The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit
Iggy Rose was one of Syd Barrett's girlfriends in 1969. She is most famous for being the model on the Syd Barrett album: 'The Madcap Laughs'. Nicknamed Iggy the Eskimo, it was rumoured she was part Inuit.
One day, in 1969, she disappeared out of Syd's life and was not heard of ever since.
Almost four decades later, the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started to mess with things. Its five years mission: to find Iggy and bring her back to the spotlights. And guess what, with some invaluable help from many, many friends... we did...
Some highlights of our past: Notable Articles.
For the past 30 years he has been a free-lance journalist, covering a broad range of the classic and modern media: spoken and written word, video and television, electronic adventures in cyberworld for official and private institutions or companies. In those three decades he has witnessed successive births, deaths and resurrections of magazines and papers but this hasn't taken away the fun and inspiration to go on writing. In his own words: telling a story, whatever the medium, is the most beautiful of the story.
Jose Ángel González is also a photographer, has exhibited his work in Madrid, Barcelona and San Francisco and has published some work in magazines. He likes photography as an expressive medium as pictures can be a workaround for when words aren't telling enough.
In 1986 he published a mockumentary in La Naval, a shortlived 'Atlantic movement' journal that he founded. It was a fable about Syd Barrett's alleged stay at the Oseira monastery. Throughout the entire piece the protagonist's name is misspelled as Barret, not Barrett. Not that anyone noticed. See: Spanishgrass, one year later.
Unknown to him the story turned into an urban legend and the Syd in Oseira rumour was repeated and extrapolated among Spanish Syd Barrett fans.
In 2002 he published a follow-up article on a (disappeared) blog in a series of hypothetical records. Here is where the Spanishgrass album was named for the first time.
This added extra fuel on the urban legend and blogs and forums picked up the 'news'. According to González he was not aware of this until he was contacted by Antonio Jesús from Solo En Las Nubes who made it his quest to search for the origins of the Spanishgrass myth.
In 2001 Jose Ángel González published a book: Bendita Locura, la tormentosa epopeya de Brian Wilson y los Beach Boys (Editorial Milenio, 2001) [Blessed Madness, the stormy epic of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys].
Since March 2011 he lives in San Francisco (USA).
Antonio Jesús has lived in Cambridge where he helped at The City Wakes festival (2008, already) and met several people of the pre-Floydian incrowd. His blog Solo en las Nubes is the starting point for Spanish speaking Barrett fans all over the world. In a series of so-called Self-Interviews he has highlighted several personalities of the past and present Syd Barrett world.
As a close collaborator of the Holy Church he decided to investigate the Spanishgrass hoax, go to the bottom of it and find the source of the urban legend. Not only he traced back the articles that started the legend but managed to interview the author, Jose Ángel González.
He is the author of much more than "Syd Barrett looking for celestial harmony in Oseira" and "Monastic Syd" (aka Spanishgrass).
Once we had found Jose Ángel González, we had no other choice then to ask about his article of La Naval... However, there were many other things to talk about as we had only seen the tip of an artist's iceberg.
What follows are the questions, what follows are the answers ...
About the [Atlantic] movement that started in Vigo... when was the time when you realized that those changes were going to stay forever?
Have they "stayed forever"? Their remembrance should be personal and not entrenched in a historical museum. I think that all these changes have now been usurped by the professionals of recuperation: politicians, artists in search for the holy grail of early retirement, mediocre artists, professional curators looking for patronage... They want to be awarded with an approved nostalgic blessing, they want to give expression of a comfortable and comforting situation...
I'm thinking of the shameful and manipulative exposition Desembarco de los 80 (Disembarking of the eighties, 2011 exposition remembering the Atlantic movement) that was mounted on lies for the greater glory, also financial, of its survivors... I don’t like the durability of this idea, although of course I am a human being and I have the right to worship my private saints.
[Note: for an explanation what the Spanish cultural and political Atlantic movement was about, please see: Spanishgrass, one year later.]
Where did you live and what did you do then?
When the Vigo movement hatched in the media I was living in Coruña. I don't call her the Galician A Coruña nor the Spanish La Coruña, I only use the feminine surname of the city, as she is the lady whom I love. I was working for the only Galician FM radio-station that played the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Television, Patti Smith or the Ramones...
First the show was called Frenesí (Frenzy), later El lado salvaje (The wild side) and it was diffused by Radio Popular in Ferrol, but recorded in Coruña. Much later the show changed into Vuelo nocturno (Nightflight) on the FM station Radio Coruña-Cadena SER.
