Shaken not stirred
Moviemaker Anthony Stern, who knew Iggy before she met Syd, has confirmed that the person at the Granny Takes A Trip boutique on the IN Gear movie is indeed her. On his turn he will present a home movie called Iggy Eskimo Girl at The City Wakes festival in Cambridge (see banner at the right side). A short teaser can be found on YouTube.
According to Mick Rock Syd was touched when she left him:
Once I’d developed the film (from The Madcap Laughs photo-session, note by FA), I went round to show Syd the pictures. He took this one opposite (page 21 in the PR-book, note by FA) and scratched some lines and his name onto it. I think there was a bit of negativity directed at Iggy. He just started scratching the print, with a big grin on his face. (Taken from Psychedelic Renegades.)
It could be that the scratches on the picture were destined at Iggy, but why did Syd Barrett scratch (more or less) around her figure? Not (and I hope my shrink will never read this) her face or body, in my garbled opinion the logical thing to do if one would try to express negative or revengeful feelings on a photograph. Syd’s body and face is far more scratched than Iggy’s and Barrett also cut the letters SYD on the picture... Perhaps he was just trying to make clear to Mick Rock that he wanted to get rid of his pop-life alter ego.
Mick Rock writes further that he heard from Duggie Fields, the painter who was Syd Barrett’s roommate and who still lives in the same apartment today, that ‘she later went off with some rich guy in Chelsea and lived a very straight life’.
On my main blog (and also on the Late Night forum) I wrote that none of the Pink Floyd biographers have been really looking for Iggy. Mark Blake, author of Pigs Might Fly, responded: “I can't speak for all the PF or SB biographers, but I certainly tried.”
The only bit of new info I found was that there was a chance 'Iggy' may have gone to school in the South London area, as she was known as one of the regular teenage girls at the dancehalls around Purley and Caterham. This would have been around 1965. Duggie Fields recalls seeing her some time after the Madcap Laughs photo session and she was looking a lot more "sloaney". Most of the people I spoke to who knew her believe Iggy married a rich businessman and doesn't now want to be 'found'. (Taken from The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit on Late Night.)
Although scarce the above information is about the most relevant we have had from a biographer in about 30 years.
The most famous dancehall in Purley was the Orchid Ballroom where The Who, The Troggs and The Hollies gigged a couple of times. It started as a regular dance hall (and concert and sporting events hall) in the Fifties and had a local house band The Jackpots in 1963 and 64.
In the mid Sixties (1964 – 1966) the Orchid Ballroom was the meeting place for the Croydon mods who would assemble every Monday night. Witnesses remember Mike (?) Morton, Tony Crane, Jeff Dexter and Sammy Samwell spinning the records. Pete Sanders and Mickey Finn used to be part of the crowd.
Not all these names ring a bell. I could not trace back Mike Morton, but Lionel Morton was the singer and lead guitarist from the Four Pennies who had a hit in 1963 – 1964 with Juliet. Tony Crane was a member of The Mavericks, a band that became famous when they changed the name to The Merseybeats, later The Merseys (David Bowie would cover their Sorrow on his Pin-Ups album, a tune they had borrowed from The McCoys). Mickey Finn could be the man who was the drummer of T. Rex and who also played on the record made by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, the people who were behind the Granny Takes A Trip boutique.
Elizabeth Colclough used to work at the bar in 1968: "It was the place to go to meet friends old and new, weekday evenings and also at the weekend. We saw some great bands, some who are still going strong today.”
Another witness recalls how Cathy (Mc Gowan), the queen of the mods and presenter of the ever popular Ready Steady Go! Show, came to the Orchid Ballroom to spot for dancers to appear in her show. Seen the fact that Iggy was present at an RSG!-party, organised by the show's main choreographer, it is not improbable that she may have been present at some RSG! television-shows as well, as a dancer or as a pretty face in the public.
A book about the history of the Orchid Ballroom has been made and the Church will try to contact its author, there is the (very small) chance that Iggy is mentioned in it. (Update August 2009: Brian Roote, who studied the history of The Orchid confirmed later to the Church: 'I have no knowledge of this girl whatsoever'.)
Sources (other than the above internet links):
McAleer, Dave: Beatboom!, Hamlyn, London, 1994, p. 57-59.
Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 20.
Where did she go?
On September the 17th the Croydon Guardian, a weekly free local newspaper covering South London, devoted an article to Iggy after the Church had revealed that Iggy had probably been a regular visitor at the Purley dancehall The Orchid. The article was brought to my attention by Matthew Taylor from Escape Artists who was so kind to point me to a scan of the article, neatly hidden in a dark corner from The City Wakes website.
