2018-04-08

Roger is always right

In The Pink, Nick Sedgwick
In The Pink, Nick Sedgwick.

Apples and Oranges

Roger Waters is so rich that if he wants some orange juice for breakfast he buys a plantation first. So it probably doesn't bother him that his concert memorabilia cost you an arm and a leg, if you want to have them shipped into Europe.

In July 2017 some vigilant Pink Floyd fans remarked that Nick Sedgwick's 'top secret' book In The Pink could suddenly be found at the London Their Mortal Remains exhibition. The forbidden book appeared out of the blue, without an official announcement, and it was rumoured that there were only a handful of copies around, some even claimed less than twenty. (Read about it at: In The Pink hunt is open!)

Luckily this wasn't true and copies could (and still can) be purchased from Roger Waters' webshop. Unfortunately this is an America only webshop, meaning that for a 30$ book you have to add a 26$ transport fee to have it shipped to the ancient world. That is not all. Once the book arrives in the European Union our friends from DHL need to pass it through customs clearance. There is a silly amount of import duties to be paid, something in the range of 1,50$, but the additional administration fee is the tenfold of that. In the end the book nearly triples in price before you can hold it in your hands. It wouldn't surprise me if Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd has some shares in the transport mogul with the yellow red logo.

When Roger Waters wants to go hunting in Great Britain with his pals Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood, he hires a private jet for the day. Fine for me, but opening a European webshop to financially help his hundreds of thousands of fans is apparently way out of his league. It is a bit ambiguous for someone who claims he writes his music for the people who are living at the wrong side of capitalism. Probably he only means Palestinians. Palestinians are good. Palestinians matter. I wonder if DHL charges less if Palestinians order something from Waters' webshop.

OK. Fuck all that. This rant is over. It's time to stop and smell the roses. Let's finally start with one of those spectacular Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit reviews.

Pink Floyd 1974 - the untold story
Pink Floyd 1974 - the untold story.

Nick Sedgwick

But first for the uninitiated. Who is Nick Sedgwick and what has he got to do with Pink Floyd?

The condensed story is that Sedgwick and Waters have been buddies since their Cambridge days. When Pink Floyd hit the road to fame and fortune they lost contact for a while, but some years later they met again on a golf course. Roger Waters liked to have his friend around and the friendship persisted until Sedgwick's death in 2011. Sedgwick left behind a manuscript, dating from 2004, part autobiographical, part about his interactions with Waters and the Floyd in the mid-seventies. Waters promised to posthumously publish the book (read about it at: Immersion). It would, however, take until 2017 before this was done.

Nick Sedgwick may have been Roger Waters' bestest friend, but he never automatically agrees with all of the Floyd's idiosyncrasies. He starts the book with the observation that hardly a year goes by without one or other 'anniversary of some seminal moment in the band's long and illustrious career'.

The industry around Pink Floyd is flourishing 'particularly those most agitated by the impulse to turn a quick profit'. P11.

This hasn't changed since 2004, unfortunately. Our next book review (give us a few weeks to read it first) will be about a biography that has jumped on the Floyd's Early Years bandwagon, for instance.

Cambridge Days

For me the book has three parts, and not two as some reviewers say. In a long and winding (and slightly dull) introduction Sedgwick remembers the Cambridge days with Roger, David, Syd, Storm and the other clan members of what David Gilmour later baptised the Cambridge mafia. Nick was a bit an outsider in the group, more an observant than a participant.

He has his own opinion of the urge of the Cantabrigian tribe to suddenly act 'cool', like digging Howl and experimenting with LSD and other mind-altering substances. Drugs immediately created some victims and the sudden interest of some of his acquaintances to travel to the East was, in the observant and ironical eye of Sedgwick, none other than 'a neat fix for rehab'. As a disciple of a Hindu holy man, leading a life of no meat, no drugs, no sex, your hip credibility remained intact, what could not be said of the Church of England.