In 1980 I had returned from Madrid where I had been lucky enough to witness the first concerts of the groups that were liked by the [Atlantic] movement and I found out that Coruña was a wasteland where the people of my generation where listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer in the best case and to Mercedes Sosa in the worst.
La Naval [the semi-official magazine of the Atlantic movement] was not the only project I was involved in. I also organised weekly rock concerts in a discotheque and co-managed two official rock contests for my city.
The initial musical tristesse that I had found was ameliorating, but not much.
From the artists of that fruitful era, which one do you prefer?
There is no doubt for me: Siniestro Total (Total Sinister). They were provocative and cultivated despite their rudeness and they liked black American blues, which was quite strange in Galicia, where everything coming from the USA was considered imperialistic, influenced as we were by our nationalistic blindness.
How did La Naval come into place? Where there other competing magazines? What made it so different?
A new style of magazines was more or less created out of boredom with the old ones. We worked for newspapers and radio-stations of A Coruña but it was hard to get some media attention in the city and to have our alternative agendas published. The La Naval magazine began with 100.000 pesetas I had put aside on a long-termed bank account, the result of an apartment sale belonging to my parents. I think it will be obvious what followed: I never recovered the money.
[Note: 100.000 pesetas is roughly 601€, 802$ or 510£. The value today would be at least the double as in the mid-eighties.]
How was the atmosphere between the collaborators of La Naval?
Although I stayed on the editorial board for all numbers it was not my thing. The magazine's editorial line was based on the alleged alternative Atlantic culture, as opposed to the Mediterranean one. It soon led to an attempt to make a sales brand out of Galicia and to sell it to the mainland. It gave expression to nationalism, rascally and low-fi perhaps, but nationalism after all.
And how did La Naval end?
In my case, with a hole in the bank, but others took profit out of it. For example, Radio Océano, a band created by two of our founding members, recorded an album that was paid by national radio, where its leadsinger was working, by the way.
What do you miss most about the movement?
There was a clan feeling that was not bad, but it was limited to our own small tribe with mutual masturbation among participating journalists. We were a Mafia, like any other.
Number "500" had the article about Syd Barrett visiting the Oseira monastery. Was this based on some urban... or better said: rural legend? How was the article conceived?
The story was born in me with the fascination I felt for Syd Barrett and his work. The article uses no legend as a starting point. It is my own personal fiction.
A few years ago the story, without direct references to the original article, resurfaced on the Internet. How did you react to that?
None whatsoever. La Naval only had a limited impact. Only now I have learned through you about the impact of the article, and I'm interested and proud. I find it very funny that an urban legend grew out of it that has been further associated with others or confirmed by others.
A few years after the publication of the La Naval article I wrote an extended and corrected version for a series about hypothetical records. It was published on a blog that eventually ended and added the lyrics of some of the songs from Spanishgrass.
Why did you choose Syd Barrett as the protagonist of this monastic adventure? And why Oseira?
Because Syd Barrett is one of my preferential musicians. Because Oseira is a place of great tellurian force and it seemed appropriate as a setting for this fiction. The summers of the English author Graham Greene in the monastery, the power of nature, the retirement, the prime nobility of those Cistercian monks... All that, my fragile memory recalls, had to do with the initial idea.
What music are you currently listening to?
I've never stopped listening to old blues (Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf, Bessie Smith...), Bob Dylan, King Crimson, David Bowie, The Beatles... I'm not seeking for new things. But what has excited me most recently is Wilco.
How did you get into photography?
I started taking pictures and developing them in a dark room in my teens, but I had never any other intention than doing some family snapshots. A few years ago, while recovering from an illness and with my first digital reflex camera, I started using photography as a form of therapy, to try to find the humanity that was fleeing from me. Quite naturally I went back to analog photography. And here I am: I have already stated a few times that I would like to have more time to pursue photographic projects. It is not easy ...
What brought you to the USA and San Francisco in particular?
To make a long story short, I was keen to leave Spain and its sadness behind.
In the 'Strike' collection your photos seem not to capture the moment but the spirit of those who appear in it. Is that the magic 'analog' touch? And in the 'Her Name is Holga' series you seem to carry away the dream. Were these pictures taken in th USA? What inspired you?
I can rarely explain a photo, and especially those on the street have been taken instinctively. Someone said that the photographer is, or should be, an emissary of his own sadness. I apply that story.
Strike photo series: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/section/303188_strike.html
Her name is Holga photo series: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/section/303026_her_name_is_holga.html
Your blog is superb, in photographic work and in the texts you write. Do you think there is something in common? What accounts for your preference for black and white? When do you choose colour instead?
I see in black and white. Always has been. I do not pretend to be better or more arty: it's a spiritual condition.