It all started with a remark on the Late Night forum why no one had ever tried to locate Iggy. Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake promptly denied this and added some extra titbits to the Iggy enigma. He had found out that she was probably a South Londoner who used to go dancing in dancehalls in or around Purley. More about the Church’s quest to locate Iggy’s dancing habits can be found on a previous entry on this blog: Shaken not stirred.
This ended with the promise that the Church would try to find some more information about the place and the people who visited it. A mail was send to a historian of the Bourne Society but without success. The same message however to a journalist of the Croydon Guardian was immediately replied. Some initial information was exchanged and journalist Kirsty Walley did an excellent job by getting testimonies, not only from Anthony Stern, but also from a DJ who used to spin records at the Orchid, Jeff Dexter, and who still remembers Iggy.
In the Swinging 60s she was an iconic model who broke the heart of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett. Known only as Iggy she is thought to have lived in Thornton Heath and was a regular at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley between 1963 and 1967. Then she vanished and for the past three decades the former 60's in-crowd has wondered where she went?
Former friends, director and artist Anthony Stern and DJ Jeff Dexter, are both searching for the enigmatic model, who featured naked on the cover of Barrett's solo album Madcap Laughs. She was nicknamed "the Eskimo" because it was thought that she was part Inuit. DJ Jeff Dexter, who regularly played at the Orchid, vividly remembers the beautiful girl who used to talk to him while he played his set. He first noticed her in 1963. He said: “Iggy was part of a group of very wonderful looking south London girls. She was unusual because she did not look like anyone else at the time. Since she disappeared, she has become a bit of an enigma.”
Dexter says that he met the director and artist Anthony Stern in 1967 and that Iggy became involved with him at about the same time. Anthony took many pictures of the model and also made a film of her, which will be shown for the first time at the City Wakes festival this October in Cambridge. Stern said: “Iggy was my muse. I met her at a Hendrix gig at the Speakeasy. She was a lovely inspiration and free spirit. I never knew her real name.” “We used to hang out together, occasionally dropping acid, staying up all night, going for walks at dawn in Battersea Park.” The artist said he recently discovered photographs that he took of Iggy on a houseboat near Lots Road in Chelsea. “She entirely captures the spirit of the Sixties, living for the moment, completely carefree.”
Photographer Mick Rock remembers turning up at Barrett’s to take photographs for his solo album cover. At an interview in 199 he said: “Syd was still in his underpants when he opened the door. He’d totally forgotten about the session and fell about laughing. Iggy the Eskimo was naked in the kitchen making coffee. She didn’t mind either. They both laughed a lot and it was a magical session.” The most iconic images of her appear on the album, where she poses naked in the background.
After she broke up with Barrett she disappeared. Felix Atagong, who has set up a website in her honour, said: “According to the painter Duggie Fields, she got married to a rich guy from Chelsea and led a ‘decent’ life after that.”
Anthony and Jeff both admit they have spent time looking for her. “the truth is, if she has not come forward by now, she probably doesn’t want to be found,” said Anthony.
(picture insert: It-crowd icon: Iggy the Eskimo). An online version of the article can be found here.
An entirely new and previously unreleased picture of Iggy accompanies the newspaper article. This comes out of the personal collection of Anthony Stern. It is believed that more pictures from his collection may be unearthed on a later date.
Jeff Dexter Light & Sound Show
Ian ‘Sammy’ Samwell had been a member of The Drifters, the backup band for Harry Webb. They would become a wee bit more successful when Harry changed his name to Cliff Richard (it was Samwell’s idea to cut the final S from Richards to give the pseudonym extra spice). At the same time the backup band was renamed to The Shadows (as there was already an American band call The Drifters). When Hank Marvin joined the band Ian Samwell stepped aside and concentrated on composing hits, producing and disk jockeying.
Samwell was probably the first to acquire a star status as a DJ, before that the DJ had always been the invisible nobody who turned a few singles when the bands on stage were switching places. For the first time in history people came to The Lyceum to see the DJ at work instead of the house band.
As a producer Ian worked with Aynsley Dunbar, Georgie Fame, John Mayall, The Small Faces and he would also be known as the man 'who discovered America'. Ian 'Sammy' Samwell passed away March 13, 2003.
As a youngster Jeff Dexter wasn’t into pop music at all, but dancing with girls was, so he simply gave in. At The Lyceum (1961-ish) he met DJ Sammy Samwell and they soon became friends. Not long after that Jeff made quite a name because he was barred from the dance floor for making an attempt at The Twist, originally a Hank Ballard B-side. When a few weeks later The Twist became a Chubby Checker superhit The Lyceum hired the mod they had banned before. He became a professional dancer and had to instruct the dance crazy public the moves of the week.
