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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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Just like several (tiny) details in the pictures have given away the
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. (…)
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
There are now more Syd Barrett biographies around (in the English
language alone) than Syd Barrett records and several Pink Floyd
biographies consecrate the same amount of pages for the first three
years of the Floyd than for the next 30. So obviously there must be
something mysterious going on with this Syd character.
The last in line to open Pandora's box is Rob Chapman. He was actually
one of the few people (around 30 to 50) who saw Syd's mythical band Stars
at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge (24 February 1972) and is still
relatively sane enough to recall it. Young chap Robert Chapman even
wrote a review
magazine, that would disappear a few years later for 'lack of Syd' but
also because no three Syd Barrett fans can come together without having
a tremendous fight. Try running an Internet joint for that lot nowadays
and you'll see what I mean.
Writing a biography is a difficult job and I once remarked in a (quite
pompous) review that biographers are situated on a scale, ranging
from those who meticulously verify, double verify and triple verify tiny
facts to those that will not hesitate to add a good, albeit probably
untrue, anecdote just because it goes down so well.
Rob Chapman is, and often quite rightly so, annoyed with the many
legends around Barrett and wants to set the record straight. I kind of
like this way of working. But he doesn't indulge us either in an ongoing
shopping list of facts and figures. The art of writing biographies is
not in adding details, that is the easy bit, but in weeding out the
superfluous so that a readable book (rather than a shopping list)
But sometimes I have the feeling that he weeded a bit too much. The trouvaille
of the name Pink Floyd (p. 53) is literally dealt with in a single line.
Of course ardent Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fans alike already know the
story about Philips
BBL-7512 and its liner notes by heart, but the occasional reader
might as well benefit from an extra wee bit of information. And quite
frankly it is about time that David (Dave) Moore
gets the credits for the mail he sent to Bryan Sinclair on the 14th of
March 2005 entitled: “RE: [pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council.”
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy
Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Phillips BBL-7512, c. 1962.
The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following: "Curley
Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found
in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a
few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling
hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded
valleys." (Source: Pink
Anderson / Floyd Council @ pre-war-blues Yahoo, membership probably
Update 2015: The complete story of the Blind Boy Fuller album
that gave Pink Floyd its name can be found at: Step
It Up And Go.
Chapman, the fearless vampire killer
You might say, that piece of information is too anoraky and Rob
Chapman was right not to include it, but why then, when he can lash out
at previous Syd Barrett biographers, doesn't he apply his own rules
anymore? Every new biography should have its new findings, otherwise
there would be no necessity to write it, and I do understand that you
can point out a flagrant mistake that has been made in a previous
biography, but Chapman acts repeatedly as a vindictive (and verbally
Helsing, wooden stake in his hand, ready to stick it through the
heart of a vampire on the loose. Only, in my book, a fellow biographer
should not be treated as a vampire but rather as a colleague, perhaps an
erring colleague, but still a colleague... Writing that some biographies
should have a government health warning on their cover is not nice and
is better left to amateur blog authors like yours truly and journalists
of The Sun.
We have established by now that Rob Chapman does not like false and
superfluous information, but on top of that he also has some theories of
his own. David Gilmour recalls how he was invited at the See
Emily Play recording session (officially the 21st of May 1967, but,
according to David Parker, a first session could have taken place on the
18th) and how he found that 'the golden boy had lost the light in his
eyes'. Somewhere around that date Syd turned 'crazy' so we have been
lead to believe for the past 40 years…
Chapman is of the opinion that Barrett didn't turn mad, but rather that
he was alternatively wired and that, what other people have described as
mad behaviour, was really Syd playing cosmic jokes on the rest of the
world or setting up dadaist and misinterpreted avant-garde performances.
Just like the proverbial fish in a fisherman's story gets bigger and
bigger so have Syd legends accumulated weight over the years. Rob
Chapman doesn't like these apocryphal stories and wants to debunk these
once and for all. He does a good job at that, but - once again - weeds
to much. It is not because you can correct a couple of false rumours
that - by definition - all memories from all witnesses have to be
categorised untrue. And that is what Chapman implies. Even more, in
order to prove his theory, he deliberately skips several events that
have happened but that he can't immediately minimise or contradict.
It is good to counterbalance the Syd Barrett articles and biographies
that have thriven upon sensationalism (Le
premier Pink Floyd from Emmanuel Le Bret comes to mind, luckily that
2008 biography was written in French and completely ignored by the
Anglo-Saxon world) but that is not a reason to indulge into a fairytale
world of Barrett the mystic, but misinterpreted, genius. That is
unethical and close to historical revisionism and it turns the middle
part of the biography (covering the Piper and Madcap years) into a
somewhat misplaced hagiography.
You will probably not believe me when I tell I didn't do it on purpose,
but when Chapman quotes Nick Mason's autobiography Inside Out on
page 198, saying that Nick writes that 'Syd went mad' during the
American tour of 1967, I grabbed my copy (actually, I carefully took and
opened it, as it is quite heavy) and read pages 87 till 97 over again. I
did this three times. I can't find it. I will not conclude that
Nick may never have written (or said during an interview) that 'Syd went
mad' but it isn't there where Chapman claims it is. It makes Chapman a
sloppy researcher, to say the least.
Update October 2010: By accident I stumbled upon the Syd is
crazy quote (or one of the Syd is crazy quotes) from Nick
Mason in Barry Miles' The Early Years book: "You can't believe that
someone's deliberately trying to screw it up and yet the other half of
you is saying 'This man's crazy - he's trying to destroy me!'"
Nick however does write that on two different occasions on the American
tour Syd detuned his guitar, one time even 'until the strings fell off'.
This apparently made Roger Waters so angry that he 'gashed his hand in a
furious attack on his bass guitar', smashing the (lend) instrument to
pieces at the end of the show.
Rob Chapman doesn't see where the problem is and remarks joyfully that
Syd had been deliberately detuning his guitar in the past (during the
Floyd's early free-form jams) and that it was tolerated and even
encouraged then. He seems not to realise that there might have been a
time and place to detune a guitar and a time and place NOT to
detune a guitar. When I visit my doctor, who is looking gorgeous by the
way, and unbutton my trousers in front of her she will not be offended,
but if I catch her at the local supermarket, choosing a deep-freeze
pizza (the living proof that deep-freeze pizzas are healthy, by the way)
and dangle my ding-a-ling in front of her, I will be in hell of a
trouble. Not that I have done that, those rumours are incredibly
exaggerated and I am again allowed to enter the supermarket anyway.
The Big Barrett Conspiracy
Chapman more or less suggests that, over the years, there has been a Big
Barrett Conspiracy going on, claiming that Syd went mad while he was
just being artistically misunderstood. It is obvious that Waters, Mason
and Wright, and to a lesser extent Gilmour, were behind the conspiracy.
They quit their studies and promising architectural career to follow the
narrow path of psychedelic pop music and when money was finally starting
to come in a whimsical Barrett wanted to turn the clock back (probably
through a washing machine) and concentrate on experiment again
(proto-Floyd members Bob
Klose and Chris Dennis had left the band in the past just
because their profession stood in the way). Chapman doesn't even try to
hide his disgust for post-Syd Floyd, but more about that later.
What is less understandable is that Peter Jenner and Andrew King are
part of the conspiracy as well, because when Syd and Pink Floyd went
separate ways, they choose to manage Syd instead of following the goose
with the golden eggs. Jenner assisted Barrett during his first batch of
sessions for The Madcap Laughs (1968) but commented later that these
were 'chaos'. The sessions had been going on from May till July and
Jenner reported that they weren't getting anywhere.
Chapman disagrees, he states that during the 6 studio sessions in
1968 Barrett recorded half a dozen of rough tracks dispelling the myth
of a 'muse run dry'. I count 9 sessions, by the way, making
Barrett's tracks per sessions ratio one third less performing as Chapman
wants us to believe, but that is not the issue here. The main problem is
not that Barrett was out of songs. Six of them still doesn't make an
album, unless you would add the 18 minutes of the avant-garde
(read: tedious) Rhamadan. The main problem with Barrett was that
the songs never outgrew the rehearsal or demo stadium. Simply said:
Barrett wasted a lot of studio time. And these were still the days that
a record company expected an artist to cut an entire album in three or
four sessions, the only exception perhaps being The Beatles.
Update October 2010: after 40 years Rhamadan has been issued as a
free download with the An Introduction to Syd Barrett
compilation. The track isn't half as bad as everyone - especially those
who never heard it - claimed it to be, but it needs some serious weeding
to be presentable as a 'real' album track. More info: Gravy
Train To Cambridge.
Juggling the Octopus
I see in Rob Chapman a man with a passion and he is at his best when he
analyses Syd's songs. It takes him 7 pages to scrutinise Clowns &
Jugglers (re-titled later as Octopus),
making it clear to the outside world that Syd wasn't just a young
innocent bloke whose lyrics came to him in a psychedelic, LSD-induced,
dream. Chapman traces back references (and quotes) from: Huff
the Talbot and our Cat Tib (Mother Goose rhyme), Thomas Nashe's
Summer's Last Will and Testament (an Elizabethan masque play), Shakespeare's
King Henry VI Pt. 1, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows and
poems from Anonymous (Mr
Nobody), John Clare (Fairy Things), Sir Henry Newbolt (Rilloby-Rill)
and William Howitt (The
Wind in a Frolic).
Unfortunately I have in my small collection of Barrett related works a
12-page essay, written in 2005 by Paul Belbin, published at the Madcapslaughing
and Vegetable Friends mailing groups, titled: Untangling the
Octopus. It describes in detail, almost verse per verse, where Syd
Barrett sampled the lines from Octopus from. Although Chapman nearly
literally copies the information for 7 pages long, he neglects to
mention the source of his findings.
Update October 2010: Paul Belbin has authorised the Holy Church
of Iggy the Inuit to host the 2006 version of his essay: Untangling
the Octopus v2 (PDF file).
In 2009 a revised and updated version of Untangling
The Octopus was published by Julian
Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer who doesn't even appear in
Chapman's bibliography, but as Chapman spifflicates the biographies he
does mention that probably is a compliment.
Chapman can get downright cynical when he wants to take the myth out of
Barrett and this is where the biography as a biography goes astray.
Although a biographer may be unconditionally in love with his subject he
(she) must at the same time keep a certain distance, be unprejudiced and
should approach the subject with at least a glimpse of unbiased
Debunking the brylcreem and mandrax anecdote is not bad,
but it is not directly original either. Chapman isn't the first one to
have done this as shows this forum
post by Julian Palacios and also Mark Blake has put some question
marks concerning the event.
Apart from some anecdotes that happened at family parties or random
encounters on the street with old friends and (past) lovers, we don't
know a lot about Syd Barrett's life in Cambridge. So if a witness does
turns up it would perhaps be a chance to check him (or her) out. But in
that was published on the official Syd
Barrett website Chapman tells why he didn't contact the Barrett neighbour
who has not always been positive
about the rockstar next door:
My thoughts, clearly and unambiguously are that I didn’t want to give
this individual a scintilla of publicity. (…) I did check him out, quite
extensively as it happens, and my enquiries lead, among other places, to
a website where he gives his enlightened views on capital punishment and
who should receive it – most of us, by the look of it.
It is not because someone has a dubious opinion about capital punishment
that his memories about Barrett are - by definition - untrue or
unreliable. However Chapman is not that reluctant when a witness turns
up who has got some positive things to say about Barrett.
On pages 365 and following, Chapman recites the charming anecdote of a
young child who ran into Barrett's garden to ask him a pertinent
question about a make-believe horse. Not only did Barrett patiently
listen to her dilemma, he also took the time to explain her that in
fairy tales everything is possible, even flying horses.
It is in anecdotes such as this that Chapman shows his unconditional
love for Barrett, and I confess that it made my grumpy heart mellow as
well. Here is the man, who invariably smashed the door to any fan
approaching his house, earnestly discussing fairy tales figures with a
Update September 2013: some more information about this girl,
Radharani Krishna, can be found at the following article: Making
Wish You Were... but where exactly?
One of the greatest legends about Syd Barrett is how he showed up at the Wish
You Were Here recording settings on the fifth of June 1975. A Very
Irregular Head merely repeats the story as it has been told in other
biographies, articles and documentaries, including Rick Wright's
testimony that Barrett kept brushing his teeth with a brush that was
hidden in a plastic bag. Roger Waters however claims that Barrett only
took sweets out of the bag. As usual different witnesses tell different
The toothbrush myth is one Chapman doesn't know how to demystify but
Blake may have found a plausible explanation.
The 'toothbrush' and 'bag of candies' may have come out of the story I
heard from somebody else that was at Abbey Road that day. They claimed
Syd Barrett had a bag filled with packets of Amplex. For those that
don't know or remember, Amplex was a breath-freshener sweet that was
popular in the 70s. This eyewitness claims that Syd Barrett was
nervously stuffing Amplex sweets into his mouth... another story to add
to the pile... but you can see how the story of 'breath-freshener
sweets' could turn into a 'toothbrush' and/or 'a bag of candies'. (Taken
5, 2010 Roger Waters TV interview at Late
Update August 2011: according to Mark Blake in Mojo 215 the
Amplex story comes from journalist Nick Sedgwick, who was writing an
(unreleased) Pink Floyd related book at that time and author of the
novel Light Blue With Bulges, that describes his beatnik adventures in
Cambridge in the early sixties. More info: The
Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012).
The Madcap Laughs
Another mystery Chapman can't solve is the exact time frame of the
shooting of The Madcap Laughs album cover. He still situates this
between August and November 1969 although there is a slightly obscure
website on this world that maintains that the pictures date from the beginning
of that year.
Chapman does a good, what do I say, a great job by describing
Syd's later years. He still can't say a lot about Syd's lost weekend
between the mid-Seventies and the early Eighties, although there must be
people around who knew or even visited him. Perhaps that insane Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit should try to locate some of them.
In 1982, in the midst of Wall-mania,
Barrett left his Syd-character behind by walking the distance between
London and Cambridge. For the remainder of his life he would prefer to
be known as Rog or Roger.
Chapman managed to talk to Rosemary Breen, Syd's sister, and it
is through her that we know a great deal of Barrett's later life. It is
a sad story, but one with many laughs, as Rosemary remembers mainly her
brother's latter-day sense of humour. That and the story of Syd's life
as an adolescent, thanks to the many letters that Libby Gausden
has kept for all these years, are the strongholds of this, his,
Just when you thought this review was finally going to end it is time to
I started reading this biography and was genuinely intrigued by the
author's style, his wit, his knowledge, but also his unhealthy habit of
demeaning anyone who doesn't share his ideas. But I could live with it,
despite the odd tsk-tsk that would leave my mouth once in a while.
The passage that made me loose my marbles can be found halfway the book
on page 213. It describes how Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd legally split
up. Peter Jenner and Andrew King stayed with Barrett, the rest of the
band had to choose a new agency, a new manager and a new recording
contract. The rest of the band's history, so writes Rob Chapman, is accountancy.
The Early 70 Tours with the Embryo suite: accountancy? Meddle
(with Echoes): accountancy? Dark Side Of The Moon: accountancy? Wish
You Where Here: accountancy? Animals: accountancy? The
Update October 2010: When Barrett and Pink Floyd split up there
was the small matter of a 17,000 British Pounds debt that the band had.
The Abdab accountants didn't burden Syd Barrett, nor Peter Jenner
and Andrew King with that.
On page 317 Chapman infuriates me a little bit more by writing that
Waters, Mason, Wright and Gilmour sound like a firm of chartered
surveyors. I find this remark as insulting as deliberately mistaking
Rob Chapman for Mark
His opinion that, on Wish You Were here, Pink Floyd uses sixth-form
imagery to describe their former bandsman (and friend) didn't hurt me
anymore. By then Rob Chapman had already become something I usually pick
out of my nose.
In Chapman's opinion an entire generation of musicians (in the
Seventies) began to make music 'more appropriate to the rocking chair
than to the rocket ship'. The man has a way with words, that I have to
I had heard of these Pink Floyd haters before, people who really think
that the band died when Barrett left the gang. The problem is that most
of these people are aware of Syd Barrett thanks to the fame and glory of
a dinosaur called Pink Floyd.
Without Syd Barrett no Pink Floyd, I agree (although it was Roger Waters
who invited Barrett to join the band, not the other way round). But
without Pink Floyd most of us, myself included, would never have heard
of Syd Barrett either.
Thanks to the success of the classic Pink Floyd concepts EMI kept the
Barrett solo records in their catalogue. The 1974 vinyl compilation Syd
Barrett was a direct result of the interest for early Floyd, after A
Nice Pair (1973) had proven successful. Poor Barrett earned 'two and
a half million quid' in one year thanks to the Echoes compilation alone.
The backside is that due to Dark Side, Wish You Were Here and The Wall
fans from all over the globe started to look for Barrett, hoping he
would explain them the meaning of life. Probably Syd would have
preferred to be left alone even if it meant not to have all those
millions on the bank. But if there is one thing we can't do, it is to
change past history, although Chapman tries, more than once, to do so.
Until finally Julian Palacios comes up with a revised edition of Lost
in the Woods, Rob Chapman deserves my sincere felicitations for
writing one of the most readable Barrett biographies ever. But for
constantly exposing himself as an infallible Barrett-prophet,
pooh-poohing all those who don't think like him and deliberately
ignoring facts that don't fit in his gospel, he deserves nothing more
than a good kick on the nose.
Update: some of the anoraky points mentioned in the above article
(Octopus lyrics, 1968 sessions) have been further examined in Mad
Cat Love (2011).
This (quite controversial) review has been previously published at Felix
Projects. Some amendments and updates have been made.
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above): Belbin,
Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF
version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit with Paul Belbin's
permission. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London,
2007, p. 95, p. 231. Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history
of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 94-95. Miles,
Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006,
p.111. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books,
London, 2001, p. 136, p. 138.
Mandrax & Brylcreem drawing taken from thepiperatthegatesofdawn.co.uk
(site no longer available).
A quite nice (promotional) interview with Rob Chapman can be found at Youtube.
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
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
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.
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
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.)
The second reference (about Syd visiting the Outlander
sessions) also has one addition in the English version. Solva Blues adds
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
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.
Mason acknowledges this illogical (not to use another term)
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.
Syd almostmeets 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
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
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
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.
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).
A while ago it was announced
at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit that Julian Palacios' long
awaited Syd Barrett biography Dark Globe (Full title: Syd Barrett
& Pink Floyd: Dark Globe) had finally appeared in web shops all over the
world. Palacios' previous work Lost In The Woods already dates
from 1998 but is (was) still a classic work about Barrett.
Dark Globe 2010 is not an amended or appended Lost In The Woods,
Palacios didn't use the easy trick Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson fell
for when they re-issued their Crazy Diamond biography, leaving
the (many) errors uncorrected and just adding an extra chapter about Syd
Barrett's passing. But I wouldn't go as far as the one critic who
claimed that Crazy Diamond is full of 'unsubstantiated nonsense' and
that it should come 'with a government health warning on the dust
jacket'. Crazy Diamond still takes a soft spot in my heart as it was the
first attempt at a serious Barrett biography.
But back to Julian Palacios. For those who want to immediately know if
Dark Globe is worth the investment, rather than meandering through this
review, I will quote Kiloh Smith from Laughing
Just finished Dark Globe and... it's the best book about Syd Barrett
that was ever written. I'd say that Dark Globe is my favourite, followed
by Crazy Diamond, with A Very Irregular Head taking up a distant third.
(Full review at: sydbarrettpinkfloyd.com)
Probably this is the first time in history that Kiloh and I share the
same opinion, but he is not the only one praising Palacios. Fleeting
Glimpse gives the biography a perfect 10 and quite rightly so. And
Mark Paytress from Mojo also has some nice things to say (see left side
I once noted down that the art of writing biographies is not in adding
details, but in weeding out the superfluous. Palacios is not entirely of
the same opinion and that is why my review took so long to appear here.
Dark Globe is packed with details, quite an anorak's dream, and it does
need some concentration. In my case I found it better to savour the
different paragraphs, one at a time, sometimes even going back a bit,
than to read the book in one big afternoon chunk.
Palacios has unearthed details that no one has ever found or published
before and, this has to be said as well, not all of those are relevant
to the average Barrett fan.
Did you know that Syd Barrett had a job as a postman in his teenager
years, delivering Christmas cards during the holidays? I didn't. Not
only does Palacios reveal that but he also points out that the underwear
fetishist who was immortalised in Pink Floyd's first single Arnold Layne
could have been a Royal Mail post van driver.
Those familiar with the Pink Floyd's early history remember that the
band lived, 64-65-ish, in Mike
Leonard's house, an architect who introduced the amateurish R&B gang
to light-shows and avant-garde music. Leonard also played a mean piano
and replaced Rick Wright for a while, what made him think he was a
member of what was ironically called Leonard's
Every student who has been living in a community knows that, sooner or
later, food will start disappearing. Stanhope Gardens was no exception
to that and Rick Wright used to keep his morning cornflakes inside a
locked cupboard, fearing that Roger Waters would otherwise steal his
beloved morning cereals. The mystery has lingered on for over 4 decades
but Julian Palacios has finally discovered who really nicked Wright's
breakfast: not Roger Waters but a boarder named Peter
Kuttner. Utterly irrelevant but fun to read. The only fear I have
now is that Roger Waters will probably write a concept album about it
once he finds out.
Not all of this biography reads like a biography. At certain points
Palacios can't hide any-more he is a writer at heart, with poetical
streaks, obviously regretting that he wasn't around in those underground
days. What to say about this:
The face came out from under the murky swell of psychedelic oil lights,
like a frame around a picture. A pale, handsome face with thick silky
hair and a white satin shirt. Something bright and small seemed to
twinkle in his eyes, vanished, then winkled once more like a tiny star.
Palacios adds many song descriptions and can get quite lyrical about
chord progressions. Personally I can't be bothered as I don't hear the
difference between an A and an F anyway. These parts read like a Korean
DVD recording manual to me but I suppose that any amateur musician will
enjoy them. Julian has been doing more than his homework and for many
early Pink Floyd songs he traces back musical or textual references
(today we would call that sampling), but he isn't too snotty to
give due credits to where they belong.
Palacios has an encyclopaedic musical knowledge and halfway the book I
regretted I didn't note down all songtitles he cites. Songs Barrett
liked, songs Barrett played and rehearsed in his youth, songs that
influenced some of his later work. Adding these would make a nice
cd-box, not unlike the cover disks Mojo magazine sometimes issues.
Julian's observations can sometimes be a bit über-detailed. Arnold
Layne, the famous song about the cross-dressing knicker-thief,
contains a slight musical nod to the 1928 Ma Rainey song Prove
It On Me Blues, not coincidentally another song about
cross-dressing. As I am tone-deaf - a condition I share with Roger
Waters, so it mustn't be all bad as he made a fortune with it - I don't
hear any familiarity between both musical pieces but blues scholar John
Olivar says there is and Julian Palacios acknowledges it. I simply
Other links are easier to grasp for a simple man like me, like the fact
that Jennifer Gentle (the protagonist from the Lucifer
Sam song) can be traced back to a medieval ballad
where it goes:
There were three sisters fair and bright, Jennifer, Gentle
and Rosemary... And they three loved one valiant knight— As
the dow [dove] flies over the mulberry-tree.
There is one single remark in Palacios book that would create a small
storm if its subject happened to be Lennon or Hendrix. In August 1974
Barrett recorded some demos for a third album that never saw the light
of day. Barrett had no new songs and he just tried out some blues
variations like he used to do more than a decade before in his mother's
living room. Initially the 1974 demos were noted down as 'various
untitled oddments' and the individual titles these tracks have now
were given by producer Pete Jenner to distinguish the different parts.
#1 (there is also #2 and #3) traces of Bo
Thing can be found back. In January 2010 Palacios found
out that the track nicknamed John
Lee Hooker is in fact a rendition of Mojo
Hand from Lighting'
Hopkins. That particular titbit didn't even provoke a ripple in the
usual stormy Barrett pond.
Palacios adds layers on layers of information. If you happen to be
amongst the dozen or so readers who remember the 1989 Nick Sedgwick
novel Light Blue With Bulges you might have wondered who was the beatnik
behind the espresso machine (and with his hands in the till) of a famous
Cambridge coffee bar. Don't look any further, Palacios will tell you
exactly who operated the espresso machine, how the coffee bar was called
and even more... reveal the brand of the Italian espresso machine...
only... I would like to pass this information to you but I can't find it
back right now as... and here is my biggest dissatisfaction with this
book... Dark Globe contains no index.
In the past I have written some harsh words about biographies and
reference books that omit an index:
Unfortunately the book [Pink
Floyd FAQ] has got no index, what duly pisses me off, so if you want
to know something about, let's say: You Gotta Be Crazy, there is no
other way to find it than to start reading the bloody thing all over
again. So called biographies (…) and reference books without an index
(or an alphabetical or chronological filing system) are immediately put
aside by me and won't be touched again. Ever.
I know for sure that Prince
Stanisla(u)s Klossowski de Rola, better known as Stash, is
cited in Dark Globe. But if I urgently need this information for a post
at the Holy Church, to answer a question on the Late Night Syd Barrett
forum or just to ease my mind, I will only be able to consult Palacios'
(now defunct) 1998 biography Lost In the Woods (pages 186-93),
Mark Blakes' 2007 Pigs Might Fly (pages 81 & 99) or Rob Chapman's
2010 A Very Irregular Head (p. 278) although that last insists to
call the dandy prince de Rollo.
Dark Globe is by near and by far the best Syd Barrett biography ever,
but not having an index is (in my awkward opinion) unforgivable as it
diminishes its traceability near to factor zero. And that's a shame... I
do know that indexes are but a geeks' dream and that most people don't
bother with those, but my ultimate wet dream consists of reading
bibliographies that have half a dozen footnotes per page. Maybe I am the
No 4 Yes
With hindsight it is easy to call Syd Barrett a genius, but not
everybody was of that opinion in 1966. Here is what Peter
Banks, from Syn
(a precursor of progressive rock-band Yes)
had to say: “Whatever night they played was the worst night of the week.
(…) A bunch of guys making noise and wearing make-up.” Perhaps that is
why Nick Mason quipped, years later, that Johnny Rotten would have
looked quite ridicule in a 'I hate Yes' t-shirt.
Pink Floyd was probably not the best band of the psychedelic bunch, but
they surely were the loudest, even outdoing The Who in volume at the Psychedelicamania
happening on the last day of 1966. A reporter of the Daily Mail, armed
with a sound meter, reported on 'pop above the danger level' and warned
for permanent damage to the ears.
In just a couple of months Barrett had not only shifted from quiet blues
to avant-garde 120 decibel hard rock, he also traded his daily cup of
earl green tea for LSD, mandrax and generally everything that could be
easily swallowed or smoked.
