Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.
In 2023 the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.

Peter Jenner

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The Case of the Painted Floorboards


In The 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 turquoise.

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.

JenS 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 her?)

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 not.

Paint can.
Paint can.


Just like several (tiny) details in the pictures have given away the possible shooting 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. (…)

The 'smoking 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.

Of 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 session.
Paint can, Storm Thorgerson
Paint can, Storm Thorgerson.

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 community.

Iggys Feet
Iggy's Feet, Mick Rock.

Dancing Barefoot

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 even weeks:

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 session pictures.

The Church already hinted in a previous post:

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 after summer.

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 the cover.

Newspaper, Mick Rock.

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.

A sequel to this article created a great rift in Syd Barrett-land: The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)

Many thanks to: Dark Globe, Banjer and Sax, JenS.

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 page 69.


The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory

A Very Irregular Head, Rob Chapman
A Very Irregular Head, Rob Chapman.

Syd Barrett: A very irregular head - Rob Chapman

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 for Terrapin 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) remains.

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 needed)

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 abusive) Von 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…

Inside Out

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.

Mandrax and Brylcreem
Mandrax & Brylcreem

Demythologising Syd

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 neutrality.

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 a Q&A 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 neighbourhood's kid.

Update September 2013: some more information about this girl, Radharani Krishna, can be found at the following article: Making it clear... 
Amplex ad, ca. 1958
Amplex ad, ca. 1958.

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 stories.

The toothbrush myth is one Chapman doesn't know how to demystify but recently Mark 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 from May 5, 2010 Roger Waters TV interview at Late Night.)

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, biography.

Pink Fraud

Just when you thought this review was finally going to end it is time to get personal.

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 Were Here: accountancy?
Animals: accountancy?
The Wall: accountancy?

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 David Chapman.

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 admit.

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).

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.

Previous Pink Floyd related books that were trashed by the Reverend:
Pigs Might Fly by Mark Blake: Si les cochons pourraient voler…
Pink Floyd by Jean-Marie Leduc: Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret: Barrett: first in space!
Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs
by Jean-Michel Espitallier: Cheap Tricks 
The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd by Toby Manning: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd 


Syd meets... a lot of people

Meic Stevens
Meic Stevens.

Syd meets Meic

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 going on?)

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 peace.

Spike Hawkins
Spike Hawkins.

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.

Update June 2018: Iain Moore, aka Emo, uploaded a picture, taken in the mid-Seventies. From left to right: Dominique, Gala (Gaylor?) Pinion, Lyndsay Corner.

Dominique, Gala and Lindsay, mid-Seventies
Dominique, Gala and Lindsay, mid-Seventies. Picture by Iain (Emo) Moore.
A mysterious brunette.
A mysterious brunette.

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 original Welsh.

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.)

Drug problem

The second reference (about Syd visiting the Outlander sessions) also has one addition in the English version. Solva Blues adds the line:

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 style, writes:

What do you do if your lead guitarist is becoming erratic / unstable / unhinged?
You send him off round the UK on a package tour (…) with two shows a night for sixteen nights.

Nick Mason acknowledges this illogical (not to use another term) behaviour:

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.
R.D. Laing
R.D. Laing

Syd almost meets 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 ambitions.

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 calls accountancy.

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 anecdote.

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.

(This article is a (partial) update from this one: Meic meets Syd)

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).

Rob Chapman's An Irregular Head biography has been reviewed at: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory


Dark Blog

Sad Barrett
Sad Barrett, by Felix Atagong.

Dark Globe by Julian Palacios.

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.

Mojo January 2011 review.
Mojo January 2011 review.

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 Madcaps:

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 image).

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.

Postman Syd

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 Lodgers.

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. (p .118)
Dark Globe, Julian Palacios.
Dark Globe, Julian Palacios.

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.

Arnold Rainey

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 believe them.

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:

Jennifer Gentle Christmas Carol
Jennifer Gentle Christmas Carol.
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.
1974 Session Log
1974 Session Log.

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. In Boogie #1 (there is also #2 and #3) traces of Bo Diddley's Pretty 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 problem?

Alternative timeline
Alternative timeline, by Felix Atagong.

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:

De-romanticizing Dysfunction:
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 thought.
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.
Barrett's Psychiatry Textbook
Barrett's Psychiatry Textbook.

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 possibilities.

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 drug-related-burn-outs:
Peter Green,
Roky Erikson,
Chris Kefford,
Shelagh McDonald,
Skip Spence,
Brian 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.)

Spot the 1 difference
Spot the 1 difference.

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 index though.

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).

Thanks: Göran Nyström.

Other Pink Floyd related books that were trashed by the Reverend can be found here:
Pigs Might Fly by Mark Blake: Si les cochons pourraient voler…
Pink Floyd by Jean-Marie Leduc: Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd by Toby Manning: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd  
Pink Floyd FAQ by Stuart Shea: Pink Floyd FAQ - Stuart Shea 
Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret: Barrett: first in space!
Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs
by Jean-Michel Espitallier: Cheap Tricks 
A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory 


Scream Thy False Scream

Fake Pink Floyd Acetate Found
Pink Foyd 1967 acetate
Pink Foyd 1967 acetate.

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 too 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 received pictures of the acetate and finally, on the 15th of January 2011, he proudly announced at Late Night:

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 nature.

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.

16 Khz cut
16 Khz cut.

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 Scream':

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 record.

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: It can't.

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.

When (The) 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 of Bernard White's cupboards.

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 Laughing.

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.

Vegetable Man
Vegetable Man.

Vegetable Man:

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 acetate.

The only version with extra echo and reverb is the 1974 stereo mix by Peter Jenner.

