When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3)
Hello, I would like to try and clarify a couple of things about Ig.
She was a girlfriend of mine.
In January or early February 1969, a mutual friend introduced Iggy to Syd Barrett, the successful rock star who had left his band Pink Floyd. To celebrate the fortieth birthday of this event The Holy Church of Inuit brings you an exclusive rendition of what happened, as told by JenS, who knew Barrett from his Cambridge and London days.
In the first part of this article When
Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1), JenS recollected how she met Iggy and how she
introduced the girl to Syd.
In the second part When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 2) the photo shoot from The Madcap Laughs, Barrett’s first solo album, was reconstructed.
The story so far
In December 1968 Syd moved in at Wetherby Mansions, a 3 bedroom apartment located at the Earls Court Square, with Duggie Fields and another dropout called Jules, who left the apartment as fast as he had get in, if he did get in at all.
Syd’s hectic LSD days at 101, Cromwell Rd. were over and his close friends thought that this was the ideal situation for him to calm down and to organise the rest of his life. Some money was still coming in from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, there was no immediate hurry to get on the road or in the studio again and there were a couple of months left to sort things out and to start a brilliant solo career, based on the abandoned, and rather catastrophic, recording sessions from the past year. (David Parker lists Syd’s last recording session on 20 July 1968, the session before that dates from 27 June 1968.)
Syd was now involved with ‘silly’ Gilly Staples, a model from Quorum, the boutique that had given a Pontiac away at New Year 1969, won by Mickey Finn who, on his turn, had given it to Syd. (Side note: it is the Church’s first quintessential credo that all things Iggy are related.) Also Gala Pinion, who had taken the third (empty) bedroom, was a steady girlfriend and for a couple of weeks, so was Iggy. On top of these affairs and according to Duggie Fields there were dozens of groupies around, all the time, all over the place.
Although Syd had, in the eyes of several friends and colleagues, relaxed a bit, others described him as a typical apathetic acid casualty. And already a new (legally obtained) drug would replace his LSD intake: Mandrax.
JenS’s story, as has been depicted on the Church for the past few weeks, has re-thrown the dices somewhat. Up till now it was believed that Iggy stayed with Syd during the autumn of 1969, at the end or after he had finished most of The Madcap Laughs sessions.
But as Iggy was apparently around in April 1969, she may have witnessed the fresh start of the sessions of Syd’s first solo album. Malcolm Jones, who happened to be A&R of EMI’s brand new progressive rock label Harvest, wrote it down as follows:
One day, late in March, 1969, I received a message that Syd Barrett had phoned EMI's studio booking office to ask if he could go back into the studios and start recording again.
As nobody was apparently very hot to work with Syd Barrett, Malcolm Jones was more or less forced to produce the record himself but the songs that were presented to him by Syd at his apartment were good enough to start with the project. The first session in studio 3 at Abbey Road took place on Thursday, 10 April 1969 at 7 in the evening. But recording really started the next day when Syd recorded 3 classic tracks in two hours time. When they stopped the session at half past midnight 6 tracks had been worked on.
This was Syd at full tilt! At this session Syd was in great form, and very happy. No matter what people may say to the contrary, Syd was very together, and this was his first session with the new songs.
From the last article we know that the sleeve pictures were probably taken between the 14th and 21st of April. Shortly after that Iggy disappeared. Did this have an effect on Syd’s recording output?
Malcolm Jones recalls how Syd wrote a ditty love song ‘Here I Go’ during the 17 April sessions in a matter of minutes. That song happens to be the Reverend’s favourite for many decades now and it makes the Church wonder if it has been written with Iggy in mind.
When friend and would-be photographer Mick Rock showed his pictures to Syd, Iggy was long gone. The rock star grabbed one of the pictures and started scratching it (although the Church wants to stress the fact, for Freud’s sake, that he scratched around her - cf. top left picture of this post).
Long Gone was one of the songs that were premiered on the 12th of June 1969 with David Gilmour as producer. David Gilmour and Syd Barrett were back on speaking terms (after David had taken Syd’s place in the band there had been some frictions). Syd and Malcolm, who lived at Earls Court Square as well (but not in Syd's house), had been a few times to David Gilmour’s place, just around the corner, to lend an amplifier for The Madcap Laughs sessions and David had inquired a few times how the sessions had been going.
Syd had been signalled backstage at a Pink Floyd show to chit chat with the old gang and after a while David Gilmour proposed to Malcolm Jones to produce the rest of the album with Roger Waters. Malcolm Jones did not protest, he had enough on his plate being the boss of Harvest and probably, although this is not mentioned in his memoirs, it would be a nice commercial add-on as well to have two members of Syd’s original band on the record.
Jones’s last session with Syd had been in early May and Syd had been pissed that the next session, with David Gilmour, would only take place a month later. But right now David and the rest of the band were busy mixing Ummagumma.
Next to Long Gone, a haunting track about a lost love, Barrett also premiered another song about the same theme of absence: Dark Globe. The track has some enigmatic lines that go as follows:
I'm only a person with Eskimo chain
I tattooed my brain all the way...
Won't you miss me?
Wouldn't you miss me at all?
Now that we know that this song was probably written just after Iggy's disappearance out of Syd’s life, is there a possible correlation between both facts?
Gre(t)ta and Rusty
When Iggy left the mansion Greta and Rusty, a couple of ‘speed freaks’, took the vacant spot for a bed. All biographies, up till now, spell Gretta’s name wrong, according to JenS:
It should be Gretta. Double T.
Duggie Fields remembers Gretta as follows: “I didn’t want them around. Greta did a lot of speed and was quite manic.” But JenS, who knew the couple as well, has a different story to tell:
Rusty and Gretta were not drug-addicted. They never were. They were two art school kids who drank too much and at a later date, probably goofed out on Mandrax. Duggie Fields was always very together and a real gentleman. Their chaos probably fazed him - well, waking to that every morning would.
Rusty was a pretty good guitarist and Syd enjoyed playing with him. Rusty and Gretta were both pretty talented in their way. Just goofing.
That more or less sums it up and is all we known from the couple, although Duggie Fields recalls that Gretta went to the USA soon after and was promptly put away in a Texas nuthouse. According to JenS this didn’t happen:
Gretta didn't go to the States. Her sister Trina and I were friends and she went. I'm not sure if Rusty and Gretta continued to visit Syd at Wetherby Mansions or not. The two of them probably moved on and may have visited him at a later date, during the summer… I think I read an interview with Duggie once that said they had been at the flat at some point, but I don't know when that was.
Update: in an exclusive interview to the Church Margaretta Barclay absolutely denies the drug stories surrounding Rusty and her. Please consult: Gretta Speaks and Gretta Speaks (Pt. 2).
It would be nice if someone could write the definitive account on the so-called Cambridge mafia seeking fame and fortune in London, all those people that have crossed Syd’s path at a certain time and disappeared again, often without a trace…
The Church wants to apologise for the fact that this third instalment in the JenS series is not the last as was promised last week. So there will be no excuse not to come back next week to read further on.
Sources (other than internet links mentioned above):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p.129.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 241.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 134-158.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 3, p. 6.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 105.
The Church wishes to thank JenS for her invaluable testimony about what really happened in those early days of 1969.