The previous reads kind of funny but it is an infinite sad story that
has been underrated by witnesses, fans and biographers alike. All kind
of excuses have been used not to turn Barrett into a hopeless drug case:
his father's death, the pressure of his band-mates, managers and record
company, even the stroboscopic effect of the liquid light shows...
(although of course all these things may have weakened his
self-defence). In my opinion, Julian Palacios manages to get the tone
right and he consecrates some poignantly written paragraphs to the
darker side of the psychedelic summer.
In April of this year the Church of Iggy the Inuit published the We
are all made of stars post. The article tried to remember two people
of the early Floydian era: Ian Pip Carter, a long-time friend of Gilmour
and a Floyd-roadie who had to fight an heroine addiction for most of his
life and; John Paul Ponji Robinson who tried, in vain, to find inner
piece in eastern mysticism.
Palacios adds another Cantabrigian: Johnny Johnson, who in a paranoid,
probably drug-infected, streak jumped from a six-storey window, survived
the fall, but would eventually commit suicide a few years later.
Hendrix, Morrison, Jones and Joplin: 'each victim to the Dionysian
excess they embodied'. Alice
Ormsby-Gore: overdose (her friend Eric Clapton had more luck).
Julian Ormsby-Gore: suicide. Paul
Getty: heroine paralysed him for life. Talitha
Dina Pol, his wife: overdose. The list is long and those who
survived were not always the lucky ones...
Although there are still people who think that Syd Barrett turned
avant-garde during the Floyd's first tour in America, Nick Mason, in his
typical no-nonsense style, put it otherwise:
Syd went mad on that first American tour. He didn't know where he was
most of the time. He detuned his guitar on stage. He just stood there
rattling strings, a bit weird even for us. (Cited in Dark Globe, but
originally taken from a May 1994 Mojo interview.)
Barrett's situation reminds me of an Alice Flaherty quote I encountered
in a recent Douglas Coupland novel:
All the theories linking creativity to mental illness are really
implying mild disease. People may be reassured by the fact that almost
without exception no one is severely ill and still creative. Severe
mental illness tends to bring bizarre preoccupation and inflexible
As the poet Sylvia
Plath said, 'When you're insane , you're busy being insane – all the
time when I was crazy , that's all I was.
Trip to Sanity
There is the somewhat romantic viewpoint of Duggie Fields, but basically
it tells just the same:
He (Syd) could lie in bed thinking he could do anything in the
world he wanted. But when he made a decision that limited his
The problem, for those who follow the hypothesis Syd had a problem, was
that for Barrett there weren't any possibilities left, although record
company, colleagues and friends mildly tried to lure him into the studio
or invite him for an impromptu jam. But to paraphrase Sylvia Plath: Syd
was too busy being insane, and all the time he was crazy that was all he
was able doing.
While at different forums people are arguing, even today, that
hallucinogenic drugs are harmless
Palacios retaliates by simply listing musicians who had to fight
Wilson... It took these people literally decades to crawl back to normal
life after years of misery. Also Barrett hoped to overcome his
condition one day as was proven by a handwritten note in his copy of The
Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry. Syd bloody well understood what was wrong
with him and we – the fans – don't fucking know how hard it was for him.
A dark spot that even Palacios can't clarify is 'Syd's lost weekend'
that roughly went from 1975 to the early Eighties. The first 400 pages
describe Barrett's public life from the mid-Sixties until the pivotal
event in 1975 when Syd entered the Wish You Were Here recording
sessions. The 30 remaining years of his life are dealt with in a mere 40
pages. Even for Palacios there is nothing to dig. (Rob Chapman managed
to add some anecdotes from Barrett's Cambridge life – although some are
disputed while you read this - but he didn't unearth anything new about
Syd's Chelsea Cloister days either.)
Atagong Strikes Again
The following paragraph will probably not add any points to my Barrett
reputation scale, already at ground zero level, but who cares. Just
before publishing this text I checked the official Syd Barrett website
to see if Dark Globe, the biography, is mentioned there. It isn't.
It comes as no surprise as its main function apparently is to sell
t-shirts, even on the discography page you'll look in vain for the
latest Barrett compilation 'An Introduction to...' (review at: Gravy
Train To Cambridge). I am pretty sure its web master knows
everything about Flash ActionScript but is unable to recognise a
Barrett-tune even if whistled through his arse. When the site started in
December 2008 (a temporary page had already been present a few weeks before)
it managed to get the release dates wrong from all known Syd Barrett
solo albums. Yes, both of them. It is not that Barrett has been
as prolific as Frank Zappa who released records for breakfast.
Fan art was mistakenly published as genuine Syd Barrett art and the
bibliography contained a non existent book that had been designed as a
joke by former Late Night member Stanislav. Even today slightly
photoshopped pictures can be found on its pictures page. Apparently the
official Syd Barrett website moguls have got no problems that their main
source of income swallowed pills by the gallon and fornicated everything
female within a 3 miles radius but depicting Syd Barrett with a cigarette
in his mouth obviously is a bridge too far.
Clearly I am getting too old for this hobby of mine but I hope I got the
message through that Syd Barrett is a bit more than a cheap shirt. Dark
Globe by Julian Palacios more than proves this and contrary to my
threatening promise of above I'm immediately going to read it again.
A certain Felix Atagong calls himself laughingly the Reverend of the
Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. But now he realises: Julian Palacios is
our prophet. And Dark Globe is our holy book, but I wouldn't mind an
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus,
London, 2010. 443 pages, 24 photo pages. ISBN10:
85965 431 1 ISBN13: 978 0 85965 431 9. Amazon (UK) link.(The Church is not affiliated with or endorsed by this company.)
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 143. Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 336. Coupland,
Douglas: Player One, William Heinemann, London, 2010, p. 223.
Coupland himself cites from a Alice Flaherty book called The
Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the
Creative Brain. Music score taken from: Riddles
Wisely Expounded(pdf document).
What you see at the left is the only remaining copy in the world of an
unreleased 1967 Pink Floyd single: Vegetable
Man / Scream
Thy Last Scream. Approximate value: 10,000 US dollars,
even on a rainy day.
Part one: Holy Syd!
The songs are on an acetate
disc and without going to much into detail we can simply say that an
acetate is a test pressing of a vinyl record. An acetate has not been
made to last and every time a needle reads the groove the acetate is
gradually but irrecoverably damaged. Bands and producers often used
acetates to test how a record would sound on cheap home record
players before sending the master tape to the record factory.
This precious copy is in the hands of Saq, an American collector
in Los Angeles who acquired it about 15 years ago and has cherished it
ever since. It is, without doubt, what collectors call a 'holy grail': a
rare, valuable object sought after by other collectors. One of the side
effects of a 'holy grail' is that it can only acquire that status if
other collectors are aware of its existence, but not too many. If nobody
knows you have an exclusive item it might as well not exist. Syd Barrett
already acknowledged this in his Arnold
Layne song: it 'takes two to know'.
Holy grails can be frail, especially when they only consist of audio
material. One popular Pink Floyd holy grail are, sorry: were, the
so-called work in progress tapes of The
Wall (most people, websites and bootlegs refer to these as The
Wall demos, which they are clearly not, but that is an entirely
different discussion). Around 1999 they circulated amongst top-notch
collectors and were generally unknown to the public, The Anchor
included, until a track called The
Doctor (an early version of Comfortably
Numb) was leaked as an alt.music.pink-floyd
Christmas 2000 gift. It didn't take long before the complete set was
weeded to the fans, who were happy to say the least except for the one
of the few who had lost their priceless treasure.
Part two: the guns of Navarro
When Barrett fan Giuliano Navarro met Saq in 2009 he was let on
the secret and from this moment Giuliano became a man with a mission. He
of the acetate and finally, on the 15th of January 2011, he proudly
announced at Late
I tried to stay in communication with him for more than a year and
begged him to at least have the tracks recorded. He agreed to do me the
favour, and sent the acetate to a professional studio in San Francisco.
After more than a year of waiting, I finally got the tracks and now I
want to share them with all of you. We are the real Syd Barrett crazies
and we all deserve to listen to his art. There should be no discovery
made that ends up back in the vaults.
Giuliano Navarro is, without doubt, a man of honour. But it helped that
Saq didn't really ran the risk that making the content public would ruin
his holy grail (as with The Wall WIP tapes). Quite the contrary: he
still has an ultra-rare acetate from 1967; is envied by collectors
from over the world and, knowing that; the value of this unique
recording can only sky-rocket.
At least that is what he thought until about a couple of weeks ago.
Part three: cracks in the ice
An uproarious bigmouth called Felix
Atagong, who also goes by the ridiculous epithet Reverend of the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit, proposed Giuliano to upload the sound
files to Yeeshkul.
At first the recordings were received with great enthusiasm, but after
some days the place was stirring with comments of an entirely different
Yeeshkul is a place where Pink Floyd audio collectors meet and share
files through a torrent
network. They vary from the average je-ne-sais-quoi fan to
the specialised sound freak who has the means and the knowledge to find
out whether a certain audio file comes from an earlier or a later
generation tape. And obviously this spectacular find was going to be
analysed to the bit...
Navarro received MP3 files taken from the acetate and shared
these immediately with the fans. Not unusual as MP3
is about the most popular sound format in the world, but it does
compress the sound and reduces the quality. The Yeeshkul specialist
sound brigade argue that lossless files in 24/96
(or even 24/192) should exist as well. Nobody will be that stupid to put
an ultra-rare (and very fragile) acetate on a turntable, only to convert
the audio to MP3.
Vince666 did a spectrum analysis of the MP3 files and found that
the sound had been mysteriously cut-off at 16 Khz (see left side image).
Some members maintain that this is a typical result of MP3 compression,
but others disagree. But despite the compression and the obvious
quality-loss these mono tracks still sound a lot better than other
versions that have been circulating for decades.
Felixstrange (no relative to the Church) discovered 'something
which sounds a lot like tape damage at 0:54 during "Scream Thy Last
The noise a minute into STLS is definitely a result of creases in
magnetic tape. However, there is definitely vinyl/acetate surface noise
present. I've been doing a lot of vinyl rips lately and I immediately
recognized the all-too-familiar clicks of debris in the grooves of a
Question: How can a brand new, original EMI master show tape
damage, before it has even been used to make vinyl records out of it? Answer:
Part four: screaming vegetables
Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream (let's shorten that to VM
and STLS, shall we?) are both unreleased Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd
gems from 1967. EMI has been tempted to put these on compilations
before, but for different (copyright) reasons that never happened,
luckily two different mixes have leaked to the public.
Dark Side Of The Moon proved successful EMI compiled early Floyd as A
Nice Pair and put the two Barrett solo-albums together in a Syd
Barrett budget release. The selling figures (especially in the USA
where the solo albums had never been released) were important enough for
EMI to beg for a third Syd Barrett solo album. Producer Peter
Jenner soon found out that Syd Barrett really wasn't in the singing
mood and scraped the barrel in order to find some unreleased material.
On the 13th of August 1974 Peter Jenner (with a little help from John
Leckie and Pat Stapley) mixed a stereo tape of unreleased Syd Barrett
and Pink Floyd originals, including VM and STLS. This tape, with
reference 6604Z, almost immediately evaporated from the EMI
archives and re-materialised – so goes the legend – miraculously in one
Almost day by day thirteen years later, Malcolm
Jones compiled his personal 'Syd Barratt (sic) Rough Mixes'.
It is believed that he accidentally lost this tape just when he was
passing by the front door of an anonymous bootlegger.
Part five: check your sources
The Anchor needs to get a bit nerdy and technical here, like those Bible
scholars who combine different fourth century Greek editions in order to
reconstruct the ultimate Bible source. We are going to compare the
different versions of the tracks, so you have been warned.
Barrett fans have strong reasons to believe that the Malcolm Jones 1987
(mono) tapes are the closest to the original 1967 Pink Floyd recordings.
In 1974 Peter Jenner added extra effects, echo and reverb to the mix,
most notably on VM, and these are absent on the Malcolm Jones tape. The
Malcolm Jones mix of STLS fades out, while Jenner's version ends
abruptly with – yet – another sound effect.
That is not all. In the case of Vegetable Man there is even a third mix
- the so-called Beechwoods
tape. It has survived on tape from a 1969 radio show where Nick Mason
opened his Pandora’s box of 1967 outtakes. A fan found it back in 2001
and promptly donated it to Kiloh Smith from Madcaps
As the acetate allegedly dates from 1967; Vegetable Man must
sound like the Beechwoods version, and Scream Thy Last
Scream must sound like the Malcolm Jones rough mix.
Part six: listen to the music
Yeeshkul member MOB compared all known versions and came back
with the following report.
The acetate mix is mono, but definitely different than the Malcolm Jones
mono mix from 1987.
The 1967 acetate mix is also different from the 1967 Beechwoods tape,
believed to be the most authentic studio version of the song. On the
Beechwoods tape, there is absolutely no echo or reverb during the
sentence "Vegetable man where are you" but they are present on the
The only version with extra echo and reverb is the 1974 stereo mix by
Actually, if I take the 1974 Jenner stereo mix and convert it to mono, I
have the same mix as the "acetate" mix. So to me it seems the current
mix is not from 1967 (if it was the case it should be close to the 1967
Beechwoods mix, and it's not), but from 1974.
Maybe the 1974 Jenner versions were copied, traded, with some
"mono-ization" in the lineage, then pressed as fake acetates?
Scream Thy Last Scream:
The 1967 acetate mono mix is not the same as the Jones 1987 mono mix
(the Jones version fades out during the street noises). Instead of that,
on the acetate mix, the street noises end abruptly with an echo effect.
Is it pure coincidence that the echo is exactly the same effect as the
one used by Jenner during his 1974 mixdown?
Again, if you mono-ize the 1974 Jenner mix, you have the current acetate
mix (minus the scratches and tape flaws). Same effects at the same
Part seven: the time-paradox explanation
Of course this all makes sense, especially in a Barrett universe, and
the contradiction can easily be explained.
Somewhere in 1967 Barrett invented a time-travelling device by combining
a clock with a washing machine. When asked to compose a third single he
hopped to 1974, stole tape number 6604Z from the EMI archives and
returned to 1967.
Thus it is perfectly logical that the 1967 acetate sounds exactly like
the 1974 Jenner mix and en passant we have solved the mystery how
the tape has disappeared from the EMI vaults.
The utterly boring explanation is that the 1967 acetate is fake, counterfeit,
a forgery, made by a scrupulous thief to rob a few thousands of
dollars from a collector’s pocket. In other words: mono-ization turned
Part eight: let's get physical
The Anchor is like one of those boring Roger Waters songs: once we're in
a drive, we can't stop and we have to make extra parts of the same
monotonous melody over and over again.
Even without listening to the counterfeit acetate there still is
something dubious about it (thanks neonknight, emmapeelfan,...).
Due to their production process and their fragility acetates
are - most of the time - single sided, just like the surviving acetates
of Arnold Layne and See Emily Play. Albums were even issued on two
different single sided acetates to avoid further damage (but some double
sided acetates do exist, like the very first Pink Floyd recording with
Bob Klose in the band: Lucy Leave / King Bee [but that was definitely
not an EMI acetate]);
Engineers at EMI were invariably nerdy administrative types, who
attended recording sessions dressed in white lab coats. These cheeky
little fellows would never label an acetate without putting the name of
the band on top;
Although a pretty fair forgery the label on the record is not identical
to the 'official' EMI acetate label, there also seem to be some glue
marks that are usually not present on real acetates;
and last but not least;
Acetates are ad hoc test pressings and in the extremely rare case
of a double acetate this means that a certain relationship has to
exist between both tracks, like both sides from a single or takes from
the same session. STLS was recorded on 7 August 1967 (some overdubs were
made in December 1967 and January 1968 for a possible inclusion on A
Saucerful of Secrets). VM was recorded between 9 and 12 October
1967. They were never meant to be each other's flip side on a single, so
finding them on the same acetate simply makes no sense, unless it is a
fake, of course.
Part nine: a spoonful of charades
So basically here is what happened:
1. someone, somewhere in summertime, got hold of the Peter Jenner 1974
stereo-mixes of VM and STLS (not that weird as they have been
circulating for at least 3 decades);
2. these were copied on a tape (perhaps even a cassette for home
entertainment) but unfortunately it was damaged, trampled, eaten and
vomited out by the player (crumpled sound between 51 and 55 seconds);
3. this cassette was downgraded from stereo to mono;
4. the mono 'remaster' was cut on acetate, a fake EMI label was glued on
it, and sold to a collector (probably in the mid Nineties);
5. the acetate, believed to be genuine by its owner, was copied in a
professional studio to (hopefully) a lossless digital format (there are
vinyl record clicks to prove that);
6. the digital copy was then converted to MP3 (with a compression cut
off at 16 Khz) and torrented through Yeeshkul.
Part ten: let's add some extra confusion
It has now been established that the 1967 acetate is fake and a
mere mono copy of the 1974 stereo mix, but there is still some confusion
and a bit of hope.
Although a copy from a copy from a copy the acetate sounds better,
crispier and fuller than the Jenner mixes that are currently
circulating. To put it into technical gobbledygook: the forger has a
better sounding, earlier generation tape at his disposal than the one
that Barrett collectors have now. This is something what duly pisses
most Syd anoraks off.
Instead of sharing the tape to the fans it has been used to produce
bootleg acetates. One can assume that the criminal sold more than one
unique acetate, so there must be other collectors around who have
purchased this record, believing they had the only copy in the world.
The high-priced acetate market is not that big. Perhaps if we stick
together, we can trace the seller who must now tremble like a leaf, and
before cutting off his balls and roasting them on a fire, confiscate the
low generation tape and use it for the better.
Part eleven: last words
What you see at the left is an acetate counterfeit of a nonexistent 1967
Pink Floyd single Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream. Approximate
value: 10 US dollars, not a cent more.
Let us be fair: not all is lost for Saq, the current owner.
The Anchor has got an excellent business relationship with Fine Art
Auctioneers & Valuers Bonhams. For a small 35% commission rate the
Anchor is willing to put the acetate on sale at Bonhams as they already
have a habit of selling overcharged fake Barrett memorabilia: Bonhams
Sells Fake Barrett Poem.
The Anchor wishes to thank: Giuliano Navarro, Hallucalation, Vince666,
Felixstrange, MOB, Neonknight, Emmapeelfan and the other participants at
Late Night and Yeeshkul.
Yesterday, on Friday the 11th of June 2011, the Reverend of the Holy
Church of Iggy the Inuit was waiting on a bench at the central bus
station when a man addressed him in French, but he soon switched over to
"I see you are reading a nice book about Pink Floyd. I used to be a Pink
Floyd fan myself. Syd Barrett, the madcap loves."
At least it sounded like 'the madcap loves' in my ears and not 'the
madcap laughs', but perhaps the man had just a small problem with
English pronunciation. Never have made that link myself, I can only
smilingly agree that the madcap loves is one of the better
Floydian slips ever.
The madcap loves, I love it.
But perhaps I just misheard the thing, my ears aren't any more what they
used to be, after having been mistreated by Iron Maiden on my iPod for
the last lustrum.
Mad cat's something you can't explain
A trademark rhyme in Barrett's Octopus
song is the line that named the album:
The madcaplaughed at the man on the border Heigh-ho,
Huff the Talbot.
But Rob Chapman, in an interesting YouTube interview
about his biography A
Very Irregular Head, is of the opinion that Barrett did not sing mad-cap
but mad cat. In that case the title of Barrett's first solo
album is based upon a misunderstanding from producer David
The mad cat laughed at the man on the border Heigh-ho,
Huff the Talbot.
Since Paul Belbin's excellent cyber-essay 'Untangling
the Octopus' (2005), hosted at the Church with the author's
permission, we know that the Octopus song (also titled Clowns
and Jugglers in an earlier stage) is packed with obscure literary
references, disclaiming the rumour that Barrett wrote his songs in a
drug influenced frenzy. One of the characters ripped by Syd Barrett
comes from an anonymous nursery rhyme called 'Huff
the Talbot and our cat Tib':
Huff the talbot and our cat Tib They took up sword and
shield, Tib for the red rose, Huff for the white, To fight upon
For the adherers of the mad cat theory it is perhaps of importance here
that the dog's adversary in the battle of Bosworth
just above is not a mad-cap but a cat called Tib.
Rob Chapman also mentions nonsense poet Edward
Lear as a further influence on Barrett but he didn't catch the
There was an old man on the Border, Who lived in the
utmost disorder; He danced with the cat, And made
tea in his hat, Which vexed all the folks on the Border.
You don't need to be a genius to reconstruct how the dancing cat from
Lear's man on the border and Tib, the warrior cat at Bosworth field,
amalgamated into the mad cat character in Octopus.
But, as with all things Syd, things aren't always that simple. The
madcap believers have a point as well as a madcap galloping chase does
appear in an early incarnation of Clowns and Jugglers:
Sit up, touching hips to a madcap galloping chase "Cheat"
he cried shouting “Kangaroo!”
The wind one morning sprang up from sleep, Saying, “Now for a frolic!
now for a leap! Now for a madcap, galloping chase! I’ll
make a commotion in every place!”
In that case David Gilmour mistook one line for the other and the
album's title may have been taken from a quote that didn't make it on
Salvation Came Lately
But the above has got absolutely nothing to do with today's article and
the Reverend duly apologises for the confusion.
Sitting on a bench at the bus station he was addressed by a man who had
found a common point of interest: Pink
Floyd. To prove that the traveller wasn't talking bollocks, the
sharp-dressed man suddenly sang the following lines from Jugband
I don't care if the sun don't shine and I don't care if nothing is
mine and I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my loving in
Asked to sing a favourite line from a Floyd tune (luckily that never
happens) I would never quote an early song, so the choice of this man
was quite interesting, to say the least. Unfortunately, the strophe was
followed by the announcement that he didn't listen to the Floyd any
more, only to religious music.
To my shame I have to admit that the Reverend didn't see it coming that
another Reverend was trying to lure him into the tentacles of another
Church... Coincidentally we had to take the same bus and we talked like
close friends until it was time for the ambassador of god to leave the
ambassador of Iggy.
The 'book' I was reading wasn't a book but a special 82 pages issue from
the French rock magazine Vibrations,
entirely dedicated to Pink Floyd (7,90 €). Printed on luxurious glossy
paper it assembles articles (translated in French) from well known Q,
Mojo and NME journalists, such as Martin Aston, the Church's partner in
Blake, Pat Gilbert, Chris Salewicz and the French Aymeric Leroy, who
apparently has written an acclaimed biography on the band: 'Pink Floyd: Plongée
dans l'oeuvre d'un groupe paradoxal'.
The times are long gone when I bought everything that was from far or
nearby Pink Floyd related, I even resisted buying Pink Floyd coffee mugs
a couple of week ago, something that would have been impossible for me
in the past millennium, so here is a biography I wasn't aware of. Not
that I am planning to buy it. There isn't one single French Pink Floyd
or Syd Barrett biography that doesn't clash with my personal beliefs of
what a good biography should be.
Update 2011 06 20: Unfortunately the Internet isn't the safe
place any more where you can insult someone without being noticed.
Aymeric Leroy got hold of this post and wanted to set a few things
Thanks for mentioning my book on your blog. I'd just like to point out
that it isn't a "biography", more like a critical assessment of the
band's entire discography, which does include background info of a
biographical nature, but primarily an analysis of the music and lyrics.
The stuff I wrote for the special issue of "Vibrations" is expanded from
the more biographical passages of the book, but the book isn't an
"expanded" version of those. There are other people who did a great job
telling the band's history, and I relied on their work, but my reason
for adding yet another book to the impressive PF bibliography was to try
and do something different - write about the actual music for at least
75% of the book.
Duly noted, Aymeric, and perhaps the Church will have a go at your book
then, one of these days...
Uncut and uncombed
It promises to be a hot Pink Floyd year, this year, and the makers of Uncut
magazine have issued a 146 pages Pink Floyd special in their The
Ultimate Music Guide series. It isn't such a classy edition as the
French Vibrations, but of course the good news is that it
contains at least twice as much information. With at least one article
or interview per Pink Floyd record this obviously is the 'better buy' of
the two, although the initial set-up is more or less the same. The Uncut
special assembles old articles and a few new ones and promises to be an
That an enjoyable read isn't always the same as an accurate read proves
Allan Jones' The Madcap Laughs & Barrett article on pages 32 till 35. He
starts with mentioning that Syd Barrett entered Studio 3 on the 6th of
May 1968, for the first of six sessions that would follow. I don't know
what it is with this 6-sessions-myth but Rob Chapman claims exactly the
same in his biography. As I always seem to have recalled 9 sessions
instead of 6 (but according to the Holy Pope of Rome my brain has been
irrecoverably damaged by years of masturbation) it is time for yet
another anoraky investigation.
So not for the first time in my career as Reverend of the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit I have counted the 1968 Madcap recording dates, as
noted down in David Parker's excellent sessionagraphy Random
Precision. It all starts in the beginning of May.
1968 05 06 – In the morning EMI engineers had been transferring
two Pink Floyd tracks 'In the Beechwood' (aka 'Down in the
Beechwoods') and 'Vegetable Man' for Syd Barrett to work on, but when
Barrett finally arrived he decided to record two new songs instead:
'Silace Lang' (aka 'Silas Lang') and 'Late Night'. Session One.
According to the Allan Jones article Barrett recorded the rambling
'Rhamadan' the day after. Wrong. The next day would have been the
seventh of May, but Barrett only re-entered the studio one week later.
1968 05 13 – 'Silas Lang' (take 1) and 'Late Night' (take 6),
were worked on / transferred by Peter Jenner. It is not clear if Syd
Barrett was present in the studio or if this was merely a technical
session. Of course this could have been one of those 'chaotic' sessions
where Barrett simply didn't show up, with Peter Jenner trying to salvage
the furniture by using the spare time for some producer’s work. Session
1968 05 14 – 'Rhamadan', 'Lanky' (Pt. 1&2), 'Golden Hair'.
Obviously Barrett and three session musicians were in the studio,
although nobody seems to remember who the backing band members really
were. Session Three.
1968 05 21 – 'Late Night', 'Silace Lang'. This was the day when
Syd Barrett forgot to bring his guitar to the studio and Peter Jenner
had to rent one for £10.50. Always a kind of a joker, our Syd. Session
1968 05 28 – 'Golden Hair', 'Swan Lee' (aka 'Silace Lang'),
'Rhamadan'. This session also included (the same?) three session
musicians. Session Five.
