iggy Rose herself. So
one freezing winter day The Holy Church asked her if she could have been
around at Wetherby Mansion, after the summer of 1969...
Iggy Rose: "I don't think it was that late, but I have to admit
it was almost 45 years ago. I remember I was cold, and they had a
one-bar-heater to try and keep me warm. I stayed a week here and there
and I never gave that photo shoot another thought. Later I found out
when Mick Rock came back for the second shoot he was disappointed I
Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1)): "I took Ig to Wetherby Mansions in January or
February 1969 where she met Syd Barrett. (…) I introduced Iggy to Syd
shortly before I left (to America, FA), and she was around when I
left. She wasn’t there for long and generally moved around a lot to
Iggy Rose: "I had absolutely no idea how mammoth he was. Syd
never came on to me as the Big I Am. In fact when he played his rough
tracks of The Madcap Laughs he was so endearingly sweet and appealing...
Even asking me whether it was good enough to take to some bloke at EMI
Margaretta Barclay (Gretta
Speaks (Pt. 2)): "Iggy moved about and stayed with all sorts of
people in all sorts of places without declaring her intention to do so.
To my knowledge there was no ‘when Iggy left Syd’ moment. We were all
free spirits then, who moved whenever and wherever a whim took us."
Iggy Rose: "I wasn't even aware of who Syd Barrett really was. Of
course I knew of Pink Floyd. I must have seen them perform at Crystal
Palace but they were to me an obscure avant-garde underground band, who
played way-out music I couldn't dance to."
Jenny Spires (public conversation at Iggy Roses' Facebook
page): "Ig, Syd painted the floor boards as soon as he moved in
Christmas 68. When I moved in with him in January there were still
patches not done, by the door, in the window under the mattress where we
slept, in top right hand corner of the room. When he painted it
initially, he didn't wash the floor first. He just painted straight onto
all the dust etc... Dave (Gilmour) also painted his floor red..."
Duggie Fields (Mojo): "It was pretty primitive, two-bar electric
fire, concreted-up fireplaces... it was an area in decline. I don't
think there was anything, no cooker, bare floorboards..."
Mate (alleged visitor at Wetherby Mansions, FA): "The
three rooms all faced the street. On entering the house, the first room
was Fields', the second and largest, I guess about 25 square meters,
Barrett's. The third and smallest room was a communal room or a bedroom
for guests. Gala (Pinion, FA) stayed there. In the corridor were
some closets stuffed with clothes.
Then the floor bended to a small bathroom, I think it was completely at
the inside without a window. At the back was the kitchen with a window
to the garden. It was not very big and looked exactly like in the
Fifties. The bathroom was also rather simple, I mean, still with a small
tub. I don't remember how the bathroom floor looked like though."
Update 2016: 'Mate' is an anonymous witness who claims to have
been an amorous friend of Syd Barrett, visiting him several times in
London and Cambridge between 1970 and 1980. However, later
investigations from the Church have found out that this person probably
never met Syd and is a case of pseudologia fantastica. This
person, however, has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of Syd Barrett and
early Pink Floyd and probably the above description of Syd's flat is
Iggy Rose: "I think Gala had the small room, Duggie the second
and Syd the largest. She had a lot of perfumes and soaps and gave me a
nice bubbly bath once... ...and tampons." (Launches one of her legendary
roaring laughs provoking a temporarily hearing loss with the Reverend.)
Any colour you like
Ian Barrett: "The stereo in the picture ended up at my house, and
I am pretty sure I had the record player in my bedroom for a good few
years. God knows where it is now though..."
Iggy Rose: "I wonder what happened to the old heavy tape recorder
with the giant spools. I remember Syd carrying it over for me to listen
to his rough cut of The Madcap Laughs."
Malcolm Jones (The Making Of The Madcap Laughs): "In anticipation
of the photographic session for the sleeve, Syd had painted the bare
floorboards of his room orange and purple."
Mick Rock (Psychedelic Renegades): "Soon after Syd moved in he
painted alternating floor boards orange
JenS: "I was staying with Syd between the New Year and March '69.
(…) Anyway, at that time, the floor was already painted blue
and orange and I remember thinking how
good it looked on the Madcap album cover later on when the album was
Iggy Rose (The
Croydon Guardian): "When Mick (Rock, FA) turned up to
take the photos I helped paint the floor boards for the shoot, I was
covered in paint, I still remember the smell of it."
Margaretta Barclay (Gretta
Speaks): "I remember that Iggy was involved with the floor painting
project and that she had paint all over her during the floor painting
time but I was not involved with the painting of the floor."