One of the people who wanted to get initiated was none other than the peer group's 'golden boy' who went by the name of Syd Barrett. Sedgwick doesn't buy the theory though that Syd's rejection by the Sant Mat movement contributed to his subsequent problems.

Whether or not Syd's breakdown was caused by excessive drug use, thwarted spiritual ambition, the stresses and strains of early celebrity, or by the sudden eruption of repressed anxieties and dilemmas caused by a combination of all three is impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy. P23.
2 Rogers (1965)
2 Rogers (1965).

Nick Sedgwick agrees he never felt comfortable in the presence of Syd, who was popular, eagerly sought after and always welcome. Syd Barrett may have been cooler than cool, but at what price? The shock for the band came years later when they recorded Wish You Were Here. Nick Sedgwick was around as well:

When I joined the band for lunch one day (there) was a bald fat person dressed in loose and lace-less hushpuppies, and a pair of outsize trousers held up by a length of string. (…)
I sat for twenty minutes or so, eating lunch, exchanging random news, acutely aware of the alarming presence at the head of the table that somehow seemed to dominate the proceedings. Despite the large number of people – the Floyd, engineers, EMI employees, personal assistants – these were noticeably stilted. I avoided eye contact, examined food and ashtrays during lulls in conversation. Next to me, Roger, no doubt wondering how long it would take me 'to get it', seemed increasingly amused by my discomposure. A few more minutes of strained joviality passed, then Roger nudged me gently. “Have you copped Syd yet?” he said. My head snapped up, and I swivelled open-mouthed in Syd's direction, instantly processing the message in a visceral shock of recognition. (…)
The hair was gone – from his head, from his arms, and even from his eyebrows – and, if he stood erect he would not have been able to view his feet without tilting his head forward over his belly. Only his eyes were familiar. (…)
Syd drank orange juice almost by the bucket, chewed Amplex tablets, and observed the action. I asked him what he thought of the music. There was a prolonged pause, then he answered. “It's all… all a bit Mary Poppins.” P24-26.

Nick Sedgwick does not agree with the blind adoration some fans have for Syd Barrett and calls it absurd and morbid. Syd disappeared too soon and his work, even the one with Pink Floyd, is too fragmented to speak about an oeuvre. The legend of Syd is not about him being a genius, the legend is about Barrett disappearing from the spotlights before he could become a genius. It's the James Dean syndrome and the fact that Syd Barrett didn't die but just went crazy only adds up to the legend. You can't deny Sedgwick feels somebody should have tried helping Syd (and all those others) before it was too late.

School

Barrett and Roger Waters went to the Cambridge and County School for Boys (aka Cambridgeshire High School), David Gilmour and Sedgwick to the Perse Preparatory School For Boys. Perse boys were nicknamed 'Pigs', while High School boys were called 'Oiks'. Not everyone was keen to see these would-be beatniks, but a safe haven was Storm Thorgerson's parental house, where nobody objected smoking dope.

Sedgwick went to Essex University and when the Entertainments Secretary was looking for a band he offered them The Tea Set, who played a gig for 35£. The band was such a success, playing Bo Diddley hits, that they returned for a second and third gig, now for a whopping 45£. Six months later they were in the charts, as The Pink Floyd, but Nick didn't have any contact with them, busy trying to make a living.

The introduction of In The Pink is written in beautiful, elaborate, erudite sentences that are not always adding to the story. It is a rather slow (and a bit tedious) start, like one of those Pink Floyd instrumentals that seem to go on and on for ages, before the song finally breaks loose.

Luckily it gets better.

Uno
Uno.

Holidays in the Sun

Several years later Dark Side Of The Moon turns the band into a worldwide success. It not only makes the band members instant millionaires, it also obliges them to overthink their careers, their future and their role in the band. Especially Waters is not very happy with the situation and when Nick Sedgwick contacts him out of the blue he is more than happy to renew the friendship with someone who is not a part of the band's inner circle. They will remain close friends for the next decades to come.

The second part of the biography is about this renewed friendship. Roger Waters more or less clings to Nick and wants to have him around as much as possible. Sedgwick is a much needed confessor to whom Roger Waters can ventilate his opinions about the band, the world in general and the ineluctable breakdown of his marriage with Jude.