1968 06 08 – Superimposition of titles recorded on 6th, 14th,
21st & 29th [wrong date, FA] of May, 1968, so read the red
form notes. Peter Jenner made a provisional tracklist for what could
have been Barrett's first album:
Silas Lang Late Nights (sic) Golden Hair Beechwoods (originally
recorded with Pink Floyd) Vegetable man (originally recorded with
Pink Floyd) Scream Your Last Scream (sic, originally recorded with
Pink Floyd) Lanky Pt 1 Lanky Pt 2
Looking like a Barrett's fan wet dream the above track listing debunks
the story - still popular at certain disturbed Barrett circles - that
the band Pink Floyd and its members deliberately boycotted their former
Barrett was apparently present at this session as some guitar overdubs
were recorded for 'Swan Lee' (the right title of that track still wasn't
decided). Session Six.
1968 06 14 – cancelled session
1968 06 20 – tape transfers and overdubs on 'Late Night' (noted
down as 'Light Nights'), 'Golden Hair', 'Swanlee' (again another way of
naming this track). Syd Barrett probably did some vocal overdubs. Session
1968 06 27 – 'Swanlee', 'Late Night', 'Golden Hair'. Tape
transfers and possible (vocal) overdubs. This is a bit of a mystery
session as the archives of EMI aren't clear what really happened. Session
1968 08 20 – 'Swan Lee', 'Late Nights', 'Golden Hair', 'Clowns &
Jugglers'. First appearance of the track that would later be named
Octopus. Session Nine.
Session nine is where Peter Jenner decided to pull the plug, and unless
you believe in the conspiracy theory that Jenner was a spy for the Pink
Floyd camp, there must have been a valid reason for it.
So there we have it, the nine chaotic Madcap sessions of the year 1968.
Of course it is clear where the six sessions explanation comes from, if
one omits the second session where Barrett probably never cared to show
up and some tape transfer and overdub sessions you have successfully
diminished nine sessions into six.
It all is a matter of interpretation: at one side you have those who
argue that Barrett recorded a nice collection of great dance songs in
only six sessions, at the other side you have those (including producer,
manager and personal friend Peter Jenner) who claim that nine sessions
weren't enough to produce three decent demos. As always the truth lies
somewhere in the middle.
So the six session myth, as noted down by Allan Jones in the Uncut Pink
Floyd 'Ultimate Music Guide' might not be so far off the truth.
Another misty myth hangs around the cover shoot of the album. Allan
Jones bluntly states, more out of ignorance, I presume, than of
knowledge, that Mick Rock was responsible for the cover. The official
version goes that the pictures, used for the cover, were taken by Storm
Thorgerson, who happened to be at the same place at the same time
(as the picture at the left side proves). The Holy Church of Iggy the
Inuit has already spilled lots of bits and bytes about The Madcap Laughs photo
sessions (in plural), so we won't go further into that.
Iggy 'Eskimo' Rose revealed to Mark Blake that other shots were taken as
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)
Nowadays it is not that certain any more if these shots were taken by
Storm Thorgerson or by Mick Rock. There might even have been a third
photographer at play. It seems that the flat of Syd Barrett was crowded
with people that day and that they all brought a camera. Unfortunately
the naughty Syd & Iggy pictures seem to have disappeared...
Maybe it was because there was too much frontal. Poor Syd, I remember
getting carried away, pulling and pushing him about, getting astride
him. He was in fits of laughter....which of course is not what they [the
photographers] where after. (Iggy Rose, 30 May 2011.)
Riding the Octopus
Allan Jones is of course not a Barrett anorak like yours truly (and most
of the readers of this blog) and thus he has to confide upon other
anoraky people. So he probably doesn't see any harm in the following
Rob Chapman's close reading of the remarkable 'Octopus', for example,
revealed the craft of which Syd was still capable. The song's cleverly
accumulated lyrics drew on diverse literary sources, folklore, nursery
rhymes, and the hallucinatory vernacular of dream states to create a
wholly realised, enraptured universe, halcyon and unique. (p. 35)
This is all true and very beautifully written, but only – and this
brings us back to the starting point of this article – it was Paul
Belbin's essay (compiled with the help of a dozen of contributors) that
revealed the Octopus' hidden lyrics to begin with and that roughly five
years before Chapman's Irregular Head biography. No wonder that Julian
Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer in his own right, calls it the
Rosetta stone for decoding the writing inspirations for one of Syd
Barrett's most beloved songs.
But all in all Uncut's 'The Ultimate Music Guide' to Pink Floyd seems to
be an essential (and rather cheap, only £5.99) overview of the band and
its records and I like all the articles that I've read so far. I think
it's a gem and a keeper.
The Church wishes to thank: Paul Belbin, Mark Blake, Julian Palacios and
the wandering anonymous Pink Floyd lover from the Embassy of God.
Top picture: variation on a theme from The
Kitten Covers. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above) Belbin,
Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF
version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Belbin, Paul &
Palacios, Julian: Untangling the Octopus v3, 2009, hosted at the
Syd Barrett Research Society (forum no longer active). Update
April 2015: same article hosted at Late
Night. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books,
London, 2001, p. 126-138.
The Holy Igquisition has got a little black book with Roger
Waters' interesting quotes in. Needless to say that this is a very
thin book, with lots of white space, but here is a phrase from the Pink
Floyd's creative genius (his words, not ours) this article
would like to begin with.
There are no simple facts. We will all invent a history that suits us
and is comfortable for us, and we may absolutely believe our version to
be the truth. (…) The brain will invent stuff, move stuff around, and so
from 30 years ago (…) there's no way any of us can actually get at the
The Reverend would – however – first want to ask one fundamental
question, of which our readers may not be quite aware of the
significance of it... If Roger Waters is such a creative genius writing
poignant one-liners criticizing his fellow rock colleagues:
Lloyd-Webber's awful stuff. Runs for years and years and years. (…) Then
the piano lid comes down. And breaks his fucking fingers. (It's
A Miracle, Amused
...why then does he agree to release hyper-priced Immersion boxes
containing a scarf, some marbles, carton toasters, playing cards, other
debris and, oh yeah, incidentally some music as well? One can only
conclude it's a miracle. Let's just hope he doesn't get near a
piano for the next couple of years.
But probably we are too harsh in our criticism, Roger Waters has told
the press before that he is simply outvoted by the other Pink Floyd
members. This is a situation that used to be different in the past when
he reigned over the band as the sun
king, but like he will remember from his Ça
Ira days, these are the pros and cons of capitalist democracy.
A typical Floydian example of false memory syndrome is the visit of Syd
Barrett in the Abbey
Road studios on the 5th of June 1975. It is a mystery to us why EMI
didn't ask for entrance money that day as a complete soccer team,
including the four Pink Floyd members David
Mason, Roger Waters and Rick
Wright, claim they have seen, met and spoken to Syd Barrett.
Roadie (and guitar technician) Phil Taylor remembers he had a
drink in the mess with Syd and David. Stormtrooper Thorgerson
has had his say about it all but if one would give him the opportunity
he would argue – probably in yet another book rehashing the same old
material – that he started the band Pink Floyd at the first place. Other
'reliable' witnesses that day include (alphabetically sorted): Venetta
Fields, backing singer and member of The
Leckie, EMI engineer and producer (but not on Wish
You Were Here) Nick
Sedgwick, friend of Roger Waters and 'official' biographer of Pink
Shirley, Humble Pie drummer and friend of David Gilmour Carlena
Williams, backing singer and member of The Blackberries
Some say that Barrett visited the studio for two or three days in a row
and three people, including his former managers Peter
Jenner and Andrew
King, claim they spoke to Syd Barrett about a month later on David
Gilmour's wedding while the bridegroom himself claims that Syd Barrett
never showed up. To quote Pink Floyd biographer Mark
Blake: “...not two people in Pink Floyd's world have matching
stories...”, and neither do two biographies...
In his most recent, but probably not his last, picture book about Syd
Rock writes the following:
He (Syd Barrett, FA) asked me to take photos for the sleeve of
his first solo album The Madcap Laughs that autumn. At the time he was
living with yet another very pretty young lady known only as Iggy the
Eskimo. She wasn't really his girlfriend although clearly they had a
sexual relationship. But of course her presence in some of the photos we
took that day added an important element that enhanced their magical
Most biographies (all but one, Julian Palacios' Dark
Globe, in fact) put the date of The Madcap Laughs photo shoot in the
autumn of 1969 and this thanks to testimonies of Storm
Thorgerson, Mick Rock and, most of all, Malcolm
Jones. The Church, however, beliefs there is a 'misinformation
effect' in play. Researchers have found out that people will
automatically fill in the blanks in their memory if a so-called reliable
witness comes with an acceptable story. This would not be the first time
this happens in Pink Floyd history. And probably there have been 'cover
picture' meetings after summer between Harvest
perhaps even leading to an alternative Storm Thorgerson photo shoot (the
But in the end it was decided to use the daffodils session from
That the Church's theory (with the help of JenS) wasn't that far-fetched
was proven in March 2010 when the rock magazine Mojo
consecrated a three pages long article to pinpoint the date of the
shooting of The Madcap Laughs, with testimonies from Duggie Fields, Mick
Rock, Jenny Spires and Storm Thorgerson. The article and the Church's
comments can be found at Goofer
Dust [(I've got my) Mojo (working)... Part 2].
We know from JenS, Duggie Fields and Gretta
Barclay that Iggy arrived early 1969, and helped painting the floor,
but the only person who didn't comment on this was Iggy Rose herself. So
one freezing winter day The Holy Church asked her if she could have been
around at Wetherby Mansion, after the summer of 1969...
Iggy Rose: "I don't think it was that late, but I have to admit
it was almost 45 years ago. I remember I was cold, and they had a
one-bar-heater to try and keep me warm. I stayed a week here and there
and I never gave that photo shoot another thought. Later I found out
when Mick Rock came back for the second shoot he was disappointed I
Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1)): "I took Ig to Wetherby Mansions in January or
February 1969 where she met Syd Barrett. (…) I introduced Iggy to Syd
shortly before I left (to America, FA), and she was around when I
left. She wasn’t there for long and generally moved around a lot to
Iggy Rose: "I had absolutely no idea how mammoth he was. Syd
never came on to me as the Big I Am. In fact when he played his rough
tracks of The Madcap Laughs he was so endearingly sweet and appealing...
Even asking me whether it was good enough to take to some bloke at EMI
Margaretta Barclay (Gretta
Speaks (Pt. 2)): "Iggy moved about and stayed with all sorts of
people in all sorts of places without declaring her intention to do so.
To my knowledge there was no ‘when Iggy left Syd’ moment. We were all
free spirits then, who moved whenever and wherever a whim took us."
Iggy Rose: "I wasn't even aware of who Syd Barrett really was. Of
course I knew of Pink Floyd. I must have seen them perform at Crystal
Palace but they were to me an obscure avant-garde underground band, who
played way-out music I couldn't dance to."
Jenny Spires (public conversation at Iggy Roses' Facebook
page): "Ig, Syd painted the floor boards as soon as he moved in
Christmas 68. When I moved in with him in January there were still
patches not done, by the door, in the window under the mattress where we
slept, in top right hand corner of the room. When he painted it
initially, he didn't wash the floor first. He just painted straight onto
all the dust etc... Dave (Gilmour) also painted his floor red..."
Duggie Fields (Mojo): "It was pretty primitive, two-bar electric
fire, concreted-up fireplaces... it was an area in decline. I don't
think there was anything, no cooker, bare floorboards..."
Mate (alleged visitor at Wetherby Mansions, FA): "The
three rooms all faced the street. On entering the house, the first room
was Fields', the second and largest, I guess about 25 square meters,
Barrett's. The third and smallest room was a communal room or a bedroom
for guests. Gala (Pinion, FA) stayed there. In the corridor were
some closets stuffed with clothes.
Then the floor bended to a small bathroom, I think it was completely at
the inside without a window. At the back was the kitchen with a window
to the garden. It was not very big and looked exactly like in the
Fifties. The bathroom was also rather simple, I mean, still with a small
tub. I don't remember how the bathroom floor looked like though."
Update 2016: 'Mate' is an anonymous witness who claims to have
been an amorous friend of Syd Barrett, visiting him several times in
London and Cambridge between 1970 and 1980. However, later
investigations from the Church have found out that this person probably
never met Syd and is a case of pseudologia fantastica. This
person, however, has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of Syd Barrett and
early Pink Floyd and probably the above description of Syd's flat is
Iggy Rose: "I think Gala had the small room, Duggie the second
and Syd the largest. She had a lot of perfumes and soaps and gave me a
nice bubbly bath once... ...and tampons." (Launches one of her legendary
roaring laughs provoking a temporarily hearing loss with the Reverend.)
Any colour you like
Ian Barrett: "The stereo in the picture ended up at my house, and
I am pretty sure I had the record player in my bedroom for a good few
years. God knows where it is now though..."
Iggy Rose: "I wonder what happened to the old heavy tape recorder
with the giant spools. I remember Syd carrying it over for me to listen
to his rough cut of The Madcap Laughs."
Malcolm Jones (The Making Of The Madcap Laughs): "In anticipation
of the photographic session for the sleeve, Syd had painted the bare
floorboards of his room orange and purple."
Mick Rock (Psychedelic Renegades): "Soon after Syd moved in he
painted alternating floor boards orange
JenS: "I was staying with Syd between the New Year and March '69.
(…) Anyway, at that time, the floor was already painted blue
and orange and I remember thinking how
good it looked on the Madcap album cover later on when the album was
Iggy Rose (The
Croydon Guardian): "When Mick (Rock, FA) turned up to
take the photos I helped paint the floor boards for the shoot, I was
covered in paint, I still remember the smell of it."
Margaretta Barclay (Gretta
Speaks): "I remember that Iggy was involved with the floor painting
project and that she had paint all over her during the floor painting
time but I was not involved with the painting of the floor."
Iggy Rose (Mojo):
"He jumped off the mattress and said, 'Quick, grab a paint brush.' He
did one stripe and I did another. If you look at Mick Rock's pictures, I
have paint on the soles of my feet."
Duggie Fields (The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story): "I think he
painted the floor boards, sort of quite quickly. He didn't prepare the
floor, I don't think he swept the floor actually. (…) And he hadn't
planned his route out of the bed that was over there. He painted around
the bed and I think there was a little problem getting out of the room.
(…) He painted himself in."
Jenny Fabian (Days In The Life):: "He'd painted every other floor
board alternate colours red and green."
Iggy Rose: "I remember the mattress being against the
wall......Soooooo either we ran out of paint, or waited till the paint
dried, so poor Syd was marooned in the middle of the floor. (…) The
floorboards were painted red and blue.
I do remember, as the paint was on my feet and bottom. Did you know that
Syd wanted to take the colours right up the wall?"
Mate: "The planks were painted in a bright fiery-red,
perhaps with a slight tendency towards orange,
and dark blue with a shadow of violet.
Iggy is absolutely right: this was no orange's
orange. The curtains were dark
green velvet." (This witness may be a mythomaniac,
Mick Rock: "They were long exposures because of the low light and
they were push-developed which means that you give the film more time in
the processing fluid. You can tell because the colour changes and
the film starts to break up which causes that grainy effect."
Libby Gausden: "I always thought it was orange
paint, not red." Iggy
Rose: "Careful Libs darling! People will start to analyse that, the
way they did with the dead daffodils." Libby Gausden:
"Well they had faded from red to orange
when I got there."
Jenny Spires (public conversation
at Iggy Roses' Facebook
page): "The floor was painted long before you arrived Ig and was blue
and orange. You and Syd might have given
it another lick of paint and covered up some of the patchiness and bare
floorboard that was under the mattress before the Rock/Thorgersen shoot.
Perhaps, he only had red paint for that,
but it was blue and orange."
Mate: "Even in 1970 there were still unpainted parts in the room,
hidden under a worn rug. I suppose the floor had been beige-white before
Syd and Iggy painted it in dark blue
with a shadow of violet and bright orangy
red . The floor boards had not been carefully painted and
were lying under a thick shiny coat. The original pitch-pine wood didn't
In my impression it was an old paint-job and I didn't realise that Syd
had done it all by himself the year before. I never spoke with him about
the floor as I couldn't predict that it would become world-famous one
day. It is also weird that nearly nobody seems to remember the third
room..." (This witness may be a mythomaniac, see above.)
Mick Rock: "I actually went back a couple of weeks later. We
still didn't know what the LP was going to be called and we thought we
might need something different for the inner sleeve or some publicity
Iggy Rose: "I did go back afterwards and maybe Syd mentioned this
to someone. I wasn't bothered and I didn't know Syd was some big pop
star. He never lived like one and certainly didn't behave like."
When Iggy disappeared it wasn't to marry a rich banker or to go to Asia.
As a matter of fact she was only a few blocks away from the already
crumbling underground scene. One day she returned to the flat and heard
that Barrett had returned to Cambridge. She would never see Syd again
and wasn't aware of the fact that her portrait was on one of the most
mythical records of all time.
Update 2016: The above text, although meant to be tongue in
cheek, created a rift between the Reverend and one of the cited
witnesses, that still hasn't been resolved 4 years later. All that over
a paint job from nearly 50 years ago.
Many thanks to: Margaretta Barclay, Duggie Fields, Libby Gausden, Mate,
Iggy Rose, JenS & all of you @ NML & TBtCiIiY...
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 231-232. Clerk,
Carol: If I'm honest, my idea was that we should go our separate ways,
Roger Waters interview in Uncut June 2004, reprinted in: The Ultimate
Music Guide Issue 6 (from the makers of Uncut): Pink Floyd, 2011, p. 111. Gladstone,
Shane: The Dark Star, Clash 63, July 2011, p. 53 (Mick Rock
picture outtakes). Green,
Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p.168. Jones,
Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p.
13. Mason, Nick: Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011
reissue, p. 206-208. Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades,
Plexus, London, 2007, p. 18-19, Rock, Mick: Syd Barrett - The
Photography Of Mick Rock, EMI Records Ltd, London & Palazzo Editions
Ltd, Bath, 2010, p. 10-11. Spires, Jenny: Facebook
conversation with Iggy Rose, July 2011.
Ayers died this week, 68 years old, leaving the enigmatic message
'You can't shine if you don't burn' on a piece of paper next to his bed.
The press is describing him as a whimsical psychedelic pioneer, which
undoubtedly he was, but they easily forget that he made a few landmark
albums en route to the third millenium. Well we did all forget
about Kevin Ayers, didn't we, including that silly Reverend who has
never bothered to buy his last album The
Unfairground. Not enough time, too much things to do, you know the
I have warm feelings for his albums Falling
Up (1988) and Still
Life With Guitars (1992) that were largely ignored by the public but
that contain some hidden gems. The punchline 'Am I really Marcel' was
for years a constant pun in my household, bringing back memories of hot
and steamy nights in a bohemian shack that had no electricity and no
heating but my LA-girl and me did have a cassette player under the bed
with an Ayers tape glued inside.
Let's get experienced
Kevin Ayers was the only musician who could convince Syd Barrett to play
on one of his records, but he didn't make it to the final mix when the
record came out in 1970. On the remastered Joy
Of A Toy CD there are two alternative takes of the Singing A Song In
The Morning / Religious Experience song and on the liner notes it is
claimed that Syd Barrett is on take 9 of the song (the 4 minutes 46
seconds version of the song, track 11 on the CD).
As with all things Barrett this has lead to even more confusion as
several people noticed that this might be wrong and that the real
version with Syd Barrett is take 103 (duration: 2'50” and track 14 on
On Wednesday 17th December 1969 Syd Barrett entered the Abbey Road
studios and recorded some guitar work for Kevin Ayers' song Religious
Experience. According to the tape box two different lead guitar
tracks were added to take 10 of the song. Random Precision author David
Parker notes that the third track of the tape 'is the guitar playing one
hears on the single [issued under the title Singing A Song In The
Morning, note from FA]... but on track 8 of the multi-track
another completely different sounding lead guitar is playing away'. That
one is Syd's guitar... (the same track has a mellotron as well, played
The next day the Religious Experience tapes were further worked on by
Peter Jenner for stereo mixing. For an unknown reason the takes were
renumbered from take 10 to take 100, and four stereo mixes do exist at
the EMI library that include Barrett's guitar in one way or another: take
100 – 3:07 (unreleased) take 101 – 3:07 (unreleased) take
102 – 3:05 (unreleased) and take 103 – 2:47 (released on the
remastered Joy Of A Toy CD).
Although take 9 has a sentence (from Kevin Ayers?) that (apparently)
goes 'Syd do your thing', it is highly improbably that Syd Barrett is on
But who cares, a great musician has just died...
Vive la banane!
Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above) Parker,
David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p.
a song in the morning on Late Night forum, 7 December 2007.
In November of last year, Rich Hall (from 'Birdie
Hop and Sydiots' fame) got in contact with Peter
Jenner and wanted to know if Syd Barrett fans could ask him some
questions. Jenner agreed, not fully realising what would hit him.
A message was put on two Facebook groups and in less than a week over
one hundred different questions had been proposed by its members.
When Jenner got hold of the questions he was 'struck by the quantity'
and kindly asked to slim them down a bit. Peter travels around a lot and
preferred to have the interview over the phone. Diaries were put side by
side to find some free space in our busy agendas and finally a date and
time were agreed on.
And so, on a Friday afternoon a willing volunteer took a deep breath and
dialled the number with trembling fingers. But it turned out to be a
most amazing meeting, a Birdie's journey through space and time...
An Innerview with Peter Jenner
BH: Thank you for according this interview, Mr. Jenner, we at Birdie
Hop are mainly a bunch of weirdos...
PJ: Yes, a bunch of eccentrics...
BH: ...and when we heard that we could have an interview with you
our members gathered about one hundred and twenty different questions to
ask to you...
PJ: Oh my goodness me...
BH: But we toned it down to about 10.
PJ: Otherwise it would go on forever.
BH : Most of the detailed questions were all about the recordings that
are apparently lingering somewhere in the vaults of EMI or Pink Floyd...
PJ: I don't know where they have gone. I have to say some did
escape from me and got to... what was the name of the guy who did this
Barrett group in the Seventies?
PJ: He could have been the one... Anyway I do know that some
tapes did escape from my collection, because I just thought they were so
good. So I hope that they are still around and that people can get them.
But they are around, aren't they? Scream Thy Last Scream and Vegetable
BH: They are still around and it is generally believed Bernard
White released them.
PJ: It might be, but anyway there was someone who used to be in
touch with me and somehow he managed to find those tapes. I don't know
why they never got officially released. I don't know if the family
objected but I think it might have been the Floyd. I think it was Roger
(Waters) and Dave (Gilmour) who stopped it but I don't know what their
position was or why they did it. If it had been the family that would
have been fair enough. Perhaps people have been overprotective.
To me these tracks are like the Van Gogh painting with the birds over
the wheat field, that's what Syd's brain was at. Try to look at the
disturbance of Van Gogh through his paintings. If you want to understand
Syd, if you want to know what was going on with him, you have listen to
those tracks in the same way...
Together with Jugband Blues they seem to me as a sort of an x-ray
into his mind and so I do hope they will come out some day, but if not I
do hope you people will keep them moving around, because I think they
are important works.
BH: The thing is that Scream and Vegetable Man have been
bootlegged so many times now, that there is perhaps no point any more in
releasing them officially?
PJ: It is good they are around, but it would probably be better
if they were officially available and at some time they will.
BH: Let's hope so, are you aware of any live shows that were
taped? Apparently some of the gigs in America were...
PJ: Were they, I have never heard any?
BH: There was a rumour that all concerts in Fillmore were taped...
PJ: They were indeed. But perhaps that started later, because the
Floyd were there quite early. Weren't the archives of the Fillmore
called Bear Tapes or something...
'Bear' Stanley, the Grateful Dead's soundman, allegedly had over
13000 tapes of the San Francisco scene, from 1965 and later, most of the
Dead but he did record other bands as well if he happened to handle the
soundboard. We checked the Grateful Dead touring dates of that period
and theoretically it is possible that Bear might have taped Pink Floyd.
According to David Parker in Random Precision Bill Graham routinely had
all Fillmore gigs taped and a Pink Floyd soundboard recording of their
April 1970 Fillmore show
BH: But nothing ever of The Pink Floyd has been released or...
PJ: I've not known of anything reliable... I think there were
some tapes of the stuff Syd did with Twink
in Cambridge but I've never heard them. I don't know what they're like.
BH: Well we can always ask him.
Easy Action records will (finally!) release the Last
Minute Put Together Boogie Band recording late May 2014. Other
rehearsals and performances tapes may have been made by Victor Kraft who
followed the band but these have never surfaced.
PJ: And there was some stuff around, semi-live stuff recorded by Peter
PJ: There were a couple of film stuff that was done, but that is
all I know about it.
BH: In our group we discussed the sessions Syd Barrett recorded
for the film The
Committee, and it was said that you were in possession of those
tapes. Is this true?
PJ: As far as I know I am not in possession of these tapes, I
might have been given a copy, but I surely not the masters. What was the
name of the director.. my memory!
BH: It was in an article on the online publication Spare Bricks
Steuer. He claims you were given the tapes after the sessions. The
director was Peter
Sykes, by the way.
PJ: It was indeed Max Steuer, and he may have given us the tapes.
But I do not remember them. But many things disappeared with the sudden
collapse of Blackhill. My recollection is that they were less than
amazing. However if I come across anything I will let you know.
BH: Thanks, that would be nice. There still is a lot in the
PJ: Yeah, if they're not already out. Somewhere. If I look on
your list: Double O Bo, I don't know that. I got Stoned
rings a bell. She was a Millionaire that certainly was a tape
which we thought might become a single. Andrew and I both liked that
one. Reaction in G, I don't know about that. In the Beechwoods rings
a bell. I'm a King Bee and Lucy Leave, I don't know what
they were or where they came from.
Because when I was doing sessions with him they were very chaotic, you
know. She Was a Millionaire was knocking around. Golden Hair was
the most articulate, at the time I didn't realise those weren't his
lyrics... It was from James Joyce, wasn't it?
BH: Yes indeed.
PJ: I was hoping that it would get finished, but with Syd it was
really bits and pieces that would come through, bits of songs and bits
of riffs and bits of lyrics. They would just come and then they would go
and occasionally they would came back again... It was incredibly
And I think that Roger and Dave did a lot to it, I don't know how much
Syd really was involved in those tapes. You know we also tried to do
some things with a band. “Syd, try this, try that.” There were various
things we tried but none really worked.
BH: That's a pity... but that was how things were going...
BH: There have been these rumours that Syd was influenced by Keith
Rowe from AMM.
PJ: Well yes, I did take him to see Keith Rowe.
BH: Oh really?
PJ: Yes indeed, and I do think he saw Keith Rowe rolling a
ballbearing up and down his guitar. It certainly did influence some of
Syd's guitar playing, the zippos and things... and I think that the
improvisational part of Pink Floyd was influenced by AMM and Keith Rowe.
