Jenny Spires

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2010-02-05

Goofer Dust [(I've got my) Mojo (working)... Part 2]

Mojo March 2010
Mojo March 2010.

(This is part two of our Mojo magazine review, for part one, click here).

As if the world has suddenly been hit by a temporal rift in spacetime the March 2010 issue of Mojo music magazine has inundated the stores bearing a big (slightly photoshopped) portrait of a mister Syd Barrett. The well-written and rather accurate cover article, by Pat Gilbert, ranges from page 70 to 81 and tells the story of The Madcap Laughs, Syd Barrett’s first solo album.

Two other articles are of particular interest to the Church as they describe the mythical presence of a ‘girl whose naked body graced the back cover of The Madcap Laughs’.

Last week we discussed the Who’s That Girl article written by Mark Blake, and this week the Church will scrutinize Paul Drummond’s In My Room (Mojo 196, p. 82 - 84). Out of courtesy (and for copyright reasons) the Reverend has decided not to publish the articles as long as the magazine is for sale in the shops.
Update: Direct link to the article: Mojo March 2010. (hosted at the Church as the article was removed from the official Barrett website in 2016).

The article, about The Madcap Laughs photo sessions, has interviews with Duggie Fields, Mick Rock and - so it seems - Jenny Spires. But although she was interviewed by email for the main article by Pat Gilbert, she has told the Church she wasn’t really questioned about Iggy.

I guessed, when I saw it, they must have looked at your site (re Daffodils and photo shoot etc…), as I was not asked about this or about Iggy.
(JenS, 10th of February 2010, mail to the Church)

The Reverend could do no other thing than to summon the Holy Igquisition to stick in a few comments as the In The Room article clearly breathes the holy air of the Church but neglects to mention its existence in its columns.

Ig and Jenny Spires meeting each other for the first time

Mojo 196 reports:

Jenny Spires first met Iggy in January 1969 and introduced her to Syd and he let her stay. (p. 83)

The Holy Igquisition wants to set this straight:
According to the Church’s archives JenS first met Ig in summer 1966 (cfr. When Syd met Iggy). The year thereafter (1967) they met again and from then one they went on clubbing together. This has once again been confirmed by Jens this week:

I was surprised they had mistakenly printed that I met her in 1969. This annoys me really because of its inaccuracy.

The date of The Madcap Laughs photo shoot

Mojo 196 reports:

Iggy’s involvement appears to date the shoot as spring ’69 as she was long gone by autumn. (p. 83)

The Holy Igquisition wants to set straight:
JenS has situated the photo shoot in spring 1969 (March or April) (cfr. When Syd met Iggy 1).
Further investigations by the Church have pinpointed a possible date in April 1969 (cfr. When Syd met Iggy 2).

Daffodils

Mojo 196 reports:

It’s more likely Syd picked them (the daffodils found on the cover of the album) while in the park with Iggy, as captured on Super-8 film. (p.83)

The Holy Igquisition wants to set straight:
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has discussed the lost In The Woods movie at great extent (cfr. Anoraks and Pontiacs). However the theory that the Lost in The Woods video was shot before the photo shoot is new and quite intriguing. However the idea that Iggy, Mick and Syd picked the daffodils is, according to JenS, quite silly.

Pontiac

Mojo 196 writes:

When the photo shoot was over, Rock continued outside using Syd’s blue Pontiac Parisienne as a prop. (…) The life of this inanimate object (registration: VYP74) helps confirm that the shoot wasn’t in the autumn. (p. 84)

The Holy Igquisition wans to set straight:
The story of Syd Barrett’s car has been the object of different posts at the Church (cfr. When Syd met Iggy 2), but the initial quest for the car was done at the Late Night forum by Dark Globe, Sean Beaver and others… they found out that the car appeared in the movie Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Unlike Mojo magazine, the Church does like to give credit to the people who deserve it.

The Holy Igquisition concludes:

It is clear that Mojo magazine has extensively browsed through the pages of the Holy Church of Inuit but has somehow forgotten to mention this in its articles. The Holy Igquisition has therefore sent the following objurgation at Mojo:

Mojo comment by Felix Atagong
Mojo comment by Felix Atagong.
It was nice to see that the many theories of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit have been reproduced in The Madcap Laughs photo shoot article, albeit without mentioning where these originally came from.

However the Holy Igquisiton knows that any true believer will find the Church, so every Iggy publication will be beneficiary in the end. Ig’s story as published in the March issue of Mojo may be the butterfly effect that will cause the storm at the other side of the world. So perhaps, thanks to Mojo, the Church will be one day able to fulfil its quest.

Rather than to start an endless polemical discussion the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit would like to end this post with Duggie Fields’s magnificent description of our skyclad sistren (p. 82):

I remember being at a 31 bus stop and seeing her coming down the stairs very elegantly in this gold lame 1940s dress that had bell sleeves that buttoned to a train but with no underwear and completely exposed…
Not a care in the world.

Lo and behold brethren and sistren, and don't do anything that Ig wouldn't have done.


2010-02-27

Gretta Speaks

Margaretta (Gretta) Barclay
Margaretta (Gretta) Barclay.

In the interview that Iggy - or should we say Evelyn - gave after nearly 40 years of silence in The Croydon Guardian she remembers how she helped Syd to paint the floorboards that would give an extra psychedelic feel to The Madcap Laughs cover picture.

When Mick 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.

But Iggy, as we will keep on calling her, isn’t the only one remembering. Also present were Rusty and Margaretta, better known as Gretta:

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.

Several biographies, including Julian Palacios’s Lost In The Woods (p.241), Tim Willis’s Madcap (p.106) and Mark Blake’s Pigs Might Fly (p. 141) describe Greta (sic) and her companion Rusty as homeless ‘speed freaks’. This description almost certainly comes from painter Duggie Fields who shared the flat with Syd and who wasn’t very amused with the many people Syd invited to say the least.

Julian Palacios remembers Duggie Fields from an interview he did in 1996:

He was so cool. Reserved and wary at first, then about halfway through he became super raconteur.
(email to FA, 10 February 2010).

This lead to the following paragraph in the Lost In The Woods biography:

Duggie Fields recalls a steady stream of visitors, ‘some visitors were parasites and some were confused in their drug use, not even abusing drugs’. (...)
‘Rusty and Greta were homeless when they came to stay here,’ explains Fields. ‘Greta became good friends with Jenny Spires, and came into Syd’s life from that connection. They were in my life to a degree but I didn’t want them around. (…) They probably brought stimulants for Syd and he took them.’

Now, for the first time in over 40 years Margaretta Barclay has decided to share her memories with the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit as well. But lets starts by setting the record straight:

Your blog relating to Syd Barrett mentions that Rusty and I were drug addicted. This is most certainly not true and an old friend of ours - Jenny Spires has made that fact known to you.
My sister Catriona (Trina) and I met Jenny Spires during the mid 1960’s at a London grooming school. Jenny introduced my sister and I to Syd at 101 Cromwell Rd and at Edgerton Court. Rusty was not with us at that time.

In her interviews with the Church, early 2009, JenS vehemently denied the ‘speed freaks’ rumours: "Rusty and Gretta were not drug-addicted. They never were.” (cfr. When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3)  and Addenda and Errata with Gala and Gretta 

Gretta further explains:

Rusty and I were not in the ‘steady stream of visitors’. In 1970 we were in Suffolk at the beginning of that year and Devon for the remainder of it. Not in London. We were not homeless either. Rusty and I left London for various reasons but primarily because I was expecting my first child.
Syd was a very dear friend of ours and we did a considerable amount together in the 60's. Contrary to what I have read, we did not provide Syd with drugs.

It was of course 40 years ago when Barrett recorded The Madcap Laughs and memories may have played tricks on people. A famous example is the Mick Rock statement that Syd Barrett's car was bright pink while the pictures taken by him on that day show that the car was actually dark blue. On the DVD The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story Duggie Fields remembers how Syd painted the floor boards of his flat.


MP3 link: Duggie Fields (mp3)

Although the story is rather funny we now know that the actual truth may have been somewhat different. Similar Syd Barrett myths or legends have been created (and repeated in books and magazines) that way throughout the years without veryfying. Margaretta continues:

Without wishing to be vindictive where Duggie Fields and his interviews are concerned, surely, in order to obtain a balanced view of Syd’s chosen circle of friends, it would be sensible to back up assumptions with fact.
Syd was a highly sensitive, almost delicate person, who was well aware of his constitution where drugs were concerned and perfectly capable of not being cajoled in to anything he did not want to do. To my knowledge, he did not take vast quantities of drugs.
He enjoyed our company and invited us to stay at Wetherby Mansions where we shared good times together. Iggy was around at that time too and I remember her helping to paint the room in question. Dominique A., a French friend of ours, was also close to Syd at this time. Jenny, Catriona and I lived with her in Chelsea for a time.

Update: the Church managed to contact Dominique A. but she refused to talk about the past.

According to Margaretta the legends surrounding Syd Barrett contain many errors and “if they relate to my sister Catriona, Rusty and me, it is my duty to ensure that they are not perpetuated”.

It is convenient to point a finger at others in order to explain Syd’s behavioural patterns. Syd behaved in his inimitable way long before he met us.
Duggie did not socialise with us as a group – and his conclusion that I indulged in such a way - and on my own, is erroneous.
From our point of view Syd was a vulnerable person, we cared for him and our aim was to encourage him to be creative, to write and play his guitar. After all, Rusty only wanted to write and play music with Syd - to give him drugs was not on our agenda; Syd - was ‘far out’ enough without them.

The Reverend was of course anxious to know what kind of music Rusty and Syd played together:

Rusty and Syd played Syd’s songs and variations on them ’Oh baby my hairs on end about you’, ‘Octopus’ etc…, as well as songs they created together and basic blues.
Syd Barrett with Gretta Barclay.
Syd Barrett with Gretta Barclay.
In 1969 we went to Isle of Wight Festival together and at one point, in an effort to encourage Syd to play his guitar, we took him to stay with a musician friend of ours in Wales. Gala may remember the journey.

There have indeed been rumours of Syd Barrett visiting the Isle of Wight festival before and a (much discussed) picture of this event does exist. Margaretta is formal that the photograph is genuine:

The Isle of Wight picture is definitely of Syd with me beside him. (She is the woman at his left side, FA.)

Back to Rusty and Gretta. Hoping that the visit would inspire and encourage Syd to return to the musical ‘land of the living’ they took him to a ‘brilliant musician’ who lived in Solva, Haverfordwest, Dyfed: Meic Stevens.

(Update: The next paragraph is totally wrong as the Welsh musician in question iwas Meic Stevens, not Mike Stevens (although Meic has also been credited as Mike, early in his career). But as this Mike Stevens's family was so kind to contact the Church and as his music is really groovy, the Reverend has decided not to delete it. See: Gretta Speaks (Pt. 2))

It is believed that this musician was Mike Stevens from the Welsh band The Shevells (aka The Welsh Conquerors). In the mid sixties the band recorded several records featuring Stevens on guitar and vocals. Around 1966, as Mike Stevens & The Shevells, they recorded a cover version of Cathy's Clown and the Go-Go Train and as The Shevelles, Come On Home. Stevens was an on/off member of the band as he was apparently also involved in The Squires, originally Tom Jones’s back up band and the composers of the hit It's Not Unusual. (Information taken from Answers.com, the Church is currently trying to contact M. Stevens.)

In a soon to be published, revised and updated, 2010 edition of Julian Palacios’s biography Lost In The Woods the roles of Gretta and Rusty in Syd Barrett’s life have already been changed for the better. Palacios writes:

Life at home edged further toward the chaotic when Rusty and Greta, casual friends of Barrett’s, moved in. (…) Only recently arrived in London, not on the ‘underground scene’, they later left for Devon, where they married and settled. Greta may have done speed, but the pair were not the terrible people they have been painted as.
When Rusty B. split with Greta, he came and stayed with Jack Monck and Jenny (Spires). In late 1972, Jack and Rusty started a new band, Rocks Off.
(Above quotes from 'Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd' by Julian Palacios - Plexus Books, May September 2010 edition.)

Gretta Barclay remarried, is a proud mother and an even prouder grandmother, and according to her family ‘she is a wonderful amazing beautiful lady who has 3 children who love her very much’.

The Reverend can only agree with that. Even for the Church there are more important things in life than chasing the shadow of a girl who lived for a while in a house were someone, apparently famous, lived as well…

The second part of the interview will be published in the weeks to come.


The Church wishes to thank: Margaretta Barclay for her invaluable testimony about what really happened in those early days of 1969. Julian Palacios for additional information.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p.141.
Fields, Duggie interview in: The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story, DVD UK Ltd 2005.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 241.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 106.


2010-03-25

All about Evelyn

Mojo 197 (April 2010)
Mojo 197 (April 2010).

Nothing is so stupid as New Year resolutions, especially when you read them when the katzenjammer is over. On the second of January of 2010 the Reverend uttered the fear that the Church would soon disappear by lack of Iggy. If this meant one single thing it is that the Reverend is by no means a reliable prophet.

The March edition of the music magazine Mojo, that mysteriously appeared in January 2010, had a 14 pages cover story about the Syd Barrett album The Madcap Laughs that was finally released in January 1970 after nearly twenty months of tinkering. Its main article I'm Not Here (Pat Gilbert) gave the portrait of the artist as a young man and his struggle to get his first solo album done. A small insert Who's That Girl (Mark Blake) tried to reveal some of the mysteries around Iggy The Eskimo, but to no avail (more questions were raised then answered, see: (I've got my) Mojo (working...). Last, but not least, In My Room (Paul Drummond) gave some background information about The Madcap Laughs photo shoot, interviewing Duggie Fields, Storm Thorgerson, inevitably Mick Rock and en passant citing Jenny Spires and the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit (but not in so many words, see Goofer Dust [(I've got my) Mojo (working)... Part 2] .

(For your information: the complete Mojo article can could be downloaded quite legally and for free at the official Syd Barrett website: direct link to the scanned pdf document, hosted since 2016 at the Church.)

It needs to be said that the Mojo article achieved in two week time what the Church couldn't achieve in two years: finding Iggy. On the 6th of February 2010 it was revealed that she was alive and well and living in southern England and although this news was covered by the Church the scoop arrived, noblesse oblige, at the Mojo offices in a letter from an acquaintance of her: Peter Brown (not the Pete[r] Brown from Cream and Piblokto fame).

Part of this letter has been published in issue 197 (April) and goes like this:

Peter Brown letter in Mojo 197
Peter Brown letter in Mojo 197.
One woman,
with many faces
Re Iggy’s whereabouts, I can enlighten you a little on her post-Madcap life. I first met Iggy - her real name was Evelyn - in the early ’70s, when she arrived from the King’s Road to the house where I lived in Brighton with a miscellany of artists and eccentrics.
I spent a lot of time with Iggy including nights ‘on the town’. She was a loose cannon, absolutely stunning, and fab company I soon discovered that it was none other than Iggy gracing my copy of The Madcap Laughs, and told her that Syd had been a peer of mine in Cambridge. I also knew Jenny Spires (who introduced Iggy to Syd), and saw Pink Floyd at various venues. I spent an evening with Syd once and we walked back together to our respective homes near Cherry Hinton in stoned stupor.
In the mid ’80s I learned that Iggy was living in Sussex and working at a racing stables, where she married a farmhand. She’s since kept her whereabouts quiet, though a friend at the stables, who I spoke to recently informs me of Iggy’s low-key flamboyance in the area. There are a wealth of other stories, but brevity forbids!

Next to Brown aka Thongman, Jenny Spires decided to comment as well:

Jenny Spires letter in Mojo 197
Jenny Spires letter in Mojo 197.
I struggle,
you collaborate
I’ve read your Syd article and there are two or three things to correct. First, I met Iggy [the Eskimo] in 1966, not 1969 as stated. Also, the floor was painted as soon as Syd moved into Wetherby Mansions, and was already done when I was there. Part of it, under the bed, wasn’t finished, but was done by the time I left in early 1969. I don’t think it was painted with a photoshoot in mind. Also, in the larger photo, the daffodils look quite fresh, but in the photo used for the cover they are dead. This seems to suggest that that photo was done a couple of weeks later?
With reference to Mandrax - there were no Mandrax in the flat at this stage. These came later, around early summer. This is not to say Syd had never had Mandrax, but they weren’t readily available to him at that time.

It seems now that there is enough material left for the Church to go on with its mission for the next lustrum. So keep watching this space and remember, don't do anything that Iggy wouldn't have done.


The Reverend wants to thank Mojo for donating a copy of the April issue to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Thanks guys!


2010-05-08

The Case of the Painted Floorboards

Daffodils.
Daffodils.

In The Purloined Letter (1845) from Edgar Allan Poe dozens of intelligence officers search a room to recuperate some blackmailing material but they fail to locate it. Enters C. Auguste Dupin, probably the very first detective in fiction, who simply picks the letter from a card-rack. It had never been concealed but as the policemen had been looking for a hidden object they never cared to check the paper, lying out in the open.

Paintbox

When the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started its mission it was generally believed that The Madcap Laughs photo shoot had taken place in the autumn of 1969.

Why?

Mainly because every Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett related book said so and - for over 30 years of time - nobody had ever cared to check the facts. (Also Rob Chapman's A Very Irregular Head biography, that has just appeared a couple of days ago, situates the floor paint job and thus the photo shoot somewhere between August and November 1969.)

Of course the witnesses saying that the shoot had taken place in the last quarter of 1969 were quite privileged authorities on the life and works of Barrett and thus their testimonies have never been questioned (and as we will reveal later, their comments may be - partly - true).

Malcolm Jones was the Harvest manager who partly produced Barrett's first solo album and who wrote an acclaimed (for Syd fans anyway) book about these sessions.

One day in October or November (1969, FA) I had cause to drop in at Syd's flat on my way home to leave him a tape of the album, and what I saw gave me quite a start. In anticipation of the photographic session for the sleeve, Syd had painted the bare floorboards of his room orange and purple. (…) Syd was well pleased with his days work and I must say it made a fine setting for the session due to take place.

And in his Psychedelic Renegades book Mick Rock writes:

We shot The Madcap Laughs in the autumn of 1969 and I don’t think that Syd and Duggie Fields had been living in the flat that long. (…) Soon after Syd moved in he painted alternating floor boards orange and turquoise.

The above contains a contradiction, although Mick Rock probably isn't (wasn't) aware of that. Syd Barrett, Duggie Fields and a third tenant called Jules moved in the apartment in January 1969 (perhaps December 1968) and certainly not later. A while later Jules was kicked out because he didn't pay the rent.

Duggie Fields recalls in The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story that the floorboards were painted 'quite quickly' after they had moved in and said in the Mojo Madcap issue:

When Jules left Iggy came soon after and she wasn't there for long. Jenny Spires (Syd's ex) brought her round. Iggy was just around, she didn't officially live here.

JenS has indeed confirmed to the Church: "I took her (Iggy) to Wetherby Mansions in January 1969." (Did the Reverend ever tell that it was thanks to biographer Julian Palacios that the Church got in contact with her?)

It is hard to remember things after 40 years, and even harder to pinpoint an exact date for certain events, but JenS certainly wasn't in England anymore in April as she had left for America, and by then the floor boards had already been painted. "When Syd and Gretta et al went to The Isle of Wight Trina - Gretta's sister - and I were in America and heading for the Woodstock Rock Festival."

Also Iggy (or Evelyn, in her interview with the Croydon Guardian) and Margaretta Barclay (in her interview with the Church) remember the painted floorboards. But opinions differ whether the floor boards were painted with a photo session in mind or not.

Paint can.
Paint can.

Gunsmoke

Just like several (tiny) details in the pictures have given away the possible shooting date, the answer may lie in the pictures themselves. What most people, including the Reverend, have neglected to do for the last 40 years was to look for the obvious. Not so for Late Night member and Syd Barrett collector Dark Globe:

After reading Jenny Spires's claim that the floorboards were painted when Syd moved into the flat, long before the Madcap photo session, I had another look at some of the photos. (…)

The 'smoking gun' for me is the can of paint and paintbrush which appears in one of the Madcap session photos: this would imply that the floorboards had only been painted recently.

Of course, it could be that he was only 'topping them up' but it certainly looks like he (and maybe Iggy) had done some painting close to the session.
Paint can, Storm Thorgerson
Paint can, Storm Thorgerson.

The photographic evidence is there. The Mick Rock pictures from Syd Barrett's room not only reveal that parts of the floor had not been painted yet but also show that a can of (blue) paint and a big paintbrush are hiding next to Syd's mattress, together with a coffee mug and an empty wine glass.

At least two Storm Thorgerson pictures from that spring day show the paint can as well. The booklet of the Crazy Diamond Syd Barrett box shows the (partly cut off) can at the left side of the picture and the print of the so-called toy plane picture that was sold on eBay in November last year has it in full. It is a pity that only a very small image of this print exists and that its owner, if (s)he is aware of its existence, still hasn't donated some hi-res scans to the Syd Barrett community.

Iggys Feet
Iggy's Feet, Mick Rock.

Dancing Barefoot

Whilst Mick Rock was at it he also took some 'nude study' pictures from Iggy but this time the Reverend will not get exited over her churrigueresque features but over her dirty feet. Her feet are black (or should that be: blue?) and probably she had been walking barefoot over the wet paint.

Stating the obvious is difficult when one is too concentrated on a subject. Church member Banjer and Sax found a simple explanation why painting a floor in two different colours will take several days or even weeks:

Maybe it took several days to complete the job, more than two days, and they would not necessarily have to have been consecutive days. So maybe days passed or even months passed between different phases of floor painting. It seems like it could have been difficult to do both colours at the same time.

The logical thing to do is indeed wait for the first colour to dry before starting the second colour. But the mystery of The Madcap Laughs photo shoot only gets bigger and, as usual, archbishop Dark Globe is to blame:

There was more than one photo shoot though. A second photo shoot (not by Mick Rock, but by Storm Thorgerson, FA) shows Syd doing yoga and posing in front of one of his paintings. The floorboards are painted in these photos so they were probably taken sometime after the session with Iggy. Syd's hair is a noticeably longer in these photos too.

These pictures were used by Hipgnosis for the cover of the vinyl compilation Syd Barrett. It is obvious that they were taken on a later date: the floor seems to be completely painted, but also the room has been reorganised. While the far left corner on the daffodil session pictures is empty it suddenly contains some canvas and paint during the yoga session pictures.

The Church already hinted in a previous post:

Perhaps Storm took some photos later in the year and maybe this is how the legend came into place that The Madcap Laughs photo session was made after summer.

This is not as far-fetched as it seems.

Autumn Photo Session

Mick Rock states: "This '69 session was specifically done for Syd's first solo album, The Madcap Laughs" and Storm Thorgerson more or less claims that Hipgnosis had been summoned by record company Harvest to do the cover.

Newspaper.
Newspaper, Mick Rock.

But if the daffodil photo shoot really took place, as proposed by the Church between the 14th and 21st of April 1969, Syd Barrett had only been at two, maximum three, recording sessions for the album. (If only we could find out the date of the newspaper lying next to Barrett's bed?)

It is hard to believe that Harvest would approach Hipgnosis after three studio sessions, especially as Syd Barrett was still regarded as a liability. Between May and July of the previous year Barrett had wasted eight recording sessions and basically EMI had given up. Peter Jenner:

It was chaos…. (…) There were always these tantalising glimpses and that was what kept you going. (…) I think we just came to the conclusion that we weren't getting anywhere.

So although the April 10 and 11 sessions of 1969 had been very promising (and the one on the 17th as well) it is unlikely that the managing director of Harvest was already thinking he had chart material. And quite rightly so, because the fourth session was disastrous and has been used in books and articles to emphasize Syd's lunatic behaviour. And it wasn't getting better...

Different people tell different stories but the bottom line is that less than a month after the first (April 1969) recording session Malcolm Jones simply gave up. David Gilmour, who took over the producer seat in June, maintains until today that he was asked to salvage the sessions from the dustbin, although Malcolm Jones has tried to minimise this and claimed that the Madcap project had not really been shelved.

It was already August 1969 when the Cantabrigian Pink Floyd members started (stereo-)mixing the tapes, and as the band had a busy schedule and wanted to have some holidays as well, it would take until October for the master tapes to be ready. Now here is what the Reverend calls an appropriate moment for the record company to commission a sleeve.

Summer 1969. Harvest hotshots ask Hipgnosis to design a sleeve for the album that is in its final mix. Storm Thorgerson goes to Syd's flat to take the so-called yoga-shots, but decides later, for whatever reason, to use the (Mick Rock influenced) daffodil-shots instead. (Probably when Thorgerson presented the sleeve to Harvest, he didn't tell that the pictures came really from a photo shoot earlier in the year. That's how we know Storm.)

A legend is born.

We leave the last word to JenS who was so friendly to contact us again:

It's truly astonishing about the floor! All I can say is the floor had already been painted when I arrived. (January 1969, FA) There were parts of the room unfinished in the bay window and to the right hand corner of the room and fireplace where Syd's bed was originally and where Iggy is poised on the stool. I guess they must have had to paint these remaining bits before the shoot. They may also of course given it a second, more refreshing coat for the shoot. Interesting, bit by bit a more accurate picture is emerging.

To accompany this article a new gallery has been uploaded: Paintbox.

A sequel to this article created a great rift in Syd Barrett-land: The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)


Many thanks to: Dark Globe, Banjer and Sax, JenS.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 235.
Drummond, Paul: In My Room, Mojo 196, March 2010, p. 82. Direct link to the scanned pdf document (hosted at the Church).
Fields, Duggie interview in: The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story, DVD UK Ltd 2005.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 13.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 136, p. 138.
Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 18-19, p. 58. The paint can pictures can be found at pages 72, 76, 83 and 84. Iggy's dirty feet on page 69.


2010-07-03

Syd meets... a lot of people

Meic Stevens
Meic Stevens.

Syd meets Meic

A couple of weeks ago this blog published excerpts from Meic Stevens' autobiography Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini (in Welsh, but awesomely translated by Prydwyn) describing how the Cymry bard encountered Syd Barrett in the late Sixties.

These meetings, as far as the Church is aware, have never been mentioned before, not in any of the four main Syd Barrett biographies and not on any website, blog or forum dedicated to the Pink Floyd frontman. It is a bit weird, seen the fact that the biography already appeared in 2003.

Normally Syd related news, regardless of its triviality, is immediately divulged through the digital spider web tying Syd anoraks together. The Church does not want to take credit for this find, it is thanks to Prydwyn, who contacted the Church, that we now have this information, and we hope that it will slowly seep into the muddy waters of the web. (Strange enough the Church post was almost immediately detected by (Welsh) folk music blogs but completely ignored by the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett communities. Is the rumour true that there is a general Syd Barrett fatigue going on?)