And that romance with Holga? What does she has that others do not have?
The Holga camera is a simple, plastic toy, cheap and unsophisticated. I love flirting with her and I think she fancies me, as she returns miracles. I have over 50 cameras: if I have to choose just one, it would be the Holga.
What is Oraciones sucias (obscene prayers)?
It's a Tumblr, a scrapbook, a microblog... I have another as well: Hot Parade, dedicated to photos only. I also have two websites: joseangelgonzalez.com is my official site, I have recently rebuilt it after an accidental file loss. On joseangelgonzalez.net are those photos that embarrass me the least.
Do you have any artistic ambitions to further develop?
Just living and trying to be happy, which is already something.
To be continued...
© 2013 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Jose Ángel González, Rafa Alcacer & Antonio Jesús. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
Many thanks to Babylemonade Aleph for rolling the ball in the beginning and Antonio Jesús for his incredible research. All (interview) pictures © Jose Ángel González.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Jose Ángel González can be found at the following places:
Oraciones Sucias: http://oracionessucias.tumblr.com/
Hot Parade: http://hotparade.tumblr.com/
Canto de Caza (2010): http://cantodecaza.wordpress.com/
Soy padre de un hoax (I am the father of a hoax)
Solo en las Nubes self-interviews (in English)
It is with great pleasure that the Reverend introduces a new contributor at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Not only did Antonio Jesús live in the beautiful city of Cambridge but as editor of the slightly fantastic Spanish Syd Barrett blog Solo en las Nubes he has published several Autoentrevista or Self-Interviews with Barrett specialists, biographers and friends.
Felix Atagong: an honest man
Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager
Kiloh Smith Interview, hosted at Syd Barrett Pink Floyd
Lee Wood, the man who knows everything
Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate
Antonio Jesús Reyes, a new career in a new town
Wondering and Dreaming (a self-interview with Ewgeni Reingold)
Eva Wijkniet: my Syd (Roger) Barrett project
John Cavanagh, so much to do, so little time
Jose Ángel González, Spanishgrass & more
Posted by Antonio Jesús at 11:53
Edited on: 2013-06-15 17:04
Categories: Self-Interview, Spanishgrass
An overview of the latest posts: Most Recent Articles
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When the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit got hold of an Iberian Floydian legend, thanks to a Mexican Syd Barrett fan, the Reverend's alter ego, Alex Fagotin, spend a couple of days searching the Internet for clues and started to translate half a dozen of Spanish, Galician and Italian webpages about the subject. According to these articles Syd Barrett had stayed in a Spanish monastery where he had recorded a third solo album called Spanishgrass. If you missed it, you can still consult the original article here: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record.
In May 2012 the Holy Church published excerpts from these articles 'as such' under the satirical 'The Anchor' banner. Authenticity warnings were put at the beginning and end of the article and it was made clear throughout the text that the story was an urban legend that had thrived in Spain around the Eighties and was still discussed on Internet fora today.
Only a fool would believe this was a true story, but unfortunately the Internet is a fool's oasis.
Some airheads immediately accused the Church of deliberately spreading around false information, even going as far as claiming it had a hidden agenda. As if blogging about 'Paul is Dead' would automatically mean that you believe in it. Several Spanish speaking friends, however, were glad about the article and informed the Reverend that the Spanish press had indeed written about Syd Barrett overwintering in a monastery in Oseira.
Once again we repeat for those pigheaded readers that The Anchor, the Church's satirical division, didn't start this hoax. The Anchor merely reported about it, with a twenty five years delay. Unfortunately nobody could lead us to the origin of the hoax and our research lead to nothing.
This is when Barrett investigator Antonio Jesus, of Solo En Las Nubes, came into the picture. He decided to get to the bottom of this using his (Spanish) network of Barrett and Pink Floyd fans. After some exhaustive research he not only found the article that may have started the Spanishgrass legend but even contacted the journalist who wrote it. This first follow-up article is largely based upon his findings.
A warning for our fast food readers, what follows is rather long, even for people who are used to The Anchor's long-windedness.
Un canto a Galicia
In 1978 (ratified in 1981) Spanish region Galicia acquired a partial self-governance with its own president, parliament and court. This created a change in cultural and political awareness, fed by local television, press and organisations who wanted to cut the umbilical cord with Madrid. This was later baptised the Atlantic movement.
Journalist and musician of the influential Galician post-punk band Radio Océano, Xosé Manuel Pereiro, better known as Johnny Rotring, witnessed the birth of it: “Everyday new things were happening and you had the feeling that everything could pass.” A crucial turning point seems to have been a concert of The Ramones in November 1981 that showed that there was a growing contemporaneous underground scene outside traditional Spanish folklore. Leading Spanish newspaper El País wrote that it was a cultural awakening that buried 40 years of ostracism and dictatorship.