I knew these guys, I liked what they did and we were involved with the
AMM record. Syd was also aware of them and perhaps even heard the tape.
In a same way we also took them to the Radiophonic
Workshop at the BBC to meet Delia
Derbyshire. Again how far that influenced Syd or got into his head
or that of the others, I have no idea.
BH: Did Keith Rowe and Syd Barrett actually meet or discussed
PJ: I don't know. I think they may have seen each other but in a
sense I don't think you would need to discuss music. It was obvious what
Keith Rowe was doing. And you don't need to sit there and discuss it.
What's in the question of what chords you are using. It is all about the
approach and the improvisational aspect.
I think Interstellar Overdrive was very influenced by that kind
of stuff. That's an approach to improvisation. Presumably you know
Interstellar Overdrive was recorded twice and mixed together, it was
recorded simultaneously on top of each other.
BH: It is also very interesting to hear the different versions,
because the first version was the one from the movie of Peter Whitehead.
BH: And there is a big difference between both versions. The
early one is still R&B influenced...
BH: And the version on Piper is much more experimental...
PJ: Yes. They were experimenting, they recorded it in the studio
and then they played the song again, listening to the earlier take. It
BH: I think lots of people were surprised when they first heard
it on the record.
PJ: I would think so.
BH: In the middle of '67 however things started to go wrong. The
question that fans still ask today is: did anyone try to get into his
mind or ask what was going wrong?
PJ: We certainly suggested, and I can't quite remember whether we
ever got to him, but we certainly did want him to see Ronny
Laing. But he clearly was unhappy and getting chaotic. The key thing
that I remember was when they came back from America. Andrew (King), my
partner, said that it had been a nightmare. Syd had become hard to
manage and refused to do as would be expected. Things like: “Syd, it's a
TV show, can you play a song?”, that all became very difficult. Andrew
knows much more about that than I do because he was there. He and the
rest of the band. The Hendrix tour was after that, wasn't it?
PJ: That is when it became clear that there really was a major
problem with Syd. That is where Syd started not always being there for
the pick-up and where we had the show with Dave
O'List instead of him. By then he'd moved to Cromwell Road, hadn't
he? Unfortunately by that time I saw less of him, I was close to him
when he was in Earlham Street. Once he'd moved out and ended up in
Cromwell Road... I never knew the people who... and I only know the
legends, the rumours... that Syd was given a lot of acid, that there was
acid every day. It certainly coincides with him becoming more and more
And then he subsequently moved to stay with Storm and Po. So we thought
that might be better and that it might help, but it didn't... So we were
aware there were problems, the band became increasingly aware of the
fact there were performance issues and that it was very hard for them to
work with him... and that is where the breakup with Blackhill occurred
because we were so keen on trying to keep Syd with the band.
Syd wrote all these great songs and there was a lot of pressure during
the summer of '67 for him to write more songs. Which is Why She Is A
Millionaire was knocking around. That is why we ended up with things
like Apples and Oranges, because we needed a follow-up to See
Emily Play. That is when pressure started to get to Syd really.
Having a hit, doing TV shows, being interviewed, posing for magazine
front covers... things started to be more work than he could handle.
BH: Do you think it was something that gradually happened or was
there something like a lost weekend with a massive overdose...
PJ: I think gradually, that was certainly the impression one had.
He just became weirder and weirder and we thought that it was maybe just
a question of fame.
BH: People have said that when they came back from America, Roger
Waters asked you to have Syd fired. Was the band indeed thinking of...
PJ: No, Roger didn't ask to get him fired but it became clear
they were finding it very difficult to work with Syd. It was more my
recollection that they were looking for means to make it work. So that
is when Dave was introduced. What we were doing in a sense was the Brian
Wilson and The Beach Boys solution. We were consciously thinking: “Well
maybe Syd can go on if we take the pressure off him.”
We could all see that he wasn't well, so if we reduced the pressure
maybe he still would be able to write songs and keep the band on the
road. Because none of the band really wrote much. Roger did a little
bit, but these songs weren't, you know... The one single they put
together which wasn't a Syd song did not very well, It Would Be So
Nice (written by Rick Wright) was not a great song. Pow R Toc H
and Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun weren't that great
either, in my opinion. We certainly felt that there was a problem with
the songs on the second album which was why there was a certain pressure
to get Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream on it, they got recorded
because we needed them for the album.
But our ways were parting and I think the band always thought these
songs were too much. By the time the Saucerful record finally got put
together we weren't really working with them any more and we were slowly
moving into history. The rest of the band put that record together,
while I was still working with Syd. My wife and myself, we were trying
to help, help him to stabilise and write...
BH: Was there any truth in the rumours that Syd and Rick tried to
form a band?
PJ: I don't think so, I have never heard that. I mean, once
things were starting to go weird there was no question of anyone wanting
to work with Syd. But we were all close to Syd and we were certainly
hoping that Syd would get back together. That said, Rick and Syd were
quite close, Juliette (Gale, Rick's wife) was sort of sympathetic and we
were close to Juliette... Also, Rick was the other major musician in the
band, because at that stage Roger was not much of a musician.
Roger didn't write very much, but he was already conceptual, to come up
with some of the things he came up with later. But he couldn't really
sing and he couldn't tune his bass guitar. He was not a sort of natural
musician, which makes it all the more remarkable in my book the way he
got to with it all.
BH: Is it true that the Christmas On Earth show, on the 22nd of
December '67, was the turning point and that it was decided then to put
Syd on a 'Brian Wilson' status?
PJ: Was that in Olympia?
BH: Yes. Apparently you took the money and ran...
PJ: I think it was a financially very strange show. It was all a
bit questionable what was happening. I can't really remember what
exactly happened, but I do recall it was all a bit of a disaster. There
wasn't a lot of people there and I think that was really the problem.
Not a lot of people also meant not a lot of money and by that time we
were getting short of cash so we needed whatever we could get.
BH: Legend goes that June
Child cashed the money before Pink Floyd started and that she ran
away with it. After two or three songs the promoter came to you to
reclaim it, because the Floyd was so bad...
PJ: Well, I don't think we ever paid them back! I don't think
that ever happened. It was all a bit too rough, they were wrong as well.
Congratulations to June for getting the money. I'm sure we were all
involved in telling her to go and get it and then... run for it... It
wasn't a great gig.
BH: Apparently not.
PJ: I don't mean just the Floyd, but the whole organisation. It
was a disaster, it was run by an amateur who just thought it would be a
good thing. Because there weren't that many professional promoters, if
you thought you could do it, you did it. After all, Hoppy
(John Hopkins) had done things and Joe
Boyd had done things and neither of them had ever been promoters
before. And we did things and we never had been promoters. It was all
very new, so you did what you thought you could do. Then things like
Middle Earth came along and that was all done by people who never had
done that before. So a lot of people trying things out who did not know
what they were doing, including me...
The Christmas On Earth show was filmed but only a few snippets have
survived. On one of these, an interview with Jimi Hendrix, you can hear
Pink Floyd on the background. Rumour goes the camera crew bought old
film to spare some money, but unfortunately the film negative was so
degraded that most of it was for the rubbish bin. A rough cut was made,
which was seen by Joe Boyd, but nobody knows if it still exists. Anyway,
it is not even clear if the Pink Floyd show was actually recorded or not.
BH: Shortly after that the Floyd went their own way with A
Saucerful of Secrets and Syd Barrett went his way with The Madcap
PJ: Well, in a way he never really made The Madcap Laughs. He did
a series of sessions where I tried to get some recordings from him but
only bits and pieces came together. Nothing ever got to the point of:
"Well that's a record." So we had to try again but everything just
dribbled away. We were thinking: “We'll try some sessions and see what
comes out of it.”, but after we did the sessions we realised we really
hadn't got very much. So then I thought it would be better if we'd leave
Syd for a bit, to wait until he got himself a little bit better and then
try all over again. Eventually we did but still nothing much happened.
We tried to do some things with a band as well, I think we got a band
in, and some musicians to come and play with him, but he couldn't...
that really didn't work either.
I had a second lot of sessions with Syd, a few years later, when Bryan
Morrison asked me to have another go.
BH: That was in 1974 then?
BH: But apparently, nothing really much came out?
PJ: The same thing, nothing really much came out. Because Syd
never had any songs, there would just be these glimpses of songs, it was
really very chaotic.
BH: Some of the material of the 1974 sessions are in the open,
they have been bootlegged.
BH: Some of the tunes he plays are just blues standards. He is
just covering them, if you'd like.
PJ: Well I don't think he was covering them, that was just what
came out (laughs).
BH: Songs he used to listen too when he was 16, 17 years old.
PJ: Probably. He would just play things... working with him on
those sessions was like things coming in and out of fog. At first
nothing much would happen but then the fog would come down and then
there were signs of something. I would think: “Ah, it's going to
happen!” and then it would disappear again. It was just the most
frustrating and difficult thing I have ever been involved in my life.
Because there were signs of things... “Look, it's gonna come, no, no...
it's not.” It's like waiting for the rain during a drought or waiting
for the sun during the winter.
BH: What's your opinion about The Madcap Laughs?
PJ: Well, I think Dave and Roger tried to fish out what they
could fish out and turn it into whatever they could turn it into. And I
was surprised at how good a job they did of it. A lot in there is their
work rather than Syd's, it was them trying to imagine what it was he was
trying to do.
BH: You personally didn't feel it weird that they redid Golden
Hair and Octopus, which was first called Clowns And Jugglers.
They redid it after you had already recorded it on your sessions.
PJ: Golden Hair was the only one from my sessions which almost
might have been a song. There were some old tunes that he had, that I've
heard him play, like Octopus. He had a book of songs and every now and
then we'd go through the old ones. I can't remember what they all were
but they were very childlike, a lot of them, Effervescing Elephant
and things like that. And there was this sort of very childlike aspect
to Syd which was very charming but also, I think, quite disturbing in a
BH: Opel, that was recorded by Malcolm Jones, was
forgotten for the album.
PJ: Yes, and maybe a couple of other things that were half-done
but that weren't dug up. You know, I never had produced anything, I
didn't know what I was doing. I was just there trying, hoping to capture
something. Cause that was what we had been doing with the Floyd. We
didn't know what was going on, songs would just come. I don't think
anyone of us knew what we were doing. Syd had some ideas about the
(Smith) had some ideas. We tried to work them out and surely Norman
helped a lot. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn sessions were fine but
later we could only see the rot set in. What it was and why it was will
always be one of those mysteries, so I don't know...
BH: Somebody also wanted to know about the famous Rolling Stones
show, at the Hyde Park festival. Everybody says it was a Rolling Stones
show but apparently it was a whole festival with a lot of groups.
PJ: After the Floyd had left we did some shows at the Festival
Hall, perhaps even at the Queen Elisabeth Hall, I'm not sure about that,
and then at Hyde Park.
In June 1968 the Floyd and Roy Harper played and I even think we managed
to put on four different free festivals that summer. The Floyd did the
first one, which was actually quite small, and they returned a couple of
years later (in July 1970). The second summer we had Blind Faith (in
June 1969), that one was really huge and very successful and it launched
Blind Faith into stardom and that was when the Rolling Stones said they
could do it as well. And that was already organised a few weeks later,
BH: The Stones was in July 1969.
PJ: I think so.
BH: Blackhill started as a bunch of enthusiast amateurs with an
amateur band, but in two years time you had become a very big company.
PJ: We were not a big company! No, no, no, no. We were small, but
we just did it. Somebody said: "Let's do that" and we did it. By the
times the Stones came it had turned into a big show but it was still
very amateurish. There was no security, there was hardly any police. No
public litters. No admission either, it was just a free concert and it
was pretty weird.
BH: It probably was still the time that one could contact the
Rolling Stones to ask them things like that.
PJ: Well, it was a hippy era and they asked us, they wanted us to
PJ: We didn't ask them, The Rolling Stones asked us, I think Mick
had worked out that was a way they could relaunch themselves as a live
BH: One of the rumours is that Syd Barrett was also on that
concert, he was even driven by someone of your company there. I don't
know if you know that.
PJ: That might have been the case but I can't remember.
Personally I wouldn't think so, by the time of the Rolling Stones gig he
was pretty far gone. He wasn't, as it were, under our control or care or
anything, he had gone off into his own world. We were happy to have been
part of his world but he didn't seem to want us to be part of his world.
So he might well have been there but he certainly wasn't there for me.
BH: Thank you very much, Mr. Jenner, it was nice talking to you...
Many thanks to Rich Hall, Peter Jansens, Peter Jenner. Inspired by
questions from: Al Baker, Alexander P. Hoffmann, Allen Lancer, Andrew
Charles Potts, Bruno Barbato Jacobovitz, Cathy Peek Collier, Clay
Jordan, Ewgeni Reingold, Gaz Hunter, Gian Palacios-Świątkowski, Göran
Nyström, Jenny Spires, Kiloh Smith, Lisa Newman, Mark Sturdy, Matthew
Horsley, Memo Hernandez, Paul Newlove, Peter 'Felix' Jansens, Rich Hall,
Richard Mason Né Withnell, Stanislav V. Grigorev, Steve Czapla, Steve
Francombe, Tim Doyle. Thanks posted to Giulio Bonfissuto and Raymond
John Nebbitt for spotting errors!
Sources Peter Jenner top picture. Source: Wikipedia,
taken by Ralf Lotys (Sicherlich). Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Crows &
Syd Barrett mashup. Source (painting): Wikipedia,
public domain. Mashup: Felix Atagong. Syd Barrett & Peter Jenner
(cropped). Source: June
Ellen Child, The Cosmic Lady. Originally published in Nick Mason's Inside
Out biography. Peter Jenner third picture. Source: Pasado,
presente y futuro de la música según Peter Jenner @
Movistarnext. June Child (cropped). Source: June
Ellen Child, The Cosmic Lady. Originally published in Nick Mason's Inside
Out biography. The Rolling Stones, Hyde Park. Source: The
Stones in the Park @ Ukrockfestivals, taken by John Leszczynski. Charlie
Weedon, watching the Stones. Source: unknown.
One of the Reverend's great advantages of his Pink
Floyd adoration, somewhere in the mid-seventies, was the start of a music
Miles' excellent Visual Documentary (first edition: 1980) had
a separate discography with Floydian collaborations and once the
Reverend had a job, in the early eighties, he also had the dough to buy
Floyd - and later: Hipgnosis
- related records at the local second-hand record shops thus creating a
musical spiderweb with Pink Floyd at its centre.
After the Reverend had joined an illegal local university radio station
his weekly excursions to the record shop resulted in an even bigger
appetite for vinyl. At Saturday afternoon he would arrive home with the
catch of the day, open his Who's Who in Rock Music, look for the
records he had just bought and underline all personnel (band members and
session players) he found in the alphabetical listing. The book came in
very handy for making the playlist for a weekly rock, blues, jazz and
folk show he co-produced, trying to find connections from one record to
the other. The world-wide web, dear children, didn't exist yet in those
days and links weren't just one click away as they are now.
This last remark is one Norman
Hurricane Smith could have made (actually, does make) in his
autobiography John Lennon Called Me Normal. The book was first
issued as a limited edition at a 2007 Beatles Fan Fest but, as we found
out this year to our amazement, it can also be found at Lulu
where it is sold for a healthy 25$ a piece. If you don't know for sure
who Norman Smith is you can read this excellent obituary, written by Syd
Barrett biographer Gian Palacios, hosted at the Church: John
Lennon called him 'Normal'....
Invasion Force Venice
Smith was a pilot during world war II but he never saw any real war
action, making the chance of being killed nearly zero. He was part of a
secret missions squadron, so secret that military bureaucracy didn't
give them any. When the European side of the war was over, and most
soldiers were sent home, Smith and his colleagues were stationed in Venice
of all places to await further secret invasion plans, but apparently
they were forgotten after Japan's surrender as there were no more enemy
countries to secretly invade.
While England was on ration books, Norman sunbathed on Venice beach,
dining on espresso, grappa, Parma ham and stuffed mushrooms, longing for
the woman he had married in May 1945. In the evening he would go to the
Excelsior hotel for a Cinzano soda where he sat in with the twelve-piece
jazz band. It took British headquarters two full years to locate (and
dismiss) the secret squadron, probably by following the trail of
limoncello and sambucca bills, and back home - in 1947! - Smith decided
for a weird career change and became a refrigerator repair man.
The Beat is on
But his heart had always been with music and Norman's second lucky
strike came when he managed to bluff himself in at EMI where he became
an apprentice sound engineer in 1959. No two without three and Smith's
third chance of a lifetime came when some Liverpudlian lads auditioned
for a record deal, supervised by his boss George
And here is where Smith's autobiography, that was in fact ghost-written
by Neil Jefferies who is called 'Research' throughout the book, becomes
foggy. The audition, so remembers Smith, did not take place as George
Martin professes, repeated in every Beatles biography since. Norman
hints that something smelly was going on from the beginning and that
shady deals were taking place in the dark corners of the studio,
something to do with song-rights. Each individual Beatle earned only one
thousand of a pound per single while others had their greasy hands in
the till. He repeats this several times in the book, but he never
actually directs his accusations at someone, although George Martin,
coincidentally, always seems to blend in the background.
You can read between the lines that Norman Smith and George Martin
weren't best pals, especially since the one didn't find it necessary to
mention the other in his memoirs despite the fact that Smith had
engineered and produced about a hundred Beatles songs. When George, who
has acquired something of an infallible status, got hold of the news
that Norman was writing his side of the story, Smith was summoned to an
informal meeting in the EMI gardens that is a bit described like Galileo
Galilei having to explain heliocentrism
Paul V and the Roman
Pink: the Colour of Money
But this blog is not about the true story of The
Beatles but about (early) Pink Floyd. George Martin may have done a Don
Corleone on Norman Smith, but when it comes to his own financial
matters the Hurricane is overtly discreet as well. So you will find only
one flimsy reference in the 501 pages book that Smith once had a solid
financial share in Pink Floyd (12,5% as was leaked out by Neil Jefferies
in a Record Collector article). About his financial share in the Beatles
catalogue (and all the other bands he recorded and produced): not a word.
It was destroyed by the production. It is a fucking good song.
his reaction is likewise:
There might be no L's in Waters, but there are two in 'Bollocks'.
Smith is too much of a realist and doesn't adhere the romantic or
conspiracy viewpoints many fans have of the downfall of Barrett:
Syd wasn't anybody else's fault. Syd was Syd's bloody fault.
At one point Norman Smith, Parlophone head suit after George Martin had
left EMI with doors smashing, got a phone call from Bryan Morrison
bragging about a new fantastic band he wanted to promote. They met at
I found myself having a pint with him in the filthiest,
foulest-smelling, shittiest dive that I'd ever been to in my life so
far. (…) I thought: Maybe I should just go home?
deep in the bowels of the Tottenham Court Road, in the overpowering pong
of Patchouli oil, dope, and incense and sour ale that would have a tramp
gagging but maybe not your average music-biz exec, I suddenly found
myself listening to some great sounds and also being propositioned by
some starry-eyed chicks.
Of course Norman also met the Pink Floyd managers:
Andrew King and his friend Peter Jenner were not hippies and certainly
not mohair-suited wide-boys out on the make. (…) They were about as
middle-class as you could get. They both attended Westminster School (…)
and both their fathers were clergymen! - Yes! (…) Two vicar's sons
managed Pink Floyd!!!
Unfortunately that's about all there is to find in the 500 pages book
and while every fan was eager to read some revealing stories about
Smith's involvement with The Beatles and Pink Floyd the biography never
goes further than occasional cocktail party small talk. Some anecdotes
are literally repeated five time throughout the book and it would have
benefited to be two-thirds shorter. To add insult to injury most
anecdotes seem to be about... Elvis
Presley, a man Norman Smith never met, nor recorded, but thoroughly
Fish Report with a Beat
The DVD Pink Floyd: Meddle - A Classic Album Under Review is one
of those rather redundant, take the money and run, documentaries where
people – who have nothing to do with Pink Floyd whatsoever – claim to
make an in-depth analysis of the band or one of its albums, but it has
an interesting ten minutes Syd Barrett featurette with Peter
Banks (Syn, Yes) and Norman Smith. (Direct link: Syd
Barrett - The Early Days Of Pink Floyd.)
In the interview Norman Smith tells Syd didn't come over as the 'musical
director' of the Floyd:
He spoke through his songs.
The featurette tells more about how Jugband
Blues came into place (and we will not try to find out what this has
got to do with Meddle).
It was actually Norman Smith's idea to add 'some kind of a brass band'
at the end of the song and Barrett suggested to ask the Salvation
Army for that.
Through his many contacts Norman managed to hire several International
Staff Band musicians, 12 to 14, he recalls, but it was probably
closer to 8. Random Precision author David Parker assumes these
musicians were 'moonlighting' as the International Staff Band itself has
no trace of this session in its archives, besides that the complete
troupe had over 30 members.
Syd Barrett showed up in the studio an hour too late, that 19th of
October 1967, and Norman asked him what he had in mind. As legend goes
Barrett didn't have any ideas and suggested that they could play
anything they liked. Then he left the studio. Smith adds somewhat wryly:
He not only left the studio, he left the building.
We can imagine this was not the kind of behaviour Norman Smith liked,
for several reasons.
First he was perhaps too much of a musician and so he did fully
understand that classical trained performers need a score in front of
their noses before they blow their horns. Pink Floyd would have about
the same problem, a couple of years later, with Atom
Heart Mother, when the orchestra refused to play the score the way Ron
Geesin had written it. The composer had to be removed from the
studio seconds before he wanted to punch one of the musicians in the
Second, Norman Smith also had a financial responsibility towards EMI,
and the bookkeepers wouldn't have liked the idea to pay an eight man
brass band to sit on their chairs for tea and biscuits.
So he played the tape in front of the session players and when they
couldn't come up with an improvisation, these guys were not rock
musicians who can fabricate a lick in seconds, Norman wrote a score he
was rather embarrassed with, but it ended up on the record anyway.
You have those hardcore Sydiots, with the emphasis on the last part, who
find the idea to have a brass band play anything they like one of those
genial flashes half-god Barrett had. Hagiographer Rob
Chapman is one of them:
Once again Syd’s wilfully anarchic approach was in direct conflict with
the regimented working methods of an unsympathetic producer.
Actually Smith's testimonial shows it was exactly the contrary. Syd was
the one who acted unprofessional by first arriving too late and then by
leaving the studio when he was asked to direct the session. Smith was
obliged, back against the wall, to deal with the problem, which he did
splendidly in the short time that was left to him. One thing is for
sure, Normal really earned his 12,5% on this one...
It is generally believed that Jugband Blues is one of the songs Barrett
wrote in the second half of 1967, together with Vegetable
Man and Scream
Thy Last Scream. This trilogy is regarded by some as being highly
introspective songs where Syd, in an exceptional state of clarity,
describes his own vulnerable and frail psyche.
However, in a recent autobiography from Chris
Joe Beard, Taking The Purple, a remarkable (and until now
untold) story has been put forward.
Chris Joe Beard is lyricist / songwriter from the band The Purple Gang
who had an underground novelty hit in 1967. They started as a
band and changed their name from The Young Contemporaries to The
Purple Gang, forced by their manager, a roaring 1920’s aficionado, who
thought a clean-cut Chicago gangster style would be cool. Looking for a
scene to make some promo pictures they stumbled upon a shop in Kings
Road, where they accidentally met Paul
The shop's name Granny
Takes A Trip inspired Joe Beard to write an innocent and funny song
about a rich old lady wanting to meet movie-star Rudy
Vallée in Hollywood, adding it to a catchy melody that had been
composed by piano player Geoff Bowyer. The song was a cross-over between
traditional jug and pop and as such producer Joe
Boyd preferred it to their more traditional repertoire à la Bootleg
Whiskey (that has John
'Hoppy' Hopkins on piano, by the way).
Incidentally The Purple Gang wasn't the only band Joe Boyd was producing
that week in January 1967. On Sunday, the 29th, a band called Pink
Floyd, then still without a contract, had recorded Arnold
Layne at Sound Techniques studios. Syd Barrett had listened to
Granny Takes A Trip and had humorously remarked it would become #2 after
the Floyd's soon to be number one. But Joe Boyd had other important news
There’s a tape of some of his [Syd Barrett, note from FA]
songs and we think a good, quick follow-up to Granny is on there. Syd
thinks Boon Tune is the one for you. There are several. There’s
one called Jugband Blues but he’s still working on that.
Joseph from Transatlantic Records objected, saying that they
didn't want to pay out any royalties to someone from outside the band.
Boon Tune was shelved, although it would surface as Here
I Go on a Barrett solo album. Joe Beard took the reel-to-reel demo
home where it was promptly forgotten and it has never been found back
While the UFO
crowd accepted The Purple Gang in their midst, the BBC did
otherwise, and for exactly the same reasons.
Granny's Satanic Trip
The title of The Purple Gang's first single Granny Takes A Trip was
tongue in cheek and ambiguous enough to please the psychedelic crowd. By
then the band did not like the gangster outfits they had to wear from
their manager and opted for a more alternative look. Singer Pete Walker,
nicknamed Lucifer, was a member of a coven, an actual warlock, and used
to wear a red robe with a big upside down cross while gigging. During
the Wizard song he would do the odd pagan routine on stage, much
appreciated by the psychedelic crowd (see also: Arthur
Brown). However, for the BBC, the word 'trip' in the lyrics
and the satanic outing of the singer was enough reason to ban the song.
The BBC boycott dwindled the chances for The Purple Gang to get into the
charts, to get their (only) record sold, to find gigs and they
eventually disbanded. If this proves one thing, dear sistren and brethren,
it is that selling your soul to the devil will not automatically
guarantee you chart successes.
The first half of the biography, from the start to the psychedelic years
of the band, is interesting, funny, packed with anecdotes and deserves a
5 star rating. The fact that the BBC banned Joe Beard's only chance to
have a million-seller has left its marks though and unfortunately the
author feels the need to repeat that every few pages. The later years,
with Chris Beard as a solo-artist and struggling to get The Purple Gang
back on the road are a bit tedious. But the Kindle
edition is only 5$, cheaper than the latest Pink Floyd interview in Q,
Mojo or Uncut, so it is money well spent. For the first half, the book
is a real treat to read.
Two Of A Kind
Eventually, in 2006, Joe Beard and a reincarnated Purple Gang covered Boon
Tune in a jug band way.
