The most famous Iggy picture, and without this one this blog would probably not even exist, can be found on the back side of Syd Barrett’s solo album The Madcap Laughs (top left pic).
There is a bit of a confusion who made these pictures. Hipgnosis designed the sleeve and Storm Thorgerson writes in his volume Mind Over Matter:
My only decision was to use a 35mm camera and upgraded colour transparency, partly because of the low level light conditions and partly for the grainy effect. (…) Friend and photographer Mick Rock, later famous for his Bowie photos amongst many others also came on the photo session, but I cant remember why. (p.204 of the 2003 edition, p. 234 in the 2007 edition although the index still assumes it is on p. 204).
Dark Globe, member of the Late Night discussion forum, had a quick chat with Storm in July:
There was the chance to see the cover of 'The Madcap Laughs' displayed at a larger size on excellent quality paper. This famous photo was taken by Storm himself for the cover of the album - and not by Mick Rock as some assume. (…) I was lucky enough to talk to Storm himself and tell him how much I admired his work. I also took the opportunity to ask him about the 'Madcap' photo session and enquired whether we would ever see any of his outtakes from that session appear in some form in the future. Unfortunately this doesn't seem likely as he informed me that his photos from that session were now lost.
Hipgnosis was probably commissioned by the record company (Harvest, EMI) to make the record sleeve. Syd Barrett however had another idea and asked his friend Mick Rock, an aspiring would-be photographer, to organise the shooting for the forthcoming album. The result was that the two photographers were present on the same day.
A lot has been written about these sessions, not in the least by Mick
Rock who devoted
two three books to the subject:
- Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs - The Mick Rock Photo-Sessions (U.F.O. Books, 1993), a book that was bundled with the album in a limited edition. The introduction of this (sold out and deleted) book can be found on various places on the net. Update 2012: the Geocities link to this page seems to be dead, but luckily there is an archived version: Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs - The Mick Rock Photo-Sessions.
- Psychedelic Renegades - Photographs of Syd Barrett by Mick Rock. Genesis Publications published the first limited edition in 2002 with 320 copies autographed by Roger Barrett & Mick Rock and 630 copies signed by Mick Rock alone (sold out). In 2005, before Barrett passed away, the Deluxe copies already had a collector’s value of 2400 £. In 2007 the book was finally published in a regular version, by Plexus (London) and Gingko (USA).
and (Update January 2012)
- Syd Barrett - The Photography Of Mick Rock. Tin box, including 128 pages high print quality [Mick Rock's words, not ours, FA] booklet and exclusive 7 inch single 'Octopus' b/w 'Golden Hair'. The rather exaggerated blurb continues: "The booklet features a full introduction, new insights and captions by Mick and quotes from Syd." (EMI Records Ltd & Palazzo Editions Ltd, Bath, 2010).
Mick Rock remembers the day as follows:
The actual session turned out to be a collaboration really because Storm also took some pictures. I remember Storm asking me whether to credit the image, ‘Hipgnosis and Mick Rock’ and I said, ‘No just credit it Hipgnosis’.
Psychedelic Renegades however does not include the sleeve pictures of The Madcap Laughs so in the end it was probably Storm who decided to use only his own material (according to Mick Rock one photo would later surface – uncredited - on Barrett’s second album). Because both sessions were made on the same day the pictures are obviously very similar (some Mick Rock pictures were also used on the Syd Barrett compilation album).
Update August 2017: In the 2017 documentary Shot! Mick Rock hints that he was behind the cover shot anyway, indirectly implying that it was not Storm Thorgerson's picture to begin with. For years there have been rumours in anoraky Floydian circles that Thorgerson and Rock sued (or threatened to sue) each other for the ownership of these pictures. Perhaps a deal was made - a bit like the one between Roger Waters and Pink Floyd over The Wall - that The Madcap Laughs front and back sleeve pictures officially belong to Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson) but the outtakes to Mick Rock. Syd Barrett related excerpt from Shot!: The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock.
More about the Mick Rock - Storm Thorgerson controversy:
Storm Rock Pictures
and the ultimate Iggy photoshoot fun quiz
The Iggy IQ Quiz