In 2013 it seem weird that a concert of The Ramones would mark a turning point in the cultural history of a European country. To better understand this we have to start with a brief history lesson.
After the second world war fascism was abolished in Europe with one exception, Spain, where dictator Francisco Franco would rule until his death in 1975. Although Richard Nixon called General Franco 'a loyal friend and ally of the United States' it can't be denied that the dictator ruled harshly over his country, helped by the influential Catholic Church, the army and the police. European and American politicians however opportunistically regarded Franco as an enlightened leader and closed their eyes for the less friendly aspects of the regime.
This included the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion, the imprisonment of ideological enemies in concentration camps, the implementation of forced labour in prisons, and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for the opponents of the regime. (Taken from Wikipedia.)
After Franco's death democracy slowly settled in, including freedom of speech, freedom of press and the freedom to listen to subversive music. Before that, having long hair had been reason enough to be arrested by the Guardia Civil and be beaten in their cells (with wet towels, to leave no marks) just for the fun of it, like it was told to the Reverend by a young dissident who had fled Spain for Belgium in the seventies.
From rock'n roll awareness, with alternative radio stations and Galician new wave and post punk bands, the Atlantic movement shifted towards more critical and political viewpoints, often with an ironic wink. This resulted into several alternative publications but the one that became the Atlantic manifesto was La Naval that appeared twice a year in a circulation of 5000 copies.
La Naval managed to unite most participants of 'Atlanticism', from Miguelanxo Prado over Enrique Ordovás to José Manuel Costa. It only existed for two years, between 1984 and 1986, but each number announced 'una visión crítica e irónica de la cultura y la actualidad ' to quote poet Louis Pereiro, one of its creators.
Its pages offered not only avant-garde Galician samples in art, literature, music or journalism, but it published self-confident, humoristic and hilarious articles about non-existent rock bands asking for parliamentary support, the 'National Cocho Front' forbidding all derogatory meanings of the word 'pig' and... the diary entries of a certain Syd Barret (with one T) who allegedly stayed at a monastery in Oseira.
La Naval, Revista Atlántica, appeared at least four times between 1984 and 1986 (and may not be confused with a few other Spanish magazines that carry the same title). Not only its countenance was alternative, but also its dates of apparition and the numbering. Number 0 came out in November 1984, followed by number 1 in March 1985, a third issue was numbered 00 in September 1985. The final issue had number 500 and was released somewhere in Autumn 1986.
That last issue had an article by José Ángel González, titled: Syd Barret busca en Oseira la armonía celeste and Antonio Jesús from the Spanish Barrett blog Solo En Las Nubes was so friendly to scan it in.
So here is, ladies & gentlemen, for the first time translated into English, the text that probably started the Spanishgrass hoax... (the scans of the original (Spanish) article can be consulted at our Spanishgrass library)
SYD BARRET LOOKING FOR CELESTIAL HARMONY IN OSEIRA
In Oseira they are getting used to them, both are British, with blue eyes, and they annually visit the monastery. The novelist Graham Greene, who prefers the summer and the dry smell of the ground, scattered with crevices, perhaps mimicking his far-away tropical experiences when he was working for the Foreign Office. His annual visits to Oseira, where he is awaited by the monk Leopoldo Durán, confidant and cicerone of the British master, are reflected in the novel "Monsignor Quixote". In one of its pages Greene defines Oseira as "a deserted island colonized by just a handful of adventurers determined to build a home on the ruins of a bygone civilization."
Perhaps this same idea was playing in the mind of the monastery's other annual guest: Syd Barrett, founder and leader of the group Pink Floyd that coloured the sixties. One of the legends that periodically amused the world of 'pop' referred to the premature retirement of Barrett to a 'Spanish monastery', but hardly anyone decided to check this at the actual place. Barrett, more wintry than Greene, annually visited Oseira in the month of December and that since 1968.
The author of the two 'most genuine psychedelic albums of pop', as quoted by John Peel when describing 'The Madcap Laughs' and 'Barrett', searched each year for celestial harmony in Oseira that neither fame nor LSD could give him.
The village is gloomy, with that special, deep and captivating sadness that is standard for the northern beauty of Spain. However, the exception is the monastery 'El Escorial de Galicia', in the great plains surrounding the sandy slopes of Serra do Faro. For the monks in cyclic retirement the maelstrom of Oseira is a spiritual refuge.