At a book signing / reading in 2007, Joe Boyd talked about the lost demo
tape Syd Barrett gave him in early 1967... He said Syd described the
tape's contents as 'songs the band didn't want to do' (Source: timeline
of songs). According to Julian Palacios that tape had 6 tracks and
Boyd and Jenner even discussed the possibility of Syd Barrett doing a
solo record, next to the Pink Floyd's first, with skiffle or music-hall
style songs. (By the way, did you know we have a Peter Jenner interview
on this blog? An
innerview with Peter Jenner)
It is not sure if there have been one or two Barrett demo tapes floating
around as both men claim they took a tape home and lost it. Joe Boyd
received his from Syd Barrett and remembers it had six whimsical tunes.
Joe Beard, who got his from Boyd, only remembers two songs: Boon Tune
and Jugband Blues.
Jugband Blues turned up, heavily re-arranged, on [A] Saucerful of
Secrets – still with the kazoos.
Jugband Blues was recorded by Pink Floyd in October 1967 and as also
Vegetable Man was made during the same session it has always been
assumed these songs are somewhat related. In Nick Kent's 1974 article The
Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett Peter Jenner is quoted:
Y'see, even at that point, Syd actually knew what was happening to him.
(...) I mean 'Jug Band Blues' is the ultimate self-diagnosis on a state
of schizophrenia. (Source: The
Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett)
But if the song had already been written earlier than January that year,
this comment doesn't make much sense, does it? What if Jugband Blues is
just one of those songs where Barrett copies and juxtaposes 'sampled'
messages from other sources, like he did in Octopus
(See also: Mad Cat
Still got the Blues for You
Martin began her career in 1915 as a vaudeville singer and in the
twenties she became one of the popular female blues singers, next to Bessie
Smith and Ma
Rainey. In September 1924 she recorded some tracks with jug player Earl
McDonald and fiddler Clifford Hayes and one of those was
At first sight that song has nothing in common with Barrett's version.
Sara Martin's song is a variation on the popular blues theme of the
person who wakes up in the morning and sees that her daddy
(lover) is gone. In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy'
in African American slang was still a pimp, but later on the term was
generalised to a male lover.
Did you ever wake up, find your daddy gone? Turn over on your side,
sing this lonesome song I woke up this morning between midnight and
day You oughta see me grab the pillow where my daddy used to lay (Source:
Band Blues Sept. 16, 1924.)
One riddle is how Barrett came up with the title 'Jugband Blues'. The
chance is small he could find it (mentioned) on a compilation album like
he did with Pink
Anderson and Floyd
Council. (The origins of the Pink Floyd name is extensively
discussed at Step
It Up And Go.) Sara Martin's Jug Band Blues was only issued as a
B-side on two different 78-RPM records from 1924, perhaps in two
different versions: Don't You Quit Me Daddy (Okeh 8166) and Blue
Devil Blues (Okeh 8188, not to be confounded with the Walter
Page track from a few years later). Her 'complete recorded works'
do not include the 'Jug Band' track and probably there weren't any
compilations around in the sixties including that track.
Jug Band Blues can (now) be found on a 1994 Clifford Hayes compilation.
He had several bands in the twenties, with Earl McDonald on jug, and
issued several songs under different names for copyright reasons. Earl
McDonalds also had several bands in the twenties, with Clifford Hayes on
fiddle, which doesn't make it simpler to find any accurate information.
The jug band / skiffle revival resulted in at least three compilations,
between 1962 and 1967, but none of these have Sara Martin's Jug Band
Blues. We checked.
had been very popular in the UK and was not unknown by the Pink Floyd
members. Rick Wright had a brief flirtation with skiffle, before
converting himself to to trad jazz and Syd Barrett's brother Alan played
sax in a skiffle group in Cambridge.
Cambridge had its own deal of skiffle bands, or groups that had started
as skiffle units but moved to R&B or rock'n roll later on. The
Scramblers, who turned into The Phantoms, The (Swinging) Hi-Fi's, The
Black Diamonds, who evolved into The Redcaps, with Tony Sainty on
bass (see: RIP
Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives). Tony Sainty was also in
The Chequers, as was Ricky Wills who would later appear on David
Gilmour's first solo album. Willie Wilson, who played with Quiver
and on the first Gilmour album as well, had been a (replacement) drummer
for The Zodiacs, whose roots had also been in skiffle. You can read all
about them in the excellent, awarded (and free) I
Spy In Cambridge book The
music scene of 1960s Cambridge.
Blue Devil Blues by Sara Martin and her Jug Band (with its flip side:
Jug Band Blues) has been nominated to be the very first recorded jug
band number in human history and that fact may well have been known in
Cambridge jug band and skiffle circles. Syd Barrett may have been well
aware of this as well.
A Dream within a Dream
Deconstructing Syd's Jugband Blues.
It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here and I'm most
obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here
Rob Chapman is right when he describes the opening lines from Jugband
Blues as 'cultivated sarcasm' and refuses to see this as a declaration
of schizophrenia like Peter Jenner does or did. David Gilmour, and
others with him, see Jugband Blues as a transitional song, between his
earlier work with Pink Floyd and his later solo songs, that are more
mature and experimental in their lyrics.
Actually this opening is just an (awkward) introduction like in so many
skiffle songs, including Here I Go.
This is a story about a girl that I knew She didn't like my songs and
that made me feel blue.
Of course Here I Go is pretty conservative and lends its intro from
trademark skiffle à la Lonnie
Well, this here's the story about the Battle of New Orleans. (Battle
of New Orleans) Now here's a little story. To tell it is a must. (My
Old Man's A Dustman) Now, this here's the story about the Rock Island
line. (Rock Island Line)
Syd Barrett transforms the traditional skiffle opening line into a dark
and mysterious setting.
After the introduction the anecdote is usually explained or elaborated
on, although the enigma in Jugband Blues only gets bigger.
and I never knew the moon could be so big and I never knew the moon
could be so blue
A big moon, or super-moon
(a popular term dating from 1979), happens when the full moon and the
earth are at its closest distance, sometimes resulting in a so-called perigean
spring tide. We had one at the 9th of September 2014 and they happen
about every 412 days. So it is an event that only happens once in a
An astronomical blue
moon, or the second full moon in the same month, happens about once
every two or three years. Blue
Moon is also a standard, from 1934, that has been performed by
countless bands and singers, and that has a romantic connotation.
Blue moon You saw me standing alone Without a dream in my heart Without
a love of my own
The title of that song (and Syd's lyric) is taken from the saying 'once
in a blue moon', meaning a rather rare occasion and Wikipedia
learns us that the term 'blues' may have come from 'blue devils',
meaning melancholy and sadness.
and I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes and brought me here
instead dressed in red
Just like the 'head / down / ground' symbolism is used several times in
Syd songs (see: Tattoo
You) so does 'shoes / blues'. Apples and Oranges has a dedicated
follower of fashion who alliteratively goes
shopping in sharp shoes
, while Vegetable Man walks the street
in yellow shoes I get the blues.
Earlier in his songwriting career, Barrett was much influenced by an
got the Bob Dylan blues, and the Bob Dylan shoes.
Of course shoes and blues has always been something of a nice pair as
was already proved by Robert Johnson in Walking
Woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes You know I had
those mean old walking blues
an old pair of shoes your favorite blues gonna tap out the rhythm
In the ballad 'Blue Moon' (see point 2) the protagonist who was lost /
alone has been helped / cared for by someone. In Jugband Blues we seem
to have the same situation. At this part of the song a second actor is
introduced who tries to assist the first one.
and I'm wondering who could be writing this song
Barrett almost describes an out-of-body experience in the first part of
the song. Pete Townshend claimed he had one once using STP, a drug that
also Barrett was familiar with. This is another variation on a theme of
absence as the narrator is present and absent at the same time. Make
your name like a ghost, suddenly seems more autobiographical than ever.
I don't care if the sun don't shine and I don't care if nothing is
mine and I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my loving in
So I don't care if the sun don't shine I'll get my lovin' in the
evening time When I'm with my baby
Syd's 'I'll do my loving in the winter' makes the refrain fairly darker
than in the original though. It is as if Barrett is indefinitely
postponing the happiness that could be waiting for him.
During the refrain some kazoos make the point that this is a jug band
song after all, and then a psychedelic Salvation Army band (perhaps Syd
did see the contradiction before everybody else) jumps in. Then it is
the time for one of the weirdest codas ever:
And the sea isn't green and I love the queen
At first sight this is just a nonsense verse. There was a song called The
Sea Is Green, written by The
Easy Riders, an American calypso and folk-song trio and used in the
travelogue documentary, but this is a long shot. In the song a sailor
expresses his hope to find his family back when he returns home. By
implying that the sea isn't green, Barrett loses all hope to see
his loved ones back.
6.1 A possible Beatles connection (Update: 1st of November
At the Late
Night forum, Wolfpack came with another explanation, that
seems far more plausible than ours, he remembered that The Beatles' Yellow
Submarine has 'a sea of green' in its lyrics. Actually the term is
used twice in that song. It comes up at the first strophe where the
story is told about a man who travels in a yellow submarine:
So we sailed up to the sun Till we found a sea of green
The term shows up again in the third strophe where it is told that the
sailors live a life of ease:
Sky of blue and sea of green.
The song is not originally from the 1968 animated movie,
but from the 1966 Revolver
album, where it was the obligatory Ringo Starr track. Paul
McCartney wrote it with Ringo in mind, hence the simplicity of the
melody and the nonsensical subject. McCartney had a little help from his
friends John Lennon and Donovan,
who actually came up with the green sea lines.
Barrett, in a much darker mood than McCartney, who had a children's song
in mind, declares there is no such thing as a sea of green. The sailors'
unburdened life has been based on a dream.
There is a second similarity between Yellow Submarine and Jugband Blues.
Although Norman Smith was not involved in the recording it has a (short)
interruption by a brass band, just after the line 'and the band begins
to play'. Engineer Geoff
Emerick, who is on backing vocals with George Martin, Neil
Jones and Brian
Epstein, used a 1906 record of a military march, altering it a bit
to avoid copyrights. Several sound effects were used for the song,
including the cash register sound that would later be used by Pink Floyd
on Money. There is another Floydian connection, although bit stretched,
Echoes (1970) has the Roger Waters line 'and everything is green and
submarine', but that last is used as an adjective, not as a noun.
Unfortunately we will never know if Norman Smith thought of Yellow
Submarine when he proposed Syd Barrett to add a brass band in between
and what exactly is a dream and what exactly is a joke
The 'Carrollesque quality of the closing couplet', to quote Rob Chapman
again, is omnipresent. In Lewis
The Looking Glass', on a cold winter evening, Alice climbs through a
mirror where chess pieces are alive. Alice meets the White and Red Queen
and the 'joke' subject is briefly spoken about:
Even a joke should have some meaning—and a child's more important than a
joke, I hope.
Dreams are discussed more often in the book, even the surreal
possibility that Alice is nothing but a 'thing' in the Red King's - so
somebody else's - dream:
If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out — bang!
— just like a candle!' (…) When you're only one of the
things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.
At the end, with Alice back in her house, she still isn't sure what
really happened and in whose dream she had landed.
Let's consider who it was that dreamed it all. (…) You see,
(…), it MUST have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my
dream, of course — but then I was part of his dream, too!
As we now know that Jugband Blues might have been written before Barrett
had his apparent breakdown, all speculation about this being an intense
self-description could be wrong, unless of course Syd altered the lyrics
between January and October 1967.
We'll never know for sure.
Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam— Life,
what is it but a dream?
Many thanks to: Baby Lemonade, Syd Wonder, Wolfpack and all participants
from the Jugband
Blues thread (started in 2008) at the Late Night Forum. ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Beard, Chris
Joe: Taking The Purple. The extraordinary story of The Purple Gang –
Granny Takes a Trip . . . and all that!, Granville Sellars (Kindle
edition), 2014, location 858, 1372, 1392. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might
Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013 reissue, p. 18. Carroll,
the Looking Glass, Project Gutenberg. Chapman, Rob: A Very
Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 191. Dosanjh,
music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I
Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013, p. 32, 40, 44, 50. Jefferies,
Neil, Dartford's Finest Band, Record Collector 417, August 2013,
p. 54-55. Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd,
Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 21. Manning, Toby: The Rough
Guide To Pink Floyd, Rough Guides, London, 2006, p. 34. Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 25, 298, 314. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry
Red Books, London, 2001, p. 99. Smith, Norman 'Hurricane', John
Lennon Called Me Normal, Lulu (self-published), 2008, p. 218, 373,
397. Unnumbered section: #8.
Happy New Year, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of
Iggy the Inuit. 2014 is gone and again what a long strange trip it has
been, to quote – once again - musician, lyricist and poet Robert
Hunter. Syd Barrett is dead all right and unfortunately his
legacy hasn't been ageing gratefully at all last year. An enlightened
visionary once said that if you put two Barrett fans together they will
start a group and if you'll put three they will start a fight. This is
past year's history in a nutshell and enough reason for the Reverend to
say adieu to all Facebook Syd Barrett groups, without exception, even
the ones he co-founded. 2014 showed they are as unique as Pepsi is to to
Coca Cola, perfect clones and excelling in superfluous and sickly sweet
mediocrity. This crusty dinosaur needed to get rid of the bickering, the
hijacking of each other's members, the shouting to and fro, the arrogant
standpoint of people who never heard of Syd Barrett three months before
but who feel it their constitutional right to surpass their ignorance
and insult the old farts for the only reason they can.
Luckily there are still some free minds around who do the things they
do, unburdened, in all artistic freedom and who we can call our friends. Rich
Hall comes to mind, over the years this multi-instrumentalist has
acquired an impressive back catalogue of indie records, with of course
the impressive Birdie
Hop & The Sydiots that appeared in 2013.
This year he surprised the lethargic Syd Barrett world with an enhanced
version of the Barrett track Opel. Opal, as some people claim it should
be, is a haunting tune and has some of Barrett's finest verse (crisp
flax squeaks tall reeds) but it only exists as a demo. Hall added
additional layers of guitar, thus creating something that could be close
to the definitive Opel / Opal version.
In the privacy of the confessional Rich had already whispered into the
Reverend's ears that he was of the opinion that Barrett's seminal 1974
sessions could be turned into something more coherent and because nobody
believed him, the Reverend included, he decided to give these tapes the
Opel treatment as well.
Dark Side of the Moon had made Pink Floyd a supergroup and
their record companies decided to earn some quick cash, surfing on the
success of the million seller. The first budget release was A
Nice Pair (1973) that combined the Floyd's first two records, The
Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A
Saucerful Of Secrets, although American copies had some alternative
mixes of some of the tracks. Actually this was not such a bad idea,
because in America Pink Floyd had been a relatively unknown band till
then. The compilation hit the Billboard top 40.
For the first time American kids heard of Syd Barrett and his two solo
albums, that had never crossed the ocean, were re-packaged in 1974 as a double
album with a 'founder member of Pink Floyd' sticker on the front.
The album rose to position 163 in the American charts, which was an
unexpected success and made the record executives hunger for more at
both sides of the Atlantic.
Bryan Morrison, who was still Barrett's agent, convinced Syd to get back
in the studio with Peter Jenner (who we interviewed this year: An
innerview with Peter Jenner) to start a third studio project, but it
only resulted in some hastily shambolic recordings. But now, in 2014,
Rich Hall took the 1974 demos, added extra guitar, bass, drums and
sleigh bells (where would rock music be without sleigh bells?) and here
is how it sounds. The result is still best described as your drunk uncle
torturing his guitar on Christmas eve after his fourth coffee cognac,
but kudos to Hall for enriching the demos. At least we hear now where it
could have led into if only Barrett would have had the balls...
Boogie #1 (with a trace of Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing’)
If You Go #1
If You Go #2
John Lee Hooker (actually Lighting' Hopkins' Mojo Hand)
Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug
Opposed to a band called Pink Floyd there is a company with the same
name that seems to have other interests than to serve the band it
represents, even going as far as insulting and legally threatening
webmasters and active forum members (read: über-fans)
because they dare to write something that doesn't fit into saint David's
money scheme, who thinks he is the caretaker of all things Syd Barrett,
which – in reality – means buying all possible Barrett-related items,
movies and recordings and hiding them in a storage place, out of sight
of the public and the fans. Ted Shuttleworth about his Crazy Diamond
movie script in 2011:
Presently, the script is with a guy who has been placed in charge of the
Syd Barrett estate. He is also David Gilmour's manager, and ostensibly
Pink Floyd's manager as well. I have no idea if he's ever read it. I
imagine he hasn't. But if a movie about Syd is ever going to seriously
happen, he is the man who is going to give the first OK. Maybe one of
these days he'll call me back. (Taken from: Ted
Shuttleworth and the "Crazy Diamond" Movie)
Well, in the case of the Crazy Diamond movie, that was equally trashed
down by Roger Waters and by David Gilmour, this might have been a good
The Last Minute Never Mentioned Boogie Band
Not that the webmasters of the Pink Floyd fan sites are any better. The
three big Pink Floyd fan-sites, two of them serious and a third who
copies all from the others, wet their trousers whenever a Floyd member
or Floyd collaborator does a 'thing' however trivial that 'thing' might
be. The Igquisition made a nice table about some recent Floydian
events, counting the times they have been mentioned.
Of course we don't mind that Snowy
White selling his 1957 Goldtop Standard Les Paul guitar
gets a mention, it can be heard on the 8-track version of Animal's Pigs
On The Wing (this track was later re-issued on Snowy's Goldtop
It is not more than normal that Nick Mason, sitting in on drums on a
(frankly dreadful) Kirsty Bertarelli Christmas single (The
Ghosts Of Christmas Past), or David Gilmour, joining
Bombay Bicycle Club at the last gig ever on Earls Court, is documented
on the fan-sites, that is what fan-sites are for.
But that Andy
Jackson's solo album gets mentioned 5 times more by the fan-sites
than the The
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band, with Syd Barrett guesting on 3
tracks, is frankly unbelievable. The original tape of this concert was
confiscated in 1985, in a rather NSA-shaped way, by a Pink Floyd black
suit and then hurled into the maelström they call their archive (see: The
Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). Luckily a second copy of this
tape was found back in 2005 and issued by Easy
Action records after nearly a decade of legal struggle.
When I am A Good Dog They Sometimes Throw Me A Bone In
That Neptune Pink Floyd is not aware of this release is probably just a
sign of their overall ignorance. However it is more problematic for A
Fleeting Glimpse not mentioning it. Col Turner, by his own words a fan
of Pink Floyd since 1966, should be well aware of Syd Barrett's
importance and legacy. His website, that has attracted over 50 million
visitors and whose forum has over 13000 members, brags that it is the
most accurate, the most informed and the first to come out with
officially confirmed news. Not mentioning the Last Minute Put
Together Boogie Band could be a sign that Col T only publishes what
Fifteen puppet master allows him to publish, as the Endless River
incident has clearly proven past year (see: The
loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...).
Update 2015 08 02: Browsing through the Late
Night forum we came across a post from Lee
Wood who made the Syd's Cambridge DVD Box Set, limited to 100
copies, in 2009. He send a copy of the box to one of the leading Pink
Floyd fan-sites but was informed by the webmaster that they would not
review the release. Lee Wood:
"The Management" of PF seems to like total control. I sent a review copy
of the box set to Brain Damage whom I always thought were a good source
of information but they couldn't run a review until they got permission
from official sources. Needless to say it's been several months and
nothing has appeared. So perhaps its not worth looking to them for
unbiased information or any form of news of interest to fans. (Source: Syd's
Cambridge Box Set.)
Oh by the way, the official Syd Barrett website
never mentioned the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release either.
But they are a One Fifteen product as well, and as such only interested
in selling t-shirts, some of those are quite nice even.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit published several articles
about this record, with interviews of Carlton
Abdullah John Alder (Twink for short) and Fred
Frith. Pearls for the swine, one might say, because even the
self-proclaimed Syd Barrett fans largely ignored this release and were
openly shouting for the tracks to be illegally published on YouTube.
Caca Del Toro
When a Mexican Syd Barrett fan asked the Church, in May 2012, if we knew
anything about a third solo album, allegedly recorded in a Spanish
monastery, we didn't know this old urban legend would rip the Barrett
community open like zombies with their entrails gushing out of their
All the Church did was looking into this (obvious) myth and reporting
about it. The research was taken a step further by Antonio Jesús from
the phantasmagorical blog Solo
En Las Nubes who not only tracked down the rumour to its source, an
article in a satirical magazine, but also managed to interview the
person who started this hoax. What we thought was a fine piece of
investigative journalism, taking months of research (the last articles
were published in 2013), was considered inappropriate by those people
who fill their time by studying the hair-length of Barrett (see: Hairy
Mess) on coloured photographs that were once published in magazines
However, the myth was far from over. In August of this year, four
reel-to-reel tapes were sent in a luxury 'immersion' box to 4 people on
3 continents containing a 2014 re-imagination of the record. Two of them
were the people who had published the Spanishgrass files on their blogs:
Antonio Jesús & the Reverend. The two others were Rick Barnes, record
collector, music investigator, administrator of the Facebook Syd Barrett
group Birdie Hop and Stanislav Grigorev, whose Floydian con-artistic
artwork even fooled the professionals that are Barrett's management.
Obviously the Church reported and commented about this (quite intriguing
and musically excellent) record and published a review when it was
streamed on Bandcamp (see: Spanishgrass
by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album). Useless to say that it
was mostly disregarded by those fans who squawk orgasmically over
photoshopped Barrett images where it looks as if someone has just
vomited a bowl of three-coloured pasta all over him.
The general disinterest and the continuous backstabbing was a sign o'
the times, so thought the Reverend, to seek up new pastures and to say
goodbye with a cheerful bless you all.
Do a combined Syd
Obermaier search on Google
and you get approximate 4600 results tying both celebrities together,
the first results being 'who's
dating who' (now called Famousfix) related finds. On the fifth
place, although this result will change from computer to computer is an
entry from the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, but not the regular
Iggy's church can be found on various places on the interweb,
most of the time just to gather some dust. One branch office though, is
alive and kicking, and operates more or less independently from its
headquarters. It is on the microblogging
Tumblr platform, is aptly called The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit and
can be found at the following address: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com.
The first image that is presented, also on the Famousfix
platform, is the one of Syd Barrett on a Formentera
beach, standing behind a woman who hides her nudity behind a red veil.
That picture is actually copyrighted and belongs to John
Davies who took the picture when he went to the island in summer 1969.
Update 2015 02 25: John Davies contacted us to get some facts
The photo of the naked girl behind the red scarf was taken by Imo (Ian
Moore) and not by me although I used it in an article I wrote about
Cambridge, and credited Imo. Secondly, I went to Formentera first in
1963, with some friends from Cambridge, including Richard Eyre. We raved
about the island so much that other friends started going there in the
mid-sixties, including dear Syd. I still spend a lot of time there and
one or two of those Cambridge "hipsters" still live there.
The article from John Davies can be found at A Fleeting Glimpse: The
John Davies Collection. In another Church post (from 2012, time
flies!) we have highlighted the yearly trek from the Cambridge hipsters
to the island of Formentera: Formentera
John Davies was one of those Cambridge hipsters who, between 1963 and
...made the transformation from schoolboys to aspiring beatniks’,
swapping school uniforms for black polo necks and leather jackets,
listening to Miles Davis, riding Vespas and smoking dope purchased from
American GIs on the neighbouring airforce bases at Lakenheath and
He was, with Nigel
Lesmoir-Gordon, one of the people who mastered the Gaggia
espresso machine in the coffee-house El Patio and who (probably)
had his hand in the till when the boss wasn't around, as noted down by
Nick Sedgwick in his roman
à clefLight Blue with Bulges:
Lunch times, just keep the till open, ring up only half of the orders,
keep a check on the rest, then pocket the difference.
Nick Sedgwick, who sadly passed away in 2011, wrote a Pink Floyd 'on
tour' biography in the mid-seventies, but this was never published
because none of the characters came out very well, with the exception of
Roger Waters, who had commissioned the book. In August 2011 Waters
promised to respect his friend's dying wish and release the manuscript
as 'a simple PDF, a hardback version, and a super de-luxe illustrated
limited edition' (see: Immersion).
Transferring a typoscript to PDF literally takes a few minutes, but
nothing has moved three and a half years later and the Church fears that
this is just another case of the ongoing Waters vs Gilmour feud still
lurking behind their smiling faces and fat wallets.
The Church has dedicated some space to the above picture before on the
Lady throwing the hypothesis around that the woman was one of Syd
Barrett's girlfriends nicknamed Sarah Sky. This explanation was
given to the Church by a Barrett fan who quoted her grandmother, but
communication was interrupted before we could get more into details.
According to Emo (Iain Moore) however, the girl was an American tourist
who was visiting Formentera for a day and had arrived at the house they
all rented, close to a nude beach.
In December 2013 The
Groupie Blog claimed the woman on the picture is German photo-model Uschi
Obermaier. This was followed by another post
in January 2014 where the author pretends Syd Barrett used to hit
Obermaier when he had hysteria attacks.
Obviously the Church wanted to get further into this as none of the
biographies mention any kind of romantic (nor aggressive) involvement
between the two of them. As the (anonymous) author of the groupies blog
was not contactable Uschi's autobiography High Times / Mein
Wildes Leben was bought and searched for any Syd Barrett entries.
First things first: Obermaier's autobiography is a fine read, a three to
three and a half star rating out of five.
Born in 1946 Uschi escapes the German conservative square society in the
mid-sixties by clubbing at the Big Apple and PN in Munich
where she is rapidly adopted by the in-crowd because of: a) her good
looks, b) her dancing abilities and c) her free spirit attitude.
She meets with Reinhard
'Dicky' Tarrach from The
Rattles, who will have an international hit with The
Witch, and soon promotes to international bands like The
Kinks, whose Dave
Davies is such an arrogant male chauvinist pig he deserves a
separate entry. She is discovered by a photographer and a career as
photo-model is launched.
Around 1967 Neil
Landon from the hastily assembled The
Flower Pot Men has a more than casual interest and he invites her to
swinging London but she leaves as soon as she finds out about his
jealous streaks. Back in Germany she doesn't fit in everyday society any
more. She joins the alternative Amon
Düül commune, following drummer Peter Leopold, and she
makes it on a few of their jam-session albums as a maracas player.
Through Amon Düül she falls in love with Rainer
Langhans from Kommune
1 (K1). The Berlin communards live by a strict Marxism-Leninism
doctrine where everything belongs to the group and everyday family life
is forbidden. Individualism
is totally annihilated at a point that even the toilet has its doors
removed and telephone conversations need to be done with the speaker on.
Good-looking Rainer and cover-girl Uschi become a media-hyped
alternative couple, the German John and Yoko avant la lettre. She
is by then Germany's most wanted, and some say: best paid, photo-model
and as such not accepted by the community hardliners. Drinking cola or
smoking menthol cigarettes is considered counter-revolutionary.