The psychedelic London Underground was not unlike the rapid transit system that listens to the same name. The counterculture wasn't really an organised movement, but constituted of many, independent stations with tubes going from one station to the other. Some persons travelled a lot, switching from line to line using intersecting stations as apparently Syd Barrett's Wetherby Mansions flat was one, much to the dismal of Duggie Fields who wanted to produce his art in peace.

Spike Hawkins
Spike Hawkins.

Syd meets Spike Hawkins

In a YouTube interview Rob Chapman, author of the Syd Barrett biography A Very Irregular Head, recalls how he found out that beatnik and poet Spike Hawkins was an acquaintance of Syd Barrett. He was interviewing Pete Brown for his book and when the interview was over he remarked that some Barrett lyrics had a distinct Spike Hawkins style. At that point Pete Brown remarked: "I think Spike Hawkins knew Syd Barrett." Without that lucky ad hoc comment we would (probably) never have known that the two artists not only knew, but also met, each other at different occassions, although it was probably more a Mandrax haze that tied them rather than the urge to produce some art together.

Syd meets Dominique

The Church already mentioned the names of Meic Stevens, Jenny Spires, Trina Barclay, Margaretta Barclay and her friend, painter and musician Rusty Burnhill (who used to jam with Barrett), Iggy (or Evelyn, who is rather reluctant to talk about the past) and the French Dominique A., who was - at a certain moment - rather close to Barrett.

Dominique is, like they say in French, un cas à part. Unfortunately nobody seems to know what happened to her, but if the six degrees of separation theory is accurate it might not be too difficult to find her. The problem is that nobody remembers if she stayed in Great Britain or returned to France. But if you read this and have a granny, listening to the name Dominique A., who smiles mysteriously whenever you mention the name Pink Floyd, give us a call.

Update May 2011: thanks to its many informants, the Church has traced the whereabouts of Dominique. She currently lives in a small village, close to Bayonne, near the Bay of Biscay (French: Golfe de Gascogne). Unfortunately she doesn't want to talk about the past.

A mysterious brunette.
A mysterious brunette.

Syd meets Carmel

Church member Dark Globe compared the English version of Meic Stevens' biography Solva Blues (2004) with the excerpts of the Welsh version we published at Meic meets Syd and found a few differences. Apart from the fact that Meic Stevens also had an Uncle Syd who appears quite frequently in the book there are some minor additions in the English version, absent from the original Welsh.

The Welsh version notes fore instance that 'Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd came to see us in Caerforiog':

Syd Barrett o Pink Floyd fydde’n dod i’n gweld ni yng Nghaerforiog.

The English version adds a small, but in the life of a Barrett anorak, rather important detail. It reads:

Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd who used to visit us at Caerforiog with his girlfriend Carmel.

It is the first time the Church (and Dark Globe) hears from this lady, and she is probably one of those two-week (or even two-day) girlfriends Mick Rock and Duggie Fields have been talking about.

(Warning Label: The picture just above has been taken from the Mick Rock movie Lost In The Woods, nobody knows for sure who is the mysterious brunette. This blog does not imply she is Dominique A. or Carmel, for that matter.)

Drug problem

The second reference (about Syd visiting the Outlander sessions) also has one addition in the English version. Solva Blues adds the line:

I wouldn't have thought he had a drug problem - no more than most people on the scene.

If there is one returning constant about the underground days it is its general tunnel vision. In the brave new psychedelic world every move, the crazier the better, was considered cool and there was a general consensus to deny any (drug related) problem that could and would occur. Rob Chapman is right when he, in his rather tempestuous style, writes:

What do you do if your lead guitarist is becoming erratic / unstable / unhinged?
Simple.
You send him off round the UK on a package tour (…) with two shows a night for sixteen nights.

Nick Mason acknowledges this illogical (not to use another term) behaviour:

If proof was needed that we were in denial about Syd's state of mind, this was it.
Why we thought a transatlantic flight immediately followed by yet more dates would help (Syd) is beyond believe.
R.D. Laing
R.D. Laing

Syd almost meets R.D. Laing

Of course looking for professional psychiatric help in those crazy days wasn't that simple either. Bluntly said: you could choose between the traditional cold shower - electroshock therapy or go for anti-psychiatry.

Although it is impossible to turn back the clock it still is the question if experimental anti-psychiatry would have helped Barrett. In a previous post we have given the example how an experimental therapist administered LSD to a Cantabrigian friend of Syd as an alternative way of therapy and R.D. 'I like black people but I could never stand their smell' Laing was no exception to that.

Pink Floyd's manager Peter Jenner made an appointment for Syd with R.D. Laing, but Syd refused to go on with it, but this didn't withhold Laing to make the following observations as noted down by Nick Mason:

Syd might be disturbed, or even mad. But maybe it was the rest of us (Pink Floyd, note by FA) who were causing the problem, by pursuing our desire to succeed, and forcing Syd to go along with our ambitions.

This is the main theory that is overzealously, but not always successfully, adhered by Chapman in his Syd Barrett biography. R.D. Laing ended his Barrett diagnosis, who he never met, by saying:

Maybe Syd was actually surrounded by mad people.

Although some biographers may think, and there they are probably right, that the other Pink Floyd members may have been an ambitious gravy train inspired gang, there was also the small matter of a 17,000 British Pounds debt that the architectural inspired band members still had to pay off after the split. They didn't burden Syd Barrett, nor Peter Jenner and Andrew King with that. Now that is what the Church calls accountancy.

We now know that giving Syd Barrett the time and space, outside the band, to meddle at his own pace with his own affairs and music was not entirely fruitful either. In the early to mid Seventies Syd Barrett entered a lost weekend that would almost take a decade and that is a blank chapter in every biography, apart from the odd Mad Syd anecdote.

Mini Cooper (based upon a remark from Dark Globe)

It is also interesting that Meic Stevens mentions Syd's Mini Cooper:

He was a very good-looking boy, always with a beautiful girl on his arm when he was out or driving his Mini Cooper.

Presumably this is the same car Syd drove all over England in, following the band, when he was freshly thrown out of the Floyd.

Syd swapped this Mini Cooper for a Pontiac Parisienne (and not a Buick as car fanatic Nick Mason writes, although Buick and Pontiac were of course closely related brands) with T-Rex percussionist Mickey Finn in the beginning of 1969, which would date the first meetings between Stevens and Barrett prior to the Mick Rock photo sessions.

But that photo session has been discussed here ad nauseum already so we won't get further into that. So, my sistren and brethren, bye, bye, till the next time, and don't do anything Iggy wouldn't have done. Especially at this warm weather.

(This article is a (partial) update from this one: Meic meets Syd)


Many thanks go to: Dark Globe for checking the English version of Meic Stevens' autobiography. Prydwyn for checking and translating the Welsh version of Meic Stevens' autobiography.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):

Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 201, p. 227.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 210. (R.D. Laing quote)
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 87-88, p. 95, p. 129.
Stevens, Meic: Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini, Y Lolfa, Talybont, 2009, p. 190-191, p. 202.
Stevens, Meic, Solva Blues, Talybont, 2004 (English, slightly updated, translation of the above).

Rob Chapman's An Irregular Head biography has been reviewed at: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory


2011-01-21

EXCLUSIVE: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo

Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs.
Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs.

Words: Mark Blake.
Pictures: Storm Thorgerson, Iggy Rose, Rank Organisation.
Date: 20 January 2011.
Previously published on mojo.com.

If there is one image of Syd Barrett that never ceases to fascinate it's the back cover of his debut album, The Madcap Laughs. The reason: the mysterious naked woman perched on a stool with her head thrown back and face obscured by swathes of long dark hair. Syd's companion was known only as "Iggy The Eskimo". But as Barrett fans have been wondering since 1970 - who was Iggy and where did she go?

Photographer Mick Rock believed that his cover girl had "married a rich guy and moved off the scene". Barrett's old flatmate, the artist Duggie Fields, heard that "Iggy had become involved with one of the voguish religious cults of the time", before adding to the mythology with a story of once seeing her disembarking from a Number 31 bus in Kensington, wearing a 1940s-era gold lamé dress, and very little else.

In 2002, Mick's coffee-table book Psychedelic Renegades featured more shots of Syd and Iggy posing outside the Earls Court mansion block, alongside Barrett's abandoned Pontiac. Rock's photos found their way onto most Pink Floyd fansites, where Iggy had acquired cult status. Before long, The Holy Church Of Iggy The Inuit, a fansite in her honour, had appeared, its webmaster, Felix Atagong, sifting through ever scrap of information gleaned from MOJO and elsewhere with a forensic scientist's attention to detail. Among Felix's discoveries was a November 1966 issue of NME which featured a photo of "Iggy who is half eskimo" dancing at South Kensington's Cromwellian club.

While researching my Pink Floyd biography (2007's Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd) I quizzed everyone about Iggy's whereabouts. Anthony Stern, formerly a schoolmate of David Gilmour's, told me he had met her at a Hendrix gig and had just discovered photos he had taken of her on a houseboat in Chelsea; Anthony had also filmed Iggy dancing in Russell Square. Meanwhile, former Middle Earth club DJ Jeff Dexter recalled meeting "the mysterious-looking" Iggy in 1963, when she was a "part of a group of very wonderful looking South London girls" that danced at The Orchid Ballroom in Purley. Jeff even hatched a plan with his friend, the late DJ and Shadows songwriter Ian "Sammy" Samwell, to turn Iggy and two of her friends into "a British version of The Supremes. We booked a studio but unfortunately none of them could sing." Believing that Iggy may have gone to school in Thornton Heath, Jeff and Anthony contacted The Croydon Guardian, who ran an article - So Where Did She Go To, My Lovely - enquiring after the whereabouts of the girl "who entirely captured the spirit of the '60s".

Then, in March 2010, MOJO received a letter from ex-Cambridge mod Pete Brown, who had "shared some wild nights on the town with Iggy in the 1970s". Pete informed us that Iggy had been last heard of in the '80s "working at a racing stables... and has since been keeping her whereabouts quiet." Pete sent a copy of the letter to The Croydon Guardian, whose reporter traced Iggy through the stables and phoned her out of the blue. Their subsequent article included a handful of quotes from its reluctant subject, including the words: "I have now left that life behind me." Which is why it came as a surprise when my mobile rang late one Saturday night. "It's Iggy!" declared the voice at the other end, as if I would have known that already. "I've been reading what you wrote about me in MOJO... about the pictures of my bottom."

Iggy on Worthing Beach.
Relaxing on Worthing Beach, early '60s.

The local newspaper's call had prompted Iggy to borrow a neighbour's computer and go online for the first time. She was amazed to discover MOJO, the fansites, the photos, and the wild speculation and misinformation about her time with Syd Barrett. Which is why, in October 2010, I found myself stepping off a train at an otherwise deserted Sussex railway station to be met by the woman that had once graced the cover of The Madcap Laughs. Three hours in a local gastro-pub and countless phone calls later, Iggy pieced together her story. Some of it was printed in MOJO 207, the rest is here...

Firstly, why Iggy? "My real name is Evelyn," she explains. "But when I was a child, my neighbour's young daughter could never pronounce Evelyn, and always called me Iggy. Now everyone calls me as Iggy. But 'The Eskimo' nickname was a joke. That was something I told the photographer from the NME when he took my picture at The Cromwellian." Iggy's father was a British army officer, who served alongside Louis Mountbatten, and attended the official handover ceremony from Great Britain to India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharial Nehru in 1947. "My father also knew all about Mountbatten's wife's affair with Nehru," she adds mischievously. During a spell of leave, he had travelled to a remote village in the Himalayas "where he met the woman that would become my mother." Iggy was born in Pakistan, and attended army schools in India and Aden, before the family moved to England. But not, as believed, Thornton Heath. "I grew up by the seaside," she reveals. "I went to art school. I became a mod in Brighton, and saw the fights with the rockers, and I met The Who when they were on Ready Steady Go! I loved soul music, loved The Righteous Brothers, and I loved dancing, so I used to go to all the clubs - The Orchid Ballroom in Purley, where I met lovely Jeff Dexter, The Cromwellian, The Flamingo, The Roaring Twenties..."

It was at The Cromwellian that Iggy encountered Eric Clapton. "I didn't know who he was at first," she insists. "He took me to meet Lionel Bart and to a party at Brian Epstein's place..." By the mid-'60s Iggy had become a Zelig-like presence on the capital's music scene, sometimes in the company of Keith Moon, Brian Jones, Keith Richards.... She saw Hendrix make his UK debut at the Bag O' Nails in November '66, and in February '67, narrowly avoided the police raid at Richards' country pile, in West Wittering: "The night before, I decided not to go, thank God." A year later, still in the Stones' orbit, she found herself watching the recording sessions for what became Sympathy For The Devil.

Iggy at granny Takes A Trip,1967.
Iggy at Granny Takes A Trip, 1967.

By then, Iggy had made her film debut. In 1967, IN Gear was a short documentary screened as a supporting film in cinemas around the country. Its theme was Swinging London, including the chic Kings Road clothes shop Granny Takes A Trip, a place, according to the breathless narrator that "conforms to the non-conformist image of the !" A mini-skirted Iggy can be seen in one silent clip, sifting through a rack of clothes and chatting with Granny's co-owner Nigel Waymouth.

By 1967, pop music had changed. The summer before, Iggy had met Syd Barrett's girlfriend Jenny Spires, and drifted into the Floyd's social clique, showing up at the UFO club nights where Pink Floyd played regularly: "When I recently watched that Syd Barrett documentary [The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett & Story] and saw Syd in the kaftan, chanting [on Pow R Toc H], the memories came rushing back," she explains. "I'd been there. I'd seen that." In April '67, Iggy joined the counter-culture throng in Alexandra Palace for The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream - "all 14 hours of it!" - where Floyd played a hypnotic set at dawn.

By early 1968, though Barrett had been replaced by David Gilmour, and, according to many, was on a drug-fuelled downward spiral. Towards the end of the year, he moved into a new place with his level-headed friend, the would-be artist Duggie Fields. The pair took over a two-bedroom flat at 29 Wetherby Mansions in Earls Court. Around January '69, at Jenny Spires' suggestion, Iggy, needing a place to stay, moved in. She hooked up with Barrett, but shared a musical bond with Fields: "Duggie and I were into soul music, and Syd used to laugh at me dancing around to Motown."

As Iggy told MOJO 207: "I didn't know Syd had been a pop star." Elaborating further, "I didn't make the connection between him and the person I had seen at UFO. I knew he was beautiful looking and he had real presence, but that was all." Once, when she picked up his acoustic guitar, fooling around, he took it off her and started playing properly. "I was overwhelmed. The way he played the guitar, the way he moved. He said, 'Do you think I look good?'," she laughs. "I said, 'You look amazing. Wow!' He then said, 'Would you listen to this?' And he bought out this big, old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder, and said, 'Tell me what you think'." Syd then played her the songs that would end up on The Madcap Laughs. One track, Terrapin, made an immediate impression. "I said, 'That's quite catchy', and, of course, I don't think Syd was really into catchy...It was a long tape, and he didn't demand any opinion, but just asked if I thought it was OK. At the end he said 'Someone at EMI - I cannot remember the name - wants me to make a record. How would you feel about having a rock star boyfriend?'"

Click here for Part 2


Previously published on mojo.com. Many thanks to Mark Blake for allowing us to host this article.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2011-03-13

The Mighty Queen

Eskimo Rose.
Eskimo Rose.

In January of this year Mojo published a (way too short) Mark Blake article about Iggy, who – in the Sixties - was metonymically but erroneously described as an Eskimo. There is a realistic chance that this blog, politically correct named the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, would never have seen the light of day if Iggy had been nicknamed something else.

Titled SYD BARRETT'S ENIGMATIC COVER COMPANION CLEARS UP SOME QUERIES the article actually added to the mystery, although Mark Blake is, of course, not to blame: Iggy is just mysterious by nature. And the more we find out, the more mysterious it gets.

The Church was erected for just that, to reveal the enigma behind an enigmatic woman but now that Evelyn has stepped into Mark Zuckerberg's limelight the Church has made a deliberate step backwards. Let it be known that the Church will be discreet about present Evelyn. She is not Truman Burbank and it is none of our business what she had for breakfast this morning anyway (bacon butties and a steaming hot cup of tea, if you wanna know, and the Reverend had some croissants and a cup of coffee).

Mark Blake also published an extended 'director's cut' of his interview and now the time for the Church has come to comment, amend or append on some of his poignant paragraphs. We will be cruel and ruthless although the reader should realise that above every line a virtual 'Well done, Mark Blake!' Church sign is blinking. A bit like this:

Well done, Mark Blake!

NME 1037

Before long, The Holy Church Of Iggy The Inuit, a fansite in her honour, had appeared, its webmaster, Felix Atagong, sifting through ever scrap of information gleaned from MOJO and elsewhere with a forensic scientist's attention to detail. Among Felix's discoveries was a November 1966 issue of NME which featured a photo of "Iggy who is half eskimo" dancing at South Kensington's Cromwellian club. (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 1, paragraph 3)
Mark Blake
Mark Blake.

Mark gives the Reverend too many credits here. The Church mainly rips other people's ideas (not an uncommon practice with Churches, although they mostly prefer to rip other people's wallets) and the November 26, 1966 New Musical Express Iggy picture was not discovered by the Church. The scan was already floating around on the web. Neptune Pink Floyd, for instance, published it in November 2006, two years before the Church started.

However the Church did trace a copy of that particular NME, hoping there would be some extra news about Evelyn, but to our regret Iggy is not mentioned at all in the accompanying text (several scans of NME 1037 can be found in our gallery).

The Croydon Guardian

Believing that Iggy may have gone to school in Thornton Heath, Jeff and Anthony contacted The Croydon Guardian, who ran an article - So Where Did She Go To, My Lovely - enquiring after the whereabouts of the girl "who entirely captured the spirit of the '60s". (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 1, paragraph 4)

Time to pull the plug of that 'Well done, Mark Blake!' sign above we're afraid, as The Croydon Guardian was informed by none other than the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.

After the Church was informed that Iggy had been a regular visitor of The Orchid in Purley the Reverend googled and found two Croydon Guardian articles about the dance hall: In dance hall days (9th August 2006) and We remember the Orchid (29th August 2006).

The Church contacted Brian Roote, a historian from the Bourne Society who had been researching the history of the Orchid, but without success. Journalist Kerry McQueeney, author of the Orchid articles, passed the Church mail to Kirsty Whalley, editor of the Croydon Guardian Heritage pages. She replied the Church on the third September of 2008:

We would like to feature this story in the newspaper next week and hopefully it will prompt a few people to call in.
Kirsty Whalley
Kirsty Whalley.

Kirsty Whalley also asked the Church for a decent Iggy picture and here is what the Reverend answered:

Probably the best way to get an (unpublished) picture of Iggy is to contact Anthony Stern (former boyfriend of Iggy in 1966) who made a movie with her that will be shown on The City Wakes festival in Cambridge, so more than 40 years after it was filmed. (Taken from: Visitor at Orchid Ballroom - 1965 – 1967, mail to Kirsty Whalley, 3 September 2008 22:04.)

Kirsty Whalley took the information, given by the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, to heart (probably the first time in the Reverend’s entire career that a woman actually listened to his advice) and interviewed Anthony Stern who also donated a previous unpublished picture of Evelyn, just like the Church had predicted. She then did an excellent job by contacting Jeff Dexter (or perhaps Jeff Dexter contacted her after having spoken to Anthony Stern) and wrote a damn fine article: Where did she go? 

It took over a year for someone to 'call in', because in February 2010 Kirsty Whalley published the very first Iggy interview in 40 years that even took the Church by surprise (see: Little old lady from London-by-the-Sea). What the Reverend doesn't understand though is why the Croydon Guardian journalist doesn't like to be reminded that it was the Church who gave her the scoop. So no pretty blinking Church sign for you, Kirsty!

From Dieppe to Delhi

Iggy's father was a British army officer, who served alongside Louis Mountbatten, and attended the official handover ceremony from Great Britain to India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharial Nehru in 1947. (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 1, paragraph 7)
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten.
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten.

Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, born in 1900 and killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, was destined to pursue a glorious military career. Like so many of his aristocratic peers this career was not per se based on actual military performances but on the amount of names he had been given at birth. After a military débâcle at Dieppe in 1942, where 3,623 out of 6,086 soldiers, mostly Canadians, were either killed, wounded, or captured by the Germans, Mountbatten was given a new military playground as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command. The Dieppe raid (unauthorised by the general staff) provoked a schism between the Canadian and British army leaders during the second world war and the mistrust would linger on for decades to come.

In 1947 Mountbatten was nominated Viceroy and Governor-General of India and his principal task was to lead India (separated from Pakistan) in a peaceful way towards independence. This lead to one of the bloodiest massacres the subcontinent has ever seen. Muslims fled from India to Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan to India and about 500,000 people lost their lives in the process (death toll numbers vary from 200,000 to a million).

Up the Khyber

"My father also knew all about Mountbatten's wife's affair with Nehru," she adds mischievously. During a spell of leave, he had travelled to a remote village in the Himalayas "where he met the woman that would become my mother." Iggy was born in Pakistan, and attended army schools in India and Aden, before the family moved to England. (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 1, paragraph 7)

In the night of 14 to 15 August 1947 India and Pakistan officially separated from London and because this had been supervised so well by Mountbatten, he was entitled to another promotion. From now on he could add the title of Governor-General of India on his business card. In other words: Mountbatten was now the de facto monarch of the new state.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Cynthia Annette Mountbatten
Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Cynthia Annette Mountbatten.

Lucky there was still his wife, Edwina Cynthia Annette Mountbatten. Her part-time job was to visit the refugee camps her husband was so kind to fill up and to hump India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, although there are some biographers who maintain that their relationship was purely platonic.

But enough politics. Around that time Iggy's father, posted in Pakistan, went for an evening stroll in the Himalaya's where his spell of leave soon developed in a spell of love. It is believed that in March 1947 the couple did exchange something more than friendly kisses. The Church always believed that Iggy was somewhat older than Syd Barrett (see: When Syd met Iggy), but this new evidence shows she is nearly two years younger than him (and, should this be of any interest to anyone, both Syd and Ig were born on a Sunday).

If Ig attended school in Pakistan, the family must have been there until early 1950. Although the country was independent several hundred of British officers stayed in Pakistan until the Pakistan army had enough officers to take care of its own. There was a 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment at Rawalpindi (Pakistan), with Indian bases at Amritsar, Calcutta, Jhansi, Jullunder (Jalandhar) and Lahore (Pakistan) but the Church's research couldn't link Ig's father to this battalion. The Wiltshire Regiment left the Indias in October 1947, but her father stayed in Pakistan for a couple of years longer.

Map of Aden
Map of Aden.

The garden of Aden

It is not that weird either that the family was dispatched to Aden. Before 1937 Aden was an (overseas) part of British India and after that it became a separate British Crown colony, much to the enjoyment of philatelists from all over the world. It would stay under British reign until 1963 and in 1967 it was absorbed by the People's Republic of South Yemen.

Kids could go to the Khormaksar primary and secondary school (close to the RAF airport base), but there was the (Roman-Catholic) Good Shepherd Convent School for girls as well, the Isthmus School and the Selim Girl's School that was badly damaged in the anti-Semitic pogroms from 1947.

There are quite a few blogs and forums about Aden with hundreds of pictures of the fifties and sixties, but the Reverend couldn't find Iggy back, yet. The Mojo article has a picture from Ig at Worthing Beach, in the early Sixties, so around 1963 they may have returned to England.

London Underground

In January 1969 Iggy met Syd, thanks to their common friend Jenny Spires. The outside world didn't always realise that Ig and Syd became an item. Ig was unaware that Syd had been a pop star, but then one day:

He [Syd] then said, 'Would you listen to this?' And he bought out this big, old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder, and said, 'Tell me what you think'." Syd then played her the songs that would end up on The Madcap Laughs. One track, Terrapin, made an immediate impression. "I said, 'That's quite catchy', and, of course, I don't think Syd was really into catchy...It was a long tape, and he didn't demand any opinion, but just asked if I thought it was OK. At the end he said 'Someone at EMI - I cannot remember the name - wants me to make a record. How would you feel about having a rock star boyfriend?'" (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 1, paragraph 12)

This may have happened in the weekend of 12 and 13 April 1969 after Malcolm Jones and Syd had started working on the new album:

During the tea break we discussed going back to some of the songs started the previous year, in particular 'Golden Hair', and perhaps 'Late Night' although the original version of that had been destroyed, it seemed. We returned to the studio and started work on another new song, 'Terrapin'. In one take Syd laid down a guitar and vocal track that was to be the master! At my suggestion Syd double tracked his vocal part, and that was it!

One day Syd Barrett disappeared from the flat and Iggy, in a jealous mood, fearing he was seeing another woman, tracked down her friend in David Gilmour's appartment, just a few blocks away.

"I went in, shouting, 'OK, where is she?' thinking there was a woman hiding in one of the rooms. But, of course, the meeting had been with Dave about the record they were making together." Barrett left Iggy with Gilmour, but rather the worse for wear, she knocked the stylus on his record player accidentally scratching his copy of Pink Floyd's brand new album. "I have no idea what album it was, only that it was their new album," Iggy sighs. (The likely candidate seems to be Soundtrack From The Film More) "So Dave threw me out..." (The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2, paragraph 3)

Here is again an excellent opportunity to grab the Church's copies of Glenn Povey's 'Echoes' and David Parker's 'Random Precision'. According to David Parker Barrett had his last recording session with Malcolm Jones on the 3rd and 4th of May, while the David Gilmour sessions started a month later (see our 1969 calendar). On the 6th of May however 'a set of rough mixes' of the album was made, presumably to be handed over to Gilmour (and Waters), who had promised to finalise the album (it is significant that on that tape Opel, Swan Lee and Rhamadan are still present).

But probably Barrett, Jones, Gilmour and Waters had been discussing about all this before. The Church has always believed that Iggy left Syd somewhere in April and up till now Ig's visit to Gilmour's apartment fits nicely into that scheme.

Mark Blake wisely deducts the scratched record has to be 'More'. More was released on Friday, the 13th of June 1969, but of course Gilmour may have had a copy some weeks before. Another, but more unlikely, candidate is 'Ummagumma'. Although only released in November the Floyd had already been recording some pieces for this album in January and February, together with the 'More' sessions, so perhaps Gilmour and Barrett could've listened to an acetate instead. And of course the live tracks of that album must have been circulating amongst the band members as well.

But there is still another possibility. Margaretta Barclay told the Church she has a postcard sent to her and Ig at Wetherby Mansions in June 1969 so perhaps Ig's departure took place after More had been officially released (see: Gretta Speaks 2).


Notes (other than internet links mentioned above):
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 139-158.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 7.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 104-112.

The Church wishes to thank: Adenairways.com, Mark Blake, Jenny Spires, Natashaa' and the beautiful people at Late Night.
♥ Iggy ♥


2011-03-23

Felix Atagong: an honest man

Fake Reverend unmasked at last
Felix Atagong
Felix Atagong.

The Anchor's editor was kindly asked, although summoned would be a more appropriate term, to do an independent review of an interview of the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit that recently appeared on the extraordinary Spanish Barrett blog Solo en las Nubes (Alone in the Clouds).

Run by Antonio Jesús the blog is a mix of information and fun, containing several references to La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal, that could be without doubt a title for one of the weirder Pedro Almodóvar movies. Quite recently, in a dark corner of The Anchor, dimly lit by a dripping candle in a bottle on the rough wooden table, I bend over to the gorgeous black-haired girl sitting in front of me, slowly whispering 'La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal' in her ears (actually, in one ear only as it is quite infeasible to whisper in two ears at the same time, except for Mick Jagger perhaps). Oh Alex Fagotin baby, she passionately sighed with heaving breasts, say that to me one more time, but unfortunately my hair already had caught fire by then.

One very interesting part of the Spanish Barrett blog are the so-called self-interviews (or autoentrevista) and so far Antonio has persuaded Duggie Fields and Laughing Madcaps front-man Kiloh Smith to reveal their souls in these autobiographical Rorschach tests.

Titled 'Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero"' the latest self-interview has provoked roars of hysterical laughter from the Åland Islands to Wallis and Futuna. We reveal no real secrets if we tell you that the Reverend has left a trail of female victims from Oslo to Tarzana and rumour goes there will be more to follow despite many international warnings.

The Reverend's self-interview can already be described as absolute rock-bottom and without doubt it will be voted the all-time-worst-entry at the - otherwise excellent - Spanish Barrett blog. Time to let you decide for yourself what a kind of pompous pathetic pumpernickel that Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit really is. Ladies and gentlemen, the Anchor presents, but not too proudly: Felix Atagong: an honest man...

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.

Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero"

Even the roads of rock are unfathomable.

Felix Atagong, from Belgium, has created a blog dedicated to Iggy, the model of The Madcap Laughs album. Nobody knew her whereabouts for almost forty years. The coincidence of life, meaning that it is not coincidental at all, has lead this case to an unexpected but long-awaited path.

Publius Enigma.
Publius Enigma.

In his self-interview, Mr. Atagong, the Sherlock Holmes of the Floydian world (he even helped to clarify the Publius Enigma) and always committed to the truth he slowly peels the layers of the story of his blog, and more... (introduction written by Antonio Jesús)

1. What is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit?

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is a blog for Syd Barrett fans dealing with the – very short – period in 1969 when Syd's alleged girlfriend Iggy lived with the singer. Apart from some unverified rumours about her Eskimo roots nobody really knew something about her, nor what happened to her after her sudden disappearance in 1969.

2. How did it all start?

The Church more or less started as a prank. Discussing the (theoretical) possibility of a Barrett religion on the Late Night forum I mentioned a Saint Iggy Congregation in 2007 and when, in March 2008, DollyRocker recognised Iggy acting in a 1967 British documentary, I jokingly announced the Church's birth. But the idea still ripened for five months before any blog post appeared.

3. What were your intentions?

These were quite ambiguous by design.

Obviously the Church frame, lead by an all-knowing Reverend who addresses his flock in a swollen and theatrical language, is satirical. I wanted to imitate those overzealous fans, who can't stop arguing that Barrett is the world's most underrated musical genius and graphical artist and who painstakingly, almost in religious stupor, scrutinize every minute of his life.

But while I was developing the blog I soon realised that I was painstakingly, almost in religious stupor, collecting all available puzzle pieces that lay shattered over the net, on blogs, in forums, that were published in different articles and biographies, thus creating the ultimate Iggy repository.

Both concepts share an an osmotic relationship and - by being what it is and what it pretends to be – the Church has evolved into a meta-concept, although that thin ironic line is probably completely ignored by the people who visit it.

4. But the Church did trigger an Iggy revival, didn't it?

Not really. Every avalanche starts with a couple of snowflakes and by sheer luck the Holy Church happened to be on the right place at the right time. After nearly 40-years of silence several people simultaneously remembered Iggy. Most of the time the Church was not involved but has been monitoring and commentating these events. What nobody expected, except perhaps for the Holy Igquisition, is that it resulted in some sort of Iggymania.

Iggymania started when Mojo magazine put Syd Barrett on its cover in 2010. Of course that cover story was all about The Madcap Laughs 40th birthday but the Church had clearly inspired one of the articles. Not only did this boost the hits on the website but a few days later The Church could reveal that Evelyn (Iggy) had been found back as well and that thanks to Mojo.

Beginning of this year Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake could finally interview Iggy and that is when Iggymania fully exploded.

5. Not bad for something that started as a joke.

Syd and Iggy - Spring 1969
Syd and Iggy - Spring 1969.

The Church had already turned serious when JenS shared her memories with us, revealing that she (probably) introduced Iggy to Syd and pinpointing The Madcap Laughs photo-shoot date in spring, rather than in the autumn of 1969. Some time later another acquaintance of Syd gave her first interview ever to the Church. Margaretta Barclay and her boyfriend Rusty were regular visitors at Syd's flat and they even tried to resuscitate Barrett's interest in music by dragging him over to Meic Stevens, who is still some kind of weird folk cult figure.

I find it rewarding that some of the Church theories have been reprinted in magazine articles and biographies, so I guess we're not all rubbish after all.

6. But finding Iggy also presented a major crisis for the Church, isn't it?

It is the ambiguity of all organisations that have a certain goal. What do you do if the goal has been reached? What will Greenpeace do if no-one hunts little seals any more? The worst thing that could happen to the Church was to find Iggy! But every time the Reverend uttered the fear there would be lack of Iggy, something new turned up. And 2011 has already proved to be no exception.

Thinking about the future the Church did some reorganising and will continue developing into other areas, of course not neglecting its primary task to inform about al things Ig. One of the new items at the Church will be a gossip corner called 'The Anchor', named after the Cambridge pub Syd Barrett used to visit in the early Sixties. We hope it will stir things up as the Barrett community has become quite lethargic lately. We're all old farts who fall asleep after our afternoon tea and biscuits.

7. The question we are all waiting for: is Iggy aware of it at all and what does she think of the Church?

Evelyn kept a low profile over the years, although she apparently never hid the fact that she had been on the cover of The Madcap Laughs album. But the path of Iggy and the path of the Barrett fan community simply didn't converge for the last 40 years.

Recently Iggy has contacted the Church and she gave us valuable information. However the question is what will happen when Iggymania freezes over. I feel it a bit hypocrite to say that now, but it was never the Church's intention to invade Iggy's privacy.

8. This interview should have at least one anoraky question, reflecting the true nature of the Church. Does the 'eskimo chain' line in Barrett's Dark Globe refer to Iggy?

Dark Globe is a very poignant, hermetic track and, as is the case in many of Syd's songs, its lyrics can be interpreted in different ways. I think Julian Palacios describes it as a lament to Pink Floyd or something of that order. It also reads as a goodbye song to a past love and here is where the 'eskimo chain' line fits in – or doesn't.

I'm only a person with Eskimo chain
I tattooed my brain all the way...
Won't you miss me?
Wouldn't you miss me at all?
Solo en las Nubes banner
Solo en las Nubes banner.

Most people who read Barrett blogs will know that Barrett recorded under the guidance of Malcolm Jones, but somewhere in May 1969 he passed the torch to David Gilmour (Roger Waters would join in as well on a later date). Jones had given up in desperation, as Peter Jenner had done the year before, that last one declaring that the sessions had been 'chaos'. Finally it was David Gilmour who pleaded Harvest records to allow Barrett a third and final chance to finish his solo record. Of course this is just one interpretation and not all biographers and witnesses agree with that. Another story goes that Malcolm Jones simply invited Gilmour (and Waters) for marketing reasons: three Pink Floyd members for the price of one, so to speak (four if one adds Rick Wright who might have done some uncredited overdubs on Golden Hair). Probably the truth lies, as is often the case, somewhere in the middle.

The first session of the third recording round took place on the 12th of June 1969. Barrett premiered two new songs: Dark Globe and Long Gone. On the third (and final) session (26th of July) Roger Waters joined David Gilmour and a couple of other attempts were made of the same songs. (this alternative version of Dark Globe, now retitled as Wouldn't You Miss Me, was later released on the Opel outtakes album.)

It would be logical to see Long Gone and Dark Globe as an indivisible pair as they are both sad love songs. But there is an abundance of that theme on The Madcap Laughs. Jenny Spires told the Church: “Syd wrote songs and not all of them were about one person or another. It was his job. (…) Syd was not romantically inclined this way. 'I'm only a person with Eskimo chain' refers to the evolutionary chain, not to a specific person. He was on a very much higher spiritual plane, not so much on the material.”

But on the other hand Syd liked to put wordplay and little nods to reality in his texts. Pink Floyd's second single See Emily Play refers to psychedelic debutante Emily Young and to Libby Gausden, Jennifer Gentle from Lucifer Sam is a mixture between Jenny Spires and an ancient English ballad called 'There were three sisters' (Jennifer, Gentle and Rosemaree).

Dark Globe also contains the verse: “'The poppy birds way, swing twigs coffee brands around.” At first sight this is just a nature description set in a romantic mood but if one knows that a former girlfriend of Syd was Vivian 'Twig' Brans it becomes quite clear that Syd has cryptically entered her name in that line.

So while Dark Globe may have no-one specific in mind the Eskimo chain line may have been a slight nod toward Iggy.

9. This explanation made my appetite grow for more. How can one join the Church?

To paraphrase Groucho Marx: I don't want to belong to any Church that will accept me as a member, so you can't. The Church does have some loyal friends though who have helped by passing on valuable information. Basically the Church just reaps what others have sown (a common practice amongst churches, I might add). Many kudos go to a long list of loyal brainstormers, informants, witnesses and friends (and I already want to apologise for the ones I have forgotten): Anne, Anthony, Bea, Denis, Dollyrocker, Douggie, Eternal, Gretta, Jenny, Julian, Kieran, Lisa, Mark, Paro, Prydwyn, Rod, Sadia, Sean, Vicky, our many visitors and fans... And of course Iggy herself.

10. What is this recurring thing about the Holy Igquisition?

Nobody expects the Holy Igquisition!

Self-interview courtesy of: Solo en las Nubes (2011) - Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero", introduction written by Antonio Jesús. Self-interview written in December 2010 and updated in January 2011.


The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


2011-04-10

Iggy at the Exhibition

Those that have been living on planet Magrathea for the past couple of months may not have been aware that Thursday, 17th of March 2011 was a great day in the life for a Barrett-fan.

The long awaited book 'Barrett', apparently nobody attempts to use a combination of Madcap or Crazy Diamond any more, which is a good thing, was launched with a mega-party and exhibition at Idea Generation, London.

The Church will review the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett in the weeks to come so for the moment you have to content yourself with the message that it is a splendiferous (and heavy... and pricey) work of art... and love.

Attending the launch were Anthony Stern, Aubrey "Po" Powell, Captain Sensible, Dark Globe, David Gale, Duggie Fields, Graham Coxon, Ian Barrett, Irene Winsby, Jenny Spires, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, Libby Gausden, Mark Blake, Miles, Philip James, Rosemary Breen, Vic Singh, Warren Dosanjh and many others... enough to make a Pink Floyd aficionado drool...

But for the Church (and not only for the Church) the star of the evening undoubtedly was a woman of international mystery... and here are some pictures of her:

Iggy

Iggy
(picture courtesy and © A Fleeting Glimpse)

Libby Gausden and Iggy

Libby and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Paul Drummond), this image may not be published without the permission of its owner.)

John "Hoppy" Hopkins and Iggy

Hoppy and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James)

Iggy and Andy Rose

Iggy and Andy Rose
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James.)

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible
(picture picture courtesy and © Captain Sensible)

Duggie Fields and Iggy

Duggie Fields and Iggy
(picture picture courtesy and © Jenny Spires)

Brian Wernham and Iggy

Brian Wernham and Iggy
(picture courtesy Brian Wernham, photographer unknown)

Iggy having some fun with the paparazzi

Iggy Superstar
(pictures courtesy and © Red Carpet)

Where is Iggy?
and who else can you recognise on this picture?

Flower People
(picture courtesy and © sydbarrettbook)

Some answers:
Antonio Jesús: "The tall guy in brown is Warren Dosanjh."
Mark Jones: "Duggie Fields."
Jenny Spires: "Nigel Gordon and Jimmie Mickelson, Will Shutes and Viv's nephew, Kieren and his partner..."
Libby Gausden Chisman: "Roe Barrett and her husband Paul Breen, Buster and his partner who used to come swimming with Dave Gilmour and me at Jesus Green swimming pool in Cambridge."

One of our brethren told the Reverend afterwards:

I saw Iggy at the launch yesterday. She did very well, considering it was her first public appearance. She had a legion of female admirers so she was happy, and people were thrilled to meet her.

It was a night of Happy Talk indeed.


The Church wishes to thank: Antonio Jesús, Mark Blake, Libby Gausden Chisman, Dark Globe, Paul Drummond, Jimmie James, Mark Jones, Jenny Spires, Brian Wernham and the beautiful people at Late Night and Facebook.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2011-04-15

Rockadolly

What a strange few weeks it has been. A new Barrett book was launched with a big Syd exhibition in London, attended by the crème de la crème of the Cambridge mafia, freewheeling dharma buns, madcap mad cats, Sydney fans, look-alikes and collectors, Late Night friends, the odd blurry rock star, unfortunately no Reverend and at least one thief, but more of that later.

Iggy by Dolly Rocker
Iggy by Dolly Rocker.

Syd Barrett | Art and Letters

The Barrett book, that the Church still has to savor in detail, but like Romeo thought he ought to do with Julia, the Reverend is waiting till the time is ripe, is indebted to (amongst others) eternal goddesses Libby Gausden and Jenny Spires, whose presence radiated through the vernissage.

Mount Olympus is a place filled with many splendors. For many it was an unsurpassed surprise when Iggy appeared, like Ayesha out a pillar of fire, leaving a trail of buzzed excitement wherever she went. She said: "Captain?" and he sensibly said: "Wot!" dragging Ian Barrett over to have their picture taken. Red carpet paparazzi asked her to do the famous Iggy pose and fans wanted her to autograph the Barrett book although she has, strictly speaking, nothing to do with the book at all. (Several pictures of Iggy at the IG (!) Gallery can be found at the appropriately titled post: Iggy at the Exhibition.)

Barrett, the book

There isn't really a trace of Iggy in the Barrett book, apart from the well known Madcap back cover shot that has been reproduced on page 178, but pages 114 to 121 contain a few outtakes of The Madcap Laughs photo sessions, wrongly dated as Beecher & Shutes maintain they were taken in autumn 1969. Probably autumn 1969 was when a second photo session by Storm Thorgerson took place, the so-called yoga shots that have already been discussed extensively on this place before (see, for instance: The Case of the Painted Floorboards).

Iggy revealed to Mark Blake that, on the same day, there was an alternative photo session as well:

I don't think Storm and Mick were very impressed by them. If you've ever seen the cover of the Rod Stewart album, Blondes Have More Fun, they were a bit like that... Of me and Syd. There were others of me and Syd, as well, which remind me of the picture of John and Yoko [on Two Virgins] which came out later. I'd love to see those pictures now. (Taken from: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2)

But despite some discrete investigations nothing so far nothing has been unearthed, yet.

La Gazza Ladra

That not all Syd Barrett fans are trustworthy holy men proves the following story.

Last Saturday, 9th of April, a self-portrait of the artist as a young man (page 187 in the Barrett book) was stolen from the Idea Generation Gallery between 2:15 and 3 PM. It belonged to Libby Gausden since 1962, who had received the painting as a present from her boyfriend Syd and who had lend it to the exhibition to commemorate the Barrett book-launch.

In a short press release Libby stated that she was devastated: “I am very upset at the theft of the painting, it has huge personal value to me and I am appealing for its safe return.”

For once the Barrett and Pink Floyd community reacted unisono, fans and foes all alike condemned the theft and promised to be on the lookout for the painting and to return it immediately to Libby if it would show up.

And the improbable did happen. On Tuesday, the 12th, the painting was brought back to the gallery which provoked the following dry comment from Libby (once she had finished jumping up and down in the air): “'I'd give it to you if I could - but I 'borrowed' it.”

Miracles do happen from time to time.

Iggy Fandom

Iggy has been a source of inspiration through the ages: Anthony Stern, Storm Thorgerson, Mick Rock... and it will never change. The fantastic drawing at the top of this post has been made by Dolly Rocker from Buenos Aires, proving that we are all Eskimos in our hearts. Thanks Gaby!


Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011.
The Church wishes to thank: Mark Blake, Libby Gausden Chisman, Dolly Rocker, Jenny Spires and the beautiful people at Late Night and Facebook.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2011-04-25

Barrett: come on you painter!

Barrett, the book
Barrett, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes.

Barrett, the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes arrived at Atagong Mansion on the second day of its release, Friday the 18th of March, but I have to admit, I didn't really look at it, apart from some glancing through its pages.

The reason is simple, the book is a visual biography collecting many (unseen) photographs of Syd Barrett and his band The Pink Floyd, facsimiles from letters to Libby Gausden and Jenny Spires and the very first detailed catalogue of Syd's paintings, and I am more a man of words, too many words some people say (and perhaps there is a a yet undiscovered trail of prudence in me, as I am a bit reluctant to read Syd's letters written to Libby and Jenny).

I care for Syd the musician but I don't get overexcited when a new Barrett (or vintage Pink Floyd) picture appears on the web. First: this has been happening on a regular basis since Barrett's death when people suddenly remember that they have got an exclusive picture lying on their attic. Second: these pictures will arrive, in due time, on the more than excellent Have You Got It Yet? v2.0 Vol 11 Photo/Info DVD-Rom from Mark Jones that can be freely downloaded at several places on the web, but I prefer Yeeshkul as it is the 'official' home for Floydian audio & video collectors.

Although not entirely legal this picture DVD was asked for by the Pink Floyd management who gave Mark Jones a copy of Oh By The Way, the Pink Floyd 14 CD compilation, in return. I am quite convinced that the pictures of the Barrett visual companion will, one day, mysteriously appear on a new release.

Photographs (editor: Russell Beecher)

Barrett is roughly divided into three unequal parts. Part one #1 shows many unseen and previously unpublished pictures of vintage Pink Floyd, #2 has pictures from the Syd Barrett solo era, about 110 pages in total. They are printed in big format (one photo per page or double page, many pictures have been spliced), in high quality and 'digitally' restored. Most of the pages have a description of the picture, the date it was taken and an appropriate quote or anecdote from the Cambridge mafia or the photographer in question.

A so-called signature or limited edition has got a third, separate, photo series by Irene Winsby, but to acquire these additional 72 pages you have to cough up an extra 235 £ (282 €). Unfortunately for me the signature issue is bound in leather and as a strict vegetarian it is against my conscience to skin a cow to watch a Barrett picture. If you find this silly just try to imagine what the master of Sant Mat would have said to Syd Barrett about that.

(A short description of the picture section can be consulted at: Rockadolly.)

Barrett doodle
Barrett doodle.

Letters (editor: Russell Beecher)

Part two, the shortest one with 25 pages, is destined to letters from Syd to Libby Gausden, Jenny Spires and ends with the famous little twig poem to Viv Brans. Tim Willis already described some of these letters in his Madcap biography, but didn't actually put these in print (with one exception and about 4 times smaller in size).

Anoraks know that Syd decorated his letters with funny doodles and this section is obviously more interested in the drawings than in the actual letters. Libby and Jenny give cute explanations in what probably was a very weird menage-à-trois (our quatre or quarante, if we may believe the rumours about Syd's omnivorous female appetite).

Art (editor: Will Shutes)

Section three (over 90 pages) is what everybody has been waiting for, for all these years. At least that is why I have bought the book for.

For ages fans have been drooling over Syd, the painter, but I never really bothered. I did not put Syd Barrett in the same category as Ron Wood and Grace Slick who also smear paint on canvas (and that's about all that can be said about them), but I adhered the theory that was written down by Annie Marie Roulin in The Case of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett (Fish Out Of Water, 1996).

The symmetries among the geometrical shapes painted by Barrett show an embarrassing absence of 'concept', of hidden flaming which makes doubtful the real artistic value of these works. As to the technique they can compete only with works by low talented students of low secondary school.
Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print
Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print.

In other words, paintings of Barrett may have been slightly therapeutic (and this can be debated: art sessions can also have the uncanny feature of sliding a mentally unstable person further into regression) but - if one can fully grasp Anne Marie Roulin's Italo-English - they could certainly not be considered as art with a capital A. A daring theory and certainly not liked by many Barrett fans, nor by his family, and that is why journalist Luca Ferrari invented a female alter ego to publish this controversial thesis (Luca's confession in Italian, and an English translation on Late Night.)

In the past, biographies have tried to convince the reader that Barrett was an art-painter pur sang, but none of these could win me over, basically because writing about paintings without seeing the actual work (or only two or three foggy examples) is like talking about music without listening to it. For the first time in history a book publishes Syd's whole oeuvre or what is left of it, about 100 of his paintings; and Will Shutes has written an impressive 25 pages long essay about Barrett's canvas outings throughout the years. While reading the excellent essay one is obliged to constantly switch from text to illustration and luckily the book has two ribbon-markers to facilitate this multi-tasking.

Shutes admits that Barrett's work lacks 'consistency', a remark originally made by Duggie Fields and cited in Rob Chapman's A Very Irregular Head, but he immediately turns this into a plus factor. Will concludes:

"The variety this implies is at the core of his originality."

, but one could use exactly the same reasoning to deduce that Barrett's artwork isn't original at all.

Just like Julian Palacios in Dark Globe has tracked down musical influences in Syd Barrett's discography, Shutes cites several examples for Barrett's graphical work. If there is one work of Barrett that stands out (in my opinion, FA) it is the 1964-ish Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print with its evaporating crosses, but Barry Miles (also in A Very Irregular Head) explains it has been clearly influenced by Nicolas Staël, although Shutes reveals that there must have been some secret Paul Klee ingredient at work as well.

Rosemary Breen told Luca Ferrari that Barrett could make ten paintings a day, and even if this was exaggerated the one hundred in the Barrett book only represent a small percentage of his output. Although nobody actually witnessed Barrett destroying his work, it is assumed he burned them or threw them in the rubbish bin. Some have said that Barrett destroyed only those paintings that weren't perfect to him, but actually he destroyed them all although some seem to have survived for a couple of months before disappearing. The few exceptions are those he gave away to family or visiting friends. Beecher & Shutes could trace 49 surviving artworks by Syd Barrett and were lucky that Rosemary found some photo albums of Syd's art. For most of his life Roger Barrett had the weird habit of photographing his work before destroying it, as if he wanted the destruction to be a bit less final. Opinions differ as well why Barrett did this, and range from a mental disorder to an artistic concept. Will Shutes:

Like Rauschenberg's erasure of a drawing by de Kooning in 1953, Barrett's act of destruction is not a negation – it achieves something new. Barrett is doing something when he destroys what he has done, not merely erasing it.
Arnold Layne Ad NOT By Syd
Arnold Layne Ad not by Syd."

Even a Barrett scholar can have it wrong sometimes, the author describes an Arnold Layne flyer, allegedly dating from March 1967, as designed by Syd Barrett, unaware of the fact that it is fan-art, dating from the late seventies, early eighties, and published in a Barrett fanzine. A quick glance on Mark Jones' HYGIY picture DVD would have settled that once and for all (remarked by Mark Jones at Late Night: Barrett Book).

What intrigues me is that Roger Barrett continued to make abstract and realistic paintings, as if he was afraid to make an irrevocable choice. Personally I find his water-coloured landscapes or florals uninteresting, although they do show some métier, especially compared with the abstract works of the seventies or eighties that are visually more compelling but technically mediocre. I'm quite fond of Untitled 67 (2005) that represents a pie chart of the summer and winter solstices, although some will of course recognise it as a pastiche of the Wish You Were Here cover art. That's the main deviation of the maniacal Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fan, seeing links that (perhaps) aren't really there.

Untitled 67
Untitled 67.

This book contains the best descriptions and illustrations of Syd's artwork, it is a collector's dream, but in the end Will Shutes can not convince me that Barrett was a graphical artist in the true sense of the word. It's a matter of personal opinion and I'm not sure if Barrett knew it himself or if he even cared.

Conclusion

I hope the authors will not hold it against me if I tell that this book is not destined for the average Floyd or Barrett fan. It contains no juicy stories of feeding Syd biscuits through a closed locker door. Its sole purpose is to ease the hunger of the Barrett community that is easily recognised by its general daftness and its deep pockets.

Despite the blurb that states the opposite Barrett is not essential for the music loving fan, but the book is no waste of time for those that want to acquire it either. Barrett has been made with love, caring and respect for its subject, is a work of art and quality and has been authorised by the Estate of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett. But at 90 £ (108 €) for the classic edition (including delivery) it is also pretty expensive, perhaps not overpriced, but still a lot of money.

Introduction

In his witty introduction Russell Beecher writes that over the years there was "a need for a well-researched, intelligent, and well-thought-through account of Syd's life and work". I completely agree. He then continues by stating that this was fulfilled with the publication of "Rob Chapman's excellent An Irregular Head in 2010".

Thank you, Russell Beecher, but I prefer to make up my own mind. In my humble opinion Chapman's biography fails against at least one of the qualities you have mentioned above. Those in need for an independent opinion can consult Christopher Hughes's Irregular Head review at Brain Damage, by and large the best Pink Floyd fan-site in the world.

Russell Beecher proceeds:

An Irregular Head is the definitive textual work on Syd.
What you now hold is the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life.
The two books compliment one another.

Did I just pay 90 £ for a vaguely concealed commercial, wished for by the Barrett Estate? The Barrett book is quite exceptional and possibly 'the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life' indeed, but linking its destiny to An Irregular Head, way off definitive if I am still allowed to express my opinion, undermines its own qualities. This feels like reserving a table at Noma in Copenhagen to hear René Redzepi announce that the food will reach the level of the local McDonald's. Can I have some ketchup on my white truffles, please?

Some will find me overreacting again, but I had to get this off my chest. Although a bit superfluous, and destined for the capitalist über-Syd-geek alone, Barrett is far too luxurious and well-researched to have its image tramped down.

The Church wishes to thank: Dan5482, Mark Jones, PoC (Party of Clowns) and the beautiful people at Late Night.