There is also a pub, of course. The 'Sabadelle' is a sad café, with its original walls in rough granite that have been cemented by poorly masons. It is a sad place that is in tune with the landscape and its owner, Arcadio Mourin, admits with watery eyes that he 'has lived for thirty years in Galicia but has been homesick for Catalonia for at least twenty'.
From his two Mediterranean decades Mourin keeps a firm disgust for 'Pa amb tomàquet' [traditional dish with bread or toast with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt, the Anchor] and a no less vehement passion for Football Club Barcelona, evident on the walls of the 'Sabadelle', that is covered by Blaugrana flags and pictures of 'Lobito' Carrasco. The bar's decoration is further completed with calendars from Carballiño and Chantada ironmongers and bazaars that are nailed into the wall next to a tattered rag that announces a big 'fiesta' in Villamarin.
In a small shed, with a green semi-transparent corrugated plastic roof, attached to the 'Sabadelle' Arcadio Mourin has installed a youth club for the town youngsters. They meet on Saturday afternoons to play table soccer, seven balls for a peseta. Next to the wall is a stack of soft drink cases and at the other end stands a jukebox, a 'Wurlitzer' made in 1966, adorned with abundant chrome and painted fuchsia and blue, a nod towards the preferred soccer team of the owner.
The musical menu of the 'rockola' is renewed every Blue Monday by an Orense salesman, who also represents a famous brand of biscuits, and his choice is colourful but commonplace. For a peso you can musically acclimatise the place with songs of Georgie Dann, Fuxan os Ventos, Azul y Negro, Golpes Bajos, Xoán Rubia or Duran Duran. The least heard song of the entire repertoire of the machine is identified by the letter B and number 7. Rarely a young man will decide to spoil a coin on it, perhaps because the small piece of paper with the title and performer is illegible. But when Arcadio Mourin permits it, visitors can open the plastic dome of the Wurlitzer and examine the single in question. It is the only one not coming from the travelling salesman from Orense and is a British 1967 edition of 'See Emily Play' and 'Scarecrow', two songs written by Syd Barrett and performed by the group Pink Floyd.
Jose Ángel González
To add further credibility to the article several small interviews and quotes were added from people who testify about Barrett's yearly trip to the monastery: Arcadio Mourin (pub owner), Francisco Gasalla (Spanish friend of Syd Barrett), Leopoldo Durán (Oseira monk), Joe Boyd (producer), Kurt Digger (journalist), Jo Cannon (lightshow designer), Robert Wyatt (musician) and Rodney Bennett (movie maker).
Oseira. 1985 by Arcadio Mourin
We thought he could not speak our language or that he was dumb. Coming down here almost daily, at nightfall, he took a few glasses of wine while watching television. (...)
We knew that he lodged at the monastery and that he was an English countryman and novelist... Sometimes he headed towards Povadura to walk in the mountains in silent solitude. I think he came here the first time in '68 or '69 and after that we got used to see him arriving every year, in early December. Today he is liked much more and he relates more to the people, but he still leaves after a short time. He gave me a single for the machine that is there and it will continue to stay there, because the youngsters will not spend a peso on it. (...)
His best friend here is Paco Gasalla, from the Chamber of Agriculture, who was an immigrant in England and speaks the language.
A search on Arcadio Mourin or on the Sabadelle pub was without results.
Oseira. 1985 by Francisco Gasalla
I personally met Syd when I paid a visit to Father Durán, a long time family friend. It was in the monastery at Christmas 1975... Barrett and the Father spoke of Graham Greene. (...)
I thought he was a painter because I saw him walk on the mountain, carrying a large book, the kind of book to put sketches in, and a case of coloured pencils. At first he did not speak a Castilian word. With the monks he spoke in English, especially with Father Durán, and with others in French. (...)
I still don't know him very well, I did not even know he was a musician until an English journalist came by. We see him every year with the Christmas holidays. He always brings something from Cambridge and I use the opportunity to practice my English, because I miss that. And he asks me things about the people of the village, things about people's lives. (...)
He is very shy, very artistic.
A search on Francisco Gasalla was without results.
Oseira. 1985 by Leopoldo Durán, Oseira monk and a personal friend of Syd Barrett and Graham Greene.
Mr. Barrett, whom I have known for many years, has asked me to be discreet and not to have contact with the press. Year ago a British weekly published a sensationalist story full of exaggerations and we would not want something similar to happen.
Leopoldo Durán, 1917-2008, was a professor in theology, philosophy and literature and a close friend (and biographer) of Graham Greene. There is no proof he ever met Syd Barrett. In over 35 years of Pink Floyd research the Reverend has never encountered an English press article mentioning Syd's annual retreats into a Spanish monastery, neither has it been cited in any of the biographies.