In January 1969 Uschi hears that Jimi Hendrix is in town and they
meet for some quality time (short
clip on YouTube). He visits the commune which gives it another
popularity boost. Despite its utopian rules the communards have their
intrigues, jealousies and hidden agendas, it becomes a heroin den and
when one of the more extremist inhabitants hides a bomb in the house the
place is raided by the police. Later that year the commune disbands. (It
was also found out that the bomb was planted by an infiltrator, spying
for the police.)
The couple moves for a while into the Munich Frauenkommune
(women's commune), where their bourgeois manners and star allures aren't
appreciated either, but you won't read that in Obermaier's memories.
Movie director Katrin
Do you remember when Uschi Meier and Rainer Langhans stayed with us?
They really moved in at our place, like residents. And while the person
who happened to have money normally bought twenty yoghurts for all of
us, they bought the double for themselves and hid it in their room. They
were a narrow-minded philistine couple within our community. They were
not a bit generous. (Katrin Seybold and Mona Winter in Frauenkommune:
Angstlust der Männer. Translation by FA.)
Leaving the all-women group in 1970 the couple starts the High-Fish
(a pun on German Haifisch, or shark) commune, this time not a communist
but a hedonistic group where sex, drugs and rock'n roll are combined
into art happenings and/or sold as porn movies. The mansion may well
have been the German equivalent of London's 101 Cromwell Road, which was
some kind of LSD temple and the place where Syd Barrett used to live
with some 'heavy, loony, messianic acid freaks', to quote Pete
Jenner. (See also: An
innerview with Peter Jenner )
The Munich Incident
In March 1970 the High-Fish commune was the centre of a rock'n roll
tragedy if we may believe some accounts. In vintage Fleetwood
Mac circles the event is better known as the Munich Incident.
Ultimate Classic Rock:
“It was a hippie commune sort of thing,” said Fleetwood Mac guitarist
Jeremy Spencer. “We arrived there, and [road manager] Dennis Keane comes
up to me shaking and says, “It’s so weird, don’t go down there. Pete
[Green] is weirding out big time and the vibes are just horrible.” Green
was already set to leave the band, but this was, as [Mick] Fleetwood put
it, “the final nail in the coffin.” Friends say Green was never the same
after the Munich incident. (Taken from: 38
Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Founder Peter Green Arrested for Pulling
Shotgun on His Accountant.)
It's true that we, or more accurately, Pete [Green] was met at Munich
airport by a very beautiful girl [Uschi Obermaier] and a strange guy in
a black cape [Rainer Langhans]. Their focus was definitely Pete for some
reason. The rest of us didn't get it, but we discussed the weird vibes.
We were invited to their mansion in the Munich forest that night. Pete
was already jamming down in the basement (…) when I arrived with Mick
[Fleetwood]. Dennis Keane [road manager] met us in the driveway, ashen
faced and freaking out over the bad vibes and how weird Pete was going.
I don't think Dennis was stoned, he just wanted to get out. (…) Anyway
the house (more like a mansion) was a rich hippy crash pad. And it was
spooky. There was some weird stuff going on in the different rooms.
(Taken from: The
Road manager Dennis Keane maintains they were spiked:
When we went inside there was a party of about 20 people sat around, we
were offered a glass of wine, and the next thing I knew all hell broke
loose in my head - we'd been drugged. Nobody had offered us any tablets;
they just went and spiked us. (Taken from: Celmins, Martin: Peter
Green: The Authorised Biography, Sanctuary, 2003)
Over the years the Munich Incident may have been exaggerated and Rainer
Langhans, in his (free) autobiography, tries to bring the incident back
to its true proportions:
After the performance of Fleetwood Mac in Munich, at the Deutsche
Museum, the band went to the hotel. Peter Green came along with us, with
the High-Fish people. (...) I quickly befriended him but he did not talk
much. We were both, in a way, soul mates. A soft, vulnerable and loving
man. Uschi had no special connection with him. She did not find him
physically attractive. He was too hairy, she said, and also the music of
Fleetwood Mac was too soft and not 'rocky' enough, while I found it very
beautiful. We spent the night together with him, tripping, jamming and
floating through the rooms on LSD. (...)
We met him
twice in London in the next couple of weeks. It was him who brought us
in contact with the Stones and Uschi was able to fulfill her dream of
finally starting an affair with Jagger. With Fleetwood Mac everything
seemed to be fine, but then Peter Green suddenly dropped out of the
band. We heard he was so disgusted with the music business that he no
longer wanted to be there. Much later the band put the responsibility on
the night he was with us in Munich and claimed his trip with us had
completely changed him. (Translated from German to English by FA.)
Green's decline and retreat from the music industry is often
compared to Syd Barrett's 1967 breakdown and although his descend into
madness can't be linked to one single event, just as in the Barrett
case, the gargantuan trip at the High-Fish community may have pushed him
closer to the edge.
Conveniently Uschi Obermaier's excellent memory suddenly fails her when
it comes to the Munich Incident. There is not a single word about it in
her autobiography, but the Frauenkommune testimony from above already
shows she can be rather discrete if she wants to.
With their days of Marxist collectivism gone, she and Langhans are
thinking of organising a German Woodstock festival. Peter Green does
what is asked of him and a few days later the couple is standing in a
London studio where Mick Jagger is working on Sticky Fingers. It is
satisfaction at first sight and a treat for the paparazzi.
But German Woodstock never happens, the relation with Rainer Langhans
comes to an end and Uschi, now an international photo-model, jumps back
into the Munich nightlife, replacing the diet of Champagne and Quaaludes
with the trendier heroin. In Hamburg she meets Dieter
Bockhorn, who is officially an eccentric Reeperbahn strip-club
owner and they start a turbulent relationship. When the Rolling Stones
are in Germany for some recordings she gradually replaces Mick Jagger
for Keith Richards, following them on a European tour and joining them
in the USA. Bockhorn is not amused.
From then on she will have a bizarre love triangle: everyday life with
Dieter and meeting Keith whenever his touring schedule allows him. She
will always have a soft spot for Richards: “The most honourable bad boy
I knew – and I knew some.”
In the mid-seventies Obermaier and Bockhorn, who has made the move to
heroin as well, follow the hippie trail to Asia in a converted bus. It
will be a trip through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India that takes
622 days, 55141 kilometres with many weird, unbelievable adventures and
a few narrow escapes. German press, as always, is interested in the
adventures of Germany's baddest Kultpaar (cult couple) and they
are regularly interviewed and photographed 'on the road'.
Back in Hamburg Uschi obviously returns to modelling but the couple
fails to adapt to the western world and their relationship suffers
gravely. She remarks that the hippie days are over and that punks have
taken over the street. Bockhorn's business has suffered from the 20
months they were abroad and he struggles with monetary, legal and not
quite so legal problems. They make plans to leave for America as soon as
they can afford to leave.
In November 1980 they arrive in the USA where they will do a Kerouac,
heroine free after an obliged detox boat journey. In summer they roam
the continent and for three consecutive winters they stay in an
alternative hippies and bikers camp in Baja
California (Mexico). It is in Cabo
San Lucas that Keith Richards arrives one day, carrying a guitar
under the arm and giving a one man campfire gig on the beach, much to
the amazement of the stoned onlookers. In the third year money has run
out and the dharma bum life, with loads of alcohol, 'grass' and
promiscuity, weighs heavily on both of them. On the last day of 1983 a
drunk Dieter Bockhorn crashes his motorcycle on a truck ending his wild
For a while a depressed Uschi Obermaier feels that she has achieved
nothing in her life and that she only got there through her pretty face.
One of her pastimes is scrimshaw and she starts designing jewellery that
she sells through the exclusive Maxfield
store in Los Angeles, where Madonna and Jack Nicholson buy their
trinkets. While she is certainly not an airhead and may have talent as
an artist it can't be denied that her career is a case of, what the
Germans amusingly describe as, Hurenglück.
On top of that the Krauts simply can't have enough of her. The story of
her life as a groupie, a junkie, a starlet, her relations with a
communist rebel, some Rolling Stones and a Reeperbahn crook who thought
he was the Hamburg equivalent of Ronnie
Kray make her autobiography Mein Wildes Leben (literally: my
wild life) a page-turning bestseller.
It is followed by a biopic Das
Wilde Leben, a home-country hit, but not abroad where it is
Miles High. Reviews vary, but in our opinion it is a pretty average
movie, with uneven and often caricatural scenes (check the Mick vs Keith scene
for a ROTFL)
and frankly Natalia
Avelon's gorgeous cleavage has more depth than the script.
Back To Barrett
But to finally get back to the initial subject of this post, because in
fine Church tradition we seem to have gone astray for a while.
Did Uschi Obermaier have a love-interest in Syd Barrett? Did they
meet at Formentera? Did he hit her when he had hysteria attacks?
No. No. No.
We're afraid the answer is a triple no.
Doesn't Mein Wildes Lebens mention Syd Barrett at all?
Yes, his name is dropped once. He is mentioned in a comparison between
Swinging London and 'its psychedelic music scene from early Pink Floyd
with Syd Barrett' and the grey, conservative atmosphere in Germany where
girls in miniskirts were insulted on the street.
Could Uschi have met Syd Barrett in Germany?
No. Vintage Pink Floyd, with Barrett in the band, never played Germany.
A gig for the TV show Music For Young People in Hamburg, on the first
and second of August 1967 was cancelled.
How about Syd hitting her?
The Barrett - Obermaier hysteria attack rumour is probably a mix-up from
Syd's alleged violence towards his girlfriends and the tumultuous
relationship between Obermaier and Bockhorn, who once pointed a gun at
her and pulled the trigger (luckily the weapon jammed).
So how about Uschi Obermaier hiding her precious body behind a red
veil on Formentera in the summer of 1969?
She writes that she visited Ibiza (the island next to Formentera) on the
day Mick Jagger married Bianca, so that places the event in May 1971,
nearly two years after Syd's Formentera picture. When Barrett was
strolling on the beach Uschi was either at K1 in Berlin or at the
Frauenkommune in Munich.
Well, I'm still not convinced until Uschi Obermaier herself tells us
it never happened.
Why didn't you ask before, because we did. We managed to pass Uschi
Obermaier the question through a mutual contact and we even got an
answer back. Uschi Obermaier on the first of February 2015:
They are right, this is NOT me, they researched right. I was at this
time either in Berlin or back in Munich.
Case closed then. Unless Sarah Sky wants to come forward, obviously.
Many thanks to: Bianca Corrodi, John Davies, Little Queenies, Nina,
Uschi Obermaier, Jenny Spires. This is, more or less, an update of a
previous article that can be found here: Formentera
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 28, 83. Langhans,
Rainer: Ich Bin's, pdf
version, 2008, p 39. Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink
Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 38. Povey, Glenn: Echoes,
the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 67. Sedgwick,
Nick: Light Blue With Bulges, Fourth estate, London, 1989, p. 37.
The following is a 'longread' about the blues musicians who gave Pink
Floyd its name.
TL;DR: Syd Barrett did not have Pink Anderson and/or Floyd
Council records, as they were extremely rare. Those two blues
musicians were named on the liner notes of a popular Blind Boy Fuller
compilation though. It wasn't Syd who distilled the name 'Pink Floyd'
from that record, but Stephen Pyle, one of his friends.
Floyd and Syd
Barrett fans have a pretty rough idea how the band acquired its
name, although the exact story is probably less known and only interests
Roger Keith Barrett anoraks anyway. In their enthusiasm, some fans even
share pictures of the Pink Floyd name-givers on the dozens of, mostly
obsolete and highly repetitive, Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Facebook fan
groups, in their continuous race to be bigger than the others.
Here they are: Georgia blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council,
whose records were in the proud possession of a certain Cambridge boy.
Only, the person at the right is not Floyd Council, but Blind
Boy Fuller (and they are not from Georgia either). We'll explain
later how Blind Boy Fuller gets into the picture.
Knowing how a blues singer from the beginning of the past century looked
like is one thing, knowing how he sounded often seems even more of a
gargantuan task. And even the world's best music magazine wasn't so sure
The above YouTube movie allegedly has the Pink Anderson song C.C. and
O Blues, followed by the Floyd Council track If You Don't Give Me
What I Want. Only what you hear is not always what you get.
C.C. and O Blues
The vocals on C.C. And O Blues are from Simmie
Dooley, not Pink
Anderson. Dooley was a country blues street singer who lived in Spartanburg,
South Carolina and who is mostly remembered as Anderson's musical mentor.
In the beginning of the past century Spartanburg's black district was
named the politically incorrect Niggertown, by Negroes and whites alike.
The black district was a spirited place, in all possible interpretations
of the word, and not always safe to roam. Ira
Tucker, lead singer of The
Dixie Hummingbirds, remembers:
Anywhere you would go could be risky. Those guys in Spartanburg, they
didn't take any tea for the fever. They would fight to the end!
As a black person, living in Spartanburg, one had to face thousands of
indignities. The racist police was generally showing disrespect:
Nigger, you have to say 'mister' to me.
The black population of Spartanburg reacted, unsurprisingly, as expected.
The white cops, when they would get ready to arrest a black man, it
would take three or four of them. If they came into a neighbourhood to
arrest somebody for nothing, black people would fight back.
Not that a lot has changed a century later, with the exception that the
n-word is now considered inopportune. USA police still can insult, kick
and shoot unarmed black people, but as long as they don't call them
niggers it's all passing by without consequences.
Niggertown also offered good times and music was always around. Ira
Tucker's grandfather 'Uncle Ed' was a musician who played a mean
accordion and who sang in the local church choir.
Another character was Trotting
Sally, real name: George Mullins. Born a slave in 1856, he was freed
at the age of 9 and became a familiar street musician with his fiddle
'Rosalie'. He was known for his wild antics and crazy animal imitations.
His behaviour was so eccentric that people doubted his mental stability.
He was – literally - the stuff legends are made of. It was rumoured that
Millins had superhuman strength, that he could outrun a train, hence the
nickname Trotting Sally, and these heroic deeds were the subject
of several late 19th-century folk-tales. When he died, in 1931, he was
remembered in several newspaper articles. Although he was captured on
film, no sound recordings of him exist. Ira Tucker:
He was an excellent violinist. Nothing but strings and his fingers. He
had that violin almost sounding like it was talking. If you said “Good
Morning”, he would make that violin say, “G-o-o-o-d M-o-o-o-rning”.
Another street musician who not only impressed Ira Tucker, but Blind
Gary Davis as well, was an old man who sang and played the guitar:
Simmie Dooley (1881-1961) may have played his favourite spot in
Spartanburg's 'Short Wolford' when he met young lad Pink Anderson, an
entertainer in a travelling medicine show who wanted to learn the
guitar. They would go off in the woods to practice, usually with a
bottle of corn whiskey 'to help the throats'. Simmie's educational
system consisted of hitting Pink's hands with a switch until he got the
In search of Simmie
Anderson was not only Dooley's sideman, but also his eyes. It was
practically impossible for a blind man to travel but with Pink he could
go to the small towns around Spartanburg, like Woodroff and Roebuck, to
play on country picnics and parties. They often performed together and
in April 1928 they recorded four
tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta. These two 10 inch 78RPM
records were issued under the name Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley and
have the duo at their finest. The musical bond between both was so
strong that Pink Anderson refused to record without his teacher, which
could have made his life much easier. (Apparently the record company
didn't like Simmie's distinctive voice.)
C.C. & O Blues, referring to the Carolina,
Clinchfield and Ohio Railway that ran through Spartanburg, is a bit
carelessly attributed to Pink Anderson on a Mojo cover disk of October
2007 (issue 167): In
Search Of Syd. Simmie Dooley, who is the main performer, is only
mentioned in the liner notes, but not on the front nor backside
track-listing. It is one of those mysteries why exactly this track was
chosen for the compilation. From that same 1928 session Mojo could have,
for instance, picked Papa's
Bout To Get Mad where Pink Anderson is the lead instead of Simmie
Dooley. All in all there are about 3 dozen Pink Anderson songs but Mojo
resolutely went for about the only track in his entire career where he
can't be heard at all.
If You Don't Give Me What I Want
The second song on the YouTube movie from above is If You Don't Give Me
What I Want. It can be found on the same Mojo compilation and there it
is somewhat lavishly attributed to Blind
Boy Fuller and Floyd
Council. It certainly is a Blind Boy Fuller song, taken from a
session in February 1937 with accompanying musicians Floyd Council (on
guitar) and George Washington (on washboard), using the pseudonyms
Dipper Boy Council and Bull City Red.
Mojo stretched the line by adding Floyd Council's name, making us wonder
why they forgot the third musician. The YouTube uploader even went a
step further by omitting Blind Boy Fuller from his own record, thus
giving the title a self-explanatory extra dimension.
Although Floyd Council solo tracks are harder to find than those of Pink
Anderson, they do exist and 6 of those have survived into the
If you are already confused by now, we can only promise it will get
worse from now on. Who are these Pink and Floyd character everyone is
Syd Barrett at first tried to explain that the name Pink Floyd had come
to him in a vision or by a passing flying saucer while he was meditating
on a leyline, but the truth is somewhat less exotic. In a Swedish
interview from September 1967, Barrett explained:
The name Pink Floyd comes from two blues singers from Georgia, USA –
Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Basically this story kept repeating itself from article (for instance: Nick
Kent, 1974) to article, from year to year, from biography to
biography, without much checking of the journalists involved, although
some did have the guts to add the odd detail here and there. But all in
all it would take more than three decades to get to the truth.
In the Visual Documentary (aka the Pink Floyd bible) by Barry
Miles (1980) Anderson and Council are still described as Georgia
blues-men who were in Syd's record collection. It may come as blasphemy
for vintage Floyd fans but demi-god Syd Barrett actually made an error
as these two musicians stayed in the Carolinas for most of their lives. Nicholas
Schaffner (1991) managed to add the years of birth and death of
these obscure blues musicians, but also Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson
in their Crazy Diamond biography state that Syd 'had a couple of records
by two grizzled Georgia blues-men'. Same for the lavishly illustrated,
but for the rest forgettable, Learning To Fly biography by Chris
Welch (1994) and a few other publications...
In 1988 though, in the first release of Days in the Life, Jonathon
Green quotes Peter Jenner:
The name came from a sleeve note which one of them had read, which
referred to Pink somebody or other, and Floyd somebody or other, two old
blues guys, and they just thought that 'The Pink Floyd' was a nice
combination, and they called it the Pink Floyd Sound.
Information doesn't always gets transferred through the appropriate
channels and the booklet of the Crazy
Diamond CD-box, that appeared 8 years later, still alleged that:
Barrett, Waters, Wright, and Mason reconvened as The Pink Floyd Sound, a
name Syd had coined from an album by Georgia blues musicians Pink
Anderson and Floyd Council.
(Barrett's record company and/or management have a history of making
silly mistakes, see Dark
Blog or Cut
All it needed to straight things out was to go to a local library (this
was pre-WWW-days, remember) and look up these names in a blues
encyclopedia, like yours truly did, a very long time ago. Kiloh Smith's
adagio that 'Syd Barrett fans are, basically, really, really lazy people
unless it comes to fighting amongst themselves on some message board'
can also be expanded to rock journalists.
Although never of the grandeur of B.B. King or Muddy Waters Pink
Anderson isn’t really that obscure and the perfect example for someone
who likes to brag about his (or her) Piedmont
Pink Anderson was born in Lawrence,
South Carolina, in February 1900, and was raised in Spartanburg where he
would stay his entire life. He first went on the road at age fourteen,
employed by Dr. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company, singing and dancing
medicine show tunes. When the show was not travelling between Virginia
and southern Georgia, with occasional trips into Alabama and Tennessee,
Pink was working as a handyman in the Spartanburg storehouse where W.R.
Kerr kept his trucks and stage equipment. He would stay with the troupe
until Dr. Kerr retired in 1945 and never considered himself a blues
singer, but a medicine show entertainer.
In 1916 Pink met Simmie Dooley, a blind blues street-singer, living in
the same town. When Pink wasn’t out selling magic potions, he and Simmie
played at picnics and parties in small towns around Spartanburg. They
cut a few singles together in April 1928, but Anderson refused to record
without Dooley (until Simmie was too old to perform). In February 1950
he was recorded by singer, folklorist and music-archivist Paul
Clayton, but the tapes wouldn't be released for another decade.
There was a kind of Pink Anderson revival in the early sixties, when he
was tracked down by blues historian Samuel
Charters who recorded him and brought out three albums spanning
Pink's career as a Carolina blues man (volume 1), a medicine show
entertainer (volume 2) and a ballad & folksinger (volume 3), otherwise
Pink Anderson would've stayed a mere footnote in blues history, just
like his tutor Simmie Dooley. These three albums still sell today,
obviously aided by the Floydian connection, and they are of an excellent
'vintage folk & blues' quality. (Samuel Charters passed away in March
2015, aged 85: obituary.)
It is not unimaginable that some people in the Cambridge blues & beatnik
circles were aware of these compilations, although they must have been
rare. Floyd Council's name, however, can't be found on any of these
records. Anderson's repertoire contained several Blind Boy Fuller songs,
but they never met. Anderson died in Spartanburg in 1974, perhaps
unaware of the fact that one of the greatest shows on earth was named
Floyd Council is a slightly different matter. Blues scholars and
historians know him as a side-man on about a dozen of Blind Boy Fuller
records and he only became a kind of celebrity because of the Floyd
segment. His solo songs have been included on several blues
compilations, because of the Pink Floyd link alone, for instance on the
Century of the Blues 4-CD set (see picture above) where he comes up,
right after... Pink Anderson.
Floyd Council was born in Chapel
Hill, North Carolina in September 1911 and began working with
legendary blues artist Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930’s. Though he is
mainly known for backing Fuller, he also worked with Sonny
Terry and cut some solo tracks as well. A few sources tell he may
have recorded enough tracks for three albums, but only six of those have
survived. The well-informed Wirz
blues discography only found one lost 1937 two-tracks session.
In a (fruitless) effort to become famous he gigged and recorded as
'Dipper Boy Council', bearing the epitheton ornans 'Blind Boy
Fuller's Buddy' (1937). According to the New Dictionary of American
Slang, edited by Robert L. Chapman (1986), dipper refers to dippermouth,
a person with a large mouth. The term showed up in Dippermouth
Blues, recorded by King
Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923 with a 21-years old Louis
Armstrong in the band, whose nickname happened to be just that, for
Devil in disguise
Another stage name for Council was the 'Devil's Daddy-in-Law' (1938),
probably to cash in on the popularity of Peetie
Wheatstraw who was known as the 'Devil’s Son-in-Law' and whose songs
often referred to the hoodoo tradition, root doctor and crossroads
legends in blues.
"If black music is the father of rock, voodoo is its grandfather" write Baigent
in their overview
of the occult through the ages. It is not known if Council was a
follower of Vodu, but like most Negroes he must have been aware of the
pagan undercurrent in his society, that was politically, culturally and
socially segregated from the white highbrow class.
Probably his nicknames had been chosen by his white and highbrow class
Long, a Maecenas for some and a thief for others, who also had Blind
Boy Fuller in his stable and who employed Floyd Council on a farm he
Floyd passed away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 9, 1976. He is
buried in an unmarked
grave somewhere at White Oak A.M.E. Zion Cemetery of Sanford.
The first widely available Floyd Council compilation Carolina Blues
(1936-1950) was released in 1987, a tad too late to influence Syd
Barrett in his search for a name for his band. Let it be clear that in
the early sixties it was close to impossible, for a Cambridge youngster,
to find a Floyd Council record in the UK, unless you happened to be a
very lucky and rich 78-RPM gramophone collector. We seriously doubt that
anyone would lend any of these singles to a bunch of teenagers who would
scratch the surfaces on their Dansette portable record players.
So that is why it was impossible for Syd Barrett to have a Floyd
Council record in his collection, as some biographers have written.
Little by little the Pink Floyd biographies had to alter the story, but
it lasted until 2005 before Bryan Sinclair asked the following question
to a Yahoo
group of pre-war blues collectors:
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 08:58:47 -0500 To:
email@example.com From: Bryan Sinclair Subject: Pink
Anderson / Floyd Council
I am interested in some background info on the origin of the band name
"Pink Floyd." It is my understanding that Syd Barrett came up with this
hybrid by combining the first names of Carolina bluesmen Pink
Anderson and Floyd Council. Bastin provides ample info with
respect to dates and locales for both, but how did the two names become
associated with one another, at least in the mind of Barrett?
Bryan Sinclair Asheville, NC
It took less than a day before Bryan Sinclair has an answer. David Moore
from Bristol remembered the names from a record he had in his collection:
To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005
15:47:51 -0000 From: "Dave Moore" Subject: Re:
[pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy
Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Philips BBL-7512, c. 1962.
The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following: "Curley
Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found
in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council-- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be
heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the
streams through the wooded valleys."
Dave Moore Bristol, UK
So there we have it. All it took to find the answer was, oddly enough,
to ask someone who knew, a thing nobody had ever thought of doing for 35
years. All we needed to do, was to keep on talking.
The rest is history and has been repeated in decent Pink Floyd
biographies ever since. So it is a crying shame that Floyd über-geek
Glenn Povey, in his encyclopedic study Echoes from 2007 still writes:
It [Pink Floyd] is the amalgamation of the first names of two old
Carolina bluesmen whose work was very familiar to him [Syd Barrett].
Not... a... fucking... chance.
Update July 2017:...and yet, official Pink Floyd sources still
don't grasp this. The 2017 catalogue for the Pink Floyd Their Mortal
remains exhibition states at page 82 that the band was - and we quote -
'named after two of Syd Barrett's favourite blues artists'.
Blind Boy Fuller
Fulton Allen was born in July 1907 in Wadesboro,
North-Carolina and learned to play the blues from the people around him.
In his mid-teens he started to lose his eyesight from a maltreated
disease at birth and not from washing his face with poisoned water,
given to him by a jealous woman, as has been put forward by Paul
What was a hobby at first, now became his trade, because blind Negroes
didn't have many job opportunities in the thirties. Allen started
busking in the streets of Durham
and playing gigs with Floyd Council (aka Dipper Boy Council), Saunders
Terrell (aka Sonny Terry) , George Washington (aka Bull
City Red) and Reverend Gary Davis.
In 1935 he was discovered by record store owner and music promoter James
Baxter Long who became manager of the lot. Re-baptised as Blind Boy
Fuller he was paid about 200$ per 12 song session, not a bad deal in
those days, unless you would suddenly start selling hundreds of
thousands of records. And that was exactly what happened.