Mark Jones posted a 13 minutes video review of opening the book for the very first time (after having disinfected his hands first). It is more than worthwhile watching: First look at 'Barrett', the book, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes.

Sources (other than internet links mentioned above):
Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p. 10, 11, 145, 162, 163, 170, 175.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 49, 232.
Ferrari, Luca & Roulin, Annie Marie: A Fish Out Of Water, Stampa Alternativai, Rome, 1996, p. 31, 95, 97.


2011-07-02

AnthropoLSD

Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais
Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais, Alain Pire.

Let me start this review with a quote at the end of 'Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais', a title that is so universal that I don't have to translate it into English, unless for some Americans, I guess. Alain Pire quotes Simon Frith who wrote in 1978:

The rock audience is not a passive mass, consuming records like cornflakes, but an active community, making music into a symbol of solidarity and an inspiration for action.

Obviously this quote should be branded on the bodies of record company executives all over the world, especially those that gave us the music of Britney Spears and other singing cattle, and who think that pop music is something repetitive, uninspired and slick (but alas not Slick as Surrealistic Pillow Grace once was). But this post seems to be turning psychedelic before it has even started, so I'll wait a bit until that sugar cube wears off a bit.

Jenny Spires.
Jenny Spires.

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock

Alain Pire is a Belgian musician whom I may have caught about 30 years ago when he was a member of the Jo Lemaire & Flouze band, although he won't probably remember that gig in the Stella Artois Feestzaal in Louvain anymore. Neither do I, by the way, I only have a slight recollection that I may have watched that band through a beer enhanced haze.

It was Jenny Spires who pointed me to him, noting that I would perhaps be interested in his (French) study of English psychedelic rock. It is weird that a member of the Sixties underground Cambridge mafia, a term coined by David Gilmour if my memory is correct, had to point me to a book written by a compatriot. The gap between the Belgian French and Dutch community is so deep and our internal relations are so troubled that we don't know any more what the other community is up to, even on a cultural level.

In the Sixties we would have called this divine intervention but I thank social networking services for bringing this study into my attention.

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is based upon Alain Pire's doctoral dissertation for the University of Liège in 2009, counts roughly 800 pages and is divided into 4 parts:

English psychedelic music
Analysis of British psychedelic songs
British counter-culture
Psychedelic drugs

Functional psychedelic nude.
Functional psychedelic nude.

English psychedelic music

Paradoxically the subject of the book is its biggest weakness. Defining psychedelic music is like describing a butterfly's flight. We all know instinctively how psychedelic music sounds, but it is nearly impossible to write down its genetic formula on a piece of paper.

It is extremely complex to give a definition of a musical genre that is so protean as psychedelic rock. (p. 92)

Basically Alain Pire, or Dr. Alain Pire for you, doesn't get any further than stating that psychedelic music is music that simulates or evokes psychedelic sensations. It's a bit like saying that the girl above is nude because she has no clothes on.

As vague as the above definition is, psychedelic music does have some common points. It uses technical novelties that had only recently been introduced in the record studios and that in some cases were invented on the spot by sound engineers at the demand of the musicians.

One of these psychedelic sound effects is the so-called phasing (or flanging) that was already invented in 1941 by Les Paul but was largely ignored for nearly 25 years until it reappeared briefly on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The first 'full' utilisation of this effect can be witnessed on the Small Faces' Itchycoo Park (1967).

Another psychedelic brand mark is the reverse tape effect or backmasking. The legend goes that John Lennon, under the influence of cannabis, 'invented' the effect by listening to a tape that had not be rewound, but sound modifications and (reverse) tape loops had already been used in avant-garde music circles since the early fifties. Those same avant-garde musicians had also experimented with musique concrète, using acousmatic sound as a compositional resource, and with tape speed effects but, once again, these techniques were made popular by psychedelic rock bands in the Sixties, notably The Beatles who seemed to be one step ahead of all the others.

It is due to George Harrison that Indian instruments invaded psychedelia as well, first used in Norwegian Wood and later picked up and copied by The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Pretty Things, Donovan and others. I won't give the other characteristic instruments of psychedelic music here, otherwise there would be no reason to buy the book, but I'll gladly make an exception for the psychedelic instrumental gimmick par excellence: the mellotron.

The basics of this instrument was already around since the late forties, but once again, and I'm starting to sound like a stuck vinyl record here, it was re-discovered by English psychedelia. Graham Bond may have been the first to record it on Baby Can It Be True (1965), but its full potential was used by The Beatles and The Moody Blues who made it their signature instrument. For a while it was even nicknamed a Pindertron, after the keyboards player of that band.

Love, peace, understanding and lots of pot
Love, peace, understanding and lots of pot.

Music Analysis

It took me a couple of months to finish Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock and that is due to the second part where the author analyses 109 psychedelic songs. I had the chance to listen to the songs on my iPod while reading the book and that is of course the ideal way to benefit of the detailed descriptions.

Starting with Shapes of Things (Yardbirds, 1965) and ending with Cream's I'm so glad (1969) it describes the four heyday years of psychedelia. Influental bands and their albums get extra attention and a short biography: The Beatles (obviously), but also The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Pretty Things, The Soft Machine and Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd.

It struck me, quite pleasantly, that Pire quotes Julian Palacios' Lost In The Woods on page 251, intriguingly not in the Pink Floyd, but in the Sergeant Pepper section, an album that – according to both Pire and Palacios - started the end of the psychedelic era.

This strange psychedelic movement, blossoming quickly in an explosive flash of colour, already seemed to be withering slightly. Its momentum was to be felt everywhere in the world, but the original Big Bang, so to speak, was nearing an end.

Of course Pire can't write detailed biographies about every band, that isn't the purpose of his work, but the anoraky nitpicker in me came across some mistakes that could have been weeded out by a better editor or proofreader. Some examples:

The influence of science fiction stories will be found later in the lyrics of 'Interstellar overdrive' or 'Astronomy Domine'. (p. 289)

I agree with Astronomy, but I have some difficulties believing that the lyrics of Interstellar Overdrive find their origins in a science fiction story as it is... an instrumental. Alain Pire knows bloody well that the track contains no lyrics as he gets quite lyrical about the piece later on:

This track is more than a piece of music: it is the testimony of an era, a musical spokesman for a generation. When the band was in a good shape its open structure symbolised, on its own merits, the term Psychedelic Music. (p. 369)

Another mistake that slipped through is this one:

Duggie Fields, painter and friend of Syd Barrett at that time, still lives at 101 Cromwell Road (p. 293).

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has dedicated enough space to Syd's (and Duggie's) apartment, located at Wetherby Mansions, Earls Court Square. Of course Duggie lived at 101 Cromwell Road before and that is probably were the error comes from.

During the year 1968, Barrett recorded his first solo album: The Madcap Laughs, with the help from David Gilmour and Waters... (p. 340)

Also this is only part of the truth, Syd Barrett recorded some demos in 1968, but the sessions were abandoned after Peter Jenner agreed they were 'chaos'. In April 1969, perhaps thanks to the the good influence of Iggy, Syd found himself fit enough to start with the real recordings for his first album.

But like I said, nitpicking is unfortunately enough the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's core business and the few mistakes certainly don't take away the merits of this study. (But I would have a stiff talk with Gérard Nguyen 'secrétariat de rédaction et mise en page' if I were you, Alain, there are still too many printing errors in this release.)

Alain Pire doesn't only describe the psychedelic big shots but also dedicates some space to bands like Tintern Abbey, who only issued one single in their entire career or the almost forgotten band Blossom Toes. Butterfly flights indeed.

Anthem of the sun
Anthem of the sun.

Echoes

Throughout the book Alain Pire has the funny habit of first fully explaining a quote that he has found in an extensive bibliography or from interviews taken by himself, then followed by the quote itself and thus merely repeating the previous.

I can understand that a doctoral thesis must be large and that some professors at the University of Liège may be a bit slow to understand but printed in a book this makes you feel like you are standing on top of echo mountain. (Of course it could be that he uses this gimmick as the written equivalent of the psychedelic tape loop trick.)

Even then, by deleting these double entries Alain Pire could at least have saved 20 pages, handy for an index that is now missing.

It must be a second millennium thing that scholars don't put indexes any more in their books. Alain Pire's study literally cites hundreds of people, but the reader is unable to find these back once you have closed the book. That's a pity. Especially as I like to borrow these things myself for my various web doodles. Perhaps it is another way of saying, look it up yourself, buddy.

(I suddenly realise that if I ever publish a Pink Floyd inspired book the people that I have duly pissed of in my blog reviews will jump on my back as a horde of hungry dogs.)

Meditating hippie
Meditating hippie.

Counter Culture

The third part of the study, a description of the London Counter Culture, is a book in its own right.

Of course there isn't much new you can tell about the underground. Jonathon Green wrote perhaps the ultimate counter culture bible with Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71 and its alter ego All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture and recently Barry Miles has added a sequel to his In the Sixties book, London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945.

But Alain Pire puts down some cleverly made points here and there, such as the following remark about the decline of the traditional British values in the Sixties:

Family, religion, marriage, faithfulness get beaten in the face and other values like sexual liberation, hedonism and alternative spiritualism emerge. These new values embrace individualism like the growing importance of one's appearance, but also, and paradoxically, new forms of group participation like the ritual passing of a joint, the sharing of sexual partners and living in communes. (p. 538)

Of course the Sixties counter culture could only thrive under the favourable economical and cultural circumstances of that period.

Counter culture can only live a parasitic life, meaning that it carries, right from its start, the seeds of its own failure. (p. 563)

Basically the classless society of Swinging London was a (very small) mixture of (rock) stars, young aristocrats and middle class youth who had the financial means (or their parent's support) to live outside the square world.

Sundancing
Sundancing.

Psychedelic drugs

One of the many instruments that helped creating psychedelic music was a wonder drug called LSD. Alain Pire tries hard to give an unbiased, albeit slightly favourable, opinion about the drug that was, almost from one day till the other, reviled by the American and British governments.

LSD has been tested as a medicine or therapy by several scientific investigators but these experiments had to be stopped, despite the fact that most clinical test gave positive results, especially with proper professional accompaniment.

Of course LSD also had its negative sides, even more when people started to use it as a leisure drug, Pire notes about Barrett:

If LSD helped Syd in the beginning to reveal his genius as a composer, it became a real brake for his creativity and progressively sucked away his writing potential. (p. 324)

Not that the dangers of LSD were not known. Michael Hollingshead, one of the early LSD researchers, accidentally administered himself a massive dose of the drug. After that event he got the constant impression of living in a no man's land, partially in reality and partially in the twilight world and at one point he asked Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary for help.

While LSD seems to be the ideal method to open certain doors of perception it can turn into a living nightmare if these doors refuse to shut again, leaving its victim behind like a character from an Arthur Machen story. I may not think if this is what really happened to Syd Barrett.

Mudbaths: good for the skin!
Mudbaths: natural skin care.

Conclusion

The psychedelic era and its music is still greatly remembered and loved. It mainly arrived because several puzzle pieces, randomly thrown in the air, landed in such a way that they formed a nice picture.

Alain Pire divides these puzzle pieces into two parts: the pedestal and the components.

The pedestal of the psychedelic era was a thriving economic situation and a socio-cultural context that was open for change. George Harrison called the Sixties a period of 'mini renaissance'. Alain Pire rightfully mentions the art schools that were a pool of inspiration and experiment. The list of those who attended art school is long: Chris Dreja, Dick Taylor, Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, Iggy Rose, Jimmy Page, John Lennon, John Whitney, Keith Relf, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Phil May, Ray Davies, Robert Wyatt, Roger Chapman, Roy Wood and Syd Barrett.

Three extra components were the psychedelic icing on the cake:
First: extremely talented musicians suddenly came out in the open;
Second: psychedelic drugs opened doors of (musical) imagination and experiment;
Third: technical wizardry made it possible to find new ways to deal with sound.

But all this couldn't have happened without the support of a fifth pillar: the public. Without a public open for change and experiment the psychedelic movement would have stayed a small avant-garde movement unknown to the outside world.

Let me end with a quote taken from the introduction by Barry Miles:

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is the most complete history of that period's music that I have ever read. The author has to be complimented for his erudition and I heartily recommend his book to anybody who wants a profound explication of what really happened during the Swinging Sixties. (p. 9)

I couldn't say it better. Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais is a damn well read and urgently needs to be translated into English.

Pire Alain, Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais, Camion Blanc, Rosières en Haye, 2011. 815 pages, foreword by Barry Miles. 38 Euros. (Link)

The Church wishes to thank: Alain Pire, Jenny Spires.


Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 153.
Image 2: © Jenny Spires. Special effect by Felix Atagong.
Images 3 to 8: © Glastonbury Fayre (1972). Special effects by Felix Atagong.
All excerpts from the Anthropology book have been translated from French into English by Felix Atagong, who is the only person to blame if they sound dodgy.


2011-09-04

Lee Wood, the man who knows everything

Early November 2008, while we were baffled by The City Wakes festivities in Cambridge, a mystery man send the following message to some Syd Barrett oriented forums:

Next Week (November 10th) I begin filming a DVD of places associated with Syd and the roots of Pink Floyd in Cambridge. I'm looking for someone to assist as a production assistant. This will be PAID work. Three days - Monday, Tuesday and Friday. There are 25 locations I am aware of that were not included on the tours and I will also be including interviews with many people not at the Wakes events.
What does a production assistant do? Lugs equipment, gets coffee but also has an input into the production and filming. If anyone is interested please email me. (Taken from: Syd's Cambridge, help wanted.)
Lee Wood (60s)
Lee Wood in the 60s.

Raw Power

That man was Lee Wood who, in the sixties & seventies played in a few obscure bands such as The Antlers, The Pype Rhythms, The New Generation, The Sex and LSD. Because it was so difficult to find obscure records he opened a record store “Remember Those Oldies” in 1974 that grew into an independent punk rock record company after he had witnessed a rehearsal session from the legendary punk band The Users.

The sessions were recorded in Spaceward Studios who are known in Pink Floyd's territorial waters because they used to have the only tape in the world of a concert of the Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band, recorded on the 27th January 1972 at Corn Exchange, featuring a certain Syd Barrett. Also present were Hawkwind and their live set of that day has just been issued by Easy Action. There is no clearance yet for the other bands and at their website Easy Action has only put the following enigmatic message:

Syd Barrett, Pink Fairies
Easy Action has purchased a number of reels of master tape capturing a performance by Hawkwind, Pink Fairies and a band hastily assembled featuring Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett NOT Stars!
Recorded in Cambridge in January 1972, we will be investigating further copyright clearances and one day hope to produce the whole lot for your listening pleasure!
Lee Wood in 1978
Lee Wood in 1978.

Unfortunately Lee Wood did not become the second Brian Epstein or Richard Branson. As a newbie in the record business he didn't realise that even punk bands need a business plan (and some proper bookkeeping). He kept on releasing those records he liked, and about the only one that actually made a decent profit was 'Settin' The Woods On Fire' from rockabilly rockers Matchbox. Other bands that landed on Raw Records were The Killjoys whose leader Kevin Rowland would later form Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Soft Boys (with Robyn Hitchcock) and even Sixties sensation The Troggs:

When I was growing up in the 1960’s I loved The Troggs. It’s a long story but in 1977 I became their manager and we recorded “Just A Little Too Much” at the legendary Olympic Studios in London. (…) It was issued in 1978. (Taken from: Just A Little Too Much.)

Raw Records also had its Decca audition disaster. Between 1977 and 1978 Lee Wood literally received hundreds of demos, after he had put an ad in a music magazine. One came from an average Manchester band called Warsaw and the tape was binned without further ado. A year later the band had changed its name to Joy Division and hit the post punk scene with its dark and gloomy classics.

In 1979 the company was losing so much money that the record store couldn't cope any more for its losses (several singles only had white sleeves because there was no money to print covers) and after about 30 singles and a few LPs Raw Records was history. (Raw Records history compiled from: Punk 77.)

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

But a decade before Lee Wood ventured into punk he had been following the Cambridge R&B scene. Antonio Jesús could persuade him to confess the following on the Solo en las Nubes blog... and here it is, for the first time in the English language and exclusively licensed to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit...

Lee Wood
Lee Wood in 2008.

Lee Wood – the man who knows everything

How long have you been living in Cambridge?

I have lived in Cambridge since 1962. My parents moved to a small village called Histon just outside Cambridge when I was 12 years old and they ran a Public House.

Did you ever meet Syd or members of Pink Floyd?

I never met Syd but I probably bumped into him (literally) as I used to go Roller Skating about 3 or 4 times every week at Cambridge Corn Exchange and I’m told Syd went there with his sister.

I knew David Gilmour to say hello to, as I played in a band and spent a lot of time in the local music shops. In fact I was in a shop called Ken Stevens on the day David came in and bought a Fender Stratocaster. 3 days later we all read in Melody Maker magazine he had joined Pink Floyd.

I have since met a lot of his friends. People like Warren (Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager), the very beautiful Jenny Spires, Clive Welham (drummer in Geoff Mott and the Mottoes) and many more. Let me say – I can understand why Syd liked them so much. These people are loyal friends and wonderful human beings. It is a pleasure to know them.

Did you ever see Pink Floyd play live?

Yes. At The Dorothy Ballroom in Cambridge. Of course they were amazing.

Note: The Floyd played that venue on Friday, 17 February 1967 for the St. Catherine's College Valentine Ball, with Bob Kidman, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and Pearl Hawaiians.
The Racehorse ad
The Racehorse ad.

What was the music scene like in Cambridge during the period 1965 to 1968?

It was probably like any other town or city of its size. There were lots of groups and a lot of places for them to play. Unlike today you could put on a concert at virtually any church hall or the back room of a pub and people would turn up. It was a very vibrant place. The music scene was incredible. Everything you read about the 60’s – and more. The Corn Exchange and The Dorothy ballroom put on lots of famous bands every week. I saw The Who just after My Generation came out, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Small Faces and many more.

Did you ever see Syd perform in his first band “Those Without”?

It is possible. When I was 15 some of the older guys who used to drink in my parents pub in Histon would go to another pub in Cambridge called "The Racehorse". Even though I was underage they would take me virtually every week and I saw a lot of bands. I didn’t drink – I just went to see the bands play. I am sure I saw Jokers Wild play there and I know Those Without played there around that time. The band I remember the most and my favourite were called “Something Else” after the Eddie Cochran song but it is possible I saw Syd play there and didn’t realise it. There was also another great band from the area where Syd lived called The Go Five.

Note: Those Without played The Racehorse on Sunday, 20 June 1965 while Jokers Wild had passed there on Friday, the 26th of March 1965. In those days Jokers Wild were quite popular, in 1965 they swept the Dorothy Ballroom 9 times and gigged 22 times at Les Jeux Interdits (Victoria Ballroom).

Were there any other bands in Cambridge who sounded like Pink Floyd?

Yes. There was a group called "This Sporting Life" who really liked them and copied their light show. They were a really good band. The drummer was a friend of mine called David Orbell who actually had a professional recording studio in Histon from 1965 and recorded a lot of bands. He is certain Syd came over and played guitar with another band on one occasion.

Note: the garage freakbeat compilation Le Beat Bespoké 3 (Circle Records, 2008) has an intriguing 1966 track, from an unknown Cambridge band: Time's A Good Thing by Syd's Group. Obviously the liner notes hint that Syd Barrett had a hand in this recording but actually nobody knows the band members, the record studio or the exact date. While some claim that the guitar play is similar to Syd's in a typical fuzzy Sixties style, Kiloh Smith from Laughing Madcaps has suggested that the track is an Eighties forgery annex tribute annex pastiche by a neo-garage-freakbeat band. If only someone could access those tapes in Lee Wood's collection...

He gave me the tapes of a lot of local bands who recorded there, including "The Wages of Sin" with lead guitarist Tim Renwick. David lives in somewhere like Brazil nowadays so I never see him.

Do you still have the tapes?

Yes I do. But I sold my old reel-to-reel tape recorder many years ago and have no way of playing them. But I did hear the track and it is possible. It certainly sounds like Syds style but was recorded in 1965. Who knows?

Syd's Bench
Syd's Bench.

Do you know where the famous bench dedicated to Syd that two fans told him about when they visited his house is located?

I know exactly where it is. I have visited it on several occasions. The inscription is not obvious. It doesn’t actually mention Syd by name. I show details of it on the DVD I produced called "Syd's Cambridge".

Can you tell us what is on the DVD?

The DVD consists of three seperate tours of Cambridge.The first tour is the City centre. The second tour is the area were Syd grew up and lived. The third tour is all the places inside and just outside Cambridge connected with Syd and the early days of Pink Floyd. As I have lived here all my life I know the city very well. A lot of the books that have been published have incorrect information so I decided to include all the correct details. It shows over 30 locations associated with Syd and Pink Floyd. It even shows the place where Stars played that no one knew about before.

It also corrects details about the only performance by Geoff Mott And The Mottoes. They didn’t actually play at the Friends Meeting House – or other places previously mentioned. I give the real location on the DVD. You can see it all. It also shows the inside of Syds house and garden and has an interview with the girls in the artshop where Syd bought his artist paints.

Syd's Cambridge DVD1
Syd's Cambridge DVD1.

Can you tell me about the special box set as I have heard about it but never seen one.

The box set is very special. A beautiful pink box with a ribbon containing two DVD, the tours DVD plus one of Matthew Scurfield and Emo talking about Syd and life in the 60’s. The box also contains a book of places connected to the band, the real estate agents details of Syds house when it was for sale (with details from his sister), a Cambridge postcard and bookmark, some special wrapping paper I had designed and specially made and also a small plastic bag with some soil I took from Syds garden when I visited it. There are also some other items in it.

There were only 100 copies of the box set made. Each one is individually numbered and when I sent them out to people they were sent from the Post Office Syd used just round the corner from his house. I also had a special cardboard posting box made to make sure the box set arrived in perfect condition. I’m quite proud of it and the comments and thank you letters I received bear this out.

© 2010 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Lee Wood. Notes, Introduction & Afterword: the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.

Syd's Cambridge DVD2
Syd's Cambridge DVD2.

Syd's Cambridge Box Set (Lee Wood)

Some people have asked me about the box set and what it contains, so here goes:

The first DVD is divided into 3 tours. In total we cover 58 locations. There is a lot of new information, including a review of a little known STARS performance at The Perse School, with the actual date and a review of the concert. There is also video of the hall where it took place.

The Geoff Mott And The Mottoes performance did not take place at either the Friends Meeting House or in the Union Cellars. The DVD reveals for the first time where this historic event did take place.

As has been revealed - our research proves beyond a shadow of doubt Sid Barrett was the Double Bass player with the Riverside Jazz Band - not the drummer as claimed in virtuallly every book and article. We also discovered the origins of his nickname originally given to him in the scouts.

Note: this was later confirmed by Syd's school and scouts group mate Geoff Leyshon in A very Irregular Head (Rob Chapman, 2010).

The DVD has footage of 183 Hills Road including the back garden and takes you right up to the front door. There is exclusive footage from INSIDE the Union Cellars and inside Homerton College. Both of these locations are not open to the public.

New information about David Gilmour just days before joining Floyd, the exact location of the park bench dedicated to Syd, the EXACT spot on the Market Square where STARS performed plus lots of photos from the 1960's/70's including The Dandelion Cafe.

There is also an interview with the girls from the art shop where Syd (Roger) purchased his brushes and paints.

Plus a lot more - his local shops, post office, supermarket and places he played when a member of Those Without, including Cheshunt College Lodge.

The city centre tour is conducted by two friends of Syd and at each location they reveal details of their times with him.

Note: these co-presenters are Warren Dosanjh (see: Syd Barrett's first manager) and Charlie Weedon.

The box set also includes a DVD of the City Wakes discussions by Emo and Matthew Scurfield, a book with maps and places around Cambridge, details of Syd's house, cuttings from the local newspaper including adverts for the STARS concerts, a Cambridge greetings card and a small sample of soil taken from 6 St Margaret's Square. There is also exclusive video footage of Syd's house and garden filmed by me in 2006. (Taken from: Syd's Cambridge Box Set.)

Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery

Our new gallery shows artwork of the (sold out) Syd Barrett Limited Edition Deluxe Box set issued in 2008 by Sound Publishing. The scans contain (most) material of the box and follow the numbering of the certificate. Some parts have (deliberately) not been scanned and some have been slightly tampered with: Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery. The interesting book inside the box is Pink Floyd Fans Illustrated Guide of Cambridge (96 pages) by Mark Warden and Alfredo Marziano. A review of this book can be found at Brain Damage and Amazon still has got a few copies left.

Notes (other than internet links mentioned above)
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 11-12.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 25-27.


2011-10-07

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Duggie & Iggy (2011)
Duggie Fields & Iggy (2011).

In the Seventies, Eigthies, Nineties and Naughties (sic) no interview with an (ex-) Pink Floyd member could be published without the obligatory Syd Barrett question. This enervated the interviewees sometimes at a point that they may have said things they would later regret but that are continuously repeated, decades later, by Sydiots all over the world in their quest to prove that member D, R or N still holds a grudge against that godlike creature named Syd.

I's a bit like Paul McCartney who will, forever and ever, be reminded of his 'It's a drag' comment the day John Lennon died, a comment he gave to the press vultures while he was emotionally exhausted.

In 2005 when Roger Waters' (rather unexciting) Ca Ira opera saw the light of day he was obliged to face the press, but his management insisted to talk about the opera and not about Pink Floyd. Belgian journalist Serge Simonart described this wryly as interviewing Winston Churchill and only asking about his hobbies. The music journalist however smuggled in a Barrett-related question and noted down the following statement:

The press is also to blame, because they want a juicy tale. Syd was a juicy tale, and that is why his influence seems to be so much bigger than it was in reality: he barely was a year in the band, and we have made our best work later without him. (Taken from WHERE ARE THEY NOW... ROGER WATERS (PINK FLOYD), currently hosted at A Fleeting Glimpse.)

Apart from the fact that Roger Waters needs an extra semi-trailer to transport his ego while he is on tour, he has a valid point although some Syd anoraks will obviously not agree with the above.

Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.
Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.

In December 1968 (give or take a month) Syd Barrett, Duggie Fields and a drop-out named Jules rented a three bedroom apartment at Wetherby Mansions. As Jules left a short while later the witnesses who can tell us something substantial about Syd's daily life are Duggie Fields, Gala Pinion (who took the spare bedroom about 6 months later), Iggy Rose plus the circle of close friends and, unfortunately enough, hanger-ons who were only there for the free food, free booze and free drugs. Syd Barrett was either a very generous host or simply too spaced-out to understand that he was being ripped-off.