Oseira. 1985 by Francisco Gasalla
Once we went to Carballiño. We especially invited Syd because the annual Film Festival had put a film with Pink Floyd music on the agenda. It was called "The Valley", it was an African adventure film, made by some Germans. Syd had not seen it before and was very quiet, chewing 'Sugus' sweets, a sight I will not forget. Every year he would take several packages back to England. "They're for my hippie friends"; he once said. I asked him if he liked the movie and he said: “only the music”. (...)
I proposed him to come to my house if he wanted to grab a guitar or the Casio that my daughter's grandparents had given her for her name day, but he always said no. He said he had done 'too much music'.
La Vallée is a (horrible and pretentious) 1972 French film written and directed by Barbet Schroeder. The most notable point of the movie is its soundtrack by Pink Floyd, resulting in one of their finest albums ever (Obscured By Clouds). A trifle more (satirical) info at: Careful with that stash, Gini.
San Francisco (USA). 1983 by Joe Boyd, record producer and film maker in an interview for the magazine Cult
My first job as a record producer was in 1967, in London, a city that went through a musical frenzy. I did several singles with Pink Floyd, a group of Cambridge that had very little to do then with the band they are today. They were crazy, really crazy, continuously taking all kinds of drugs, but they were really creative, especially Syd Barrett, singer, guitarist and principal songwriter. (...)
I lost their track for a while, but Barrett once wrote me to ask for a copy of 'See Emily Play'. I sent it to Cambridge and I knew nothing more of it. The letter said he wanted to give the disk to a good friend.
Joe Boyd is of course known by Pink Floyd admirers, he opened the UFO club and produced the Floyd's first single Arnold Layne. In contradiction with the above 'quote' he was not involved with the Floyd's second single, See Emily Play. Several magazines called 'Cult' have existed throughout the years but no interview with Joe Boyd for one of them could be found.
London. 1982 article signed by Kurt Digger in the weekly Sounds magazine, headlined "Barrett: Mad as Always"
The darling son of psychedelia has found peace in the arms of contemplative Catholicism. In the monastery of Oseira (Galicia, geographically the closest Spanish region to the UK), Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd and 'enfant terrible' of the London 'underground' 66-67 years, has retreated for a long stroll through the wastelands. (…)
Surrounded by monks Barrett showed himself proud, arrogant and even rude. (...)
"You are still waiting for me to return, vultures", he yelled semi-hysterical. (...)
No wonder his mother expels him annually from his home in Cambridge, thus the patient lady can enjoy a pleasant Christmas.
Sounds magazine did exist in 1982, but a search on the title or the author didn't give any results.
LONDON. 1969 by Jo Cannon, head of the light show of the first concerts of Pink Floyd, in an interview published in the magazine Oz.
Late last year I received a postcard from Syd. It was a tourist view of a Spanish monastery called Ossarium (sic). Written on it were two stanzas of 'See Emily Play': “There is no other day. Let's try it another way. You'll lose your mind and play. Free games for May." Since then I've heard nothing more."
Syd Barrett was already interested in light experiments before he hit the charts with Pink Floyd. Anthony Stern has told how he and Syd had been fascinated by Reg Gadney at King's College who made light projections (1964-ish) and later Syd tried to repeat these at home with John Gordon. In the early days of Pink Floyd the band lived in the house of Mike Leonard, who experimented with oil slides, rotating mirrors and lights. When the Floyd went professional in 1966 their first light show came straight from Haight-Ashbury, thanks to a couple of hippies, Joel and Toni Brown. Unfortunately they returned to the USA and Peter Jenner (and his wife Sumi) had to improvise a copycat-light-set.
At one point seventeen years old Joe Gannon was hired who became their first lighting tech, but he had already left when the Floyd started hitting the market.
It is improbable that Joe Gannon (not Jo Cannon) would have received a Spanish holiday card from Syd Barrett in December 1968. That month Syd, Duggie Fields and Jules moved into Wetherby Mansions and according to Jens she visited Syd there before year's end.
LONDON. 1968 anonymous entry, inserted in the journal 'International Times', part of the British Underground.
The sorcerer's apprentice can't stand 'speed'. Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's first singer, lived for two lost months a monastic life in a small place in north-western Spain. Barrett's mother confirmed a few days ago that her son is 'travelling', but denied that it had to do with any physical or mental problems. “He simply is doing some sightseeing.", said Mrs. Barrett, who owns a pottery shop in Cambridge. (…)
After his final separation with Pink Floyd, Barrett travelled last January through various countries on the continent and finally settled in a monastery in Galicia, in north-western Spain. This was revealed by light expert and close friend of the singer, Jo Cannon.