Around 1962 – 1963 Jeff moved to The Orchid Ballroom, the biggest ballroom in Europe with four different bars.
Chicken & Chicks, as they called it. Fish bar. Chicken bar. They had this big ice igloo where they sold ice cream sodas. They had an upstairs bar. And they had a roundabout which was another bar, a revolving bar, all in this wonderful huge building. (Taken from DJHistory.)
Jeff Dexter noticed Iggy in 1963.
Iggy was part of a group of very wonderful looking south London girls. She was unusual because she did not look like anyone else at the time. Since she disappeared, she has become a bit of an enigma. (taken from the Croydon Guardian.)
While Ian Samwell was the main DJ at The Orchid Jeff worked as a dancer and singer of the house band and as an occasional DJ. This would become his prime profession and later on he would also spin records at Tiles, UFO and Middle Earth (where John Peel was another DJ).
As a member of the Underground in-crowd, (the index of Days In The Life gives him 20 entries), he would witness the raise and fall of the movement that wasn’t a movement to begin with and the hostile reaction of the powers that be.
Middle Earth closed after the horrible scenes of the police raid. We had had a private party that night and somebody had brought along their children. The police raided, found the children and told the Covent Garden porters we were crucifying children in there. So they smashed the place to pieces. (…) Jenny Fabian and I were locked in the box office while they wrecked the place.
The Church seriously wonders if he had better luck with Iggy.
Sources (other than the above internet links):
Bacon, Tony: London Live, Balafon Books, London, 1999, p. 101.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p.222, p. 283.
Iggy at the Gates of Dawn
It has been awfully quiet at the Iggy front. Call it spring fatigue, problems of the heart or plain laziness but the Reverend was a bit depressed. When The Holy Church started on eight eight eight (the number of the beauty) this little blog shook and stirred like a dry martini ogling in front of Mr. James Bond.
While the quest was new and aloof and thrilling enthusiasm was flowing through the Reverend’s loins it actually felt that the mission was leading somewhere, and the Head of the Church felt like Robert Langdon manoeuvring towards that mythical pyramid in front of the Louvre, safe-keeper of the holy grail.
The Church did dig something out however, one post evoked an article at the Croydon Guardian and the Reverend managed to have chats with entre-autres Anthony Stern, Barrett-biographers Julian Palacios and Mark Blake, culminating in the publication of the memoirs of a first-hand witness who happened to know both Syd and Iggy and who may well have introduced the one to the other, although she refuses to take credit for that.
There are a lot of unverified rumours around Syd Barrett, the one more ludicrous than the other; a recent (French) biography even managed to produce some the Reverend was not aware of, like the fact that Roger Keith, at one point in his eccentric career, tried to be an airline pilot. Probably the biographer mixed him up with Bruce Dickinson or Nick Mason, who used to fly the Maiden’s and Floyd’s tour planes. Anybody who saw Syd Barrett on a bicycle in and around Cambridge will testify that a plane was not going to be his most favourite transportation vehicle.
There are several unverified facts about Iggy as well, some of which have never been published before and will not be published here until witnesses willing to approve (or disapprove) are found.
Over the past months the Church contacted (this is just a sample out of
a long list):
a British amateur historian, who was going to publish the definitive history of The Orchid Ballroom at Purley and who told the Church: 'I have no knowledge of this girl whatsoever.';
a member of Dusty Springfield’s backup band;
a surviving organiser of the decadent party where Syd’s Pontiac was raffled off;
a few photographers; and even…
a 1966 flatmate of someone who may (not) have been in contact with Iggy…
Most of the time no reply was received at all and if a reply did come it was a polite thank-you-but...-note, a bit like the hasty apologies one makes when interrupted on the street by a madman who asks if you can’t lend him a 7 inch knife for a minute or so.
The Reverend felt like Moses, who guided his people for 40 years in a desert any sane person on a camel can cross in two weeks time, hence the reason why Moses is probably the patron saint of all taxi drivers in the world, but suddenly he, the Reverend - not Moses, found salvation on Walpurgisnacht by a flickering flame.
What better way to celebrate the coming of the new dawn than to introduce two new Iggy stills by Anthony Stern, presented to us by Chimera Arts on a renewed Iggy Eskimo Girl webpage?
The future smiles upon us, dear brethren and sistren, and will be
Go in peace, my flock, and don’t do anything that Iggy wouldn’t have done...
Feel free to add your own comments, theories and rumours at the Iggy forum.