Our good friend Iggy Rose is rather reluctant to divulge too much to the outside world and anything that she has told the Reverend stays well inside the Church's sigillum confessionis. Gala seems to have disappeared in Germany of all places, so perhaps someone ought to create a Semi-Holy Church of Jules in order to find and question him. Most people who knew Syd seem to have valid enough reasons to keep a low profile, unless they want to sell overpriced Barrett photo books.

The result is that all weight falls upon the man who lived with Syd for a couple of years and who tried (and succeeded) in making a successful art career of his own: Duggie Fields. But it must have been, and probably still is, a pain in the arse that whenever he wants to inform the press about a new exposition they all friendly smile into his direction and say: “Fine, but we only want to know about Syd Barrett really”.

So let's set the record straight, shall we? With a little help of our Spanish-sister-blog Solo En Las Nubes we hereafter present you an exclusive Duggie Fields self-interview (from the 24th November of 2010) and we will not add another word about Syd. Sort of.

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Artistically, a Duggie Fields interview speaks for itself and needs no introduction.

Although there are some obvious influences on his paintings, his art – like with all great artists - is immediately recognisable. But the Duggie Fields label is not limited to canvas alone.

His life is filled with very curious anecdotes. One of those is how he shared a flat with Syd Barrett (and – although only for a couple of weeks – with Iggy Rose [note from FA]), the protagonist of this blog. Exclusively for Todos En Las Nubes Mr. Fields has written this self-interview. An honor.

ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields
ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields.

So how do you start your day...?

Usually at the computer. In the winter in my dressing gown; in the summer in my underwear, with a cup of green tea....

And...?

I check my emails. Facebook. And then sometimes I sit working on a new idea, a picture or less frequently a piece of music. And some times hours can pass without me registering.

What are you working on then now?

On the computer I have a couple of new image ideas started. How well they’ll develop I don’t yet know. And a new piece of music on the way, the first for quite some time. There’s also the canvas I’ve been working on for most of the summer now.

So what’s that all about?

That’s not so easy for me to say. If it has a narrative I’ve yet to work out what it is about. There seems to be some kind of story. There are two figures in the picture occupying the same, but not quite the same, space. Both looking at something but not quite the same something. Both figures have spiritual overtones. The male figure came from a statue in the graveyard just around the corner from here. The female figure was a chance vision at an Arts and Antiques Fair up the road in Olympia. Photographed randomly, not initially intended to pair with him but somehow ending there intuitively.

Male Female - Duggie Fields
Male Female - Duggie Fields.

What’s “just around the corner” ?

Just around the corner is Brompton Cemetery. Just around the corner is also the name of a series of photographs I have been taking. Almost daily and with my mobile phone and then posted on my Facebook page. The Cemetery is Victorian, designed to echo on a much smaller scale St.Peter’s in Rome, and ravishing when over-grown and wild as it was last year. I photograph in there regularly. Always managing to discover unseen statues, so many angels, and a wealth of ever-changing imagery. And also I take pictures just around the corner on the streets where I live.

And where is that?

Earls Court, an area I’ve lived in now for over 40 years. In the same home, the one I first got with Syd Barrett shortly after he’d left the Pink Floyd and which we shared together for a couple of years or so before he left even further from the life he’d once lived, and that I’ve lived in ever since.

Have you always taken photographs?

At Art School I did photography briefly as part of my course there, enjoying time in the dark-room developing, processing and printing my own film, but not really getting on with their prevailing concepts of what the subjects should be. Over the years I’ve had various cameras, though nothing got me so involved again until going digital allowed me to print and process on screen. The camera phone I enjoy enormously, not having to carry a separate camera with me, one less item to fill the pockets and think about. I use it kind of as a visual diary. I upload the images to Facebook as it is currently simpler than adding them to my own website the way it is set-up at the moment.

Note: This year (2011) Just Around The Corner evolved into a very agreeable book.

That implies you might change it..?

That will change at some stage, but it’s a job that just adds to the list of things to do. And right now that’s a growing list. The website (www.duggiefields.com) works well enough as it stands. But all its sections, and there are many already, could be expanded on. Like everything it is a question of time, and of priorities.

Note: There is a Duggie Fields blog as well.

What’s the biggest change then that might happen to it?

Well apart from a dedicated Photography section, I have over 1,000 images to choose from to add there. Mostly landscapes and things, the “Just around the corner” series, “Tree offerings”, and “Curiosities”. There is more music to add. Quite a few more pieces in addition to what is already online. And lastly to update the “Word” section with some new writing. Have been working for the past few years on anecdotes from my life, from childhood on. Currently have written up to my early years in Wetherby Mansions.

And when might this happen?

You might well ask that. Really it depends. Right now I’m finishing off one very large acrylic canvas; thinking about what the next one I paint might be, painting always being my priority over everything, though now first starting with imagery made on computer whereas before it would start on tracing and graph paper. Working on a couple of digital images that will stay digital whatever, possibly being output as digital printed canvasses an option. As well as continuing with the music piece I started only recently. So I am occupied, pre-occupied, engaged, and other-wise committed. Enough in fact to think, this is enough for this too so I can back get on with some real work, which of course it always is. Time demanding however rewarding it feels in the process, which it does, there is never enough of it it seems........

© 2010 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Duggie Fields & Jenny Spires. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.


2012-01-15

The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)

Syd Barrett, Mick Rock
Syd Barrett tinbox, by Mick Rock.

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 truth.

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:

Did you understand the music Yoko?
Or was it all in vain?
(5.01 AM, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking)

and,

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 To Death),

...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.

Venetta Fields & Carlena Williams, 1975 (courtesy of A Fleeting Glimpse).
Venetta Fields & Carlena Williams, 1975 (courtesy of A Fleeting Glimpse).

Remembering Games

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 Gilmour, Nick 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 Blackberries
John Leckie, EMI engineer and producer (but not on Wish You Were Here)
Nick Sedgwick, friend of Roger Waters and 'official' biographer of Pink Floyd
Jerry 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...

(For those interested there is a Syd Barrett visits the Wish You Were Here sessions bit at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit as well: Wish You Were... but where exactly?)

Iggy outtake (Mick Rock)
Iggy outtake by Mick Rock.

Amnesydelicate Matters

In his most recent, but probably not his last, picture book about Syd Barrett Mick 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 durability.

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 and Hipgnosis, perhaps even leading to an alternative Storm Thorgerson photo shoot (the so-called yoga pictures). But in the end it was decided to use the daffodils session from spring.

JenS convinced the Church that the Madcap photo shoot took place in the first quarter of the year 1969. Most is dispersed on several articles throughout the years but the following posts give a digest of what probably happened: When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 2), Rock - Paper - Scissors, The Case of the Painted Floorboards.

In My Room (Mojo)
In My Room (Mojo).

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 wasn't there."

JenS (When 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 different friends."

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 to record..."

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 on Facebook.
Jenny Spires on Facebook.

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 pretty accurate.

JenS (Addenda and Errata with Gala and Gretta): "Gala was not there (early 1969, FA). She moved in later hooking up with Syd in May or June."

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.)

Still Life with stereo, tape recorder and pot of paint
Still Life with stereo, tape recorder and pot of paint.

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 and turquoise."

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 released."

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."

Mick Rock (Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs - The Mick Rock Photo-Sessions): "There had been no discussion about money at all. Later on I did get a very minor payment but it couldn't have been more than 50£ and I don't know if it came from Syd or EMI."

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."


MP3 link: Duggie Fields.

Jenny Fabian (Days In The Life):: "He'd painted every other floor board alternate colours red and green."

Iggy outtake (Mick Rock)
Iggy outtake by Mick Rock.

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, see above.)

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 on Facebook
Jenny Spires on Facebook.

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 shine through.

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 shots."

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.

You have been reading a sequel of The Case of the Painted Floorboards. Two new - previously unpublished - Mick Rock pictures have been added to the Bare Flat gallery.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2012-03-26

Formentera Lady

Formentera Magical Mystery Tour
Formentera Magical Mystery Tour.

Despite the fact that the sixties children of the revolution all wanted to express their individualism and refused to be a part of the square 9 to 5 world they all managed to show up at the same places, dress virtually the same and take the same chemical substances.

This also applied for their holidays. Although they had been seeing each other the whole year in old rainy England, in summer they would pack their bags and flee – en masse – to the same cool (but sweaty) locations, following the so-called Hippie Trail.

The Hippie Trail extended to the Himalayas and several Cantabrigian hipsters made it to the Indies, looking for a guru who would teach them things a local vicar couldn't teach them. Paul Charrier, one of the Cantabrigian mods, beats or whatever denomination they liked that week, was one of the first to witness this. When he returned to England and opened his bag of tricks, he managed to convert a few others to the narrow path of Sant Mat, but others, like Storm Thorgerson and Matthew Scurfield, opposed to this 'wave of saccharine mysticism hitting our shores' (see also: We are all made of stars).

India and Pakistan were long and hazardous journeys and for those who only had a few weeks to spend there were always the Balearic islands where they would meet at La Tortuga or La Fonda Pepe.

Some 700 hippies arrived in Formentera in 1968 and by the summer of 1969 there were already 1,300, almost one for every 2.5 islanders. They didn’t stay all year round but were usually university students spending their holidays on the island. In 1970, Franco’s regime threw all 3,000 of them off Ibiza and Formentera. According to the regime, the hippies gave the place a bad name, but the islanders didn’t agree – for them the hippies were simply tourists. (Taken from: Thinkspain.)

Of course the islands of Formentera and Ibiza (Balearic Islands) already had some reputation of their own. The place not only gained popularity by (American) writers and artists after the second world war for its mild climate, but also because it was a central drug smuggling point. The heroes of Beat literature not only liked the bohemian's life, but in their quest for nonconformity they also actively sought contact with 'the perilous margins of society - pimps, whores, drug dealers, petty thieves'.

Quite some Dutch artists visited the place, for one reason or another. The proto-hippie-folk singing duo Nina & Frederik (Dutch-Danish, in fact), who had some hits in the fifties and early sixties, lived there. In his later life Frederik Van Pallandt attempted a career as drug smuggler and his murder in 1994 may have been a direct result. Other artist included poet Simon Vinkenoog, author Jan Cremer and Black & Decker trepanist Bart Huges. The sixties saw visits from the Beatles, the Stones and in their wake some beautiful people from London (for a more detailed list: Ibiza in the beatnik & hippie eras.)

1963

David Gale, his girlfriend Maureen, Dave Henderson, Storm Thorgerson and John Davies went to Ibiza in 1963 for their holidays where they visited Formentera island for a day. Back at home they all decided to have another holiday there.

1965

Mary Wing (and her friend Marc Dessier) found Formentera so beautiful that in 1965 they decided to stay there.

Syd Barrett, Formentera 1967.
Syd Barrett, Formentera 1967.

1967

Nick Mason acknowledges that after the '14 hour technicolour dream' (29 April 1967) the band was very tired and that Syd showed more severe symptoms than the others. Despite all that the continuous, eight days a week, gigging went on with the mythical Games For May concert two weeks later (12 May), the memorable Hans Keller BBC interview (14 May) and the See Emily Play recording session (18 May). There were nearly daily concerts or recording sessions between May and June of that year, but little by little cracks started to appear in their overcrowded agenda.

June, 11: two cancelled concerts in Holland
June, 18: public appearance on a bikini fashion show for Radio London, cancelled
June, 24: two cancelled concerts in Corby and Bedford
June, 25: two cancelled concerts in Manchester

On Thursday, July the 27th 1967, the Pink Floyd mimed (for the third time) on the Top Of the Pops show although Barrett was rather reluctant to do it. The next day they had a recording session for the BBC, but apparently Syd was seen leaving the block when it was their turn. This time the band and its management took Syd's behaviour seriously and decided to cancel all August gigs (with the exception of some studio recording sessions).

Update September 2012: one of these cancelled gigs was the 7th National Jazz, Pop, Ballads and Blues Festival that was visited by Iggy the Eskimo: Iggy - a new look in festivals.

Now what would you do when the lead singer of your band has got mental problems due to his abundant drug intake? You send him to a hippie, drug infested, island under the supervision of a psychedelic doctor who thinks that LSD has been been the best invention since masturbation.

Sam [Hutt, aka Smutty] was the underground's very own house doctor, sympathetic to drug users and musicians: as Boeing Duveen And The Beautiful Soup and later Hank Wangford, Sam was able to introduce a performer’s perspective. (Nick Mason)

In 1969 Smutty would have his medical office at Jenny Fabian's apartment: “I did find it a bit weird though, trying to lie around stoned listening to the sounds of vaginal inspections going on behind the curtain up the other end of the sitting-room."

Hell O Formentera © Stanislav
Hell O' Formentera © Stanislav Grigorev.

After a first attempt in the studio on Scream Thy Last Scream, Pink Floyd finally went on holiday for the second half of August. Syd Barrett, Lindsay Corner, Rick Wright, Juliette Gale (Wright), Dr. Sam Hutt, his wife and baby went to Formentera while Roger Waters and Judy Trim (Waters) headed for Ibiza. They all had a good time, except for Barrett who – during a storm - panicked so hard he literally tried to climb the walls of the villa, an anecdote that is so vehemently trashed by biographer Rob Chapman that it probably did happen.

In retrospect the decision to take a hippie doctor on holiday wasn't that stupid. One of the underlying ideas was that he would be able to communicate with Syd on the same level. The band, conscientiously or not, were also aware that 'there was a fear that sending Syd to a [traditional] doctor for observation might lead to his being sectioned in a mental hospital'.

In those days most care centres in Great Britain were still Victorian lunatic asylums where medical torture was mildly described as therapy. At least these were the horrid stories told by the people who had been so lucky to escape.

He showed me to the room that was to be mine. It was indeed a cell. There was no door knob on the inside, the catch had been jammed so that the door couldn't be shut properly, the window was high up in the wall and had bars over it, and there was only a standard issue bed and locker as furniture. (William Pryor)

Nobody wanted this to happen to Syd, but a less prosaic thought was this would have meant the end of the band, something that had to be carefully avoided. “The idea was to get Syd out of London, away from acid, away from all his friends who treated him like a god.”, Rick Wright explained but in reality Dr. Hutt, and the others, merely observed Syd Barrett, catatonic as ever and still 'munching acid all the time'. Nick Mason, in his usual dry style: “It was not a success.”

Whoever thought that giving Barrett a few weeks of rest was going to evaporate the demons from his brain must have been tripping himself and on the first of September the agenda was resumed as if nothing had happened. The first 6 days were filled with gigs and recording sessions. Three days later a Scandinavian tour with the legendary Gyllene Cirkeln and Starclub gigs, followed by an Irish Tour and later, in October, the disastrous North American Tour...

Although the previous paragraphs may seem harsh they are not meant to criticise the people nor their actions. It is easy to pinpoint what went wrong 45 years ago, but as it is impossible to predict an alternative past we will never know if any other action would have had a different or better effect. The Reverend is convinced that Syd's friends, band members and management tried to do their best to help him, but unfortunately they were running in the same insane treadmill as he was. Syd wasn't the only one to be exhausted and at the same time the atmosphere was imbibed with the 'summer of love' philosophy of respecting someone's personal freedom, even if it lead to self-destruction...

1968

In 1968 Aubrey 'Po' Powell (Floydian roadie and later Hipgnosis member) visited the Formentera island together with some friends.

I first came here forty-one years ago [interview taken in 2009, FA] with David Gilmour, and then the year afterwards with Syd Barrett. The first year I came to Formentera I stayed about four months living like a hippie, and I just fell in love with it. (…) Also it was kind of difficult to get to. You had to get the plane to Ibiza and then the ferry which at that time was the only ferry that went between Ibiza and Formentera and that took about two hours to get across and it only went twice a day. So it was an effort to get there, you know, it was a rather remote place. But a lot of writers, painters and musicians gravitated there. (Taken from: Aubrey Powell: Life, light and Formentera’s influence on Hipgnosis.)
a smile from a veil
A smile from a veil.

1969

Shortly after Syd Barrett watched the first moon-landing (that had been given a Pink Floyd soundtrack on the BBC) he panicked when he found out that his pal Emo (Iain Moore) and a few others (Po, John Davies) had left Albion for sunny Formentera. He literally grabbed a bag of cash and dirty clothes and headed to Heathrow, driven there by Gala Pinion.

The story goes that Syd tried to stop an aeroplane taxiing on the tarmac. In at least one version the plane actually stopped and took him on board, but other say he had to wait for the next departure. Again it is biographer Rob Chapman who categorises this anecdote as 'unsubstantiated nonsense', on the weird assumption that it failed to make the newspapers, but other biographies have also omitted this story for simply being too unbelievable.

Anyway, somewhere in July or early August 1969 Syd arrived in Ibiza and met Emo who was on his way to San Fernando (Formentera). The biographies Crazy Diamond (Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson), Madcap (Tim Willis) and Dark Globe (Julian Palacios) all add bits and pieces to that particular holiday.

Iain Moore: “He had a carrier bag of clothes that I could smell from where I was standing.”

Emo says Syd's behaviour was pivoting like a see-saw. One moment he could be seen laughing, joking and singing with the gang; the next moment he could snap into an emotional freeze. It was useless to warn him for the blistering sun and in the end his friends 'had to grab him, hold him down, and cover him from head to toe in Nivea'.

At Formentera Syd stayed with Mary Wing, who had left Great Britain in 1965 to live on the island with Marc Dessier. According to them Barrett was a gentle soul but 'like a little brother who needed looking after'. Barrett was in good form and to an audience of European hippies he claimed he was still the leader of Pink Floyd.

Barrett borrowed Dessier's guitar: “Then he sat there, chose a letter of the alphabet and thought of his three favourite words starting with the same letter. He wrote them on three bits of paper, threw them in the air and wrote them again in the order that he picked them up.” This technique was not uncommon for beat poets and Syd may have been inspired by Spike Hawkins who showed Barrett his Instant Poetry Broth book the year before.

One Formantera picture shows Syd with an unknown girl who hides her nudity behind a red veil. The (copyrighted) picture can be found on John Davies MySpace page (image link) and has been published in the Crazy Diamond biography and on A Fleeting Glimpse.

For Pink Floyd buffs the picture shares a resemblance with the red veil picture on the Wish You Were Here liner bag, that actually exists in a few different versions. Storm Thorgerson has used the past from the band and its members for his record covers, backdrop movies and videos on several occasions, like the Barrett vinyl compilation that had a cover with a plum, an orange and a matchbox.

Hipgnosis collaborator 'Po' Powell was with Syd in Formentera in 1969, but what does Storm Thorgerson has to say about it all? He reveals that the idea for the veil came from John Blake, and not from Po:

John Blake suggested using a veil – symbol of absence (departure) in funerals ans also a way of absenting (hiding) the face. This was the last shot (…) which was photographed in Norfolk.

And in Mind Over Matter:

The red muslin veil is an universal item, or symbol, of hiding the face, either culturally as in Araby, or for respect as in funerals. What's behind the veil?
Sarah Sky, Formentera 1969
Sarah Sky, Formentera 1969.

Formentera Lady

According to Nick Mason a female nude can be seen on the Wish You Were Here inside cover but of course this doesn't say anything about the unknown woman on Formentera. Who is she?

Nobody knows. And that secret remained a secret for over 40 years.

Now let's suppose a witness would show up who remembers she has been seen walking near Earl's Court.
And that she was called Sarah Sky although that probably was not her real name.
And that she spoke with a foreign accent and lived in London.
And that Sarah Sky vanished around the late 1970's and has never been heard of since.

Partially solving a problem only makes it bigger. A new quest has begun.

Update 2012.05.26: According to Emo (Iain Moore) Sarah Sky may have been one of the girls who went with them to Formentera. The Syd Barrett Archives (Facebook) have the following quote:

Actually, I spoke to Emo last night and he said she was just another person who was staying at the house they rented. It was a nudist beach, lol. At least Syd kept his pants on this time! (…)
Anyway, Emo said they didn't know her and he couldn't remember who she was with. (...)
The girl in this photo is name unknown. She was American and staying in a house in Ibiza. She was visiting Formentera for the day.

Update August 2012: Author and movie maker Nigel Gordon does not agree with a quote in the above text, taken from Matthew Scurfield:

I just want to respond briefly to your article on Formentera etc where you wrote or quote that Santmat is ‘saccharine mysticism’. I don’t agree with you. Santmat recommends that we meditate for two and a half hours a day. It’s pretty ‘salty’!

Update February 2015: Some 'sources' on the web pretend the Formentera girl is none other than German photo-model Uschi Obermaier. Obviously this is not true and if you want to know how the Church came to this conclusion you can read everything at Uschi Obermaier: Proletarian Chic.


Many thanks to: Nina, ebronte, Julian Palacios, Jenny Spires.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 90, 131.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 228, 341.
Davis, John: Childhood's End, My Generation Cambridge 1946-1965.
De Groot, Gerard: The Sixties Unplugged, Pan Macmillan, London, 2009, p. 27.
Gordon, Nigel: Santmat, email, 18.08.2012.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 286.
Green, Jonathon: All Dressed Up, Pimlico, London, 1999, p. 255.
Mason, Nick, Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 95-97.
Palacios, Julian: A mile or more in a foreign clime': Syd and Formentera @ Syd Barrett Research Society, 2009 (forum no longer active).
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 265, 353.
Pryor, William: The Survival Of The Coolest, Clear Books, 2003, p. 106.
Scurfield, Matthew: I Could Be Anyone, Monticello Malta 2009, p. 176.
Spires, Jenny: The Syd Barrett Archives, Facebook, 2012.
Thorgerson, Storm: Mind Over Matter, Sanctuary Publishing, London, 2003, p. 80.
Thorgerson, Storm: Walk Away René, Paper Tiger, Limpsfield, 1989, p. 150.
Thorgerson, Storm & Powell, Aubrey: For The Love Of Vinyl, Picturebox, Brooklyn, 2008, p. 104 (essay written by Nick Mason).
Watkinson, Mike & Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 90-91.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 113-114.


2012-05-11

RIP Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives

Clive Welham
Clive Welham.

On Wednesday, 9 May 2012, it was reported that Clive Welham passed away, after having been ill for a long time.

50 years earlier, he was the one who introduced a quiet, shy boy to Roger 'Syd' Barrett at the Cambridge College of Art and Technology. The boys had in common that they both liked to play the guitar and immediately became friends, that is how Syd Barrett and David Gilmour met and how the Pink Floyd saga started.

Perse pigs and County cunts (note)

Just like in the rest of England, Cambridge was a musical melting pot in the early sixties with bands forming, merging, splitting and dissolving like bubbles in a lava lamp.

Clive 'Chas' Welham attended the Perse Preparatory School for Boys, a private school where he met fellow student David Gilmour. As would-be musicians they crossed the social barriers and befriended pupils from the Cambridge and County School for Boys, meeting at street corners, the coffee bars or at home were they would trade guitar licks. Despite their two years age difference Clive was invited to the Sunday afternoon blues jam sessions at Roger Barrett's home and in spring 1962 this culminated in a 'rehearsal' band called Geoff Mott & The Mottoes. Clive Welham (to Julian Palacios):

There was Geoff Mott [vocals], Roger Barrett [rhythm guitar], and “Nobby” Clarke [lead guitar], another Perse boy. I met them at a party near the river. They’d got acoustic guitars and were strumming. I started picking up sticks and making noise. We were in the kitchen, away from the main party. They asked me if I played drums and I said, “Not really, but I’d love to.” They said, “Pop round because we’re getting a band together.”

Clive Welham (to Mark Blake):

It was quite possible that when me and Syd first started I didn't even have any proper drums and was playing on a biscuit tin with knives. But I bought a kit, started taking lessons and actually got quite good. I can't even remember who our bass player was...

Although several Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett biographies put Tony Sainty as the Mottoes' bass player Clive Welham has always denied this: “I played in bands with Tony later, but not with Syd.”

Another hang-around was a dangerous looking bloke who was more interested in his motorbike than in playing music: Roger Waters. He was the one who designed the poster for what is believed to be The Mottoes' only public gig.

After Clive Welham had introduced David Gilmour to Syd Barrett, David became a regular visitor as well. Surprisingly enough Syd and David never joined a band together, starting their careers in separate bands. Although they were close friends it has been rumoured there was some pubertal guitar playing rivalry between them.

The Ramblers
The Ramblers.

1962: The Ramblers

The Mottoes never grew into a gigging band and in March 1962 Clive Welham, playing a Trixon drum kit, stepped into The Ramblers with Albert 'Albie' Prior (lead guitar), Johnny Gordon (rhythm guitar), Richard Baker (bass) and Chris ‘Jim’ Marriott (vocals).

The Ramblers’ first gig was at the United Reformed Church Hall on Cherry Hinton Road. They used their new Watkins Copycat Echo Chamber giving them great sound on The Shadows’ Wonderful Land and Move It.

The Ramblers soon acquired a certain reputation and gigged quite a lot in the Cambridge area. One day Syd Barrett asked 'Albie' Prior for some rock'n roll advice in the Cambridge High School toilets: “...saying that he wanted to get into a group and asking what it involved and in particular what sort of haircut was best.”

Unfortunately the responsibilities of adulthood crept up on him and lead guitarist 'Albie' had to leave the band to take a job in a London bank. On Tuesday, the 13th of November 1962, David Gilmour premiered at a gig at the King's Head public house at Fen Ditton, a venue were they would return every week as the house band. Gilmour had joined two bands at the same time and could also be seen with Chris Ian & The Newcomers, later just The Newcomers. Notorious members were sax-player Dick Parry, not unknown to Pink Floyd anoraks and Rick Wills (Peter Frampton's Camel, Foreigner and Bad Company).

Memories have blurred a bit but according to Glenn Povey's Echoes Gilmour's final gig with The Ramblers was on Sunday, 13 October 1963. Beginning of 1964 The Ramblers disbanded but three of its 5 members would later resurface as Jokers Wild.

1963: The Four Posters

But first, in autumn 1963, a band known as The Four Posters was formed, although it may have been just a temporarily solution to keep on playing. David Altham (piano, sax & vocals) and Tony Sainty (bass & vocals) were in it and perhaps Clive Welham (drums). Unfortunately their history has not been documented although according to Will Garfitt, who left the band to pursue a painting career, they played some gigs at the Cambridge Tech, the Gas Works, the Pit Club and the university. Contrary to what has been written in some Pink Floyd biographies John Gordon was never involved:

I was never in The Four Posters. Clive and I were together in The Ramblers, and we left together to join Dave, David and Tony to create Jokers Wild. I don't know whether Dave and Tony came from The Newcomers or The Four Posters...
The Newcomers
The Newcomers.