MOB concludes:

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
Scream Thy Last Scream.

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 moments.

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 into monetisation.

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.

fake Pink Foyd 1967 acetate
Fake Pink Foyd 1967 acetate.

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: Saquib Rasheed, Giuliano Navarro, Hallucalation, Vince666, Felixstrange, MOB, Neonknight, Emmapeelfan and the other participants at Late Night and Yeeshkul.

Late Night forum thread: Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream (Acetate Recordings)
Yeeshkul forum thread: Pink Floyd - "Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream" from rare acetate, 1967 (members only)

The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


Mad Cat Love

The Madcat Laughs (original from The Kitten Covers)
The Mad Cat Laughs (Felix Atagong variation from The Kitten Covers).

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 Dutch.

"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 madcap laughed 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 Gilmour.

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 Bosworth field.

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 following poem:

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!”

This contains a quote from The Wind In A Frolic by William Howitt:

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 the album.

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 Blues.

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 the winter...

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.


Good Vibrations

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 crime Mark 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.

Just try the following reviews of French Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett books on this blog and you'll know what I mean:
Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Cheap Tricks 
Barrett: first in space! 

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 straight.

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...

The Ultimate Music Guide
The Ultimate Music Guide.

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 enjoyable read.

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 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 sessionography 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 Two.

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 Four.

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 colleague.

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 Seven.

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 Eight.

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.

Storm shot by Mick during the TML photo shoot.
Storm shot by Mick during the TML photo shoot.

Camera Kids

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 well:

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 quote:

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. PDF version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
Update April 2015: same article hosted at Late Night.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 126-138.


The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)

Syd Barrett, Mick Rock
Syd Barrett tinbox, by Mick Rock.

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 truth.

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:

Did you understand the music Yoko?
Or was it all in vain?
(5.01 AM, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking)


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 To Death),

...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.

Venetta Fields & Carlena Williams, 1975 (courtesy of A Fleeting Glimpse).
Venetta Fields & Carlena Williams, 1975 (courtesy of A Fleeting Glimpse).

Remembering Games

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 Gilmour, Nick 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 Blackberries
John Leckie, EMI engineer and producer (but not on Wish You Were Here)
Nick Sedgwick, friend of Roger Waters and 'official' biographer of Pink Floyd
Jerry 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...

(A more detailed article about Barrett's visits during the Wish You Were Here sessions, with pictures!, can be found at: Shady Diamond.)

Iggy outtake (Mick Rock)
Iggy outtake by Mick Rock.

Amnesydelicate Matters

In his most recent, but probably not his last, picture book about Syd Barrett Mick 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 durability.

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 and Hipgnosis, perhaps even leading to an alternative Storm Thorgerson photo shoot (the so-called yoga pictures). But in the end it was decided to use the daffodils session from spring.

JenS convinced the Church that the Madcap photo shoot took place in the first quarter of the year 1969. Most is dispersed on several articles throughout the years but the following posts give a digest of what probably happened: When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 2), Rock - Paper - Scissors, The Case of the Painted Floorboards.

In My Room (Mojo)
In My Room (Mojo).

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 wasn't there."

JenS (When 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 different friends."

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 to record..."

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 on Facebook.
Jenny Spires on Facebook.

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 pretty accurate.

JenS (Addenda and Errata with Gala and Gretta): "Gala was not there (early 1969, FA). She moved in later hooking up with Syd in May or June."

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.)

Still Life with stereo, tape recorder and pot of paint
Still Life with stereo, tape recorder and pot of paint.

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 and turquoise."

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 released."

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."

Mick Rock (Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs - The Mick Rock Photo-Sessions): "There had been no discussion about money at all. Later on I did get a very minor payment but it couldn't have been more than 50£ and I don't know if it came from Syd or EMI."

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."

MP3 link: Duggie Fields.

Jenny Fabian (Days In The Life):: "He'd painted every other floor board alternate colours red and green."

Iggy outtake (Mick Rock)
Iggy outtake by Mick Rock.

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, see above.)

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 on Facebook
Jenny Spires on Facebook.

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 shine through.

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 shots."

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.

You have been reading a sequel of The Case of the Painted Floorboards. Two new - previously unpublished - Mick Rock pictures have been added to the Bare Flat gallery.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


RIP Kevin Ayers: Shooting At The Moon

Kevin Ayers
Kevin Ayers.

Kevin 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 story...

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 the CD).

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 by Ayers)

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 there.

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. 157-160.
Singing a song in the morning on Late Night forum, 7 December 2007.

In 2009 a 10" acetate was sold with an (unknown?) mix of Kevin Ayers / Syd Barrett Religious Experience.
Update 2016: replaced dead YouTube links with working ones.


An innerview with Peter Jenner

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
Peter Jenner, 2013 (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Peter Jenner, 2013 (courtesy of Wikipedia).

An Innerview with Peter Jenner
Concept: Rich Hall - Interview: Felix Atagong

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?

BH: Bernard White?

Bernard White started the Syd Barrett Appreciation Society and issued the legendary Terrapin magazine.

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 Man.

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...

Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890)
Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890). Mashup: Felix Atagong.

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...

Owsley '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 does exist.

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 Whitehead.

BH: The Tonight Let's All Make Love In London soundtrack.

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 with Max 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.

Barrett & Jenner (67-ish)
Syd Barrett & Peter Jenner (67-ish).

BH: Thanks, that would be nice. There still is a lot in the vaults though.

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 frustrating.

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...

PJ: Yes.

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.

Peter Jenner (courtesy of Moviestarnext)
Peter Jenner (courtesy of Moviestarnext).

BH: Did Keith Rowe and Syd Barrett actually meet or discussed music?

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.

PJ: Yes.