Understandably Sedgwick is not completely unbiased when he writes about his pal, take this part for instance where Waters is complaining about the lack of creative input from the rest of the band. The year is 1974 and no one, except Roger Waters, seems to be interested in a Dark Side follow up.

This would quickly make him the most energetically creative member of the band, and one day in the not too distant future would inevitably draw him into conflict with some of its other members who, either through lack of inclination, a lack of sufficient talent, or simply through having different priorities, felt no such similar requirement, but who nevertheless still insistently saw themselves as equal partners both in terms of their contributions, and in terms of their reputations. P62.

This might be a possible truth but one that comes straight out of one of Roger Waters' brainwashing rants from the late eighties. If you ask me it unmistakably shows a contemptuous disdain for the others and – as a matter of fact – I think it is utter bollocks. Wish You Were Here is for one third a Richard Wright record, Animals and The Wall would be nowhere without David Gilmour's voluminous input (and let us not forget Nick Mason as well).

Uno

Nick Sedgwick's life will also change, thanks to his friend, as the square teacher and free-lance journalist becomes a showbiz member, more or less against his will. At the Pink Floyd offices where Roger Waters is having a meeting with Peter Barnes about copyrights, the question is asked if Waters would like to write some lyrics for an Italian progressive band. Waters winks at his friend, saying:

You're the writer, Nick. Why don't you do it? (…)
You might even earn a few quid. P64.

When Sedgwick responds that he hasn't got no clue how to write lyrics, he gets the following important life-changing lesson.

It doesn't matter. Christ, we're not talking about art. You simply fit words together. Just write gibberish. That's what I do. Hell, these guys probably don't even speak English. P65.

The encounter with the Italians, at Naples, who don't speak a single word of English indeed, is one of the funnier anecdotes in the book. Sedgwick has the decency not to name them but an internet search shows it was the band Uno (an offspring of Osanna) who recorded their one and only album in 1974. This album exists in two versions, an Italian one, with three English songs by Sedgwick, and an international version, all written by him. There are more Floydian links to discover with this release, the international version has a cover by Hipgnosis and one of the songs, a shameless Floydian clone named Goodbye Friend, has backing vocals by Liza Strike.

Although Nick Sedgwick is genuinely ashamed about his lyrics, created with the help of 'amphetamines, gin, Walker's Rhyming Dictionary and a vast compendium of colourful clichés' (P66) he continues to be the lyricist for a follow-up band Nova on a couple of jazz-rock albums. Despite the help of Pete Townshend and Phil Collins they never acquire any popularity though.

Roger & Jude.
Roger & Jude.

Greece

A large chunk of the second part of the biography is when Roger Waters invites Nick Sedgwick on holiday in Greece, just after the military coup of July 1974. Here we get a first hand impression of Waters' married life, that is slowly crumbling down. Sedgwick remains loyal to his friend and that is why Jude mostly comes out as a one dimensioned Xanthippe, picking on Roger for the most trivial reasons at the most inappropriate moments. It really takes a good read between the lines to figure out that she could have some valid reasons to whine about. Being a rock 'n' roll widow, for instance, with Waters fucking groupies on tour. Or the fact that Waters easily put aside his left progressive political beliefs once the band went gold. Her constant struggle to survive as an independent pottery artist versus his apparent nonchalant way to suck in all those millions.

We learn that Roger Waters is ambitious, that he never doubts his capacities and that he always wants to be the leader. If the two friends play golf, it is Roger who plays to win, and who will win. The same goes for table tennis, water-skiing, fishing or scuba diving.

I don't think he ever did anything simply for the fun of it, he needed to excel. P91-92.

There will be no average results for Roger and this may well have been pretty uncomfortable for his wife, who also has a stubborn character. Judy explains that when Roger Waters was seventeen, he simply decided to be rich.

He'd spend a day or so cold-bloodedly weighing up the effectiveness of his various options, then had gone out and bought a guitar. P90.