In five years time Blind Boy cut 139 sides, in 11 sessions taking
approximately 24 days, but there would be no royalties going Fuller's
way. Long would later explain that, as a rookie, he didn't understand
the concept of copyrights. It is true that before 1938 Fuller's records
were not credited to any author, thus (theoretically) flushing a lot of
money down the drain. After April 1938 Long started putting his own name
on the copyright papers when he noted down Fuller's lyrics, claiming he
did this innocently and with no intent to rip Fuller.
Opinions about J.B. Long differ. As a patron of the arts he provided
housing and jobs for his artists, but of course that was also a way to
have them chained for life to his agency. Gary Davis and Blind Boy
Fuller called him a thief, although Sonny Terry was slightly more
In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it
started our careers.
McGhee, however, never had a bad thing to say about his manager.
The Decca Tapes
Blind Boy Fuller once tried to moonlight at Decca, but these records
were rapidly pulled from the market after a complaint from his manager,
who wasn't apparently such an innocent rookie after all when somebody
tried to grab his artists.
James Baxter maintained he constantly provided Fuller with money,
clothes, food, fuel 'and other necessities' but the singer and his wife
applied several times for welfare, neglecting to mention that they
already had an income from recording sessions.
The blind aid bureaucracy didn't realise that Fulton Allen and Blind Boy
Fuller were the same person and they gave him a monthly allowance.
Unfortunately Fuller gave his secret away when he complained to social
services that his manager was not giving him the royalties he was
entitled to, but the only advice they could give him was to wait until
the contract ended and not to sign another one.
By 1939, suffering from alcohol related stomach ulcers, kidney troubles
and probably a touch of syphilis, Fuller impatiently waited to be
released from his contract and from jail, as he had shot his wife in the
leg, quite an accomplishment for a blind man and a sign that he had more
than money problems alone.
The Last Session
J.B. Long had the last laugh when he told Blind Boy Fuller he was still
under contract with the American Recording Company. Ironically it was
James Baxter who drove Blind Boy, Sonny Terry, Bull City Red and the
Reverend Gary Davis to Memphis for another recording session. This time
Fuller only received part of his session money, because he was already
greatly in debt with his ex-manager. On top of that the Blind Assistance
administration had finally found out that Fulton Allen was the same man
as Blind Boy Fuller. From his ex-manager they learned that he earned
about three times as much as the average household, which was still
ridiculously low given the records he sold. They (logically) terminated
the welfare checks.
The problem was that Fulton didn't spread his session money over several
months but that it would be invariably gone by the next. James Baxter
Long proposed to give Fuller a monthly salary instead of a session
lump-sum, and even a house rent-free, but a stubborn Blind Boy refused,
perhaps because it would have meant giving his freedom away and signing
a new contract with the music promoter.
For reasons that have never been properly disclosed, but it might have
been a rough life of sex and drugs and rural blues, Fulton Allen's
health rapidly declined and he died in February 1941, at only 33 years
Classic Jazz Masters
In his book 'How Britain Got The Blues', R.F. Schwartz notes that:
...most critics agreed that the great blues of the past would never be
reissued [in the fifties, FA], but some collectors were committed to
making this repertoire accessible.
For the smart understander: illegally. History repeats itself, ad
At first many jazz and blues reissues were bootlegs, made by collectors
for collectors and taken from the original 78-RPM records. As the
musicians had been paid flat fees anyway, and seldom received royalties,
no harm was done, although the record labels obviously had different
With a growing demand for vintage blues the major labels finally
understood that there was a market and that the costs for producing
these albums was minimal. Philips began its Classic Jazz Masters
Series in 1962 with: Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 Country Blues
Smith 1923-1924 Bessie's Blues (BBL-7513), followed by: Robert
Johnson 1936-37 (BBL-7539).
That last one was almost immediately deleted for legal reasons
(apparently even record companies have difficulties sorting copyrights
out) but so many copies had already been sold to blues-hungry teenagers
that a whole generation was inspired to start their own bands. British
blues boom was a fact.
On his first trip to England, in November 1962, Bob Dylan bought two
albums he brought back to the States. The first one was Blues Fell This
Morning, a Southern Blues compilation, that accompanied Paul Oliver's
book with the same name. The second was the Philips Blind Boy Fuller
Country Blues album. (A picture of that album, with Bob Dylan's
signature, can be found on Recordmecca: Bob
Dylan's Muse: Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011.)
Blues was a tidal wave that couldn't be stopped. 1965 saw a British tour
of Reverend Gary Davis and his old mates Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry
headlined the Cambridge Folk Festival on the 31st of July.
Blues In Cambridge
That the blues was also popular in Cambridge was proved by bands as The
Hollerin' Blues, named after the 1929 Charley
Patton song, Screamin'
and Hollerin' the Blues. Incidentally, Blind Boy Fuller's Piccolo
Rag, that is present on the 1962 Country Blues compilation, has the
Said, when I'm on the corner hollerin'. "Whoa! Haw! Gee!" My
gal's uptown hollerin'. "Who wants me?"
As their only way of communication, slaves or black farm workers would
holler to each other across the fields. Sometimes these hollers would be
wordless, sometimes they would form sentences and grow into songs that
were sung in call and response. Spirituals, work songs and hollers
influenced and structured early blues.
Back To The Bone
The line-up of this 1962/63 rhythm & blues band was Barney Barnes
(piano, harmonica and vocals), Alan Sizer (guitar), Pete Glass
(harmonica) and Stephen Pyle (drums). Rado 'Bob' Klose and Syd Barrett
joined them at least once at the Dolphin Club in Coronation Street, but
he was never a band member. According to Gian Palacios Barrett also sat
in on several jam sessions, mainly because he showed a certain interest
in Juliet Mitchell who lived in the house where the band rehearsed.
Women were the reason why the band cut itself loose from their old
management and they reincarnated as Those Without with Warren
Dosanjh as their new manager. (See also Antonio Jesús interview: Warren
Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager.) Stephen Pyle remembers in The
Music Scene Of 1960s Cambridge that he actually suggested Pink
Floyd as the band's new name, but this was rejected by the others.
Which one's Pink?
It means that the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album was well
known by the Hollerin' Blues mob, including Syd Barrett, who joined
Those Without for about a dozen of of gigs. It could also mean that the
Pink Floyd name, contrary to general belief, was not thought up by Syd
and that it might have been an incidental joke. Over the last few years
though, Stephen Pyle changed this story a bit, claiming that he and Syd
used to invent band names all the time, just for fun. 'Pink Floyd' as
such never was a contestant to rename The Hollerin' Blues. Not that it
really matters, but we asked Stephen Pyle anyway:
I am afraid time has taken is toll on my memory. But Syd and I used
to invent band names when Those Without were already in existence, as to
who's album it was I think it was mine. It was Dave Gilmour who
claimed that I was the source, and he must have got that from Syd.
Country Blues: a review
The 1962 Philips album Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 is a
wayward compilation, containing 16 tracks, ranging from the obvious to
the less than obvious. It contains tracks from 10 different sessions,
recorded over 12 days, starting with the first session that made Fuller
a star and ending with the last one he would ever do. Intriguingly - for
Pink Floyd anoraks - is that none of the tracks have Floyd Council on
them, but George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Sonny Terry can be
found on several songs. So the record that gave the Pink Floyd name away
actually doesn't have Pink Anderson, nor Floyd Council on it.
Why don't you listen to the Country Blues album while reading this
A Spotify playlist (login needed) for the same album can be found here: Country
Blues. Throughout the review many YouTube and Wikipedia links will
be given, checking them out will take many hours of your life. A Blind
Boy Fuller gallery with hi-res images of the record, its cover and the
liner notes has been uploaded: Blind
Blind Boy Fuller is generally cited as the originator of the terms 'keep
on truckin' (in Truckin'
My Blues Away, not on this compilation) and 'get
your yas yas out' (not included either). Several of his songs belong
to the hokum genre - humoristic blues with double entendres and sexual
innuendos – or bawdy blues. His What’s
That Smell Like Fish, Mama (not included) as being one of the most
There's a bit of playful innuendo in Truckin' Little Baby with the line:
she got good jelly but she's stingy with me.
Jelly is a culinary metaphor for female attractiveness and/or sexuality.
Imagine this tune with an electric guitar, add some bass and a drum and
there you have it: rock'n roll.
A big legged woman is just another way of saying that she is sexually
attractive and with 'gets my pay' Fuller is implying he wants to give
her more than his monthly salary alone, but you probably already had
figured that out.
Want Some Of Your Pie obviously is an example of a risqué blues,
without really being too smutty, unless we semantically dig deeper.
Officially the song goes like this:
Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie, I want to eat
your custard pie.
But most hear something else:
Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie, I want to eat
your custy pie.
In a mighty interesting online essay that has unfortunately disappeared
from the web at the end of 2014 'The use of food as a sexual metaphor in
the blues' (Elise Israd) it is suggested that the use of code words for
romantic and sexual activity may have come out of fear and oppression.
Plantation owners were not amused that their (male) slaves would discuss
sex in public and thus they used innocent synonyms for the yummy things
they wanted to describe.
When it came to producing and selling blues records there was as well
the matter of censorship. As often in these cases the record companies
had a double standard, calling the naughty bits by their proper name was
considered obscene and legally forbidden, but they didn't see any harm
in selling songs about sugar plums, fish and custy, custard, crusty or
It might not come to you as a surprise that Led Zeppelin's 1975 album Physical
Graffiti starts with a track called Custard
Pie, what made one fan seriously wonder if Sonny Terry covered it
retroactively from the dark angel that is Robert Plant.
Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Sonny Terry (harmonica) & Bull City Red
and Lyrics Source(s):
Cat Man Blues
The next three songs all have an animal theme and in these cases animals
are used as an allegory for a situation man is not really happy with.
Man Blues is the story of a man who returns home, hears a noise in
another room and is told by his wife it is nothing but the cat.
Went home last night, heard a noise, I asked my wife what was that? Said
man don't be so suspicious, that ain't nothin' but a cat. Lord I
travelled this world all over mama, takin' all kinds of chance. But
I never come home before, seein' a cat wearin' a pair of pants!
While the words are funny, the situation isn't and the protagonist
surely doesn't appreciate that the cat man is stealing his cream away.
Recorded: April 29, 1936, (recorded twice that day, actually). Sound
(take 2) and Lyrics
Been Your Dog
Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife.
Blues, not on this record, Fuller describes it as follows:
Now you doggin' me mama, ain't did a thing to you. And you keep on
doggin' no telling what I'll do. Now you dog me every morning, give
me the devil late at night. Just the way you doggin' me, I ain't
goin' treat you right.
Been Your Dog plays with the same subject:
I've been your dog mama ever since I've been your man...
Fuller complains how he has to work hard all day, only to come and find
a drunk wife in bed and ponders if he should leave her and make room for
Recorded: February 10, 1937. Sound,
but no Lyrics found.
Hungry Calf Blues
Calf Blues is much more funny and risqué, although it has again the
undertone of a man who is cheated on and who does his best to win his
woman back. The song, so tell the experts, is a variation of Milk
Cow Blues by Sleepy
John Estes (1930) although the lyrics haven't got much in common. In
1934 Kokomo Arnold covered the song,
still much the same as the original one.
Fuller's version is closer to Milkcow's
Calf Blues, recorded by Robert
Johnson on his last session in June 1937 and with a new set of
lyrics. Copyright wasn't really an issue in those days, as Lawrence
W. Levine explains in his study 'Black Culture and Black
Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom'.
Black singers felt absolutely free to take blues sung by others -
friends, professional performers, singers on records - and alter them in
any way they liked.
Fuller certainly was no exception to that rule and re-utilises a couple
of Johnson's lyrics:
Your calf is hungry mama, I believe he needs a suck.
Your milk is turnin' blue, I believe he's out of luck.
, but then he is off into his own miserable territory:
I found out now mama, the reason why I can't satisfy you... (…) You've
got a new cat, he's sixteen years old.
There's that trousered cat again! From then on the song turns
pseudo-autobiographical and the protagonist promises he will be faithful
to his wife from now on and to treat her well:
I'm gonna save my jelly, mama, gonna bring it right home to you. (...) You
can't find no young cat, roll jelly like this old one do.
For those thinking that Fuller is keen on sweet desserts, we would like
to add that jelly is not what you think it is, except when you have a
perverted mind and then it is exactly what you think it is.
A stanza later we learn that the I-person in the song is none other than
Fuller himself. He apologises that the flesh is weak and the blues
Says I got a new way of rollin' mama, I think it must be best. Said
these here North Carolina women just won't let Blind Boy Fuller rest.
But just when you think it would be wise to show some discretion male
chauvinist ego takes over again and Fuller brags that he is the best
Said I got the kind of lovin', yes Lord, I think it must be best. Said
I roll jelly in the mornin' and I also roll at night. I said hey
hey, I also roll at night. And I don't stop rollin', till I know I
rolled that jelly just right.
We doubt the lyrics need further explanation, unless perhaps you are
confused by the terms jelly and jelly-roll, another example of pastry
being used as a sexual metaphor. Harry's Blues gives a neat definition
and lists 15 songs that use the same terminology.
The last song on side A of the album is Mojo
Hidin' Woman, and compared to the previous lot a rather solemn and
respectful one, although it still blames the wife who brings misery over
the man. Blind Boy Fuller refers (literally) to black magic and the
woman's habit of concealing a mojo,
a magical charm bag, on her body.
Fuller probably means a 'nation
sack', a term originating from the Memphis area, which is a red
flannel bag containing roots, magical stones and personal objects, worn
by a woman, meant to keep her man faithful and make him generous in
Other sources say it should be 'nature
Middleton Hyatt, a white Anglican minister who studied folklore in
the thirties and who documented over 13000 (!) magic spells and beliefs,
may have misunderstood the Negro term 'naycha' and wrote it down as
'nation' instead of 'nature'. In hoodoo it was seriously believed that
the magical bag controls a man's 'naycha' or virility. No wonder that
Blind Boy Fuller didn't laugh at this one.
To make the spell powerful some objects of the love interest were put in
the bag, a photograph, his name or signature on a piece of paper, cloth,
fingernail clippings, (pubic) hair and other intimate by-products... The
bag was worn under the clothes, at the lower waist for obvious magical
reasons, and it was strictly forbidden to be touched, or even seen, by a
man. Married women would hide it before going to bed:
Yo' know, a man bettah not try tuh put dere han' on dat bag; yo' know,
he betta not touch. He goin' have some trouble serious wit dat ole lady
if he try tuh touch dat bag, 'cause when she pulls it off at night -- if
she sleeps by herself, she sleeps wit it on; but if she got a husban',
yo'll see her evah night go an' lock it up in dat trunk. [Taken from Nation
Sack @ Lucky Mojo.]
Not that a pious man would ever try to do that, as touching the bag
would make him lose, as Austin
Powers erroneously put it, 'his
mojo'. As the naycha sack was strict taboo for a man it was a safe
place for the woman to put her belongings in, money and tobacco, and if
the money had been given to her by her husband, that could only act as
an extra charm.
Mojo Hidin' Woman is the same song as Stingy
Mama, recorded a month earlier, but with a new title. Fuller knows
exactly what he sings about:
My girl's got a mojo. She won't let me see.
In true hokum tradition the song is full of double entendres, starting
with the first line:
Stingy mama, don't be so stingy with me.
As the (secret) mojo was often used or hidden inside a purse a 'stingy'
woman is one who doesn't like to spend money, but in this context mojo
is of course used as an euphemism for sex. Being the sexy motherfucker
he is, Fuller knows she will finally give in:
I say, hey-hey, mama, can't keep that mojo hid... 'Cause I got
something, mama, just to find that mojo with.
The song perfectly ends with a play of words, ingeniously hinting at the
'stingy' remark of the beginning:
Mama left me something called that stingaree. Says, I done stung my
little woman and she can't stay away from me.
Sex has never been described better, even if you don't immediately grasp
the concept of a stingaree, but once again Harry's Blues comes to the rescue.
This is, if you ask the Reverend, as poetical as:
'Cause we're the fishes and all we do the move about is all we do well,
oh baby, my hairs on end about you..
Recorded: September 7, 1937 (Stingy Mama: July 12, 1937) Sound
Country Blues Side Two
Side two starts with the Blind Boy Fuller classic Piccolo
Rag that can be found on about every compilation of him. It's a
joyous and irresistible ragtime guitar dancing tune that is typical of
the Piedmont Blues style. It is a fun track with a direct message that
doesn't need to be further explained:
Every night I come home you got your lips painted red. Said, "Come
on Daddy and let's go to bed."
In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy'
in African American slang was a pimp, but later the term was generalised
to any male lover.
Lover Blues is the sad story of a man who takes a freight train to
'a far distant land', probably to look for work, and who gets a telegram
to immediately return home. On his return he finds that his lover has
died while he was on his journey. The message is clear and direct with
no double entendres, but this is normal as the subject is one of
melancholy and sadness.
Then I went back home, I looked on the bed And that best old
friend I had was dead Lord, and I ain't got no lovin' baby now
Recorded, June 19, 1940 with Bull City Red (washboard). Sound
Night Rambling Woman
Fuller's last solo song recorded on the 19th of June 1940, in a
'superstar' session that also had Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Eli
Jordan Webb (originally from Nashville) and Bull City Red (credited on
some tracks as Oh Red). Thirteen solo tracks were recorded, 8 by Fuller
and one by Sonny Terry.
The remaining four tracks are credited to a band called Brother
George & His Sanctified Singers, actually an alias for all
involved, singing religious inspired gospel and blues, with titles as:
'Must have been my Jesus', 'Jesus is a holy man' or 'Precious Lord'.
Fuller did not sing on this gospel session and it may have been George
'Oh Red' Washington who was the main vocalist.
Night Rambling Woman was posthumously issued by Brownie McGhee in 1941,
partly as a tribute to his friend, but probably as a cunning plan from
manager J.B. Long to cash in on Fuller's reputation by covering a
previous unreleased track. J.B. Long also put the epithet 'Blind Boy
Fuller #2' on early McGhee singles, for instance on the song Death
Of Blind Boy Fuller.
Night Rambling Woman is another take on the infidelity of women with one
line taken from Victoria
Spivey's 1926 song Black
Snake Blues, generally regarded as a stab at Fuller's own mortality:
My left side jumps and my flesh begin to crawl.
It has been said that Fuller was a master of eclecticism rather than the
originator of a style and there are many recorded examples in which the
influence of other popular blues artists can be heard.
Blues biographer Bruce Bastin found out that just before the Fuller
session Charlie Burse had cut a new version of his own song, now titled:
'Oil It Up And Go', in the same studio. That is probably where J.B. Long
heard and copied it from.
Many artists recorded this song after that, and all versions are
different. It seems as if every artist who performed the song, made up
his own lyrics or added a verse or two. Some of the people who recorded
the song are: B.B. King, Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, Bob Dylan,
Brownie McGhee, Carl Story, Harmonica Frank Floyd, John Lee Hooker, Mac
Wiseman, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Mungo Jerry, Sonny Terry and The Everly
The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again)
the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.
Away From My Woman, this song actually exists in two different
takes, from the same session, with about 20 seconds difference, but the
vinyl record doesn't specify what version it is (same for Cat Man Blues,
by the way). The title already gives away what the tune is about.
Recorded: April 29, 1936. Sound
(take 1, 2:54), Sound
(take 2, 3:14), but no Lyrics found.
“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily
summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black
Smith's second single Crazy
Blues (1920), the first vocal blues recording in history, had sold
over one million copies despite being exorbitantly priced at one dollar.
In the mid twenties five to six million blues records were sold per
year, almost exclusively to the black public, who were with about 15
million in the USA. After the blast-off with mostly female singers
talent scouts roamed the states to audition regional bluesmen who
brought their version of traditional blues to the rest of the land.
It can't be denied that the booming record sales had a disruptive effect
on many local folk styles and traditions, but on the other hand, the
thousands of 78-RPM records archived songs that would otherwise have
been lost for ever. Even if the records had to fit inside the three
minutes format, blues had no beginning and no end, as the one performer
took up where the other left off and singers were constantly referring
to each other. A blues song didn't belong to the singer, it belonged to
Other trivia: Blues band Shakey
Vick named their first album,
in 1969, after this song.
Plum are terms that regularly appear in blues songs, although the
combination of both might be unique to this one.
It has been a while since we mentioned Led Zeppelin but their Travelling
Riverside Blues, itself named after a Robert Johnson tune (Traveling
Riverside Blues), ends by mentioning this Fuller song. Another fine
example of hokum blues, the lyrics are just damn' horny:
Oh just tell me mama Where do you get your sugar from Aw just tell
me sugar where you get your sugar from I believe I bit down On
your daddy's sugar plum
The last song Evil
Hearted Woman is one where the female race is again described at its
worst. It isn't the only time Fuller sings about an evil hearted woman
as the term is also used in his Untrue
Blues (not on this compilation).
Recorded: July 25, 1935. Sound,
but no Lyrics found.
In Evil Hearted Woman, My brownskin sugarplum, and Keep away from my
woman there is love, there is desire, there is menace, there is
jealousy, there is disappointment and there is humour.
We couldn't have said it better. If this record was good enough for Syd
Barrett to listen to, it surely is good enough for us as well. Listening
to Country Blues may be a challenge if your ears have been used to the
electric and electronic sounds of the third millennium, but this is R&B
in its embryonical stage. Dig it.
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started in 2008, more as a prank than
anything else (see: Felix
Atagong: an honest man), and has worn out its welcome more than
once. Feeling that our expiration date was reached at least a year ago,
it is time to say goodbye. And what better opportunity than to do it
with the album that named the best band in the word.
Let's give our final words to one of our esteemed colleagues, the
Reverend Gary Davis:
Many thanks to: Bennymix, Cagey, Caitrin, Deanna, Jim Dixon, Dorothea,
Brian Hoskin, Elise Israd, Mudcat.org,
Parla, Stephen Pyle, Tony Russell, Sorcha, Stagg'O'Lee, Dave T,
Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ friends, lovers and fans...
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Baigent,
Michael & Leigh, Richard: The Elixir and the Stone, Penguin,
London, 1998, p. 399. Bastin, Bruce: Blind Boy Fuller,
biography in: Stefan Grossman's early masters of American blues guitar:
Blind Boy Fuller, Alfred Music Publishing, 2007. Bastin, Bruce: Red
River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast, University of
Illinois Press, 1995, p. 223-234. Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly,
Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 43. Charters, Samuel: Carolina
Blues Man, Pink Anderson vol. 1 record liner notes, 1961. Charters,
Samuel: Medicine Show Man, Pink Anderson vol. 2 record liner
notes, 1961. Charters, Samuel: Ballad & Folksinger, Pink
Anderson vol. 3 record liner notes, 1961. Dosanjh, Warren: The
music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013,
p. 54. Goodall, Howard: Painters, Pipers, Prisoners. The musical
legacy of Pink Floyd., in: Pink Floyd. Their Mortal Remains, London,
2017, p.82. Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico,
London, 1998, p. 104. Hogg, Brian: What Colour is Sound?,
Crazy Diamond CD box booklet, 1993. Israd, Elise: The use of food
as a sexual metaphor in the blues, 2008?, (original page
deleted, partially archived
page) Levine, Lawrence W. : Black Culture and Black Consciousness:
Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Oxford
University Press, 2007 reprint, p. 225-232. McInnis, Mike : This
one's Pink, Unraveling the mysteries behind the Pink Floyd name,
2006. Miles, Barry: London Calling: a countercultural history of
London since 1945, Atlantic Books, London, 2010, p. 181. Miles,
Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006,
p. 46. Miles, Barry & Mabbett, Andy: Pink Floyd The Visual
Documentary, Omnibus Press, London, 1994 edition, unnumbered pages,
1965 section. Obrecht, Jas: Blind
Boy Fuller: His Life, Recording Sessions, and Welfare Records, 2011. Oliver,
Paul: Country Blues 1935-'40, Blind Boy Fuller liner notes, 1962. Palacios,
Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 40. Povey,
Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing,
2008, p. 18. Pyle, Stephen: Pink & Floyd, message on
21/03/2015 16:38. Schaffner, Nicholas: Saucerful of Secrets,
Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1991, p. 30. Schwartz, Roberta Freund
: How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of
American Blues Style in the United Kingdom, Ashgate Popular and Folk
Music Series, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 91-95. Stagg'O'Lee: Blind
Boy Fuller, Sa Vie, Gazette Greenwood, 2003. Watkinson, Mike &
Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 31. Weck,
Lars: Pink Floyd på visit, Dagens Nyheter, 1967-09-11. Welch,
Chris: Learning to Fly, Castle Communications, Chessington, 1994,
p. 26. Zolten, Jerry: Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds :
Celebrating the Rise of Soul, Oxford University Press, 2002, p.
The Church closed its door at the end of March 2015, but promised to
keep an eye open for all things relatively Syd-and-Iggy-related.
Obviously serendipity meant that, from that moment on, Syd-and-Iggy
related matters would regularly smash against the Church's closed
windows at the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, making this one
of our busier seasons.
Iggy Rose was a guest on American Dazed (talk) Radio, her first
radio-interview ever. The condensed version still is 47 minutes but what
an intense 47 minutes they are: Iggy
Rose Radio Interview.
In June Iggy was invited to the biennial, second and probably last Birdie
Hop Cambridge meeting where she met with Libby Gausden, Jenny Spires
and a bunch of Barrett-fans: Iggy
Rose in Cambridge.
And then, when you're least expecting it, there is a brand new Iggy
picture that make our hormone levels go crazy.
This article follows the same steps as that other one of 2012 that
published the discovery of Iggy's 'Pocahontas' picture, that has been an
inspiration for so many Iggy fans and their fanart creations: Iggy
- a new look in festivals.
The 1967 Festival of the Flower Children
Two weeks after Iggy had visited the National Jazz, Pop, Ballads and
Blues Festival at the Royal Windsor Racecourse, where she had her
picture taken for Music Maker magazine (see: Iggy
- a new look in festivals), there was the first Woburn festival with
an equally appealing title: Festival of the Flower Children.
Wanting to cash in on the Summer of Love (and the Bank Holiday Weekend
of 26-28 August) it tried to be a direct competitor for the first one
that was already well established and in its seventh edition. Flower
Children also went on for three days but its bill was less abundant,
less adventurous and clearly directed at the general public or 'weekend'
hippies, rather than the underground elite. The host, the Duke
of Bedford, one of those examples the French invented the guillotine
for and the living proof that the posh establishment will temporarily
adhere an alternative lifestyle if there is a buck to earn, sneered:
Only flower children are allowed in. They are nice peaceful young people
who like beat music and coloured lights. They are very different from
hippies who take drugs and make trouble. Hippies will definitely be
The Duke of Bedford apparently grabbed 10% of the entrance money
estimated at £50.000, according to an article in The
Australian Women's Weekly, but the promoters, the Seller brothers,
apparently weren't that happy and the financial debacle may have
quickened the demise of their mod nightclub Tiles,
Dexter was the house DJ. The Daily Telegraph, however, wrote that
the festival made the nice profit of £20.000. (Much of the information
and some of the pictures in this article come from the excellent UK
Rock Festivals.) For snobbish left-elitist underground circles and
their affiliated magazines is was all a sell-out. Peter Jenner:
Gradually all sorts of dubious people began to get involved. The music
business began to take over. (…) There were things like the Festival of
the Flower Children.