BH: And there is a big difference between both versions. The early one is still R&B influenced...

PJ: Yes.

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 was double-tracked.

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?

BH: Yes.

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 weird.

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.

Apples & Oranges 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.

June Child (67-ish)
June Child (67-ish).

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 Laughs.

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?

PJ: Yes.

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.

PJ: Right.

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 way.

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 songs, Norman (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...

Stones in Hyde Park
The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park.
Charlie Weedon (left), Rolling Stones roadie, friend of Syd Barrett
Charlie Weedon (left), Rolling Stones roadie, friend of Syd Barrett.

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, wasn't it?

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 do it.

BH: Really?

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 band.

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...

PJ: It's a mad world we live in, isn't it?

© The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.

Many thanks to Rich Hall, Peter Jansens, Peter Jenner.

End Credits:
Concept & idea: Rich Hall
Proposed by Rich Hall at Birdie Hop & Laughing Madcaps (Syd Barrett Facebook groups)
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.
Preparation: Felix Atagong & Rich Hall
Interview: Felix Atagong
Rough draft: Felix Atagong
Editing: Felix Atagong & Rich Hall
Publication: Birdie Hop, The Holy Church of Iggy The Inuit
Thanks to ‎Giulio Bonfissuto and Raymond John Nebbitt for spotting errors!

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop

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.


Hurricane over London

Who is Who in Rock Music
Who is Who in Rock Music, William York.


Norman Smith: John Lennon Called Me Normal
Joe Beard: Taking The Purple
Pink Floyd: Jugband Blues


One of the Reverend's great advantages of his Pink Floyd adoration, somewhere in the mid-seventies, was the start of a music collection. Barry 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 and Harvest - 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.

(The Reverend's heavily damaged record collection can be admired at the Record My Cat Destroyed Tumblr blog.)

Mr. Smith goes to London

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'....  

Norman Smith.
Norman Smith.

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 Martin.

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 before Pope Paul V and the Roman Inquisition.

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.

Most of the time Norman Smith is pretty down to Earth. When he finds out what Roger Waters says about the third single Apples And Oranges in Toby Manning's The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd:

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 UFO:

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?

But there, 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!!!
Norman Hurricane Smith
Norman 'Hurricane' Smith.

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 admires.

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.

Instant Salvation

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 face.

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...

The Purple Gang in satanic outfit
The 'satanic' Purple Gang.


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 traditional jug 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 McCartney.

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).

Boon Blues

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 as well:

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.

Unfortunately Nathan 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 since.

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 Love).

Jug Band Blues (1924)
Jug Band Blues, Sara Martin (1924).

Still got the Blues for You

Sara 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 called Jug Band Blues.

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: Jug 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' (1996, Document) 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.

Skiffle 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
Through the looking glass
Detail from 'An Introduction to Syd Barrett'. Picture: Storm Thorgerson. Slightly amended by: Felix Atagong.

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 Donegan:

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 while.

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
Louder Than Words
Louder Than Words. Artwork: Hipgnosis (2014).

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 American folkie:

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 Blues (1936):

Woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes
You know I had those mean old walking blues

Incidentally the Pink Floyd latest (and last?) song Louder Than Words, with its (horrible) lyrics written by Polly Samson, reflects the same:

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 the winter
Patti Page single
I don't care if the sun don't shine, Patti Page (1950).

This apparently happy refrain is a pastiche on Patti Page's 1950 hit I don't care if the sun don't shine, directly paraphrasing two of its lines. Elvis Presley and Dean Martin also covered this song (and all three of them also did Blue Moon, by the way):

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 1958 Windjammer 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 2014)

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.
Revolver-Piper mash-up?
Revolver - Piper cover mash-up. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

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 Aspinall, Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull, Brian 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 the strophes.


and what exactly is a dream
and what exactly is a joke
Dreamcatcher, courtesy LoveThisPic
Dreamcatcher, courtesy LoveThisPic.

The 'Carrollesque quality of the closing couplet', to quote Rob Chapman again, is omnipresent. In Lewis Carroll's 'Through 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?

≈≈≈ THE END ≈≈≈

Other Meaningful Articles

While you’re at it, why don’t you read the articles about the auctions in 2022 and 2023 or the Rich Hall / Felix Atagong / Birdie Hop interview with Peter Jenner, dating from 2014?

An innerview with Peter Jenner: An innerview with Peter Jenner 
Bonhams Auctions 2022 (Vegetable Man): Vegetable Man For Sale 
Bonhams Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges): An Apple a Day… 
Omega Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges / Jugband Blues): Barrett on Paper 

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 ♥ Libby ♥

The Purple Gang

Joe Beard, The Forgotten Flower Power Band From The London Underground, A Fleeting Glimpse.
The Purple Gang, The Purple Gang Strikes (1968), YouTube, including Bootleg Whisky, The Wizard & Granny Takes A Trip.
The Purple Gang, Boon Tune (2006), MySpace.

Jugband Blues

Sara Martin's Jug Band, Jug Band Blues (1924), YouTube.

I don't care if the sun don't shine

Patti Page (1950)
Elvis Presley (1954)
Dean Martin (1953)


The Sea is Green (1958) - movie version, YouTube
The Sea is Green (1958) - soundtrack version, Spotify

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, Lewis: Through the Looking Glass, Project Gutenberg.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 191.
Dosanjh, Warren: The 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.


Of Promises Broken

Sad Barrett
Sad Barrett. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

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.

Opel (upgrade) by Rich Hall
Opel (upgrade) by Rich Hall. Opens in a separate window.

Link: Opel (Rich Hall upgrade)

Rich Hall
Rich Hall.

Roger Keith Barrett Superstar

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.