Even on their holidays there is no rest for him and he mostly inveigles Nick into some aquatic activity. (I'm really starting to think that the only reason he invited Nick Sedgwick on holidays was to have someone he could constantly boss around and do things with.)

Roger himself became restless lying idle in the sun. (…) On rare occasions he'd work, scribbling on scraps of paper a line or couplet he might later be able to extend in a song. Sometimes he'd pick up an acoustic guitar and strum it inconclusively for five minutes before stopping with a comment along the lines of: “Ah well, that's another ten thousand quid.” P97.

The thing, and that is probably what continually vexes his wife Judy, is that
a) he isn't ironic at all and
b) it probably is the truth as well.

After the umpteenth quarrel with his wife, Waters sits on the terrace of his Greek villa, drumming his fingers on the table. Nick brings him a beer. Roger is deadly serious when he gives the following explanation for his problems in his marriage.

You know what the problem is, don't you Nick?
I'm always right.
That's the fucking problem. P101.

Here is a man who is tiring to the extreme for a lot of people around him, and while he claims to be someone of great intelligence, he only partly understands how condescend he can be.

Pink Floyd Book Synopsis
Pink Floyd Book Synopsis, 1973.

Any Colour You Like

As I am around for most of the time, why don't you give me a job?, Nick Sedgwick may have thought, and for once, Roger Waters agrees. After a sabbatical Pink Floyd is back on tour and Waters has the idea to make a book about their life on the road, in his words (quoted by Mark Blake): ‘the definitive book on the experience in Pink Floyd’.

Storm Thorgerson is the project leader and graphics coordinator of the book. Jill Furmanovsky is recruited to take some pictures and Nick Sedgwick is going to write the text.

The Rare Pink Floyd website has one of the early synopses of the book, two of those are known to exist and are in collector's hands, showing that this was not going to be a 'pretty boys having fun on the road' picture book, but a serious biography touching at different aspects of the band.

The Pink Floyd Book
Storm Thorgerson & Nick Sedgwick 1973

Chapter 1: This Is true
Chapter 2: Birth
Chapter 3: The Piper at the Gates of Dusk
Chapter 4: Rough history of the Space Music
Chapter 5 : The Chaps
Chapter 6: The Structure
Chapter 7: Everything under the sun
Chapter 8: The œuvre
Chapter 9: Technology
Chapter 10: The Women
Chapter 11: Hernia Hernia
Chapter 12: Appendix

It is agreed that Nick Sedgwick will follow the band, first on the 1974 British Winter Tour, then on the early 1975 North American Tour. His impressions of the British Tour are the third part of this book. These are detailed notes – gig by gig - about the Floyd's performance, the sound quality of the concerts, the backstage quarrels and discussions from the band and roadies.

If there is one constant, it is that none of the Floyd are eager to go on tour, and it shows. Their technical preparation hasn't been finished. They have a new Bereza PA-system that hasn't been thoroughly tested and is still showing many flaws. On top of that their sound engineer Rufus Cartwright is someone who has never mixed a live show before and who only has studio recording experience. David Gilmour has difficulties to cope with the new situation.

He admits to having had periods of despondency throughout this time, largely because the machine grew suddenly so big, complicated, and alarmingly expensive. In fact, he says, it pissed him off to such an extent that on several occasions he considered resigning. P158.

It's the feeling of about everyone in the band.

What was fun and convenient to begin with, a route to success next, might well be a source of frustration now. It may be that it's time for the Floyd family to separate, for the siblings to find out what each can or can't do on his own. P179.

The only one who doesn't feel like that is Steve O'Rourke. He is afraid to loose the goose with the golden eggs and doesn't want to return to his dog-meat selling days. He invariably (and often a bit pathetically) tries to motivate the lads to stay together and give it another try.

When the Floyd finally sack their sound man and replace him with a seasoned professional the band clearly gets a boost and plays more confident, but still not what is to be expected from a band ranking in the top 5 from greatest shows on earth. Backstage there are huge rows between the roadies, blaming each other for what went wrong and meanwhile the PA system still sucks.