That the Seller brothers were thinking more in the terms of profit than
music or mod culture was perhaps proven by their nightclub Tiles that
was described by Tom
Wolfe as the 'Noonday
Underground'. In the middle of the day, during lunch hour, the club
opened and was visited by 'office boys, office girls, department store
clerks' and teenagers who had left school at fifteen, for their daily
dose of mod music and a Coca-Cola. Tiles aimed for an easy-going public
and although it lacked style and personality it did have a proper bar, a
good dance floor, a fancy stage and an excellent sound system.
With the exception of perhaps Dantalian's
Chariot (another band led by Zoot Money) and Tomorrow
(with drummer Twink) the bill wasn't really underground, nor
psychedelic. Pink Floyd was never considered to appear at the festival,
Chapman pretends the opposite in his immaculate biography. Not that
the band would've come as they had already cancelled the Windsor
Racecourse gig due to Barrett's erratic behaviour.
For the press the festival was gefundenes fressen and news
photographers seemed to outnumber groovers. And now we let you guess,
who can be found on one of those pictures, you think?
On the 21st of September the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit was asked the
following by Jacinta Storten:
Hi there, do you know if Iggy attended the Festival of the Flower
Children love-in at Woburn Abbey in 1967? I have some photos of
attendees and one of them looks just like her, on the other hand the
photo could be from the Woburn Festival that Fleetwood Mac headlined
which I think Pink Floyd were also billed from memory it was 67 or 68. [Note
from FA: for the record, at the 1968 version of the Woburn Abbey
festival, Fleetwood Mac never showed up, although they were billed. Pink
Floyd never played the festival either as they were touring North
America on that day.]
Such a mail obviously has the same effect on the Church as a red rag to
a bull. We immediately contacted Iggy Rose who wasn't aware of ever
being at the festival, but you know the saying 'if you remember the
sixties, you weren't there'. We wrote back to Jacinta, asking for a copy
of the picture so that we could send it over to Iggy, but due to the
quirky way Facebook messaging works sometimes (or should we say: not
works) that was ignored. (We have that effect on many people.)
Luckily on the fifth of November the picture appeared on the HeroInSight
'Iggy ”The Eskimo” Rose at Festival of the Flower Children Love-in,
Woburn Abbey UK, 1967.
As soon as we got hold of the picture we send it to Iggy who confirmed
it was indeed her:
My goodness, where did you find that? I look stoned. Haha. I can't
even remember being there. Lol xxx.
An internet search revealed that the picture
is currently hosted at Photo Inventory France, that seems to be owned by
an Ebay seller called Photo
Vintage France. The picture (30 x 19.5 cm) was put several times on
sale before, between June 2012 and August 2015, for the price of 159
Euro, but apparently no buyer has ever been found. Lucky for us,
otherwise the picture had perhaps never been found.
We contacted the owner of the Ebay shop, Bruno Tartarin, asking if he
could give us more information about this picture. We got a reply pretty
fast, but it didn't really give us info we didn't know already:
Cette image vient des archives Holmes-Lebel. Flower Children, Hippies
Rally, Woburn Abbey, Angleterre, circa 1967. RE2173 Tirage argentique
Translation: This image comes from the Holmes-Lebel archives. Flower
Children, Hippies Rally, Woburn Abbey, Angleterre, circa 1967. RE2173 Authentic
gelatin-silver photography, stamped.
Internet searches for the Holmes-Lebel company didn't lead to anything
substantial apart from the fact that they created / sold pictures for
advertisements, movie posters, record and book covers and magazines in
the sixties. Also the photographer who took Iggy's picture is a mystery
as the agency had several internationally renowned people working for
them like Rona
Update 2015 12 22: Meanwhile the picture has mysteriously landed
at Atagong Mansion, and for once, the Reverend isn't interested in the
front of the picture, but wants to study the different marks on the
back. There are four in total: 1. a blue stamp of the Holmes-Lebel
company with the remark that the document has to be returned after
publication: 'document à rendre'. 2. another stamp with the
warning that four times the copyright amount will be asked if the
document gets lost or damaged: 'en cas de perte ou détérioration des
documents il sera perçu quatre fois le prix de cession des droits'. 3.
a sticker describing the picture in English:
HIPPIES RALLY (THE FLOWER CHILDREN), WOBURN ABBEY, ENGLAND Hippy girl
dressed in the Indian way. Copyright HOLMES-LEBEL/I.M.F. n) 3008
4. a remark written in pencil, reading 'woodstook'.
Scans of the stamps, stickers and marks on the back can be found on our
Iggy Tumblr page: Hippy
Porn and the Englishman
A photographer who certainly was present at the Flower Children festival
was Londoner Jean
Straker whose photo studio was in Soho and who was interviewed in
the 6th issue of Oz
because his pictures were considered pornographic in the prude
interpretation of the English law.
In 1951 he founded the Visual Arts Club where he gave lectures, sold his
pictures and where he would have 'photographers, amateur and
professional, studying the female nude'. Straker's pictures were
considered pornography under the Obscene
Publications Act and in 1961 over 1600 of his negatives and 233 of
his prints were confiscated. While Straker claimed his pictures were of
artistic value the judge didn't follow this explanation. In appeal,
Straker got many of his negatives back, but this was forced on a
technicality, using a loophole in the law, and the official
interpretation was still that his pictures were obscene.
This situation lingered on with Straker trying to fight censorship and
in 1967 Jean Straker noted (in Oz 6):
Now, as most lawyers know, I been through all this jazz before; apart
from a few thousand motorists, and a few hundred barrow boys, I must be
the most prosecuted non-criminal in town.
Jean Straker also visited the Festival of the Flower Children were he
might have taken over 220 pictures. Harper's
Books currently sells a (partial) archive of 39 different 5 x 8 inch
black and white photographs. However, at 3.000 USD for this collection,
it is a bit expensive just to find out if the Iggy picture is part of it.
At 165 Euro the Holmes-Lebel piece is almost a bargain.
The who, the what and the where?
There is a big chance we will never know who took Iggy's picture at the
festival of the Flower Children. It could've been one of Iggy's froody
friends, as we know she knew quite a few free-lance photographers,
including the one who took her picture two weeks earlier at the National
Jazz, Pop, Ballads and Blues Festival. If only she could remember his
name! At the other hand, she could've been invited to the festival by
Jeff Dexter, who had developed some interest in her and tried to record
her in the studio.
It is possible that the picture was bought by the Holmes-Lebel agency in
order to publish it in a French magazine. It would be nice to find that
article back, if there ever has been one.
But the good news is that a new Iggy picture has been unearthed and that
is was found – again – by one of her many fans. For that the Church (and
Iggy Rose) will be eternally grateful to Jacinta 'HeroInSight' Storten...
The quest continues... good hunting my sistren and brethren...
and don't do anything that Iggy wouldn't do...
Many thanks to: HeroInSight, Jacinta Storten, Iggy Rose, Bruno Tartarin, UK
Rock Festivals. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Chapman, Rob: A
Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 179. Green,
Jonathon: All Dressed Up, Pimlico, London, 1999, p. 43, 221. Green,
Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 112. Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 246. Photo Inventory France: http://photoinventory.fr/photos/RE2173.png Pullen,
Bob: Photography and Censorship: The Photographs and Ideals of Jean
Straker, Photography and Culture, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2008 (online
A fantasy based on facts. Inspired by a hypothesis from Simon
In a previous post
the Church reviewed Simon Matthews' book Psychedelic
Celluloid that lists some 120 'flower power' era movies and their
ties with pop and rock stars from that period. One of the movies that
pass the revue is The Committee, a 1968 flick that mainly gets
its reputation from an 'unreleased' Pink Floyd soundtrack. As such it
was dredged up in 2005 for a DVD release and, more recently, added to
the Pink Floyd compilation The
The movie, loved by some (including the Reverend, actually) and ignored
by everybody else, tells the absurd story of a hitch-hiker (Paul
Jones, lead singer from Manfred
Mann) who decapitates the driver who offers him a ride. After a few
minutes he sews the head back on the corpse and as if nothing had
happened both men each go their own way.
A while later the hitch-hiker is invited to participate in an official
Committee, where he is briefly confronted with his victim (whose
neck-marks have been miraculously healed). This pretty Kafkaesque
situation raises the question if that reunion was staged, or not, and if
there will be any consequences for the perpetrator, or not.
Perhaps the Committee is a tribunal, or perhaps it is not. Perhaps it's
all an elaborate trap, a mind-fuck, like number
six had to undergo in the village. Contrary to The
Prisoner the hitch-hiker decides not to make a run for it and
immediately confesses his crime to the director of the Committee.
Unfortunately, the final twenty minutes of the film consists of
pseudo-philosophical babble about the previous, concluding that 'the
whole world is a madhouse, an extended madhouse', with thanks to R.D.
Laing for the inspiration.
In a meta-prognostic way the movie relates to Syd Barrett and Pink
Floyd. Pink Floyd who cut the head of the driver on their road to
success. Then sewing the head back on and making big bucks from milking
their guilty consciences. (And didn't R.D. Laing conclude that it wasn't
Syd Barrett who was mad, but the people around him?)
The story of the soundtrack is as blurry as its script. On the DVD's
obligatory interview there is the comment that the Floyd 'demanded the
most expensive soundtrack studio in London' which is weird as they
recorded the thing for practically nothing at the basement flat of the
The following abundantly lends from Julian Palacios' Dark Globe, David
Parker’s Random Precision and the webzine Spare
Bricks. Simon Matthews interviewed Max Steuer for Psychedelic
Celluloid and gave the Church some valuable background information.
The Committee was filmed in autumn and winter of 1967 by Max Steuer
(writer, producer) and Peter Sykes (writer, director). Steuer was
a lecturer at the London School of Economics and when he made the
preparations for the movie he consulted his ex-colleague Peter
Jenner for a possible soundtrack. Jenner agreed as he had exactly
the right band in his portfolio for the job: The Pink Floyd.
What both men didn’t know was that Pink Floyd was almost a goner and
that Syd Barrett was full-time preoccupied losing his marbles. The movie
was in its final stage when the band was limping between disaster gigs
and unsettling recording sessions.
“How about that soundtrack?” asked Steuer.
“Coming up.” lied Jenner.
Blame it on the New Year, because here is where the story becomes blurry
New kid in town
In January 1968 pretty boy Gilmour had joined the band in a desperate
move to salvage the sinking ship. At first Barrett joined them on a
couple of gigs but they soon understood that the band’s dwindling live
reputation could only be saved by leaving him, and his effervescing
marbles, at home.
The same can be said about the recording sessions that were in full
swing. Out of courtesy Barrett was invited to some, but after a while…
well, things just got faster done with Syd not in the studio.
On 20 December 1967 Syd and the Floyd had been overdubbing Scream
Thy Last Scream. Early January was used to have some rehearsals with
the new guitarist and to work in the studio on Set
The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Scream Thy Last Scream,
however it is not certain if Syd was present, mentally or physically.
You Got It Yet session (presumably on the 10th of January) had not
been appreciated, to say the least.
Saturday 20 January 1968 was Syd's last concert with Pink Floyd.
Theoretically the five-man Floyd had existed for three weeks, but they
only gigged at five concerts on four locations, in ten days. The next
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the band rehearsed as a four-piece, making
it de facto clear that Syd’s days were over. Nobody found it
necessary to pick up Barrett for further gigs and also the Saucerful
of Secrets studio sessions would go on without him. Rumour goes that
- at several occasions - Syd Barrett sat patiently outside the recording
room, waiting to be asked in. Nobody asked him in.
The Committee (aborted soundtrack)
But on Wednesday, 30 January 1968, Syd was indeed expected at the Sound
Techniques studio to record The Committee soundtrack. He arrived one and
a half hour late, didn’t bring his guitar, nor a band, much to the
annoyance of Max Steuer who had been promised the full Floyd by Peter
Jenner. That last was a bit difficult as Pink Floyd #2 was recording in
the Abbey Road studios, about 3.9 miles (6.3 km) north from Old Church
While Jenner took Steuer for a therapeutic walk, Andrew King (and/or
engineer John Wood) phoned around to get some gear and some musicians,
probably Nice-drummer Brian
'Blinky' Davidson and Barrett-buddy Steve
Peregrin Took. Julian Palacios:
Steuer and Jenner returned a few hours later to find a trio of drums,
bass, and guitar.
Max [Steuer] told me that Barrett turned up with a drummer and bass
player that he didn't recognize and this was the first inkling he had
that things were not OK within the Pink Floyd.
The improvised band ploughed through a twenty-minute instrumental, which
Barrett insisted should be played backwards for the soundtrack.
In an interview for Spare
Bricks in 2005, Max Steuer remembered the story somewhat different:
Syd read the story and said he would do the film. This seemed fine by
me. He asked us to book a very expensive studio, and showed up an hour
and a half late, and without a guitar. He asked Peter Sykes and me to
get lost, which we did. We came back a few hours later to find a trio -
drums, bass, and guitar. They finished a bit and lased it up backwards.
Syd thought it was a good start. It cost too much money, and would have
sunk the film.
At midnight the session ended and they all went home. The next day John
Wood phoned Barrett to have the title of the track they had recorded.
Unfortunately Barrett couldn't be reached, so that field was never
filled out on the session sheet.
Max Steuer nearly got a heart attack when he saw the bill. It was
£61.6s. Nowadays this is hardly enough to buy a Pink Floyd Immersion
set, but in those days it was the equivalent of about £1000 now (roughly
$1240 or €1170). Add half a dozen sessions more to finish the job and
The Committee and its directors would’ve been bankrupt.
Update April 2017: Max Steuer didn’t think there was anything
particularly wrong with what the Barrett trio recorded for him. The film
was being done for free by all participants against a share of any
profits, but Syd Barrett wanting to record in a big studio almost wiped
them out financially. Steuer told Simon Matthews the track sounded
‘really great’ when played backwards.
There are some strange things going on with that contract. The session
document, that can be found in Parker’s study, was made up for Norman
Smith and Pink Floyd and is originally dated 12 January. The typed
date is stricken out and changed, by hand, to the thirtieth.
Under Norman Smith's name someone wrote that it was 'Sid' Barrett who
took the session, but unfortunately the names of the session musicians
have not been noted.
Norman Smith & Pink Floyd vs Peter Jenner & Syd Barrett
It makes sense that the session was booked under the Pink Floyd moniker.
Legally Syd Barrett was still in the band and it would take until May
before all legal razzmatazz was fulfilled.
Peter Jenner probably booked the studio when there was still hope for
Syd’s future in the band (as a songwriter and/or studio musician). But
after the Have You Got It Yet-debacle it was rather understandable that
the band didn’t want to be confronted with him any more. If we are sure
of something it is that somewhere mid-January Syd Barrett was declared persona
non grata by the band.
Enterprises still believed that Barrett was the goose with the
golden eggs. If the Floyd wanted to go on without him it was their own
stubborn stupid choice. Without the pressure of touring, Syd would be
able to record those British oddities by the dozen. As a matter of fact
a solo record had already been briefly discussed – just before Arnold
Layne had been produced - when Syd gave Joe
Boyd a six track demo tape containing Boon Tune (aka Here I
Go) and a proto-version of Jugband Blues, that would resurface on
Saucerful. It is believed the tape was given to Chris Joe Beard from The
Purple Gang who promptly lost it. (For more info about that mishap,
Making a soundtrack, that was usually just seen as an quick 'n' easy
side-job, would be a great way to get Barrett in the picture and the
Syd Barrett and colleagues managed to record a 20 minutes jam. So where
is the tape? Max Steuer:
Somehow, Peter Jenner got that tape. Peter, give me back my tape!
As far as I know I am not in possession of these tapes, I might have
been given a copy, but surely not the masters. (…) Max Steuer may have
given us the tapes. But I do not remember them. But many things
disappeared with the sudden collapse of Blackhill. My recollection is
that they were less than amazing. However if I come across anything I
will let you know. (The complete Peter Jenner interview at the Holy
Church can be found at: An
innerview with Peter Jenner)
When Simon Matthews interviewed Max Steuer for Psychedelic Celluloid it
was re-confirmed that Peter Jenner collected the tape from him. All he
can remember is that the piece sounded 'jazzy, with a groove'.
Unless it is miraculously found back (what frequently happens when an
anniversary release is announced) the recording seems to be lost.
The second soundtrack
The following day Roger Waters heard about the problem, either from
Peter Jenner (still their manager) or from Rick Wright, who was living
in a flat with Syd. He proposed to do the soundtrack with the band, in
their spare time, a couple of months later. This took four days in an
improvised studio. Max Steuer at Spare Bricks:
We started at nine each morning and did twelve hours or so. Roger was
always there at 8:30, David Gilmour shortly after, then Nick Mason, and
Rick Wright just before nine. It was amazingly professional.
It wouldn't be the last time Waters, Gilmour, Wright & Mason would come
to Barrett's rescue. (A detailed review of the soundtrack, that includes
an early version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, can be found at Brain
The Barrett tapes (by Simon Matthews)
According to Simon Matthews the aborted soundtrack session is
intertwined with the departure of Barrett, Jenner and King from Pink
Floyd. The following has almost been copied verbatim from him.
In early 68 Jenner and King thought (for about a week or so) about
rebuilding a new group around Barrett and (perhaps) Rick Wright. To do
this they were in need of an extra bass player and drummer. Barrett duly
turned up with a bass player and drummer at the studio for The Committee.
In May 68 Barrett had several sessions, with a bass player and drummer
who were never named, but it is almost certain that Steve Peregrin Took
was around. Rhamadan and Lanky are some of the
instrumentals that came out of it.
By late June 68 Jenner and King had enough rough material they felt
useable to be included on a Syd Barrett solo album. This included 3 Pink
Floyd tracks: In the Beechwoods, Scream Thy Last Scream, Vegetable Man;
Barrett's work for The Committee, now called Rhamadan and a
couple of new ones: Swanlee (Silas Lang), Late Night and Golden Hair.
Lanky Pt. 1 and Clowns & Jugglers were considered as well.
The Pink Floyd veto
At this point music industry politics kicked in. Pink Floyd #2 were
releasing A Saucerful of Secrets and didn't want their 'old' material
released under the Syd Barrett flag. The band guaranteed Blackhill
Enterprises royalties for everything already released, but kept the
rights for the unreleased tracks. These would be hidden in the vault for
50 years, until The Early Years came out.
By refusing to release those 3 early Barrett songs the idea of finishing
a Barrett solo album soon was shelved. Peter Jenner and Andrew King
moved on to easier things like Marc Bolan's T Rex. They wouldn't
jeopardize, not unreasonably, the financial security that the Pink Floyd
royalties gave them. Peter Jenner made the same request in 1974 and
again Pink Floyd blocked him. Simon Matthews:
Given that Barrett got ousted from the group, dropped from The
Committee, had the first version of his solo LP aborted, got dropped by
Jenner (on rather vague grounds) and then had his re-started solo LP
taken over by Waters and Gilmour and it's release put back until after
the Pink Floyd had released Ummagumma, I'm not surprised that he was
wary of Pink Floyd and Jenner and King thereafter.
The whole world is a madhouse, an extended madhouse.
(Simon Matthews is currently working on a sequel of Psychedelic
Celluloid, covering the period 1975-1986.)
Reinventing Pink Floyd (Update December 2018)
In his book Reinventing Pink Floyd, author Bill Kopp has an
interesting theory about this soundtrack. Not only Syd's twenty minutes
tape has been lost, but also the masters from the second soundtrack,
recorded by the refurbished Pink Floyd with David Gilmour. The 2 tracks
presented on The Early Years Continu/ation CD is what Pink Floyd thinks
what could be salvaged from the movie, but luckily there are bootlegs
around that are (nearly) complete.
The opening credits of the movie have a psychedelic piece that is played
backwards. Bill Kopp:
It features a most unusual mix of sounds: drums sound like Indian tabla,
guitars sound like sitars (or electric sitars), and the keyboard sounds
seem to be coming from an early modular synthesizer. It's worth noting
that none of these instruments had made an appearance on a Pink Floyd
recording previously, and none - save synthesizer - would in the near
So there is a big chance, according to Kopp, that this backwards 30
seconds track has been recorded by another group of musicians. Now who
recorded a lost twenty-minutes track for this movie, months before Pink
Floyd messed with it? None other than Syd Barrett, probably with Brian
'Blinky' Davidson and Steve Peregrin Took.
It is an interesting theory, to say the least. Kopp also pretends
Barrett's twenty minutes solo piece circulates amongst collectors, but
that's the first I have ever heard about that. Peter Jenner and Max
Steuer pretend not to have it in their archives and suspect the other
one to have ditched it. Unless, of course, it still resides in one of
Nick Masons' cupboards. (Taken from our review at: Your
Many thanks to: Peter Jenner, Simon Matthews. ♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above mentioned links): Fitch, Vernon: The
Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, Collector's Guide Publishing, Ontario,
2005, p. 66, 133. Hughes, Christopher: A Committee of not many,
Bricks 25, 2005. (Max Steuer interview.) King, David: An
Interview with Peter Sykes, Spare
Bricks 5, 2000. Manning, Toby: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd,
Rough Guides, London, 2006, p. 260. Matthews, Simon: Psychedelic
Celluloid, Oldcastle Books, Harpenden, 2016, p. 74. Matthews,
Simon: email conversation with Felix Atagong, February 2017. Palacios,
Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London,
2010, p. 320. Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red
Books, London, 2001, p. 119-121. Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete
history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 90.
Last year in June a French 'Pathe Marconi' edition of Syd
single was sold
for 10,500 Euro, a small fortune, if you ask us, unless you happen
to be an administrator of a Facebook Syd Barrett group. The single came
from the ORTF archives, Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française,
and as such it was 'tattooed', labelled and written on.
So why were collectors so eager to have this (less than mint) vinyl
record in their collection? The French-German television station Arte
tried to find an answer and made a 25 minutes documentary about it all,
existing in two languages.
When you read this the chance is big you can’t watch the show any more
as it was only online for a week, in January 2017. On top of that there
was a geo-block,
except for Belgium. Probably France and Germany are still still thinking
we are one of their underdeveloped colonies.
The reason why this vinyl is so expensive is due to the fact that this
particular edition has only survived in about ten copies (and one of
those was recently lost in a fire). As such it is a Ferrari for vinyl
collectors, as someone states in the documentary. They were only given
away as promotional material and the superfluous copies were melted to
recuperate the vinyl. Isn't recycling a good thing?
The ORTF library got four, numbers two and three went missing over the
years, euphemistically described by the program makers as damaged, and
the first one was auctioned to the public.
Those who are old enough to have seen The
Wall movie in the cinemas may remember the intrepid interview that
two Actuel reporters had with Syd Barrett in Cambridge. (Read it here: French
Magazine Article - ACTUEL) Although the conversation with the madcap
took only about six lines, and was mainly about a bag of laundry, it
created quite a buzz. French like that. That same Actuel magazine also
had an article about an adventurer archaeologist who knew where the
mythical El Dorado could be found. Needless to say he couldn't but
Actuel wrote a ten pages long article about it, just in case.
Arte does pretty much the same when they repeat the rumour that the
Pathe Marconi sleeve could have been drawn by monsieur Barrett
himself. They immediately embark to London to interview Duggie
Fields. Fields doesn't immediately recognise Syd's style, but he
isn't 100% sure either as there are certain Syd-esque style elements in
the drawing. But several other details imply that the sleeve hasn't been
made by Syd.
First of all: it depicts a sea animal, while the Octopus in the song is
a fairground ride. Second: the sleeve has the name of the graphical
artist printed at the right bottom side. Dessin: lilli, it reads, which
means drawing by Lilli.
So those Frenchies could've avoided going to London anyway, but I guess
they had to fill up those 25 minutes. And it is always a pleasure seeing
Duggie, one of the few British gentlemen left. (Read our Duggie Fields
self-interview here: Duggie
Fields, much more than a room-mate)
Peter Jenner has been interviewed as well. He doesn’t really tell us
anything new, but this documentary wasn’t made for Floydian anoraks. He
talks about the fast rocket that Pink Floyd was, unfortunately a rocket
that exploded in mid-flight.
I see him as a shooting star, he lifts off in 1966, he writes his songs,
has an enormous success, and then he disappears.
A third interviewee is Bill Palmieri, an American record collector who
is an esteemed member of several Floydian groups, and who also happens
to have an original French Octopus in his collection, after searching
for it for over thirty years. He thinks there are less than 5 copies of
this 'holy grail' in the hands of collectors. He talks with much love
about his records, about Pink Floyd, about Syd Barrett. It is intriguing
but quite a bit weird as well. It's pretty cool to see that he consults
Floyd On Forty-Five book were the single is listed on page 69.
Plenty of weirdos in Floydian circles, guilty as charged.
Update 19 January 2017: Charles Beterams, author of 'Pink Floyd
in Nederland' and owner of a Floydian collectors shop, estimates there
are still more copies around:
The “less than five” guess is far below what is realistic. I’ve sold two
different copies over the years and know of at least four other copies
in existence. a few dozen at least are left and around.
To further elaborate on the madcap’s enigma a French scholar is asked as
Espitallier, author of the quirky essay Le
Rock Et Autres Trucs and translator of Tim Willis' Madcap in the
language of Molière. He praises the lyrics of Octopus, in his opinion a
predecessor of the lyrics that made progressive bands like Yes and
Genesis so popular.
Syd Barrett is a person who traumatised rock . He was so powerful, so
original, so fast, as a kind of Arthur
The value of this record has skyrocketed over the years. Record
Collector 327 (September 2006) valued it at £650 and in the late
nineties collector David Parker got offered one for £500, a deal he
unfortunately refused and now regrets:
A dealer got in touch with me a few months ago, he was accepting bids
for an ok -but-not-exceptional copy... current highest bid was €6500
(+/- £5740, FA).
An Italian collector signalled us that at the record fair in Utrecht the
price was €16,000 for one and €20,000 for another one in a better
condition. Lots of dough for an Octopus ride, but the copy from the ORTF
archives seems to have beaten the record, for now...
A gallery with screenshots of this documentary on our Tumblr blog: Octopus.
The Church wishes to thank: Charles Beterams, Mary Cosco, Rich Hall,
David Parker ♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥ Paula ♥