Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager
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.
These interviews will now find their way to the English speaking part of the world at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. We start with a bang as this one is already a world exclusive, an interview with the manager of one of Syd's first Cambridge bands: Those Without.
Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager
If you would like to visit Cambridge this summer, it is too late to book an I Spy Syd In Cambridge tour. In 2008, Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager, was invited by a non-profit organisation to guide visitors through the city. Many of these field trips had exclusive and unexpected guests and left the visitors in awe.
Warren Dosanjh is every inch a guide. I was lucky to attend the very first tour, still a try-out, and it was a blast. He told us a thousand and one stories and anecdotes like only an expert could do. On top of that he also knows the best places in the slummy parts of Cambridge.
But today we're lucky as Warren has decided to give a self-interview for Solo En Las Nubes.
Where did you meet Syd Barrett for the first time?
We were at the same school. It was called The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys aka The County. Roger, as he was called then, was a year below me. I think that Roger Waters was one or two years above.
How well did you know him then?
Quite well but not as a close friend. Many of us were excited about the emergence of rock'n roll, R&B and to a degree some folk music, particularly Bob Dylan. Some evenings were spent at Syd's home in Hills Road or that of a neighbour, Dick Whyte, listening to and playing music.
Did you play a musical instrument?
I tried very hard to learn the 5-string banjo but as I am left-handed it proved to be too difficult in the long-term.
How did the band Those Without evolve?
Alan 'Barney' Barnes and Steve Pyle came to my home one evening wanting to form a new band. They were in a band called Hollerin' Blues but wanted to disband as a means of getting rid of Brian Scott, their manager. They asked me to be the manager of the new band and I agreed.
And the name Those Without?
Very late that same night Steve spotted a book on my shelf titled Those Without Shadows by Françoise Sagan. "That's it! We just drop the word Shadows.", said Steve. All bands in those days seemed to be called 'The' someone or other and this was certainly a new concept in band names.
So what was it like being a manager?
Getting the bookings was quite easy I remember. The difficult bits were having transport for us and the equipment particularly when we played outside of Cambridge. Luckily I had a lovely girlfriend Vernia whose father owned a VW Dormobile.
But the most difficult part for me was handling Alan Barnes. He was without doubt one of the best musicians around, playing keyboards, harmonica and singing lead. He had a great feel for R&B. But unfortunately he knew this and could be very contentious and 'up himself' after a few drinks. There were often occasions when I would have to take him outside for a quiet word.
So what sort of music did Those Without play?
Mostly R&B. Bands like Jokers Wild were mostly playing cover versions of pop records in the charts whereas a few bands like ourselves were playing classic R&B covers of artists like John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, etc...
How did Syd get in the band?
Syd wanted to have a go at being in a band. He had previously played for one night at a CND fund-raising event with a band invented for just that night, called Geoff Mott & The Mottoes. Steve Pyle brought Syd along to a practise and asked if he could play bass with us and help out on the vocals. They were at that time both at The Cambridge School of Art. I remember Syd bringing along The Kinks' new record - 'You Really Got Me' - and playing it over and over again.
You mention The Kinks - were there any other bands that influenced you?
I guess you have to mention The Rolling Stones and The Animals. But at the grass-roots were people like Cyril Davies R&B All Stars (Long John Baldry, Dick Heckstall-Smith) and Graham Bond Organisation.
So what was special about Cambridge in the 60s?
It was unique. A melting pot of contrasting views, opinions and influences that often fused together to create a new exciting life for young people trying to throw off the shackles of post-war Britain. I remember Allan Ginsberg giving a poetry reading at King's, Duke Ellington playing an organ recital at Gt. St Mary's Church, student 'rag' days, continental films at The Arts Cinema, nights in Grantchester Meadows, smoking my first spliff and losing my virginity. Much much more...
When did you last see Syd?
I saw him a lot in the 60s. He played with the band about 12 times before finally settling in London and forming Pink Floyd. When he returned to Cambridge and after the failure of Stars he became more reclusive. Sometimes I would pass him in the street as he lived just around the corner from me but he was always in a different world and I didn't want to invade his privacy.
We, his school mates and friends, just let him go about his business. We just remember him not for Pink Floyd but as a well-spoken likeable guy that we grew up with - a friend who just lost his way.
© 2011 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of I Spy Syd
in Cambridge & Solo en las Nubes.
Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
Check out the I
Spy Syd in Cambridge website that holds many goodies, even now
when the tours no longer exists.
The music scene of Cambridge, Walking Tour, Venues and Bands. A must read for everyone who is interested in Syd's Cambridge. This 36 pages booklet contains a Cambridge city map and has descriptions of the different venues and many unknown Cambridge bands of the Sixties. Researched and compiled by Warren Dosanjh. Edited and layout by Mick Brown. Further contributions and research: Lee Wood, Alan Willis, Jenny Spires, Brian Foskett, Viv ‘Twig’ Brans, Stephen Pyle, Albert Prior, Jess Applin, Cherrill Richardson, Mike Richardson, Hank Wingate, David Ellingham, Jonathon Church, Sudhir Agar, Dave Parker, Graham Smith, Tony Middleton, Ivan Carling, Judy Woodford, Jenny Taylor, Stuart Dingley, Dave Thaxter, Tim Renwick, Pete Rhodes. (March 2011 PDF download, about 5 MB)
History of Those Without and Hollerin' Blues, with the staggering news that Syd Barrett has never been a member of that last band. More about the different gigs of Those Without (with and without Syd).
Pink Floyd Syd Barrett Interviews with Friends (2009): Roger "Syd" Barrett - Cambridge Autumn 2009 Interviews with friends Richard Jacobs, Sue Unwin, John Watkins, Stephen Pyle, Warren Dosanjh, Diana McKenna, et.al. by Alexandros Papathanasiou. Hosted at Youtube: Pink Floyd Syd Barrett Interviews with Friends.
Reflections: Sixties Counterculture in Cambridge, a film from
Alexandros Papathanasiou & Kameron Stroud (2011). Reminiscence of the
sixties alternative movement in Cambridge by 7 local interviewees,
including Warren Dosanjh and Stephen Pyle. The film reflects the
interviewees memories during that time as well as it addresses their
powerful conclusions about the impact of the 60's alternative generation
on the present time.
Hosted at Youtube: part
1 (10:46) and part
2 (10:11). Hosted at Vimeo: Reflections.