1964: Jokers Wild

The Ramblers, The Four Posters and The Newcomers ended at about the same time and the bands more or less joined ranks. Renamed Jokers Wild in September 1964 it was at first conceived as an all-singing band. “We were brave enough to do harmony singing that other groups wouldn’t attempt, including Beach Boys and Four Seasons numbers”, confirmed Tony Sainty. The band had good musicians, all of them could hold a tune, and they soon had a loyal fanbase. They became the house-band at Les Jeux Interdits, a midweek dance at Victoria Ballroom. Clive Welham: “We came together in the first place because we all could sing.”

Some highlights of their career include a gig with Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, The Paramounts (an early incarnation of Procol Harum) and a London gig as support act for The Animals. This last gig was so hyped that a bus-load of fans followed them from Cambridge to the big city of London.

1965: Walk Like A Man

Mid 1965 the band entered the Regent Sound Studios in Denmark Street, London. They recorded a single that was sold (or given) to the fans containing Don’t Ask Me What I Say (Manfred Mann) and Big Girls Don’t Cry (The Four Seasons). Out of the same session came a rather limited one-sided LP with three more numbers: Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Walk Like a Man and Beautiful Delilah. This is the only 'released' recording of Jokers Wild although there might be others we are not aware of. Peter Gilmour (David's brother) who replaced Tony Sainty on bass and vocals in autumn 1965 commented this week:

Sad news. A great bloke. I'll replay some of those old recordings doing Four Seasons and Beach Boys numbers with his lovely clear falsetto voice.

Somewhere in October 1965 they played a private party in Great Shelford together with an unknown singer-songwriter Paul Simon and a band that was billed as The Tea Set because Pink Floyd sounded too weird for the highbrow crowd. Clive Welham:

It was in a marquee at the back of this large country house [that can, by the way, be seen on the cover of the Pink Floyd album Ummagumma, FA]. I sat on and off the drum kit because of my wrist problems. Willie Wilson sat in on drums and I came to the front on tambourine.

The musicians enjoyed themselves, jamming with the others and Paul Simon - 'a pain in the arse', according to drummer Willie Wilson - joined in on Johnny B. Good. A couple of days later Jokers Wild supported Pink Floyd again, this time at the Byam Shaw School, Kensington, London. Each band was paid £10 for that gig.

Jokers Wild
Jokers Wild.

1965: the Decca tapes

By then Jokers Wild were seriously thinking of getting professional. They were not only known by the locals in Cambridgeshire, but did several society parties in London as well. Also the military forces had discovered them: Jokers Wild was invited for the Admiral League dance at the Dorchester Hotel in London and played several dances at the RAF and USAF bases of Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Alconbury and Chicksands. Their repertoire changed as well, shifting more towards soul, R&B and Tamla Motown. Libby Gausden: “How we danced to David Gilmour, Peter Gilmour, David Altham, John Gordon, Tony Sainty and dear Clive xxx.”

Some promoters were sought for and the band recorded a single for Decca: You Don’t Know Like I Know (Sam and Dave) / That’s How Strong My Love Is (Otis Redding), but unfortunately it was never released because the original version by Sam and Dave had already hit the UK market.

After the Decca adventure the original band slowly evaporated over the next few months. Peter Gilmour left (probably after the summer of 1966) to concentrate on his studies. Clive Welham had difficulties combining his full time job with a semi-professional rock band and had some medical problems as well. John Gordon further explains:

Clive [Welham] became unable to play any more (with a wrist complaint) and was replaced by Willie Wilson... and that line-up continued for some time. It was later still that Tony Sainty was replaced by Rick [Wills]... and then, when the band was planning trips to France, I had to 'pass' to finish my degree at college.

1966: Bullit & The Flowers

Now a quartet with David Altham, David Gilmour, John 'Willie' Wilson and newcomer Rick Wills on bass, they continued using the known brand name, a trick Gilmour would later repeat (but slightly more successful) with Pink Floyd, touring around Spain, France and The Netherlands. Another failed attempt to turn professional made them temporarily change their name to Bullit and when David Altham also left the remaining trio continued as The Flowers, mainly playing in France. Around camp-fires on this planet it is told how a sick (and broke) David Gilmour returned to London, just in time to get a telephone call from Nick Mason, asking if he had a few minutes to spare.

2012: Nobody Knows Where You Are

Clive worked at the Cambridge University Press but always continued with his music. According to Vernon Fitch he played in a band called Jacob's Ladder in the Seventies and was a successful singer with local Cambridge band Executive Suite in the Nineties. Helen Smith remembers him as the leader of Solitaire, what must have been (according to Colleen Hart) in the mid-Seventies:

A brilliant front man in his band 'Solitaire' - he had a wonderfully sweet singing voice and could easily hit the high notes!

Update 2012 08 12: In 1978 Clive made a private, non commercial recording of Peanuts, originally a 1957 hit from Little Joe & The Thrillers:

Update 2012 08 13: In 2001 Clive Welham sang Barry Manilow's I Made It Through The Rain at The Maltings, Ely. The clip is courtesy Chris Jones (formerly of the Hi-Fi's) from www.world-video.co.uk and can be watched on YouTube: I Made It Through The Rain.

His last outing was on the Cambridge Roots of Rock of 2008.

On behalf of The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit we would like to offer our sincere sympathies to the Welham family.

Jokers Wild #1 (October 1964 - May 1966 / Source: Glenn Povey)

David Altham: guitar, saxophone, keyboards, vocals
David Gilmour: guitar, vocals, harmonica
John Gordon: rhythm guitar, vocals (1964 to late 1965)
Tony Sainty: bass, vocals (1964 to early 1966)
Peter Gilmour: bass, vocals (early 1966)
Clive Welham: drums, vocals (1964 to late 1965)
John 'Willie' Wilson: drums (from late 1965)

Jokers Wild #2 (Summer 1966 - Summer 1967 / Source: Glenn Povey)
AKA Bullit (3 summer months in 1966 at the Los Monteros hotel in Marbella?)
AKA The Flowers (end 1966)

David Altham: rhythm guitar (to December 1966)
David Gilmour: guitar, vocals
Rick Wills: bass (from January 1967)
John 'Willie' Wilson: drums

Listen to Jokers Wild on YouTube:
First three tracks ("Why Do Fools Fall in Love", "Walk Like a Man", "Don't Ask Me (What I Say)")
Last two tracks ( "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Beautiful Delilah")
Jokers Wild EP (5 tracks)

Afterword (Updated: 2012 07 01)

Perse pigs etc...

According to Julian Palacios in Dark Globe, quoting David Gale, 'perse pigs and county cunts' were friendly nicknames the pupils of these rivaling schools gave to each other. David Gale's assumption can be found on YouTube although it may have been a raunchy joke towards his audience and part of his 'performance'. (Back to text above.)

Syd Barrett in Jokers Wild?

In an interview for the Daily Mirror in August 2008 Rosemary Breen (Syd's sister) told:

He [Syd] started his first band, Jokers Wild, at 16. Sunday afternoons would see Cambridge chaps and girls coming over for a jamming session. The members of Pink Floyd were just people I knew. Roger Waters was a boy who lived around the corner and Dave Gilmour went to school over the road.

This seems to be a slip of the tongue as Syd Barrett never joined the band. In a message on Facebook, Jenny Spires adds:

Syd was not in Jokers Wild... He jammed with all the various members at different times, but he wasn't in it. When I met him in 64, he was playing with his old Art School band Those Without. He was also in The Tea Set at the same time. He played with several bands at the same time, for example if someone needed a bass player for a couple of gigs they may have asked him to stand in. Earlier, he played with Geoff Mott and also with Blues Anonymous. There were lots of musician friends in Cambridge that Syd played and jammed with. (Jenny Spires, 2012 06 30)

Many thanks to: Viv Brans, Michael Brown, Lord Drainlid, Libby Gausden, John Gordon, Peter Gilmour, Colleen Hart, Chris Jones, Joe Perry, Antonio Jesús Reyes, Helen Smith, Jenny Spires & I Spy In Cambridge. All pictures courtesy of I Spy In Cambridge.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 22-23, 34.
Clive Welham at Cambridge News Death Notices, May 2012.
Dosanjh, Warren: The music scene of 1960s Cambridge, Cambridge, 2012, p. 42, 46-47. Free download at: I Spy In Cambridge.
Fitch, Vernon: The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, Collector's Guide Publishing, Ontario, 2005, p. 342.
Gordon, John: Corrections re Jokers Wild, email, 2012-05-12.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 27-28, 31.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 13, 20-24, 29.


2013-02-01

Hairy Mess

June 1970
1. June 1970.

On the 6th June of 1970 Syd Barrett gave his short Olympia concert together with David Gilmour and Jerry Shirley. We won't get further into the discussion about the set's brevity and about the fact that a certain faction of Barrett fans and musicians, including Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, think that the tape of that gig is in fact a Stars performance of February 1972, but we will use this date as a calibration point for Syd's... length of hair.

The friendly discussion about the exact colour of Syd's floor boards created an existential crisis in Barrett-land (see: The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)), with people who refuse to talk to each other ever since, and the hair-length discussion promises to be as lively. As a matter of fact Syd's Hair Chronology is not a new topic, we could find a Late Night forum thread from 2007, but like all things Syd this discussion comes up about every 6 months or so.

Stoned Tramp

Barrett, the second solo album, was released on 14 November 1970 and his management found it advisable to have some photo shoots and interviews to promote the album.

November 1970
2. November 1970.

Barrie Wentzell had the following to say about this:

Chris Welch and I went along to do a quick interview with Syd at his managers office. We were a bit apprehensive, as stories of Syd's behavior of late seemed bizarre. When we got there, we were met by a very upset guy who said Syd had locked himself into a room and he wouldn't come out. Oh dear! It seemed the stories were true. Chris and I spoke to him through the door and tried to convince him that we were his friends and that everything was ok. He slowly opened the door and ushered us in quickly shutting and locking the door behind us. He stood there looking very frightened, muttering, Those people out there are aliens, and are after me! We tried to tell him that they were his management and friends and they cared about him, as do we. He seemed unconvinced, and I took this dark side of Syd pictures and managed to persuade him to let Chris and I out and that we'd send help. He took the key from his pocket, unlocked the door. We escaped and Syd locked himself back inside. Taken from: Snapgalleries.

The pictures of Syd Barrett, taken that day by Barrie Wentzell, have been nicknamed the 'stoned tramp' session and show an unshaven Syd Barrett with mid-long hair and a pair of eyes that not always seem to be focusing on something (see: second picture). One of them appeared in Melody Maker of the 31st of January 1971, next to the Chris Welch article that was titled: Confusion and Mr Barrett. (To add further discombobulation Barrie Wentzell dates the picture as 1971 on his own website, but it is – probably – from November 1970.)

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (aka I like tomato)

March 1971
3. March 1971.

In Autumn 1970, Barrett was living semi-permanently in his mother's house in Cambridge, far away from the frantic London beatnik drug scene he had been a member, propagator and victim of. He had deliberately left everything and everybody behind to find some peace of mind. Perhaps he had decided to follow Gala Pinion, who had found a job at Joshua Taylor, a Cambridge department store and who had left London a few months earlier. One of Syd's many dreams was to settle down and start a family. Gala and Syd officially announced their engagement in October after they had found a ring at Antiquarius on King's Road.

To celebrate this event a joint family engagement dinner was organised but that day Syd was not in a very good shape. While Donald, Alan, Ruth, Roe and Gala's father where staring at each other in silence he threw some tomato soup over his fiancé and disappeared for the bathroom when the roast pork arrived... Julian Palacios:

He cut off his long hair to an inch from his skull and returned downstairs. As though the sixties had never happened, he severed links with his past with a pair of scissors. He rejoined the family fold, taking his place at the table in silence. Gala said, ‘No one batted an eyelid. They carried on with the meal as if nothing had happened, didn’t say a word. I thought, “Are they mad or is it me?’”

It is not sure when this dinner took place, but it might have been after the Barrett promo interview(s), so December 1970 seems like a valid candidate. The dinner fiasco was an omen for things to come, Syd would spy on Gala at her work and accused her to have an affair with a sales assistant and with his former drummer, Jerry Shirley. One day Barrett wrote a formal letter to break off the engagement and she returned the ring, but he would still harass her for weeks to come. During a final row, incidentally at Jerry Shirley's place, Barrett finally understood that he had lost. Even Syd must have grasped at one point that showing up at night and scaring the shit out of her was not the proper way to win her back.

Skinhead

May 1971
4. May 1971.

A few months later, that same Barrie Wetzell photographed Barrett to accompany the famous Michael Watts article that appeared in Melody Maker on the 27th of March 1971 (see third picture above).

Barrett has very short hair and looks rather agile:

Syd Barrett came up to London last week and talked in the office of his music publisher, his first press interview for about a year. His hair is cut very short now, almost like a skinhead. Symbolic? Of what, then? He is very aware of what is going on around him, but his conversation is often obscure; it doesn't always progress in linear fashion. Taken from: Syd Barrett interview, Melody Maker, Mar 27 1971, Michael Watts.

The above quote points out that the 'skinhead' pictures date from mid March 1971, although on Wetzell's website they are mislabelled as 1970. Steve Turner of Beat Instrumental met Syd on the 19th of April 1971:

He now has his hair cropped to Love Me Do length but compromises with a purple satin jacket and stack heeled boots. During the interview he relights each cigarette from the remnants of the previous one and pivots his eyeballs at an incredible speed as he speaks. "I've just left a train and had to pay an awful taxi ride" he says slowly tipping his ash into an empty coffee cup. "I've come to look for a guitar. I've got a neck in the other room. Quite an exciting morning for me." Something about him makes you think that this may well be right. Taken from: Syd Barrett, A Psychedelic Veteran (free subscription to read).
Februari 1972
5. Februari 1972.

And in May Barrett had a visit from Mick Rock and his wife Sheila (and not Iggy Rose as has been hinted here and there). Syds' hair already has grown a bit (see fourth picture above).

In early 1972, with the Stars gigs, he will have very long hair and a beard (see fifth picture).

We will never be sure about what Barrett's motivation was for his actions, but we can be sure about one thing, his hair grew at a staggering speed.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 281.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 383, 389.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 121-123.

Pictures:
1: 1970 06: Syd at Olympia, photographer unknown, Rex Features.
2: 1970 11: 'Barrett' 'stoned tramp' promo shot by Barrie Wentzell.
3: 1971 03: 'Barrett' 'skinhead' promo shot by Barrie Wentzell.
4: 1971 05: Syd in his mother's garden, Cambridge, by Mick Rock.
5: 1972 02: Syd performing with Stars by Jenny Spires.


Many thanks to: Psych, Stanislav & the gang at Late Night & Birdie Hop.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2013-06-28

Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting?

Picture: Eva Wijkniet
Photo: Eva Wijkniet.

We have just all had the BEST time ever in Cambridge - with the best people in the world - we have laughed and hugged and kissed and talked and none of us wanted to come home! (Libby Gausden Chisman)

Undoubtedly the best, friendliest, most lively and most accurate Syd Barrett group on Facebook is Birdie Hop.

It is the equivalent of Eternal Isolation's Late Night forum that, let's not be fussy about that, has suffered a lot from Facebook's ever-groping octopus tentacles. A person (m/f) with a critical mind could add that Facebook is shallow and volatile, that any post older than three days tends to disappear in a bottomless pit never to be found again and that, to the Reverend's mind, there is continuous repetition and proportionally it can get a bit boring.

But Birdie Hop has an audience. And people who have an audience ought to be heard. There is no point in constantly hammering that Betamax is the better recording system when VHS has conquered the world. Now there's a comparison that seems to be fruitless today and quite opaque for the young people among us.

Birdie Hop is a spirited place and like Late Night at its peak period it is the village pub. People come and go, friendships are made (and sometimes lost) and scarcely hidden love affairs happen, with snogging outside in the garden under the cherry tree.

But all this happens in the relatively safe environment of cyberspace. In September of last year the idea was uttered, among Birdie Hop members, to meet and greet in Cambridge. (The Holy Igquisiton has vainly tried to find that post back on Facebook, while on a forum it would take about a minute, perhaps somebody should call the NSA.)

We all have seen this happen before really, people saying 'let's meet', but when push comes to a shove, nothing happens. But Birdie Hop has an excellent set of administrators, not only they are friendly, beautiful and intelligent but they can be bloody effective as well.

Alexander the Great

Alexander made it his mission to make this happen, immediately a date was pinpointed (14 to 16 June 2013) and Mick Brown was kindly asked to act as Birdie's local liaison officer. The bandwagon started rolling and an I Spy Syd in Cambridge tour (with a bus) was organised through the capable hands of Warren 'Bear' Dosanjh. In March of this year Alexander travelled to Cambridge to tie the loose ends (and test the quality of the local beer) and from then on it was a restless wait for the day to come.

Here we go. (Underneath text largely taken from Alexander & Warren's tour program.)

Friday 14 June 2013

An evening at the Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street: a totally real ale pub with the best selection of (Belgian!) ales in Cambridge plus pub grub and a large beer garden.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Alexander.

Saturday 15 June 2013

09.30 Meet at Le Gros Franck for breakfast and to buy a take-away lunch from a fantastic choice of international dishes, 57 Hills Road.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Fernando Lanzilotto, Libby Gausden, Viv Brans, Mick Brown.

10.00 Botanical Gardens, where the actual tour started. Unfortunately they had to chase a bum away who had been sleeping on Syd's bench.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
The incredible Mr. Mick Brown.

10.30 Pick-up by coach at the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens in Bateman Street.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Warren Dosanjh, Alexander, Viv Brans.

Stops at:

183 Hills Road, Syd's house.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (now the Hills Road Sixth Form College), where Syd, Roger Waters, Bob 'Rado' Klose and Storm Thorgerson studied.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Morley Primary Junior School where Mary Waters taught her son and Syd.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Friends Meeting House on Hartington Grove, where Geoff Mott & The Mottoes played their one and only gig.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

6 St. Margaret's Square, where Syd last lived after moving back to Cambridge.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits where some Birdie Hop members did a bizarre reenactment of the Syd's First Trip movie.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Fernando Lanzilotto, Alexander, Brian Wernham, Viv Brans, Mario von Barrett, Libby Gausden, Neil Chisman, Tio Junior, Mary Cosco, Eva Wijkniet.

Grantchester Meadows: lunch stop with a pint (BYO) from the Blue Ball pub opposite.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Neil Chisman, Peter Gilmour.

Walk on the meadows...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer
Making for the sea.

...and back on the bus at David and Peter Gilmour's house, 109 Grantchester Meadows.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

City walk (Corn Exchange, Union Cellar, King´s College, Market Square etc..)

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

18.30: meet at the Geldart for dinner and drinks.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Mario von Barrett, Giulio Bonfissuto, Mrs & Dave "Dean" Parker, Fernando Lanzilotto.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Informal meet and goodbye greet at the Earl of Derby, 129 Hills Road for a full English breakfast from 8.30 in the morning or lunch from 12.00 for those who couldn't get out of bed. Unfortunately nobody seemed fit enough to take any pictures or wanted their pictures to be taken!

Birdie Hop

Be a part of the legend!

Why don't you join Birdie Hop, not only you'll be able to see all the pictures of this amazing journey, but you'll meet a bunch of friendly, sexy people!

The list of attendees of the 2013 meeting not only had the best Birdies around but also reads like a Cambridge Mafia wet dream: Libby Gausden Chisman, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Viv Brans, Eva Wijkniet, Sven Wijkniet, Dave "Dean" Parker, Mrs. Parker, Vic Singh, Brian Wernham, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Mary Cosco, Antonio (Tio Junior), Mario von Barrett (González), Fernando Lanzilotto, Giulio Bonfissuto, Hazel (Libby´s school-friend), George Marshall (school-friend of Syd and Roger Waters who happened to be drinking in the Blue Ball when the gang arrived), Gary Hill, Stephen Pyle (only Friday afternoon, afterwards he had to run a street fest), Warren Dosanjh (tour guide), Alexander P. Hoffmann (host)...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Two of a kind: Alexander & Warren Dosanjh.

Eva Wijkniet: Warren was the best tourguide and took us to the best pubs in Cambridge. Great guy to talk to and we have to thank him massively for the effort he made for us.

Brian Wernham: What a great day in Cambridge doing lots of Syd stuff, meeting some of Syd's old friends, Peter Gilmour and meeting some wonderful Syd fans as well!

Warren Dosanjh: I have guided nearly all Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett tours in Cambridge since 2006. But this was the best and most extraordinary ever.

Libby Gausden Chisman: too exhausted to tell you atm - I have lost my voice due to over talking and over laughing and over kissing and hugging - it was just the best time evah!

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
A nice pair: photographers extraordinaires Vic Singh & Mick Brown.

A 'many thanks' line to end this article would merely repeat the people who are all cited above, but let's have an exception and thank the most extraordinary person who wrote the most peculiar kind of tunes.

Many thanks to Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett, for making this all happen and for creating friends for a lifetime.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

See you in 2015...

Update 03 01 2014: Mick Brown made a video of the event that we forgot all about, so - with over a half year's delay - here it is.
Update 16 06 2014: The copyright gestapo censored Mick Brown's original movie, so a second version was uploaded with an excellent soundtrack by Rich Hall (taken from his Birdie Hop and the Sydiots record).


Many thanks to: Alexander P. HB.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

A second Birdie Hop meeting took place in 2015: Iggy Rose in Cambridge.


2014-06-22

Syd's Last Stand

The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

It is a small miracle that you can listen to the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Six Hours Technicolour Dream CD, issued by Easy Action.

In a previous article, The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story, you could read how the reel came into place, how a first copy was found back in 1985 and immediately seized, in about the most moronic way ever, by Pink Floyd Ltd (or EMI), who put it into one of their secret locker rooms.

The second (and last) copy was found back 20 years later and when it was put on sale, EMI nor Pink Floyd reacted, which could have been their ultimate chance to bury this release forever and ever... They were so full of themselves they thought they could delay this release even with another copy floating around.

Easy Action purchased it and after an immense struggle, behind the scenes, to get the copyrights (partially?) settled it was finally released, in June 2014. Of course this isn't an audiophile release, it is nothing more than an audience recording (but one of the slightly better ones) and the band that plays is rough and sloppy at times, but they seem to enjoy the gig. The Number Nine jam is, for Barrett fanoraks, as essential as the Rhamadan download, that – if our information is correct – has disappeared from the official sydbarrett.com servers, but can still be downloaded on iTunes.

The Syd Barrett website is run by One Fifteen that, like a good dog chained to Pink Floyd Ltd, has to lick its master's orifices for a living. Is that why you won't find a trace of LMPTBB on the official Syd Barrett news overview? And now that we are on to it, stop that irritating jukebox, will you.

But perhaps we, members of the Sydiot league, are just a bit over-sensitive and too unrealistic to acknowledge that Syd Barrett was just a very small sardine in a fishbowl of sharks? Isn't the Reverend getting too geriatric for this kind of goody good bullshit? Anyway, here is our second article in our Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band series, because nobody seems to care if we don't.

Update 2016: in January 2016 the official Syd Barrett website changed hands. It is now maintained by the Barrett family. After a good start with some out of the ordinary articles about Octopus and Bob Dylan Blues, it has - unfortunately - retreated into internet limbo.

Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster
Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster.

Boogie Nights

After Barrett's second solo album failed to impress the charts Syd retreated to Cambridge where it became clear that not all was well (see also: Hairy Mess). Trying to find his way back in music, at his own pace, he met Jenny Spires, who had returned to Cambridge as well and was now married to bass player Jack Monck whom Syd jammed with at least once. On the 26th of January 1972 Jenny took Syd to an Eddie ‘Guitar’ Burns gig that had Jack Monck and John 'Twink' Alder as backing musicians. Of course Twink was not unknown to Syd, they once had managed to gatecrash the launch party of King Crimson's first album, high on a dangerous cocktail of Champagne (from Steve Peregrin Took) and mandrax (accidentally misplaced in Iggy Rose's handbag who would otherwise never carry such a thing with her).

Somehow Jenny and Jack persuaded Syd to bring his guitar and when the Burns gig ended Syd joined the backing band for an impromptu jam. In Terrapin 3 from February 1973 this gig was reviewed by Mervyn Hughes:

Eddie (Burns) does a solo spot, then announces his “Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band” which consisted of Twink on Drums and Jack Monck on Bass. This band was given a set on their own and Syd was roped in to play too. (…) Although he stood at the back (just jamming as he obviously didn't know the numbers) play he did.

Our previous article in the LMPTBB series has a testimony of Jim Gillespie who noted that the jam with Syd Barrett took place as a supporting act, before the Eddie 'Guitar' Burns gig. He claims the LMPTBB played two short sets, one before (with Syd) and one after (with Bruce Paine). This is just another example of how memories can differ between persons, especially after a four decades interval.

In the extremely well written and definitive Stars (and LMPTBB) article: Twilight of an Idol, Mark Sturdy quotes another witness, Steve Brink:

There was a real natural musical empathy between the three of them. In any improvisational band, the musicians have to be interested in what each other are doing, and Syd was genuinely interested. It was just a free-form jam for about half an hour – more improvisatory than 12-bar blues, and I’m sure it changed key on any number of occasions. But there’s always that moment, that dynamic thing when three musicians make something that works.

Steve Brink was the man who organised the Six Hour Technicolour Dream festival the next day and perhaps he was secretly hoping for Barrett to show up again. We can't be sure of what Syd Barrett thought of it all, but Jenny Spires, Jack Monck and Twink convinced him to rehearse the next afternoon. The band tried to have Syd sing at least one of his own songs, but that plan was abandoned as Syd was still too fragile. Fred Frith, from Henry Cow fame, was quite disillusioned and would still be after the gig:

Syd played “Smokestack Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really sing at all.

Well let's find out if he spoke the truth, shall we?

Why don't you listen to the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band album on Spotify while reading this interview? (A Spotify membership is probably needed, but this is free. There is no need to download and install the Spotify player, the music will (hopefully) play in your browser.)

Direct link: Six Hours Technicolour Dream.

1. Foreplay

Sea Cruise

The record starts immediately with a cover of Huey "Piano" Smith's Sea Cruise (better known in Frankie Ford's version), so no band's introduction or greeting.

It is clear that this is not a soundboard, but an on stage recording and already after 41 seconds there seems to be a microphone falling out. Actually this is good news because it accentuates Fred Frith's guitar playing that surely is inventive and most of the time right to the point. Don't worry, sound quality will get better after a while, or perhaps it is just our ears getting used to the recording. The first number undoubtedly is just a warming up for better things to come.

The band introduces itself after the first track. Tape completists like to have the full recording of a concert, including guitar tunings and chatter in between numbers, and these seem to be left in. Of course every commercial release might be edited and snipped here and there, but if it is done it is pretty well done. However there are some places where we think some cuts have been made.

Bruce Paine
Bruce Paine.