As far as we know Syd's mother didn't have a pottery shop. It is also weird that the same wrongly named person, Jo Cannon, surfaces in two different articles in the English press. A search for Jo Cannon on the extensive IT database didn't give any result, neither did Joe Gannon, by the way.
MENORCA. 1975 by Robert Wyatt, British musician and inhabitant of the Balearic Islands, in an interview by Claudi Montaña and published in the magazine 'Vibraciones'.
I knew that Syd Barrett was going through a bad time and invited him to spend some time at home, here in Menorca. He wondered where this place was and I answered that it was in Spain, next to Ibiza. "In that country only one place interests me," he replied but I had never heard of it. (...)
A few months ago he sent me a tape with traditional music of that Spanish region. It was similar to Scottish bagpipes but with more emotions. Something really spiritual.
The Spanish magazine Vibraciones did have a Robert Wyatt article in its issue of November 1975 called En Menorca, de week-end con Robert Wyatt. Unfortunately the article itself could not be consulted.
LONDON. 1985 by Rodney Bennett, director of the 'Monsignor Quixote' production for Thames Television, filmed partly in Oseira and based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene. Published in the magazine Film Maker.
I knew that Syd Barret was a regular of the Oseira monastery and I wrote to Cambridge offering him to compose the music of 'Monsignor Quixote'. Graham Greene and the producers knew of the agreement. However, Barret declined the offer in a very nice letter. He wished me luck and success with the series, admitted being a fan of Greene and a "staunch defender of the purity of Oseira".
The American magazine Filmmaker only started in 1992, but it is possible that a magazine with the same name existed before, although the Church didn't find any trace of that. Rodney Bennett did make a Monsignor Quixote television movie but nowhere he has mentioned Syd Barrett as a possible collaborator. Neither does any of the Barrett biographies mention him.
The La Naval Barrett article could be the source of the Oseira Floydian legend. It needs to be remarked though that in this article there is no word of an unpublished Spanishgrass album. That part of the story seems to have been added in a later stage when the story mushroomed in the pubs around A Coruña by people who failed to see the satire of it all.
Seventeen years later, in 2003, a certain Eric Burdon published a Spanish Internet article called 'Discos perdidos - Spanish Grass- Syd Barrett' that has been quoted ever since... And perhaps more solutions will be revealed by Antonio Jesús when he will publish his investigations at Solo En Las Nubes.
This is a follow-up of the 2012 post: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record
Many thanks to Babylemonade Aleph for rolling the ball in the beginning
and Antonio Jesús for his incredible research.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the links above):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 32, 40-42, 60, 65.
La 'movida' que rompió con el 'telón de grelos' @ El Mundo
La efervescente esquina atlántica @ El País
Posted by Alex Fagoting at 14:13
Edited on: 2013-06-15 13:35
Categories: Spanishgrass, The Anchor
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What is there to say about Storm, except perhaps, like someone put in Birdie Hop, that he had a great name and a great life?
Storm Thorgerson was a member of the so-called Cambridge mafia, who in the early Sixties fled their home-town en masse to seek fame and fortune in the great city. They wanted to study in London, at least that is what they told their parents, but frankly these youngsters just wanted to get away from parental guidance and have an uncensored bite of adult life: sex, drugs and rock'n roll. Paradoxically, or maybe not, once they arrived in London they immediately flocked together, sharing apartments and houses and meeting in the same clubs and coffee houses.
The term Cambridge mafia was coined by David Gilmour to denominate that bunch of relatives, friends and acquaintances who stuck together, not only in the sixties, but are still doing today. As a relative young and unknown band Pink Floyd looked for associates, sound- and light technicians, roadies and lorry drivers in their immediate neighbourhood, often not further away than the next room in the same house.
Thorgerson was no exception, he had played cricket in the same team as Bob Klose and Roger Waters, and when the Floyd needed a record cover for A Saucerful Of Secrets, Storm managed to squeeze himself in, staying there till the end of his life, as the recent variations of the Dark Side of the Moon cover show us.
But even before Saucerful Storm had been involved with the band, it was at his kitchen table at Egerton Court that the members, minus Syd Barrett, discussed the future of Pink Floyd and decided to ask for a little help from yet another Cantabrigian friend: David Gilmour.
Obviously, this blog would not exist if, in the week from the 14th to 21st April 1969, Storm hadn't made an appointment with history to start a magical photo shoot.