The 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...

Tracklisting: Start
Boogie #1 (with a trace of Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing’) 0'00
Boogie #2 1'28
Boogie #3 2'58
If You Go #1 4'24
If You Go #2 6'38
Untitled 8'25
Slow Boogie 9'40
Fast Boogie 12'22
Ballad 13'30
John Lee Hooker (actually Lighting' Hopkins' Mojo Hand) 15'20
Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug 18'18

Endless Insults

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 thing.

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

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.


Event Person AFG BDA NPF
Goldtop 1957 auction Snowy White 2 1 0
Bombay Bicycle Club David Gilmour 1 1 1
Kirsty Bertarelli Nick Mason 1 1 1
Signal To Noise Andy Jackson 2 3 0
The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Syd Barrett 0 1 0

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 compilation).

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 his One 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 Sandercock, Mohammed 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.

Spanishgrass album 2014
Spanishgrass album 2014.

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 bellies.

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 back home.

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.

Welcome to 2015.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


Uschi Obermaier: Proletarian Chic

Uschi Obermaier? Not!
Not Uschi Obermaier.

Do a combined Syd Barrett Uschi 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 one.

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 right.

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 Lady.

John Davies

John Davies was one of those Cambridge hipsters who, between 1963 and 1965:

...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 Mildenhall.

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 clef Light 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

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.

Update March 2018: meanwhile the book was (finally) published in 2017, see In The Pink hunt is open! 

The Church has dedicated some space to the above picture before on the post Formentera 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.

Famous Groupies

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.

Mein Wildes Leben - Uschi Obermaier
Mein Wildes Leben, Uschi Obermaier.

Wild Thing

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.

Commune Love
Rainer Langhans & Uschi Obermaier, November 1969.

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 Seybold:

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 )

Picture taken at the day of the Munich Incident.
Rainer Langhans & Uschi Obermaier on the Munich Incident day.

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.)

Jeremy Spencer, at Fleetwood Mac community The Ledge, continues:

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 Munich accident.)

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)
Miss Kommune
Uschi Obermaier, "Miss Kommune".

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.)

Peter 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.

Uschi Obermaier on the road.
Uschi Obermaier & Dieter Bockhorn.

Reeperbahn Prince

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 life.

Das Wilde Leben (movie)
Das Wilde Leben (movie). Natalia Avelon as Uschi.


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 baptised Eight 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.

Uschi Obermaier.
Uschi Obermaier (1974) in a see-through dress, for comparison purposes only.

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?


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 Lady.

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.

Coffee Bar - YouTube - 8:19, a 1959 Look At Life documentary about the British 'coffee bar boom' in London.
The Munich LSD Party Incident - YouTube - 7:41 (interviews with Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer, John McVie, Dennis Keane, Peter Green, Clifford Davis).
Von wegen Liebe: Das schoenste Paar der APO - YouTube - 43:50, German documentary from Christa Ritter about Rainer Langhans, Uschi Obermaier and Kommune 1.
Jimi Hendrix with Uschi Obermaier in Berlin, January 1969 - YouTube - 0:35.


Step It Up And Go

Church Shrine
Church Shrine.

The following is a 'longread' about the blues musicians who gave Pink Floyd its name.
Warning: inappropriate language is used throughout.

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.

Personnel: Trotting Sally | Simmie Dooley | Pink Anderson | Samuel Charters | Floyd Council | Bryan Sinclair | Blind Boy Fuller | Warren Dosanjh | Stephen Pyle
Review: Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller


Pink 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.

Not Floyd Council
Not Floyd Council, but Blind Boy Fuller.

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 either.

Different tunes

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 N----- it's all passing by without consequences.

Trotting Sally with Rosalie
Trotting Sally with Rosalie (his violin).

Trotting Sally

The black district of Spartanburg 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”.

Simmie Dooley

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: Blind Simmie.

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 chords right.

In Search of Syd
In Search of Syd, Mojo compilation.

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 twenty-first century.

Syd Barrett visits UFO.
Syd Barrett visits UFO. Artwork: Felix Atagong.


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 talking about?

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 the Cake.)

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.

Pink Anderson
Pink Anderson.

Pink Anderson

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 blues knowledge.

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.

Samuel Charters

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 after him.

Pink Anderson albums
Pink Anderson albums.
Floyd Council
Floyd Council.

Floyd Council

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 obvious reasons.

Carolina Blues
Carolina Blues Compilation.

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 and Leigh 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 manager J.B. 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 owned.

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.

Carolina Blues

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.

Philips BBL 7512
Philips BBL 7512

Pre-War Blues

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: pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.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: <pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.com>
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
Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues
Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller compilation.


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
Blind Boy Fuller.

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 Oliver.

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 diplomatic:

In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it started our careers.

Brownie 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.

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller.

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 of age.

Country Blues (inside cover)
Country Blues (inside cover).

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 infinitum.

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 opinions.

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 (BBL-7512),
Bessie 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.

Stephen Pyle suggested Pink Floyd as a new name for The Hollerin Blues.

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 lyrics:

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

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 review?
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 Boy Fuller.
Country Blues
Country Blues.

Country Blues Side One

She's A Truckin' Little Baby

The album starts with She's A Truckin' Little Baby, a country dance tune and a song that has many incarnations. Big Bill Broonzy recorded it as Trucking Little Woman, John Hammond Jr. as Trucking Little Boy and John Jackson as Trucking Little Baby. All have different lyrics, but they're essentially the same song. Led Zeppelin sometimes included the song as Trucking Little Mama in their R&B medley during Whole Lotta Love.

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 risqué ever.

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.