L.A. To London Boogie

Singer Bruce Paine announces the second number as one he wrote himself.

Bruce Michael Paine, who sadly passed away in 2009, started as a folk singer in Greenwich Village (NYC) in the 60's. Like Dylan, his music became “electrified" by the middle of the decade, and he signed with Atlantic Records. He joined the Apple Pie Motherhood Band after their eponymous first album (1968) and sang on their second and last (Apple Pie, 1969). Both records can be found on the web and don't really impress, call it contemporary psychedelic oddities of the average kind.

After Apple Pie (without the crust, as Nick Mason would say) Bruce Paine stars in the San Francisco production of the musical Hair, then he moves to London where he meets drummer Twink and bass player John 'Honk' Lodge, from Junior's Eyes and later Quiver. They form a power blues trio, the 'Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band' (luckily they didn't pick Honk, Twink & Paine for a band's name). After some demo sessions at Polydor the band is denied a recording contract and a disillusioned Honk leaves the band. With Jack Monk as replacement the band mysteriously ends up in Cambridge, but after about ten gigs the claim for fame is over.

In May 1972 Bruce Paine briefly joins Steamhammer for their European and UK tour, but then he calls his European adventure quits and returns to the States to star in another musical, this time Jesus Christ Superstar.

Later on he will do session and acting work, with (small) roles in Married with Children and Quantum Leap. According to his self-penned bio he appeared in numerous films and television series and kept on gigging with his own band.

L.A. to London Boogie is a straightforward seventies rock song and the good thing is that about one minute into the tune Paine's micro switches back on. Remarkable is that Fred Frith keeps throwing arpeggios around as if they come thirteen in a dozen. All in all the band plays pretty tight, but the song itself is nothing more than a good average and leaves no lasting impression.

Apple Pie Motherhood Band
Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

Ice

The third song is called Ice. It is a cover from the first Apple Pie Motherhood Band album, the one Bruce Paine didn't sing on, and written by Apple Pie member Ted Demos and session singer Marilyn Lundquist. On the album Ice is a trippy psychedelic blues that seems to go nowhere in the end but how does the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band deals with it?

Direct link: Ice - Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

One thing you can say that it is longer, almost the triple longer than the original. Frith adds guitar lines that don't always seem to be coherent in the beginning but that get better later on. At the three minutes mark Twink and Frith start an experimental cacophony and this makes us wonder if this is what Spaceward Studios archivist Mark 'FraKcman' Graham described as dreadful, stoned, out-of-key noodlings (see: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). It sure is a weird fusion between blues, hard rock and the avant-garde prog sound of Henry Cow, the band Frith started in 1968. The prog-rock stoners in the public must have loved it. Of course this is a cheap reflection afterwards but in this track Paine really shows he is the right person to star in those hideous Andrew Lloyd Webber rock operas, that man has a throat and he knows how to use it.

Nadine

A heckler in the audience shouts for some some rock'n roll and we get the classic Nadine. Also known as "Nadine (Is It You?)" it is a song written by Chuck Berry who released it as a single in February 1964. A straightforward and simple rendition this is, nothing less, nothing more, these guys know their business.

We haven't said a lot about Twink and Jack Monck yet, but the band certainly is inspired and well-trained. In the liner notes Twink reveals that they recorded several demos for Polydor, including L.A. To London Boogie and one that isn't on this live set, called Smoke. The band did about 10 gigs in total and as this could well have been their last gig they were a well oiled machine by now and it shows.

From now on the gig can only get better and better.

2. Eargasm

Gideon Daniels
Gideon Daniels.

Drinkin' That Wine

Time to announce a special guest:

We'd like to bring Syd Barrett up to the bandstand. Will you come on and (???) how about a hand for Syd Barrett?

We hear some polite applause and a guitar that is plugged in. Bruce Paine tells the public that the last group he toured with in the States was Gideon Daniels' gospel band and that he picked the next song from their set. There isn't much about him on the net, but one comment on a YouTube video tells this:

I saw Gideon & Power numerous times, and to this day (…) they were the best live act I've ever seen -- and that includes Jimi Hendrix. I remember when Mickey [Thomas] joined. Prior to that, there was Bobby Castro, Bruce Payne [sic], and Charlie Hickox on piano and vocal.

According to Bruce on the Six Hour Technicolour Dream record the song is about a funky dude who gets drunk by stealing the mass wine but in fact this is a traditional communion song that has been described in several anthologies and studies, like The Negro And His Songs from 1925 (page 136) and Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands from 1942 (page 249-251):

The swinging rhythm of the communion song, “Drinkin' of the Wine”, made it a favorite with the chain-gang for cutting weeds along the highway.

American minstrel Bascom Lamar Lunsford learned the song around 1900 in Wilkes County, North Carolina and you can hear him singing it at the beginning of this video. The history of the Drinkin' That Wine traditional is fascinating (the Reverend lost nearly three hours reading about it) but it would bring us too far. What matters for us, Syd fans, is that Syd Barrett plays on it and that it is a mighty earworm and the catchiest song on the album. Once you've got in into your head it is difficult to get it out again.

The track turns into a power blues that pushes Syd's guitar to the background at points, but his playing can be well distinguished if you take attention. His playing is in a different style from Frith's, muddier, sloppier perhaps... He does not spit out the notes at 120 beats per minute but this is about having a good time and not about a finger speed race.

This is good, this is really good.

Number Nine

As if a gospel wasn't weird enough, in a Floydian context, the gig turns even weirder. Number Nine is a bluesy jam that starts pretty traditional and then develops further into space. This could well be the highlight of the album for vintage Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett freaks. It catapults this reviewer back to the Abdab days when the proto-Floyd struggled with psychedelic versions of Louie Louie and other R&B standards. This may well sound like early Pink Floyd may have sounded in their experimental days. In the Barrett biographies to come this track will be described as being as essential as the Whitehead Interstellar Overdrive and the recently (and reluctantly) released Rhamadan. We took the liberty of grabbing some comments on Yeeshkul:

Demamo: “The guitar playing and sound is very "Lanky" and "Gigo Aunt" ish.”
Orgone Accumulator: “For all his psychedelic leanings, Syd tapped into that earlier Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly groove, with an emphasis on percussive rhythm.”
Beechwoods: “I must admit that musically I like it and there is an interesting progression between Interstellar and his '74 guitar pieces ('Chugga Chugga Chug Chug' etc) that is worth hearing.”

Like Rhamadan this isn't easy listening, but just like Rhamadan it isn't the disaster everyone feared for either. Listen to it, concentrate, feel the groove. It will grow on you.

Just before the eight minutes mark a micro falls out again for a couple of seconds, resulting in - weird enough – a better sound quality because the sound isn't distorted any more.

Gotta Be A Reason

At ten minutes the track segues into Gotta Be A Reason, probably the second LMPTBB original on this record. This track is only mentioned as a separate number for copyright (read: financial) reasons because after the strophe and refrain it further develops into Number Nine territory. As a matter of fact, early track listings just mentioned it as Number Nine (Gotta Be A Reason) and not as two separate numbers.

The jam ends somewhat sloppy with Twink, who has been in excellent shape throughout the record, in an obvious death struggle on drums. Perhaps it is just a clumsy way to have Syd unplug his guitar and leave the stage.

What a weird trip it has been.

3. Afterplay

Feel It!
Elvin Bishop.

Let's Roll

The eighth track is named Let's Roll on the CD, and this can be open to some controversy.

Actually this fun piece is a close cover of Elvin Bishop's Party Till the Cows Come Home that is equally irresistible (watch this 2013 version and try not to tap your feet), co-written with S. Colby Miller and recorded on the Elvin Bishop Group's second album Feel It! (1970).

While the lyrics of the verses are different in both versions:

LMPTBB:

Everybody out for a have a good time
I say wiggle baby and I'll be mine
You gotta shake your legs and wiggle with your hip

Elvin Bishop:

Kick out the windows bust down the doors
We`re drinkin` half gallons and shoutin` for more
Take off your shoes and let yourself go

The refrain, melody and chord progression are almost identical:

We're gonna boogie till the rooster crows
We're gonna party till the cows come home
Let's roll. Let's roll. (Let it roll in the Elvin Bishop original).

Bruce Paine toured with Gideon Daniel's gospel band in the USA, before he went to the UK, and that musician worked, on different occasions, with Elvin Bishop, so perhaps a link can be found there. Perhaps both tracks are based on a communal forefather or traditional, who knows?

When the Reverend remarked on Birdie Hop that he found it weird that none of the Boogie Band song credits mentions copyright owners, nor lyricists and composers, although the two owners had nine years to sort this out, the answer - from a music insider - was laconic as ever:

It is gray area and not as uncommon as you think, especially in the world of music. (…) The usual reason is that it's a sorted affair, meaning multi copywriters on the same tune. The composers also have to agree with how it is going to be submitted to ASCAP or BMI. So rather than hold it up, the material gets released.

In other words, by not sorting out the copyrights beforehand, the hot potato is pushed forward until the record has been released. If the copyright holders eventually find out they can ask for a slice of the pie (or in this case: potato) and if they don't: tough luck. And just yesterday morning the Church was informed that the reason why this release still isn't widely available in the shops is there still is 'a small issue with agreements...'

Let's Roll aka Party Till the Cows Come Home gets a great round of applause, but alas it is time to say goodbye with a last tune, originally from B.B King.

Sweet Little Angel

Shivers down the spine, although the song is given a somewhat shady treatment, but that adds to its integrity.

Not only a great band was lost with the Last Minute Out Together Boogie Band, but lead singer Bruce Paine surely deserved a better musical career than he actually had. If you don't want to buy this record for Barrett's involvement, do it to remember Bruce Paine. We certainly hope he is drinkin' that wine with Syd, up there in nirvana.

Guitars (3 different ones)

The Reverend is so tone-deaf that if you play him a trumpet and tell him it is a guitar, he will believe you. So all we hear, thanks to god's unequal distribution of the aural senses, is a mud-pool of guitar noise. Luckily some people can distinct instruments, like Syd Wonder does on Late Night.

There are three guitarists on this set... Two of them play on tracks without Syd. Barrett's announced when he joins the group in mid-show, while Frith isn't. I think Frith plays the entire show, with Bruce Paine on guitar as well.
I also appreciated Alexander's review (and most of the time, I do hear two guitars).

This could be correct as Bruce Paine joined LMPTBB the day before, on the Eddie Burns gig, with his guitar to have a jam.

About the tracks with Syd he adds:

"Drinkin' That Wine" - vocals were recorded very loud; I hear three guitars. Instrumental sections are from 1:50-3:03 (Syd heavily distorted, playing rhythm, searching, finding a groove - when he starts to solo, Paine starts to sing again), and 3:41-4:49 (Syd plays some solid leads).
"Number Nine" - highlight of the set, it begins with a repeated riff from Barrett. The band doesn't react, so he stops and they all start again. Some worthy improvisations emerge, as it continues. Frith's guitar work is more trebly and rather busy, Barrett's comparatively relaxed and textural. At times I hear three guitars. I really like what Syd plays in the last couple of minutes.
"Gotta Be A Reason" - it segues out of Number Nine, in a continuous performance. Syd solos for about 30 seconds near the beginning. Paine sings a bit, ceases at 2:05. Three guitars again... Frith becomes very busy... Barrett responds with strong counter-melodies, seems to vanish sometime after the 5-minute mark.
Signed by Twink (not ours)
Signed by Twink (not our copy).

Conclusion

Sound quality: slightly above bootleg quality, with tape damage here and there and mikes that fall out (and are plugged in again). Towards the middle of the gig the sound gets rather distorted due to the higher volume levels and there is a lot of resonance. At Yeeshkul, where sound fanatics reside, questions have already been raised that the cleaning and denoising was clumsily done, but this can't be verified without a raw tape leaking out.

Performance: sloppy and muddy at times, but great fun that still can be felt 4 decades later. The band is a typical seventies power blues construction, think : Led Zep, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple. Syd is not in super form, but he isn't that bad either.

Packaging: it looks great, with a 12 page booklet and an exclusive Twink interview, but lacking song copyright information.

Accuracy: grumpy as we are, we need to get the following of our chest. The back cover correctly places three asterisks next to the three tracks that feature Syd Barrett. However, both Fred Frith (who is on all tracks) and Syd Barrett (who is only on three) get an asterisk next to their name. Blimey, Easy Action record cover people, you have had 5 fucking years to get that cover right. As mentioned above, there are 3 guitar players present, something that is overlooked as well on the sleeve.

Trivia: the poster, used for the front cover, was meticulously scanned in by Warren Dosanjh of I Spy in Cambridge fame and a honorary member of the Birdie Hop Facebook group. Eternal thanks to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, not only for a magnificent performance but also for rolling, pushing and squeezing the ball.

(End of part two of our LMPTBB series, part one can be found here: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story. Part three will have more of the same. You have been warned.)


Many thanks to: Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Rick Barnes, Beechwoods, Birdie Hop, Cyberspace, Demamo, Chris Farmer, Late Night, Orgone Accumulator, Syd Wonder, Yeeshkul.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 171-173.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 283-285.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 392-400.


2014-07-26

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

We first had the idea of Birdie Hop members asking some questions to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, also known as Twink, but most of those had already been asked in previous interviews that lay scattered all over the web (see our list underneath). Then the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band record came out and Twink's exclusive interview in the Six Hour Technicolour Dream booklet only triggered more questions from us.

The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Six Hour Technicolour Dream gig, on January the 27th 1972, was not, as you probably know, Syd's last gig, nor was it his last recording. Actually, Syd never joined LMPTBB but gigged with them twice as a surprise guest. How the tape survived into the twenty-first century and was finally published by Easy Action records is a story you can read here: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story.

Bruce Michael Paine
Bruce Michael Paine, LMPTBB lead singer.

Apparently the vibes were so good that two out of three LMPTBB members started dreaming of a post-Floyd Barrett band, not very much to the amusement of singer Bruce Paine if we may believe Joly MacFie (Twink's business partner in the Cambridge music club Juniper Blossom and Stars roadie annex sound-man):

I was sharing a house with Twink and Paine. Paine was a somewhat vain and career oriented American who went on to join Steamhammer. He wasn't compatible with Syd. When Twink showed more interest in Syd, Bruce got pissed off and moved out and that was the end of the band. (Taken from So what's with 1972 Stars reel? @ SBRS (forum no longer active.))

Stars was formed shortly later and would gig about five times, dates and venues can be found at the Pink Floyd Archives:

Date Venue City Band
1972 01 26    King's College Cellars    Cambridge    LMPTBB
1972 01 27    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    LMPTBB
1972 02 05    The Dandelion Coffee Bar    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 12    Petty Cury, Market Square    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 12    The Dandelion Coffee Bar    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 24    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 26    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    Stars

Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake tried to find out more about the mythical Stars tapes, that have been rumoured to exist, and posted his finding on the Late Night and Syd Barrett Research Society forums (here edited a bit):

Rehearsal tapes - Twink has mentioned on more than one occasion that Syd recorded the early practices. It goes without saying that these tapes must be long lost.
Dandelion Cafe - lots of people (Twink, Jack and possibly Joly [MacFie]) remember Victor Kraft sitting there with his Nagra tape machine at the Dandelion, and possibly the Corn Exchange as well.
Market Square - recorded, supposedly, by a friend of someone who mentioned it on the Laughing Madcaps list. The tape, supposedly, is at the taper's parents' house in Oxford. [Note from FA: this is probably the tape mentioned at Fortean Zoology. All efforts to make the blogger move his lazy ass have been effortless: Beatles: Off topic but not really.]
Final Corn Exchange show (with Nektar) - according to Joly MacFie, his co-roadie Nigel Smith had a friend called Chris who taped this show.

Although some YouTube videos claim to contain Stars tapes these are believed to be either fakes or mislabelled Barrett solo concerts, so it is still waiting for the real deal, if they not have been buried in the vaults of Pink Floyd Ltd.

But the good news is that the Six Hour Technicolour Dream tape has been released by Easy Action, that Syd Barrett stars (sorry, we couldn't resist the joke) on three of its tracks and although the sound quality is only slightly more than average, the fun is dripping out of our stereo boxes. Mythical drummer Twink, who is currently recording a follow-up of his legendary Think Pink album (1968), lend us some of his time to tell us the following...

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink
Twink (2013)
Twink (2013).

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink

BH: Of course we all know this record is interesting for Syd Barrett's performance, but the real discovery on the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band is that amazing singer, Bruce Paine. How did you and John Lodge (Honk) meet up with him and how did the band come into place?

MAJA: I first met Bruce Paine in the autumn of 1971 at Steve Brink's boutique "What's In A Name" in Union Rd just before he rented a room in Steve's cottage which was situated next to the shop. We talked very briefly about putting a band together because at that time I was just helping Hawkwind out from time to time. Once Bruce had moved into the cottage the band came together quite quickly. I recruited John "Honk" Lodge as our bass player who was living in London but that didn't seem to get in the way of the band project. Other members included Dane Stevens (The Fairies & The Cops And Robbers) on vocals & Adam Wildi on congas but both only lasted one show. We called the band The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

BH: Who came up with the idea of naming it the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band? Is there any explanation for the band's name?

MAJA: Bruce came up with the name and I think it was simply that the band came together quite quickly once show offers began to come in.

BH: After a record deal with Polydor had failed, Honk left the band and was replaced by Jack Monck.

MAJA: Yes, "Honk" left immediately the Polydor deal fell through. I think he was disheartened because Polydor's A&R department made it clear that after the demos we did for them, we were in. The whole thing fell down at the contract stage because the contracts manager there was having a bad day. He refused to raise the contracts and kept playing Led Zeppelin at full volume which drove us out of his office. He apologised to me about a month later just after he had been fired from his job. But the damage was done and there would be no record deal for The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

BH: Did you meet Syd in Cambridge before the Eddie Guitar Burns gig? Did you know that Syd was going to jam with LMPTBB on the 26th of January 1972 or were you as surprised as the audience?

MAJA: I was surprised and happy to see Syd arrive at the Eddie "Guitar" Burns gig with Jenny and carrying his guitar case. He arrived while we were sound checking, came to the back of the stage area, took his guitar out of its case and started to tune up. We had been friends since 1967 but we had lost touch in '68. It was wonderful to see him again. The following day Syd came to The Six Hour Technicolour Dream where The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band was supporting Hawkwind & The Pink Fairies. Again I was surprised to see him there with his guitar case. Syd was keen to play so we invited him to join us on stage along with Fred Frith from the band Henry Cow who was guesting with us that night.

BH: It must not be easy trying to remember a gig from 40 years ago, but there are two different testimonies about the Kings Cellar's concert. One witness says that LMPTBB played twice on that concert. According to him, the opening support gig had Syd, Monck and you. After the Eddie Guitar Burns gig, LMPTBB returned, this time with Bruce Paine. According to Terrapin magazine Syd jammed with LMPTBB after the Eddie Guitar Burns show. Not that it really matters, this only shows how anoraky we are.

MAJA: The Terrapin report is correct however it is possible the Syd, Jack & I tuned up together but that was not part of the show.

BH: Now to the Six Hour Technicolour Dream concert of the following day. How did Fred Frith come on board? Did he know Syd Barrett was going to be there as well? What was his reaction? What was your opinion after the gig had ended?

Twink (2014) with Marco Conti, Dane Stevens, Jon Povey. Photo by Carinthia West.
title=Twink (2014) with Marco Conti, Dane Stevens, Jon Povey. Photo; Carinthia West.

MAJA: We had a lot of contact with Fred Frith & Henry Cow who frequently played at The 10p Boogie Club which was run by Joly MacFie & myself at Fisher Hall in Cambridge having taken over the venue from Jenny Spires & Jack Monck and renamed it Juniper Blossom.

The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band often played there and so did Henry Cow. Fred Frith guested with The Last Minute Boogie Band there too. Fred guesting with us at The Six Hour Technicolour was more formal and when it was decided that Syd would guest too he was welcomed by all concerned with open arms. Our performance was well received and with Syd's enthusiastic participation at both the Eddie "Guitar" Burn gig & The Six Hour Technicolour Dream our creative wheels began to turn resulting in the formation of STARS with Syd Barrett, Jack Monck & myself a few days later.

BH: Was this the LMPTBB's last gig? Did anyone say, this is it, last gig, finished?

MAJA: The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band continued after Jack & I left for STARS with replacement musicians.

BH: Did you, at one point or another, think of asking Syd to join LMPTBB?

MAJA: It was Jack & Jenny that thought about forming a band with Syd.

BH: If our information is correct you have been pulling some strings to make this release possible.

MAJA: The only things that needed sorting out were group members and song details as well as contract details to include both Bruce Paine & Roger Barrett's Estates. Then there was restoring, mastering and the cover to achieve as well. Everyone was very helpful.

BH: As you probably know, Pink Floyd (or EMI) have another copy of the LMPTBB tape, however at one point there were rumours this tape actually contains a Stars concert rather. know what they really have?

MAJA: I have no idea what EMI have. It's possible they have a STARS tape.

BH: Any chance that the LMPTBB Polydor tapes will ever see the light of day? Does anyone know where these demos are?

MAJA: It is possible The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band demos will be released as they are probably sitting in Polydor's archives. I think Honk may well have a copy tape.

BH: In retrospect, what was the band you were happiest with? If you could go back to these days what would you have changed to make it better?

MAJA: Playing with The Pretty Things made me happy and I wouldn't want to change a thing.

BH: Many thanks, Mohammed, and good luck with Think Pink 2!

End of part four of our LMPTBB series. If you don't stop us, there will probably be a part five. You have been warned.

© Birdie Hop & The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.


Many thanks to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, Rich Hall, Peter Jansens. Inspired by questions from: Mike Baess, Rick Barnes, Andre Borgdorff, Anita Buckett, Rich Hall, Jane Harris, Alexander P.H., Peter Felix Jansens, Raymond John Nebbitt, Lisa Newman, Göran Nystrom, Anni Paisley, Cheesecake Joe Perry, Paul Piper, Michael Ramshaw, James Vandervest.

Some Twink interviews over the years (back to text):
Ivor Trueman, Opel Magazine, 1985 (mirror)
It's Psychedelic Baby, 2012
Laughing Madcaps, 2013
Sophia On Film, 2014
Punk News, 2014
Hit Channel, 2014

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop


2014-08-02

An innerview with Fred Frith

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

While posting Facebook Barrett fan-art has become a booming niche-market with no immediate end in sight and self-proclaimed visionary Syd professionals have to devise fraudulent telemarketing schemes to cover for their rising costs it was pointed to the Church, by someone we know and admire for years, that Syd Barrett is not, like we wrote in a previous article, neglected. Ebronte:

Syd is not neglected. Syd is sinking into oblivion, precisely where it seems his family (and friends?) want him to go. This is thanks to their continued simplistic insistence that he was a brief spark, who became "ordinary", and a drug addled loser, and thanks to the dreary Chapman biography. It didn't sell well, and probably anyone who did read it was left depressed and utterly disinterested in ever reading or hearing another word about Syd. Too bad that gloomy book came out the same time as Julian's revised and wonderful book, most likely obscuring it. (Taken from: An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action), Late Night forum.)

Of course our world has changed as well (“I'm Syd Barrett's biggest fan, I've watched all his YouTube videos.”) and it is apparently easier nowadays to sell a Barrett mug than a Barrett record.

Recently the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band's Six Hour Technicolour Dream record was released that has a Cambridge Corn Exchange gig from the 27th of January, 1972. The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band were a power blues trio with singer and lead guitarist Bruce Paine, bass player Jack Monck and drummer Twink.

Bruce Paine
Bruce Paine, lead singer LMPTBB.

Through Jenny Spires, who was married to Monck, Syd Barrett got hold of the band and on that particular night he arrived with his guitar case and agreed to jam with them for a couple of numbers. Monck and Twink were thrilled and started Stars a couple of days later, not to the amusement of Bruce Paine who saw his band going up in smoke. Unfortunately Stars would only survive for a month as Barrett was still to frail to cope with the stress of gigging, especially when things got bad on a concert where Stars was the head-liner, after the sonic bulldozer that was MC5, and with buses of fans coming over from London, eager to watch the return of the flamboyant piper. Mark Sturdy:

In reality, Stars simply wasn’t cut out to be a high-profile project: while the initial shows had not been without their virtues, the band had existed for less than a month and, as such, was understandably under-rehearsed. New material was non-existent beyond a couple of loose 12-bar jams, so in effect Stars was little more than a loose covers band. (Taken from: Twilight of an Idol.)

We read somewhere that giving Syd Barrett the top position on a much advertised gig was like throwing him before the lions and it was, understandably, the end of Stars, and, less understandable, the end of his musical career, with the exception of the disastrous 1974 sessions.

While Syd Barrett was an unexpected guest on the Six Hour Technicolour Dream gig, Fred Frith was not. He had been invited by the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band to join them for the show.

Fred Frith was in Cambridge in 1968 when he met with some fellow students and started the avant-garde band Henry Cow. Actually the Cow's first concert was supporting Pink Floyd at the Architects' Ball at Homerton College, Cambridge on 12 June 1968. Eternal student Frith would also frequent (and jam at) the Juniper Blossom club that was first run by Jack Monck and Jenny Spires, and later by Twink and Jolie MacFie.

Since his Henry Cow day's Frith has played in a myriad of bands and his musical input can be found on over 400 records. So it is a bit awkward to ask him about that one one concert he played on over 40 years ago, but we tried anyway.

An innerview with Fred Frith
Fred Frith
Fred Frith.

An innerview with Fred Frith

BH: Are you happy with the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release and your own input on it? Your guitar is pretty much in front of the mix most of the time.

FF: I haven’t heard it. I didn’t know about it prior to release and I don’t have a copy I’m afraid.

BH: At the Six Hour Technicolour Dream, Syd Barrett more or less was a surprise guest, while your presence had already been agreed on with Paine, Twink & Monck for that night. At the time, did you find it significant that Syd Barrett had decided to make a public appearance?

FF: There was a rumour beforehand that Syd might join us. This was of course exciting for me, given that Syd was one of my heroes.

BH: You have said in an interview:

At the only concert that I did with them, Syd played “Smokestack Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really sing at all. To say I was hugely disappointed is maybe the wrong way of putting it. I was shocked, angry, devastated, that it had come to that.

Now that we finally have the chance to listen to the concert is your opinion still the same (I need to add that most Barrett anoraks don't think his playing is that bad at all, but that is why we are sometimes called Sydiots anyway).

FF: Like I said, I haven’t heard it, but the event I was referring to wasn’t this concert anyway. After the Corn Exchange gig we rehearsed together with a view to creating a group for Syd to play his songs. At the only rehearsal I attended, my memory has him playing variations of Smokestack Lightning (which, after all, was the prototype for Candy and the Currant Bun) throughout the session, which was mercifully not recorded. And please note, I was “shocked, angry and devastated” BECAUSE of my deep love of Syd’s playing, composing and legacy, not for any other reason. He was clearly not himself, and that was really sad.