Julian Palacios in Dark Globe:
Storm Thorgerson supervised the photo session for the cover of The Madcap Laughs, bringing in Mick Rock to photograph at Syd’s flat. ‘Syd just called out of the blue and said he needed an album cover,’ confirmed Rock. When Thorgerson and Rock arrived for the shoot, ‘Syd was still in his Y-fronts when he opened the door,’ Mick explained. ‘He had totally forgotten about the session and fell about laughing. His lady friend of two weeks, “Iggy the Eskimo”, was naked in the kitchen preparing coffee. She didn’t mind either. They laughed a lot, a magical session.’
There has been some muffled controversy who was the brain behind the pictures of The Madcap Laughs, not really helped by some contradicting explanations from Storm Thorgerson and Mick Rock. They both arrived the same day, both with a camera, and probably Rock handed over (some of) his film rolls to Storm as this was initially a Hipgnosis project.
Unfortunately we will never be able to ask Storm whether there was a third photographer present or not, but the chance is he wouldn't have remembered anyway. The rumour goes Storm was a rather chaotic person and that most Barrett negatives disappeared or were misplaced through the ages.
Perhaps the best, or at least the most personal, the most touching, the most emotional album art by Storm is the cover of the 1974 Syd Barrett vinyl compilation. It is a simple brown cover with Syd's name in handwriting and a small picture, taken from what probably was an autumn or late summer photo session also destined for the cover of The Madcap Laughs. The pictures of the so-called yoga photo-shoot however where not used, as we all know, for Syd's first album as Storm decided to use the daffodil and Iggy session from April instead. Hence the misdating in nearly all biographies.
In 1974 Harvest decided to package Barrett's two solo albums as a budget release. Storm, by then de de facto house photographer of Pink Floyd, was asked to design a new cover. Storm rang at Syd's apartment but the recalcitrant artist smashed the door when he heard about the reason for the visit.
Thorgerson went back to the office and decided to make a cover out of leftover pictures. On top of the brown background he put a plum, an orange and a matchbox. This was probably the first time that Storm played a game that he would later repeat with other Floydian artwork, leaving enigmatic hints that were initially only understood by that select group of Cantabrigian insiders who had known Syd personally.
Thorgerson's riddles culminated in the art for The Division Bell (and its many spin-offs) that had a visual companion for every song of the album, and rather than clarifying or portraying the lyrics they added to the mystery. It still is his opus magnum and unfortunately he will not be able any more to top it. We will never know if he was in with the Publius Enigma hoax although there have been a few leads pointing that way.
At a later stage Storm lost me somewhat. His mix of photographic surrealism and mockery became too much a gimmick and the freshness and inventiveness were gone. The covers of the latest Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd compilations were not always appreciated by the fans. Perhaps he was already sick by then.
But these few failings disappear at the magical visual oeuvre Storm Thorgerson has left us (and not only for Pink Floyd): A Nice Pair, Argus, Cochise, Dirty Things Done Dirt Cheap, Flash, Houses of the Holy, Lullubelle III, Picnic, Savage Eye, Sheet Music, The Lamb Lays Down On Broadway, Tightly Knit, Venus and Mars and many many more...
Thorgerson was a rock artist without having recorded a single note of music, he will be missed on Earth, but if there is that nirvana he will surely be welcomed by Clive, Nick, Pip, Ponji, Rick, Steve, Syd and the others...
Many thanks to: Lori Haines.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links):
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 340.
Posted by Felix Atagong at 20:56
Edited on: 2013-04-28 17:53
Categories: Obituaries, Storm Rock Pictures
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August 2008: A fashion documentary from 1967, starring Iggy, is discovered.
January 2009: JenS reveals how Syd Barrett and Ig first met.
February 2010: WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Ig is alive and well and living in England.
March 2010: Gretta Barclay, a friend of Syd, Ig and JenS, remembers 1969 in her first interview in 4 decades.
May 2010:: In The Case of the Painted Floorboards, an attempt is made to unravel the secret about one of the most ardent legends regarding Syd Barrett.
January 2011: The Mark 'Pigs Might Fly' Blake Iggy interviews are published:
Iggy The Eskimo Phones Home (Mojo 207 article - hosted at the Church)
The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo - part 1 (hosted at Mojo)
The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo - part 2 (hosted at Mojo)
April 2011: Iggy surprises friends and foes by visiting the 'Barrett' book launch, her first public appearance in over 30 years: Iggy at the Exhibition.
January 2012: A follow up of The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012) causes a storm in the mostly lethargic Syd Barrett world.
September 2012: A 'lost' Iggy picture from 1967 has been unearthed: Iggy - a new look in festivals.
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