Recorded: October 29, 1938, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Lyr Req: Trucking Little Baby / ...Woman / ...Mama

Screaming And Crying Blues

Screaming And Crying Blues can't get more 'default' as it is about a man, waking up in the morning and realising his woman has left him. The term comes back in different songs, one of them Screamin' and Cryin' by Muddy Waters (1949) and one by Morris Pejoe (1956).

I was worried and grieving,
about that girl had done left me behind.

Recorded: October 29, 1938.
Sound & Lyrics

Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay

Big legged women are something of a tradition in blues and, once again, have been cited in a Led Zeppelin song (Black Dog) where it is said that:

a big-legged woman ain't got no soul.

And that might be quite an insurmountable problem for a band that has been flirting with Satanist tendencies. Mississippi John Hurt recorded Big Leg Blues in 1928, Roosevelt Sykes had Big Legs Ida Blues in 1933, Kokomo Arnold Big Leg Mama in 1935, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry covered Bill Gaither's Another Big Leg Woman as Big-Legged Woman and so on...

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.

Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): A big legged woman ain't got no soul

Custard Pie
Custard Pie (sexual metaphor).

I Want Some Of Your Pie

I 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 cushdy pies.

I Want Some Of Your Pie (1939) is one of those songs that has different incarnations. It can be found as Custard Pie (1947) by Sonny Terry and as Custard Pie Blues (1962) by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Buddy Moss and Pinewood Tom recorded an early version, with slightly other lyrics, as You Got To Give Me Some Of It in 1935, 4 years before Blind Boy Fuller.

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 (washboard).
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Custard Pie

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.

Cat 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 (take1), Sound (take 2) and Lyrics

Been Your Dog

Been Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife. In Untrue 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 another man.

Recorded: February 10, 1937.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.

jelly roll
Jelly Roll (sexual metaphor).

Hungry Calf Blues

Hungry 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 groupies abundant:

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 lover around:

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.

Recorded: September 9, 1937.
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Milk Cow Blues

Mojo (magical charm bag).

Mojo Hidin' Woman

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 money matters.

Other sources say it should be 'nature sack'. Harry 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.

And that's a verse Fuller lends almost literally from Blind Lemon Jefferson's Low Down Mojo Blues (1928).

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 and Lyrics

Dancing not allowed.
Dancing not allowed.

Country Blues Side Two

Piccolo Rag

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.

Recorded: April 5, 1938.
Sound and Lyrics

freight train
Freight Train.

Lost Lover Blues

Lost 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 & Lyrics

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.

Rambling Woman is not an unique term as it was used in the traditional Ragged But Right that dates from around 1900. Recorded versions exist by the Blue Harmony Boys (Ragged But Right, 1929) and Riley Puckett (Ragged But Right, 1935). As a traditional it had many different lyrics including this very raunchy version:

Just called up to tell you that I'm ragged but right
A gamblin' woman ramblin' woman, drunk every night
I fix a porterhouse steak every night for my boy
That's more than an ordinary whore can afford

Country stars Riley Puckett and George Jones (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) used more innocent lyrics and changed the protagonist to a gambling man, instead of a woman. Covers by Johnny Cash (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) and Jerry Garcia (Ragged but Right) also exist.

Death of Blind Boy Fuller.
Death of Blind Boy Fuller.

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.

Recorded: June 19, 1940.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): Ragged But Right

Step It Up And Go

Step It Up And Go, credited to J.B. Long, was Fuller's biggest hit, although far from an original. Known as Bottle Up And Go it was recorded in 1939 by Tommy McClennan, himself referring to Bottle It Up And Go, written by Charlie Burse for the Picanniny Jug Band in 1932. J.B. Long claimed he heard a song 'You got to touch it up and go' from an old blues man and that he re-wrote the lyrics for Fuller to sing it a couple of days later.

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 Brothers.

The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again) the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.

Recorded: March 5, 1940, with Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Bottle Up and Go

Keep Away From My Woman

Keep 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.

Little Woman You're So Sweet

Little Woman You're So Sweet is a love song, a small masterpiece, where Fuller actually mentions himself.

Hey mama, hey gal,
don't you hear Blind Boy Fuller callin' you?
You're so sweet, so sweet, yeah sweet,
my little woman, so sweet...

The song was first recorded as So sweet, so sweet by Josh White in 1932 and Fuller's version is nearly a carbon copy of the original.

“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black Conciousness'. Mamie 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 the people.

Other trivia: Blues band Shakey Vick named their first album, in 1969, after this song.

Recorded: March 6, 1940.
Sound & Lyrics

sugar plum
Sugar Plum (sexual metaphor).

Brownskin Sugar Plum

Brownskin and Sugar 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

Recorded: July 26, 1935.
Sound & Lyrics

Evil Hearted Woman

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.


Paul Oliver (on the Country Blues liner notes):

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:

One of these days about 12 o'clock
This old world's gonna reel and rock
I belong to the band
(I Belong to the Band, Hallelujah, 1960)
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit tombstone

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, Winifred, Wordreference.com, Zowieso...
♥ 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. 54-57.

Pink Anderson
Floyd Council
Blind Boy Fuller

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Iggy - another festival, another look

Festival of the Flower Children
Festival of the Flower Children.

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

Poster courtesy Oscar Wilson
Festival of the Flower Children. Poster: courtesy Oscar Wilson."

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 barred.
Dancing Flower Children (The Australian Women's Weekly)
Dancing Flower Children (The Australian Women's Weekly).

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, where Jeff 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.

Sleeping Flower Child (The Australian Women's Weekly)
Sleeping Flower Child (The Australian Women's Weekly).