BH: How was Syd's state of mind during the said Boogie Band session? Was he into the music, enjoying himself?

FF: He appeared to be mentally completely absent.

BH: What were rehearsals like? Were any numbers written by Syd considered?

FF: As far as I was concerned we were only there in order to try and play Syd’s songs and give him a vehicle where it might seem possible to perform again. We did it because of our love and respect for him. I don’t remember any other material.

Fred Frith
Fred Frith.

BH: Did you ever discuss musical theory with Syd Barrett? If so, what were his ideas on composition?

FF: Syd was in no state to discuss anything during the very brief period when our paths crossed. It would have been nice. But his compositional ideas tend to shine through his compositions, which is the way it should be.

BH: Did you have contact with Syd outside of the jam environment? He was not unknown in Cambridge and he did know (and visited) Jenny Spires, Monck and Twink.

FF: No. We had mutual friends, but we didn’t hang out. I was young (19) and in awe and would probably have been too shy anyway. I did talk to Nick Mason about it a few years later when we were working together. But there wasn’t anything anyone could really do.

BH: Do you know of any other recordings in existence? Rumours go that Stars rehearsals and gigs have been recorded. You don't have one of these in your archive, by accident?

FF: I don’t know of anything, no. Certainly not in my possession.

BH: Looking back on the situation, do you find the Boogie Band to be significant for your career?

FF: It was significant in providing me with some sobering food for thought. Musically I have no recollection of anything beyond the fact of having done it. Maybe if I hear the record it’ll stimulate some memories.

BH: Many thanks for the interview and we'll hope that a copy of that LMPTBB record arrives with you soon...

End of part five of our LMPTBB series. We know that there will be cries of grief from our many fans, but this is probably the last article in this series, unless the third Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band member suddenly decides to answer our calls for another Birdie Hop innerview.

© Birdie Hop & The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.


Many thanks to Ebronte, Fred Frith, Rich Hall, Peter Jansens.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop


2015-06-14

Iggy Rose in Cambridge

Iggy Rose by Vic Singh
Iggy Rose by the legendary Vic Singh.

The second weekend of June has the second Cambridge biennial Birdie Hop meeting, with special guest stars: Viv Brans, Vic Singh, Peter Gilmour, Men On The Border, Jenny Spires, Warren Dosanjh, Libby Gausden, Dave 'Dean' Parker & Iggy Rose (and some more).

Unfortunately the Facebook group for this event has been closed for prying eyes, but some pictures and videos have already leaked out.

Iggy Rose and Goran Nystrom
Iggy Rose, in great shape, & Göran Nyström from Men on the Border.

Pictures and videos will be regularly uploaded to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr page, as soon as the Holy Igquisiton gets hold of them.

Iggy Rose admiring a record cover
Iggy Rose admiring a record cover. Picture: Mick Brown.

For the latest (public) pictures and videos of the 2015 Birdie Hop event, please check: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com/tagged/june-2015.
Our review of the first Birdie Hop meeting in 2013: Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting? 


Many thanks to: Sandra Blickem, Mick Brown, Warren Dosanjh, Vanessa Flores, Tim Greenhall, Alex Hoffmann, Antonio Jesus (Solo En Las Nubes), Douglas Milne, Göran Nyström (Men On The Border), Vic Singh, Abigail Thomson-Smith, Eva Wijkniet...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2015-11-14

Men On The Border: Live in Brighton

Live in Brighton
Live in Brighton, Men On The Border.

June had the second (and if rumours are correct: last) Birdie Hop meeting in Cambridge with Syd Barrett fans having an informal drink with some of the early-sixties Cambridge beatniks we know and love so dearly: Jenny Spires, Libby Gausden, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Sandra Blickem, Vic Singh, Warren Dosanjh and others...

Special guest star was none other than Iggy Rose who left, if we may believe the natives, an everlasting impression. You can read all about it at: Iggy Rose in Cambridge.

Men On The Border came especially over from the northern parts of Europe, leaving their igloo, so to speak, to gig at the Rathmore Club where they not only jammed with other Syd-aficionados, but also with Redcaps frontman Dave Parker. (For the history of those sixties Cambridge bands check the excellent: The Music Scene of 1960s Cambridge.)

The night before however, on Friday June 12th, Men On The Border played the legendary Prince Albert (that name always make us chuckle) music pub in Brighton. This gig was recorded and is now the third album of Men On The Border, after ShinE! (2012) that consisted of Barrett covers and Jumpstart (2013) that mainly had original songs but with a slightly concealed madcap theme.

This live release shows that Men On The Border is a tight band and that they can play their material without having to revert to digitally wizardry. In a previous review we already remarked that:

...some of the influences of MOTB lay in the pub-rock from Graham Parker & The Rumour, Rockpile (with Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds) and the cruelly under-appreciated The Motors...
Men On The Border. Picture: Vic Singh.
Men On The Border. Picture: Vic Singh.

This live album certainly proves that. The versions are pretty close to the recorded versions and singer Göran Nystrom manages once again to give us goosebumps on Late Night and their own Warm From You that is a pretty ingenious song if you ask us (with a sly nod to Jimi Hendrix)...

So give them a warm hand of applause and make them feel welcome in this mad cat world of random precision.
 

Tracklist:

01 Terrapin (Jumpstart)
02 No Good Trying (ShinE!)

03 Scream Thy Last Scream (2015 single)
04 Long Gone (ShinE!)

05 Gigolo Aunt (ShinE!)
06 Late Night (ShinE!)

07 Octopus (ShinE!)

08 Warm From You (Jumpstart)
09 Baby Lemonade (ShinE!)

Digital release only, people don't buy plastic any more, unfortunately.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017WFLEH8/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6MStF6YtxCYNY7FTIoeNzq


Many thanks: Göran Nystrom, Vic Singh.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2015-12-05

Skeletons from the Kloset

Roger Waters.
Roger Waters.

Pink Floyd, dear sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, will never stop to amaze us, for better and for worse.

Riff-raff in the room

Two weeks ago saw the umpteenth incarnation of The Wall concept. Let's try to count how many times this important work of musical art more or less exists. We'll only take count of official and 'complete' versions as individual songs from the Wall can be found on compilations, live albums and concert movies from the band and its members going solo.

First there was The Wall album by Pink Floyd (1979), followed by the 1982 movie with the same name. In 1990 Roger Waters staged his rock opera in Berlin, with guest performances by other artists, and this was immortalised with an album and a concert movie.

The twenty year anniversary of the album was celebrated at the turn of the millennium by Is There Anybody Out There, a live album taken from the eighties tour by the classic Floyd, although Rick Wright technically was no longer a member of the band.

2011 saw the Why Pink Floyd? re-release campaign and three epic albums were issued in an Experience and Immersion series, each with added content. The Wall Immersion has 7 discs and four of these are the regular album and its live clone. A third double-CD-set has the so-called Wall demos and WIP-tapes that had already been largely around for a decade in collector's circles. A bonus DVD contains some clips and documentaries, but not the concert movie that is known to exist. For collectors The Wall Immersion was the most disappointing of the series and the presence of a scarf, some marbles and a few coasters only helped to augment that feeling.

Am I too old, is it too late?

In 2010 Roger Waters started a three years spanning tour with a live Wall that promised to be bigger and better. It was certainly more theatrical and if we may believe the Reverend, who watched the show as interested as Mr. Bean on a rollercoaster, boring as fuck. But with 4,129,863 sold tickets it set a new record for being the highest grossing tour for a solo musician, surpassing Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.

So it is no wonder that the show would be turned into a movie. It needs to be said that Roger Waters should be thanked for stepping outside the concert movie concept, adding a deep personal touch to the product. Those people who already saw the Blu-ray praise its sound quality that is conform to what we expect from a Floydian release, despite Waters' obvious lip-synching on about half of the tracks.

And that is why the CD-version of The Wall live is such a disaster. There are serious indications that some sound studio jerk took the superior Blu-ray surround mix and simply downgraded it to stereo without reworking the parts that make no sense when you only have got the audio to rely on. Apparently making 459 million $ with The Wall tour didn’t give Roger Waters enough pocket money to make a proper CD mix for this release.

Riding the gravy train, or as the Sex Pistols named it: doing a rock 'n' roll swindle, is something we are already familiar with in Pink Floyd (and former EMI) circles. The Anchor wrote in the past about scratched and faulty discs that were put in those expensive deluxe sets (Fuck all that, Pink Floyd Ltd. – 2011 12 02) and how the band and its record company pretended to sell remastered albums while the music on the CD was just goody good bullshit taken from an old tape (What the fuck is your problem, Pink Floyd? – 2014 11 08). It makes us a bit sad for all those fans who have bought the super deluxe set of The Wall at 500 dollars a piece. The show must go on, n'est-ce pas?

But anyone familiar with the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit knows lengthy introductions are our trademark and it will not come as a surprise that this article isn't about The Wall at all.

1965: their first recordings
Pink Floyd 1965: their first recordings.

Buzz all night long

On Black Friday, the 27th of November 2015, sightings were published on the social media of an unannounced Pink Floyd 7-inch-vinyl-double-set that had hit records shops in the UK. It was named 1965: Their First Recordings and claimed to have the following tracks.

Record 1A:
Lucy Leave

Record 1B:
Double O Bo
Remember Me

Record 2A:
Walk with me Sydney

Record 2B:
Butterfly
I’m a King Bee

Composers:
1, 2, 3, 5: Syd Barrett
4: Roger Waters
6: Slim Harpo

Personnel:
Syd Barrett: Vocals, Guitar.
Bob ‘Rado’ Klose: Guitar.
Nick Mason: Drums.
Roger Waters: Bass, Vocals.
Richard Wright: Keyboards.
Juliette Gale: vocals on Walk with me Sydney.
(Some pictures of the 'first' five man Floyd can be seen here: Pink Floyd 1965.)

It was soon confirmed that the records were official, contrary to the many bootlegs that already exist of the first and last track of the set, and that it was a so-called 'copyright extension release'. According to European law, sound recordings have a seventy years copyright, provided that they are released within five decades. If the recording fails to be published within 50 years it automatically becomes public domain, the 'use it or loose it'-clause, and that is something that The Floyd didn't want to happen, especially not as there seems to be an Early Years Immersion set on its way, predicted for the end of 2016.

That six tracks were released from the Floyd's first session(s) was something of a surprise. Up till now, every biography only spoke of four tracks put on tape. Let's see what Nick Mason had to say about it:

Around Christmas 1964, we went into a studio for the first time. We wangled this through a friend of Rick’s who worked at the studio in West Hampstead, and who let us use some down time for free. The session included one version of an old R&B classic ‘I’m A King Bee’, and three songs written by Syd: ‘Double O Bo’ (Bo Diddley meets the 007 theme), ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Lucy Leave’.

This was repeated in an August 2013 interview for Record Collector.

Nick Mason in Record Collector
Nick Mason in Record Collector, August 2013.

In Latin in a frame

However, in a letter to Jenny Spires, presumably from late January, early February 1965, Syd Barrett speaks about five tracks:

[We] recorded five numbers more or less straight off; but only the guitars and drums. We're going to add all the singing and piano etc. next Wednesday. The tracks sound terrific so far, especially King Bee.

At the bottom of this letter Barrett also drew the studio setup with Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Robert 'Rado' Klose and himself ("Me. I can't draw me.").

The early sessions also appear in an (unpublished) letter to Libby Gausden:

Tomorrow I get my new amp- Hooray! - and soon it's Christmas. (…) We're going to record 'Walk With Me Sydney' and one I've just written ' Remember Me?', but don't think I'm one of those people who say they'll be rich and famous one day, Lib.

In another letter he writes:

We just had a practice at Highgate which was OK. We're doing three of my numbers – 'Butterfly', 'Remember Me?' and 'Let's roll another one', and Roger's 'Walk with me Sydney', so it could be good but Emo says why don't I give up cos it sounds horrible and he's right and I would, but I can't get Fred [David Gilmour, note from FA] to join because he's got his group (p'raps you knew!). So I still have to sing.

Tim Willis concludes in his Madcap biography that:

Sydologists will be astounded to learn that by '64, Barrett had already written 'Let's Roll Another One', as well as two songs 'Butterfly' and 'Remember Me'.

This is slagged by Rob Chapman in A Very Irregular Head. According to Chapman the letters date from December 1965, and not 1964, for reasons that are actually pretty plausible.

Bob Klose told Random Precision author David Parker that he only remembers doing one recording session with the Floyd late Spring 1965 and that he left the band in the summer of that year.

In other words, dating these tracks is still something of a mess. At the Steve Hoffman forum the tracks were analysed by Rnranimal and he concluded that the 6 tracks do not origin from the same source either, so they could originate from different recording sessions. According to him; tracks 1, 2 and 6 sound like tape and 3, 4 & 5 like acetate.

Legally all songs need to be from 1965, and not from December 1964, as Mason claims in his biography, because... that would make these 1964 songs public domain and free to share for all of us. Perhaps the band started recording in December 1964 but added vocals and keyboards a couple of weeks later, in 1965. Surely an army of lawyers must have examined all possibilities to keep the copyrights sound and safe.

1965 (silly front sleeve)
Pink Floyd 1965 (silly front sleeve).

Good as gold to you

1965: Their First Recordings is exactly what the title says. Never mind the cover with its psychedelic theme as it is obviously misleading. In 1965 The Pink Floyd were still a British Rhythm & Blues outfit and not in the least interested in psychedelic light shows. Barrett tries hard to impersonate Jagger and even uses an American accent on the songs. And not all songs are that original either. We skip Lucy Leave and I'm a King Bee for the following short review as they have been around for the past few decades.

Double O Bo is a pastiche of Bo Diddley's signature song, but has a weird chord change that is inimitably Syd Barrett. Baby Driver:

It's a straight forward enough tip of the hat to Bo Diddley musically, but then he throws in those two chords: F, G# which is something Bo Diddley NEVER would have done. Syd was a genius. what would otherwise be throwaway songs from a band in its infancy, make for compelling listening due to his voice and his unique lyrics.

In Remember Me, the weakest song of the set, Syd strains his voice so hard that it nearly sounds that someone else is singing (some people claim it is Bob Klose and not Barrett). As Marigoldilemma remarks:

To me this one sounds like Syd trying to sound like Eric Burdon of the Animals.

Walk with me Sydney, from Roger Waters and with Juliette Gale on vocals, is a spoof of Roll with me, Henry aka The Wallflower, written in 1955 by Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard and Etta James. As it is not sure yet when Walk With Me Sydney was exactly recorded this could – perhaps – even be a track without Bob Klose. It is also the first time that we have a Roger Waters lyrical list, a trick that he will repeat for the fifty years to come:

Flat feet,
fallen arches,
baggy knees and a broken frame,
meningitis,
peritonitis,
DT's and a washed out brain.

Medical Product Safety Information: Don't listen to this song if you don't want it continually on repeat in your brain.

Butterfly is the surprise song of the set. This track shows the potential Barrett had in him and could have been included, in a slightly more mature version, on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The lyrics are pretty dark as well and typical Syd:

I won't squeeze you dead.
Pin things through your head.
I just want your love.
Bob Klose by Syd Barrett
Bob Klose. Drawing: Syd Barrett.

Catch you soon

Not only was Parlophone pretty vague about the recording dates, the record was also released without any publicity and in very limited quantities, only 1050 copies for worldwide distribution, including 350 for the UK. Not one of the serious Pink Floyd fansites knew about the release and they were pretty late diffusing the news, further proof these websites only publish what Pink Floyd Ltd allows them to publish.

Pretty remarkable is that the Floydian fan-forums didn't really go into overdrive about this set either and that the best comments and information could be found on Steve Hoffman's Music Corner. Yeeshkul had a pretty interesting thread as well, but this was removed when people started discussing alternative ways of requiring these tracks. It just makes one wonder how tight the grip is of the Pink Floyd Gestapo Legal Council around Yeeshkuls' neck.

When it became clear that this edition was
a) genuine and
b) rare,
prices sky-rocketed. Hundreds of dollars were offered for a set and there have been cases of record shop owners raising the prices for the copies they still had in their racks. It needs to be said that a thousand copies for a new Pink Floyd product is ridiculously low, even if it only interests a small part of the Floydian fanbase.

Luckily for all those who didn't get a copy this is the age of the internet and needle-drops can be found in harbours in silent waters around us. Mind you, this is not psychedelic, nor classic dreamy Floyd, but an R'n'B band in full progress, still looking for its own sound. Vinyl collector Rick Barnes:

What I heard earlier was amazing ! Like the stones but sharper and more original. They were a lot more together than I ever gave them credit. I'm surprised they were not discovered in '65. Had they met Giorgio Gomelsky or someone similar things might have been very different...

 We end this post with an opinion from Mastaflatch at Neptune Pink Floyd:

With many bands such as Pink Floyd, who had been there for very long, some people tend to forget the real crucial points when the band was struck by genius and only find comfort in the familiar songs or familiar patterns or familiar guitar solos. Between 1965 and 1967, something major happened to PF and it's plain as day here. If not for Syd, it's pretty likely that NOTHING of what we know and love from this band would have reached our ears.
But, if you listen closely, the weirdness was already there in Syd's chord changes and lyrics. (...) To get a band going though, especially in the 60s when you had The Beatles leading the pack, you couldn't only rely on blobs and gimmicks and Syd had what it took in spades: great songs, fierce originality and a tendency to NOT rest on his laurels and go forward.
I think that Pink Floyd, somewhere in the 70s ended up lacking at least one of those attributes - mostly the latter and it only got worse as time went on. I'm not saying that their later stuff wasn't good but at some point, Pink Floyd ceased to invent its sound and became content to play within its previously defined boundaries. Good music but far less exciting.

In 1965 these boys were hungry, literally sometimes, and that is what you hear. Their main preoccupation wasn't how to earn some 459 million $ turnover on a pre-recorded jukebox show from some 30 years before and it shows.


Many thanks to: A Fleeting Glimpse Forum, Baby Driver, Rick Barnes, Goldenband, Steve Hoffman Music Corner, Late Night Forum, Marigoldilemma, Mastaflash, Göran Nyström, Neptune Pink Floyd Forum, Rnranimal.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Links and things:
Steve Hoffman Musical Corner: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/pink-floyd-1965-double-7.481968/
A Fleeting Glimpse: http://s7.zetaboards.com/Pink_Floyd/topic/9263411/1/
Neptune Pink Floyd: http://www.neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=24366
Yeeshkul (second thread): http://yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?36451-What-Official-1965-recordings-released

Pink Floyd 1965 at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr page.

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p. 152-153.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 56-57.
Gausden Libby: Syd Barrett Letters. Photographed by Mark Jones and published at Laughing Madcaps (Facebook).
Geesin, Joe: Acid Tates, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p 79-80.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 29.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 1.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 43-44.


2016-08-29

Miraculous Magnets

Sydge
Sydge, by Anthony Stern.

Get All From That Ant

About two years after the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit came with the news of an Anthony Stern anthology, showing an overview of his work, including unseen Pink Floyd footage and our own Iggy the Eskimo, it might finally get a release to the general public. Well, sort of. (See: Magnets & Miracles)

Get All From That Ant will be shown at a Syd Barrett (mini) festival that will be held in October in Cambridge when also a Syd Barrett memorial artwork will be unveiled. Men On The Border will interpret the mad cat’s wacko music with the Sandviken symphony orchestra, some mystery guests and a groovy lightshow from Peter Wynne Wilson.

Have You Got It Yet

Although not confirmed (yet) the Barrett movie festival may also feature Storm Thorgerson’s legendary Have You Got It Yet. This movie is being finalised by Roddy Bogawa, whom you might know from the excellent documentary Taken By Storm, that any Hipgnosis fan needs to have in his / her collection. We had a chat earlier this year with the movie maker and here is what he had to say.

I can answer some of the rumours! Yes, we are hoping the film will be released this year - it is in the editing stage - and yes, Lindsay [Corner] and Gayla [Pinion] are interviewed in it as well as Jenny Spires and Libby Gausden... I think it is ok to make that public...
Also Roger, David and Nick appear in new interviews which I think are quite different than most of the ones they've done before because Storm was present and he grew up with Syd, David and Roger.
So...it's exciting and once the film gets closer to completion, we'll talk it up more!
(Source: Facebook Chat, 2016 06 03)

Surely a release to be yearning for, even when Iggy wasn't interviewed, due to unforeseen circumstances.

Sydge and Iggnet

It is not certain if Stern’s anthology will get the DVD release as promised a couple of years ago. Our efforts to ask Anthony stayed unanswered. Artists, huh…

In 2014 some extremely lucky people received a Syd magnet, aka Sydge, for a Stern project that had to culminate in a book. Unfortunately all the relevant pages on the Anthony Stern Films blog have been removed, so we fear it has been shelved.

In December 2014 an Iggy the Eskimo magnet was announced (see: Iggy on your fridge!), but although the Holy Church ordered about a dozen that project was indefinitely postponed as well. Until now…

Iggnet by Anthony Stern
Iggnet by Anthony Stern.

Syd Barrett and Iggy Photo Art Collectable Fridge Magnets.

2 Magnets in total.
Taken from original photos by Anthony Stern are these fantastic, practical and groovy fridge magnets featuring both Syd Barrret playing live and Iggy during a creative photoshoot with Anthony.
Both images can also be found in the new and upcoming GATA? Get ALL That Ant? .....biographical film of Anthony Stern's youth when he was friends with the infamous couple at the start of the Pink Floyd band creation.
An original piece of Uk Rock History documentation and a great gift idea for the Syd Barrett and Iggy fans.

The Syd and Iggy magnets are now for sale at Anthony Stern’s Etsy page. Get them while you still can…
(The Church is not affiliated with or endorsed by Mr. Stern's company.)


Many thanks to: Roddy Bogawa, Anthony Stern.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Tumblr pages:

Anthony Stern:
Iggnet
Sydge

Roddy Bogawa:
Taken By Storm

Felix Atagong:
Sydge (Atagong Mansion)


2016-11-26

RIP Rusty Burnhill

Rusty Burnhill
Rusty Burnhill. Picture: Gretta Barclay.

The Church was informed, a couple of days ago, that Rusty Burnhill died at the age of 70.

Rusty, and his girlfriend (and later wife) Gretta Barclay, were a 'hippie couple' who were in Syd Barrett's inner circle and who visited him in his apartment at Wetherby Mansions. It is there that they met Iggy and helped painting the floorboards in blue and red (or any colour variation you like).

Unfortunately the other tenant of the apartment wasn't really amused with the constant stream of visitors around the has-been pop-star and, in several interviews, many years later, he still uttered his frustration about this, naming the couple as one of the heavier nutcases.

This unfavourable account found its way in at least three renowned Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett biographies and as such the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit repeated that testimony as well. (Source: Love In The Woods (Pt. 2)).

However, another friend of Syd Barrett, who we may only address under the pseudonym JenS, for reasons too much complicated to explain here, vehemently disagreed and called the couple 'art school kids' who probably goofed out on booze and mandrax, like everyone else did in those days (Source: When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3)).

Gretta Barclay denied the accusations in her interview with the Church:

Syd was a very dear friend of ours and we did a considerable amount together in the 60's. Contrary to what I have read, we did not provide Syd with drugs. (Source: Gretta Speaks.)

JenS had met Gretta and her sister Trina during the mid sixties in a London grooming school and she introduced them to Syd when he was still living at 101 Cromwell Road. JenS, Gretta, Trina and the French Dominique (who apparently had a huge crush on Syd) lived together in Chelsea for a while. Then Gretta met Rusty.

In late 1969 or early 1970 the couple, who had never been part of the underground, left hectic London for Suffolk mainly because Gretta was pregnant from her first child. Later in 1970 they moved to Devon.

Barrett still was a close friend and they did visit him, but obviously not to indulge in drugs and booze. Rusty was a pretty good guitarist and he jammed with Syd on tracks as Terrapin, Octopus and the blues standards they both loved. The couple tried to upkeep Syd's interest for (his own) music and Rusty silently hoped to do something together.

Although Gretta, in her first and only interview she ever gave, is pretty vague about Syd's condition the couple must have sensed there was something terribly wrong with the Cambridge wonderboy. They actively tried to reactivate his musical interest by introducing him to the Welsh folk-maverick Meic Stevens.

Meic Stevens with Syd Barrett
Meic Stevens & Syd Barrett.

They all visited the Welsh singer-songwriter in his house in Solva, where Syd and Rusty jammed with Meic's band Bara Menyn. A pretty bad photo exists of the encounter, perhaps with Gretta and Rusty sitting around the table with Syd, Meic, Heather Jones and Geraint Jarman. (Syd and Meic would meet several times and they were the subject of a BBC documentary that has probably been lost. See Meic meets Syd for the story.)

After a while Rusty and Margaretta went separate ways. Rusty lived for a few months with Jenny Spires and Jack Monck in Cambridge. Jack and Rusty even started a band, in 1972, right after the Stars debacle. Rocksoff (or Rocks Off) had Rusty Burnhill (gtr/voc), Jack Monck (bass/voc), George Bacon (gtr/voc), Dan Kelleher (gtr/pno/voc) and a succession of drummers, including Chris Cutler and Laurie Allan. (Source: http://calyx.perso.neuf.fr/mus/monck_jack.html.)

Rusty apparently travelled a lot before settling down on the North Frisian island Amrum (Germany) from 1978 till 1993. After a brief stay in Worpswede, a village in the North of Germany, where he participated in a few art exhibitions, he moved in 1995 to Barmstedt, a Hamburg suburb.

In March 2010, after some holistic detective agency proceedings, the Church could find Rusty's address. We knew he wasn't using mail and that he was very reluctant to speak about the past, so we wrote him a letter to ask for an interview.

It took quite a while, and actually we had forgotten all about it, but one day he called us out of the blue. Unfortunately the conversation wasn't going into the direction we had hoped for. After a tirade that took a few minutes Mr. Burnhill asked us:

Isn't it time this all ends?
This has been going on for 40 years now.
Can't you just let the music speak for itself?

Wise words. There are more important things in life than chasing shadows of dead men.

We really hope, Rusty, that you can finally form that band, you've always dreamt about.


Many thanks: Gretta Barclay, Thomas Hartlage, JenS, Gus Mark Peters, Rebecca Poole, anonymous. Picture of Rusty Burnhill: courtesy of Gretta Barclay.

The Gretta Barclay Files: Gretta Speaks 
The Meic Stevens Files: Meic 'Welsh Syd' Stevens 
The JenS Files: JenS Remembers