Of course not everything is doom and gloom and Sedgwick notes a lot of funny things as well. On November, the 18th, Nick Mason has booked a table for midnight at the Blue Boar transport cafe on the M1. Roger Waters explains to Carlena Williams and Venetta Fields what is so legendary about the place.

The M1 was the only motorway in the country, and all the bands used to stop off at the Boar for a meal on their way back to London after gigs. There used to be a guy who served behind the counter who had this massive growth on his ear. It seemed to have got larger every time we stopped by. Then one time he didn't have it any more, he'd had it removed. The joke was that it went into the sausages... P208.
Nick Kent Floyd Juggernaut.
Nick Kent: Floyd Juggernaut: the road to 1984?

Nick Kent, professional insults & Co.

There is some kind of a wake up call when Nick Kent publishes a vitriolic review in New Musical Express after the November Wembley shows, again troubled by bad sound, bad lighting, bad movies, bad everything (Link: Floyd Juggernaut: The Road to 1984?) It forces the band to discuss their present lethargy and the English civilised way to ignore problems, hoping they will disappear by themselves.

But first there is anger.

Rick Wright: What a fucking idiot! P213.
David Gilmour: The boy is definitely mentally deranged. P214.
Nick Mason: People like him (…) should have their heads cut off. P215.

The only member to disagree with the rest is Roger Waters.

I think it's excellent that he's written this stuff. (…)
He's trying to prick a bubble. P215-216.

Finally, they all more or less agree there is a lack of communication within the band, but there is no immediate solution for that. It is easier to blame technical problems.

A Bereza sound technician is hired to find out what the trouble is with the mixing table. His professional opinion is that despite the dozens of people working for the band, the thousands of pounds worth of equipment, Pink Floyd is running the whole damn thing on luck (P221). Again some people are sacked and others promoted. The British tour is almost over when the band finally discusses their own input or lack thereof.

“Your lack of enthusiasm is amazing.” David Gilmour reproaches Rick Wright who sullenly agrees. Roger Waters asks Nick Mason: “Where the fuck are you?” A lot can be said about the sound quality, as Nick, nor Rick often can't hear themselves, but the general consensus is the band hasn't been getting it on, on this tour. David is strict: “Every note should be played as if you really feel and mean it.” According to Roger Waters, the fact that the fans still like it, isn't a valid point. He unwaveringly predicts one of the leitmotivs of an album yet to come.

The audiences would get off even if we were pretending to play.

That night Waters tells his manager he no longer wants to use Pink Floyd as a kind of crutch. It's time to put himself at risk, personally and creatively. As we all know Stephen O'Rourke must have persuaded him not to go ahead with those plans. At least not immediately.

Just before the American tour starts, Nick Sedgwick hands over his notes to the band. David Gilmour and Rick Wright are not amused, as a matter of fact they are quite angry and find the account biased. The book project dies a silent death although nobody really tells it with so many words. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.

1974 bootleg
1974 bootleg.

Conclusion

This certainly is a book for Floydian anoraks and not for the occasional fan. Reading it forty-four years after it has been written one can ask now what the hassle it was all about. But it is true that the band and its organisation don't come out like professionals. There is also a fair share of coke and other drug use, mostly by the roadies, but band members, their manager and the author all have a go at it, despite the Floyd's reputation of being choir boys.

The last – third - part of In The Pink is the one that was written for the aborted Hipgnosis Pink Floyd book, but what we really read is a 2004 reworked manuscript of the 1974 original, so we will never know what has been amended from the version David, Rick and Nick got to read. But, amended or not, for those who like a lot of gossip of life on the road it can be quite an eye opener.


Several pictures accompanying this article will be published at our Iggy Inuit Tumblr page.
Many thanks to: Rarepinkfloyd.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 233.


Direct link: Roger is always right. Posted on 2018-04-08 at 14:45.
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© Felix Atagong, The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2018.

Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.
In 2018 the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.