The Flower Children festival aimed at the masses as well, and not to the hardcore underground, promising bands and artists as Jeff Beck, The Bee Gees, Eric Burdon & The New Animals, The Kinks (not confirmed), Denny Laine (from The Moody Blues), Marmalade, Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band, The Move (not confirmed), The Alan Price Set, The Small Faces, Al Stewart, The Syn (a precursor of Yes) and less known bands as Blossom Toes, Breakthru, The Dream (some claim an early incarnation of Tangerine Dream?), The Gass (not confirmed), Tintern Abbey and Tangerine Peel (not confirmed and perhaps this is where the Tangerine Dream rumour comes from).

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, although Rob 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?

Flower Mother and Child (The Australian Women's Weekly)
Flower Mother and Child (The Australian Women's Weekly).

Inside heroes

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 Tumblr blog:

Iggy the Eskimo, Festival of the Flower Children, 1967.
Iggy the Eskimo, Festival of the Flower Children, 1967.

'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 d'époque tamponnée.
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 Jutka, Raymond Voinquel, Inge Morath, Christian Simonpietri...

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:

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 Girl.

Jean Straker (taken from Oz 6, 1967)
Jean Straker (taken from Oz 6, 1967).

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.

Flower Child by Jean Straker
Flower Child by Jean Straker.

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.

Update 2023: There is the possibility this picture was taken by Feri Lukas. See: Feri Lukas, photographer.

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 ♥

Some pictures and articles, used for this post, will be published at the Holy Church's Tumblr blog under the Festival of the Flower Children-tag.

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 pdf version).


The Rhamadan – Committee Connection

A fantasy based on facts.
Inspired by a hypothesis from Simon Matthews.

Psychedelic Celluloid by Simon Matthews
Psychedelic Celluloid by Simon Matthews.

Psychedelic Celluloid

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 Early Years.

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 painter Michael Kidner.

Paul Jones and Tom Kempinski, The Committee.
Paul Jones and Tom Kempinski, The Committee.

Let's Split

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 again.

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. The Have 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.

Five man Floyd.
Five man Floyd.

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 street.

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.

Simon Matthews:

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.

Syd's Group

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 Random Precision study, was made up for Norman Smith and Pink Floyd, not Syd Barrett. The typed date 14/2/68 on the 'Financial Appendix' is struck out and changed, by hand, to the thirtieth of January.

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. Unless you read the handwritten note as 'Sid Barrett - (Steve Peregrin) Took - Session' and then some of the fog, surrounding this session, has been cleared.

Recording Sheet, Sound Technique Studios
Financial Appendix, Sound Technique Studios
Recording Sheet & Financial Appendix, Committee Session, Sound Technique Studios.

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.

Blackhill 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, see: Hurricane over London.)

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 studio again.


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!

Peter Jenner:

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 Committee, end credits.
The Committee, end credits.

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 Damage.)

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 by Bill Kopp
Reinventing Pink Floyd by Bill Kopp.

Reinventing Pink Floyd (Update December 2018)

In his book Reinventing Pink Floyd, author Bill Kopp has an interesting theory about this soundtrack as well. 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 future (P67).

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 Possible Pasts.)

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, Spare 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.


The Octopus Rides Again

Octopus Sleeve (detail)
Octopus Sleeve (detail)

Last year in June a French 'Pathe Marconi' edition of Syd Barrett's Octopus 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.

French: Au fil des enchères: Le 45-tours "Octopus" de Syd Barrett
German: Zum Ersten, zum Zweiten, zum Dritten! Die Maxi-Single "Octopus" von Syd Barrett
Director: Joëlle Oosterlinck.

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.

Duggie, Peter, Bill & Jean-Michel
Duggie, Peter, Bill & Jean-Michel.


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.

(Read our Peter Jenner interview here: An innerview with Peter Jenner)


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 the Charles Beterams' Pink 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.
Octopus, Syd Barrett
Octopus, Syd Barrett.


To further elaborate on the madcap’s enigma a French scholar is asked as well. Jean-Michel 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 Rimbaud.”

(Read our review of his book here: Cheap Tricks)


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 ♥


The Syd Barrett Cookbook

The Lyrics of Syd Barrett
The Lyrics of Syd Barrett. Edited by Rob Chapman & David Gilmour..


Somewhere in October 2019, I heard rumours about a Syd Barrett lyrics book that was in the pipeline. In April 2020 there was – finally – some official news about the book when Rob Chapman tweeted about it:

...the Syd Barrett lyric book has been put back to next year due to the Virus. A pity because there’s going to be an exclusive in there which will make all Syd fans gasp and spontaneously combust when they read it…

Two weeks later, during one of his ‘Theatre For Dreamers’ live streams, David Gilmour confirmed that he was proofreading Syd’s lyrics by comparing Chapman’s notes with the isolated voice tracks from the Syd Barrett masters.


Omnibus Press has the following to say about it:

The complete lyrics of Syd Barrett – 52 songs written for Pink Floyd and during his subsequent solo career – are presented together for the first time, along with rare photos and artwork, to form this beautifully illustrated book.

February 2021 the book has finally arrived in the hands of the fans, although Amazon France keeps on insisting that it doesn’t exist, yet. Let's talk about the 'rare' photos and artwork first. To be honest, there aren’t any. I’m browsing through the Kindle version and all pictures, except perhaps one, are those that are daily published on a multitude of Syd Barrett Facebook groups and Tumblrs, including my own ridiculous iggyinuit.tumblr.com.

But obviously, this book isn’t about the pictures although these could’ve been a bit less predictable, to say the least.

Peter Jenner

There is a foreword by Peter Jenner who compares Syd’s songs with Van Gogh’s paintings. He’s done that before, for instance on the Birdie Hop / The Church interview he did in 2014 (see: An innerview with Peter Jenner). Syd left an everlasting impression on the people he met and worked with, that’s for sure.

Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890). Mashup: Felix Atagong.
Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Syd (1890). Mashup: Felix Atagong.

Rob Chapman

Before the lyrics section starts there is a quite brainy and erudite introduction by Rob Chapman. Evidently, it centralises on Syd's wordsmanship that often meanders in obscure waters. Some lyrics need a guide book that only existed in Syd’s mind, others are just plain gibberish and failed experiments, a bit like the early Floyd jams that sometimes were cool and often were not. But when Syd is brilliant, well… he’s just damn brilliant.

Chapman's essay regales its readers, read it slowly to let it sink in.


As soon as the first copies were distributed Syd fanatics had their remarks. Fans are used to their interpretations of Syd's lyrics and some of the Gilmour / Chapman adaptions were not that easily accepted. Here are a few examples:

Waddle with apples to grouchy Mrs Stores vs.
Waddle with apples to crunchy Mrs Stores.

Gregory Taylor on the Birdie Hop Facebook group about this Scream Thy Last Scream verse:

I am not sure that the word 'grouchy' was particularly in usage during the 1960s whereas 'crunchy' was very current particularly in telly adverts. Syd liked onomatopoeic words so that sounds more feasible to me. He also didn’t use obvious Americanisms like ‘grouchy’.

Matthew Cheney:

My point was that given the potential for multiple interpretations still, the book will inevitably have some kind of slant depending on who is involved.
Green Limpets
Green Limpets.


Lime and limpet green vs.
Lime and limpid green.

Pink Floyd übergeek Rontoon at the Steve Hoffman Music Forum:

WTF is "limpet green"? Limpid green refers to the icy waters mentioned in the same verse. Limpid is a water reference. A limpet is a mollusk (and they aren't green).

Actually, Rontoon, green limpets do exist, the internet is full of them. However, it would be so nice if Rob Chapman could explain to the hardcore Sydocracy why he (and Mr Gilmour) put in the 'grouchy' and 'limpet' words instead of ‘crunchy’ and ‘limpid’.

Annotations would have been very helpful but unfortunately, Rob prefers to kick around on Twitter, making derogatory remarks about anyone who doesn’t agree with him.


At Late Night, still relevant after all these years, Syd Wonder assembled lyrics that could contain errors in Chapman's transcription. According to Syd Wonder Rob Chapman did a particularly bad job on Double O Bo and made mistakes in Late Night, Milky Way, Rats, Wined and Dined, If It's In You and Vegetable Man. Read his analysis at: The lyrics of Syd Barrett...

Official Secrets Act

Some fans regret the fact that this book was assembled in secrecy and that Roger Waters, nor Nick Mason have been involved. Were they asked, we will never know, but it doesn't look that way. Syd Barrett is a division of the Gilmour-led Floyd company and shares the same management.

Chapman, who once described Pink Floyd as a firm of chartered surveyors, finds this utterly silly as well:

I’ve got to sit on hot information for nearly a year now. I’ll probably have to sign the Official Secrets Act. 48 hour ago I was the first person in the world outside of ‘certain famous parties’ to read it.

Missing Songs

Now for the songs. These are the lyrics for the Syd Barrett tracks that have been officially released. Why do I say that? Because ‘Living Alone’ is missing and perhaps a few others.

‘Living Alone’ is vegetating on tape E95744Z that is in David Gilmour’s Fort Knoxian archives, along with Bob Dylan Blues. Bob Dylan Blues has been released on a compilation album, but Living Alone not. Is Living Alone a song with lyrics? Is it worth releasing? Who knows? Who cares?

Another missing song is ‘Remember Me’ from the 1965 demos. ‘Lucy Leave’, ‘Double O Bo’ and ‘Butterfly’ are in the book. ‘Remember Me’ not. This could mean it was written by someone else or perhaps it is just one of those traditional Floydian fuck-ups. As usual, there is silence in the Chapman / Pink Floyd camp.

Rooftop in Terrapin 9.
Rooftop in Terrapin 9.

A Rooftop Song In A Thunderstorm Row Missing The Point.

Then there is the case of ‘Rooftop’. The July 1974 issue of the fanzine Terrapin has an unpublished Syd Barrett poem, copied by Bernard White after a visit at the Hipgnosis headquarters.

It has survived in two versions, both in Bernard White’s handwriting. There is the published version in the fanzine, where he explicitly thanks ‘Hypgnosis’ (sic) for the poem. A second version was sold by Bonhams in December 2010 for the crazy price of 2160£.

The seller claimed that the poem was in Barrett’s handwriting. The Late Night forum and the Church debunked this and tried to warn potential buyers. Bonhams was warned as well but they ignored it. A decade ago I was advised not to dig too deep into the matter, as the seller had a high position in the Syd Barrett pecking order. Weird scenes inside the Syd Barrett goldmine, so it seems. See: Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem.

In the uncut and unedited Darker Globe manuscript from Julian Palacios, one can find the following.

At El Patio, they read 19th Century French symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil. In Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, the 17-year old hellion poet insisted, ‘It is necessary to be absolutely modern’. Syd was taken with Baudelaire’s 1869 Paris Spleen, and fragments found way into his poem ‘Rooftop in a Thunderstorm Row Missing the Point’. Syd scribbled, ‘the prophecy, to recreate the truth / in visions of a seasonal mood...’

Unfortunately, I can't find the Paris Spleen fragments that inspired Barrett, but The Old Clown poem does have a clowns and jugglers line.

It was one of those gala days that all the clowns, jugglers, animal trainers, and ambulant hucksters count on, long in advance, to make up for the lean seasons of the year.