Iggy Rose (Mojo):
"He jumped off the mattress and said, 'Quick, grab a paint brush.' He
did one stripe and I did another. If you look at Mick Rock's pictures, I
have paint on the soles of my feet."
Duggie Fields (The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story): "I think he
painted the floor boards, sort of quite quickly. He didn't prepare the
floor, I don't think he swept the floor actually. (…) And he hadn't
planned his route out of the bed that was over there. He painted around
the bed and I think there was a little problem getting out of the room.
(…) He painted himself in."
Jenny Fabian (Days In The Life):: "He'd painted every other floor
board alternate colours red and green."
Iggy Rose: "I remember the mattress being against the
wall......Soooooo either we ran out of paint, or waited till the paint
dried, so poor Syd was marooned in the middle of the floor. (…) The
floorboards were painted red and blue.
I do remember, as the paint was on my feet and bottom. Did you know that
Syd wanted to take the colours right up the wall?"
Mate: "The planks were painted in a bright fiery-red,
perhaps with a slight tendency towards orange,
and dark blue with a shadow of violet.
Iggy is absolutely right: this was no orange's
orange. The curtains were dark
green velvet." (This witness may be a mythomaniac,
Mick Rock: "They were long exposures because of the low light and
they were push-developed which means that you give the film more time in
the processing fluid. You can tell because the colour changes and
the film starts to break up which causes that grainy effect."
Libby Gausden: "I always thought it was orange
paint, not red." Iggy
Rose: "Careful Libs darling! People will start to analyse that, the
way they did with the dead daffodils." Libby Gausden:
"Well they had faded from red to orange
when I got there."
Jenny Spires (public conversation
at Iggy Roses' Facebook
page): "The floor was painted long before you arrived Ig and was blue
and orange. You and Syd might have given
it another lick of paint and covered up some of the patchiness and bare
floorboard that was under the mattress before the Rock/Thorgersen shoot.
Perhaps, he only had red paint for that,
but it was blue and orange."
Mate: "Even in 1970 there were still unpainted parts in the room,
hidden under a worn rug. I suppose the floor had been beige-white before
Syd and Iggy painted it in dark blue
with a shadow of violet and bright orangy
red . The floor boards had not been carefully painted and
were lying under a thick shiny coat. The original pitch-pine wood didn't
In my impression it was an old paint-job and I didn't realise that Syd
had done it all by himself the year before. I never spoke with him about
the floor as I couldn't predict that it would become world-famous one
day. It is also weird that nearly nobody seems to remember the third
room..." (This witness may be a mythomaniac, see above.)
Mick Rock: "I actually went back a couple of weeks later. We
still didn't know what the LP was going to be called and we thought we
might need something different for the inner sleeve or some publicity
Iggy Rose: "I did go back afterwards and maybe Syd mentioned this
to someone. I wasn't bothered and I didn't know Syd was some big pop
star. He never lived like one and certainly didn't behave like."
When Iggy disappeared it wasn't to marry a rich banker or to go to Asia.
As a matter of fact she was only a few blocks away from the already
crumbling underground scene. One day she returned to the flat and heard
that Barrett had returned to Cambridge. She would never see Syd again
and wasn't aware of the fact that her portrait was on one of the most
mythical records of all time.
Update 2016: The above text, although meant to be tongue in
cheek, created a rift between the Reverend and one of the cited
witnesses, that still hasn't been resolved 4 years later. All that over
a paint job from nearly 50 years ago.
Many thanks to: Margaretta Barclay, Duggie Fields, Libby Gausden, Mate,
Iggy Rose, JenS & all of you @ NML & TBtCiIiY...
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 231-232. Clerk,
Carol: If I'm honest, my idea was that we should go our separate ways,
Roger Waters interview in Uncut June 2004, reprinted in: The Ultimate
Music Guide Issue 6 (from the makers of Uncut): Pink Floyd, 2011, p. 111. Gladstone,
Shane: The Dark Star, Clash 63, July 2011, p. 53 (Mick Rock
picture outtakes). Green,
Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p.168. Jones,
Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p.
13. Mason, Nick: Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011
reissue, p. 206-208. Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades,
Plexus, London, 2007, p. 18-19, Rock, Mick: Syd Barrett - The
Photography Of Mick Rock, EMI Records Ltd, London & Palazzo Editions
Ltd, Bath, 2010, p. 10-11. Spires, Jenny: Facebook
conversation with Iggy Rose, July 2011.