In a tweet from February 2021, Rob Chapman calls Rooftop a total fake.

Oh gawd!
Oh gawd!
Yes its that totally unconvincing Thunderbird (sic) Row missing the point forgery that Bernard White was passing around in the 80s. He casts a long vapour trail does Mr White.

Wolfpack, over at Late Night, has his objections about Chapman’s comment:

There were no Xerox machines just easily available in the early 1970s. So, if White found a sheet of Barrett lyrics in some Hipgnosis archive, he just couldn't run to some supermarket to copy the sheet.

All he could do was writing down in his own handwriting, what he was reading in front of him.

First of all, the Rooftop poem doesn't date from the eighties but was published in Terrapin in 1974. In his foreword Bernard White thanks ‘Hypgnosis for the poem and photos’. This is repeated in the ‘credits’ section: ‘This issue all photos plus poem: Hypgnosis’. Bernard White doesn’t seem the person to me to fabricate a false Syd Barrett poem. The Hipgnosis archive, where he claimed to have found the poem, has been lost. We can’t prove its authenticity. Chapman can’t prove the opposite either.

Mind Shot (It is obvious)
Mind Shot (It Is Obvious).

Mind Shot

The 2001 Syd Barrett compilation album Wouldn’t You Miss Me? has a partial facsimile of the Mind Shot lyrics, better known as It Is Obvious. It is believed that it comes straight out of Syd’s binder that contained his lyrics.

Wolfpack has asked, and rightly so, why this sheet hasn’t been included. Most of Syd’s typewritten lyrics have been lost, so why didn’t they add the one(s) that did survive?

On top of that, Chapman changes Syd’s line ‘Oh mumma listen dolly’ into ‘Mumble listen dolly’. Once again some explanation would have been appreciated.

I kid you not.
I kid you not.
Mad Cat
Madcap announced as Mad Cat.


There are plenty of cases where different interpretations of the lyrics are possible. But it’s nice to see that there finally is a consensus about Opal (instead of Opel) and that both mad cats and madcaps are hiding in Octopus / Clowns & Jugglers.

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that Gilmour and Chapman didn't listen to isolated voice tracks for all tracks, despite all the brouhaha, only for those they had a problem with. There is a line in Octopus that officially goes: "The seas will reach and always seep."

That's wrong, states Chapman on Twitter, nearly a year ago, suggesting: “The seas will wreath. We’ll always see.”

So why did it change back to the first – clearly wrong – line in the book?

Walk with me

Chris Flackett on Twitter:

I do have one question, respectfully asked, as it goes: I always thought the line in Candy and a Currant Bun was 'please just fuck with me'. Was it just a common mishearing then? Always wondered how they slipped that past EMI.

Rob Chapman replies:

Didn't have any multi-track to prove that but I think it's both, like madcap and madcat on Octopus.

Wrong, multi-tracks of Candy do exist and have even been (partially) published on YouTube. Rob Chapman plays it safe and uses the politically correct line: "Please, just walk with me."

This is weird because in 'Irregular Head' Chapman acknowledges the existence of the four-letter word: “He slips a cleverly disguised ‘fock’ into the chorus and makes it sound like ‘walk’.”

No Man’s Land

The promised part where fans would ‘spontaneously combust’ is the spoken word ending of No Man's Land. It must have been a titanic work to isolate the mumbling sentences of the crazy bard, spoken at a staggering speed.

It’s a work of love and dedication and Sydiots all over the planet will thank the Chapman / Gilmour team for that.


Is this the definitive statement on Syd’s lyrics as Chapman proudly tells in an interview with the Bureau of Lost Culture? I don’t think it is. There are still some loose ends and as some anoraks have said, it wouldn't have hurt to add some annotations. It’s not that Chapman / Gilmour didn’t have the time.

But it will find its way into the shrines of most Sydiots, I’ll guess. They will discuss its contents for centuries to come.

Strawberry Fair
Strawberry Fair Logo.


Let’s add another Syd Barrett myth, shall we? Over at Hoffman’s Music Corner member APH claims he had several brief Syd encounters:

I was watching my friends' group the Fire Dept at Strawberry Fair, late eighties. There was a bald guy in a jumpsuit dancing around enthusiastically on his own. I was told it was Syd. After that, I recognised him around Cambridge through the years. Generally just walking alone. Occasionally doing something like paying for his weekly shop in pennies, and making everyone wait.

He was quite well known locally, it wasn't considered the done thing to approach him. I heard he would scream at people who did that. One look at him, and it was obvious there was no reason to approach him, he wasn’t the same person.

The Church wishes to thank: APH, Asdf35, Eleonora Siatoni, Gregory Taylor, Hallucalation, Julian Palacios, Matthew Cheney, Psych62, Rich Hall, Rob Chapman, Rontoon, Stephen Coates, Swanlee, Syd Wonder, Wolfpack, Younglight.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥

A podcast about the lyrics book at Bureau of Lost Culture: The legend, Legagacy and Lyrics of Syd Barrett
The lyrics of Syd Barrett… @ Late Night Forum
Syd Barrett 2021 Releases @ Steve Hoffman Music Corner
The Lyrics of Syd Barrett, Omnibus Press @ Yeeshkul
New book: The Lyrics Of Syd Barrett @ Neptune Pink Floyd
Birdie Hop @ Facebook

Sources (others than the links above):
Baudelaire, Charles: Paris Spleen 1869, New Directions Publishing, New York, 1970, p.25. Translated from the French by Louise Varèse.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 134.
Palacios, Julian: Darker Globe: Uncut and Unedited, private publication, 2021, p. 85.


Vegetable Man For Sale

Bonhams Catalogue Autumn 2022
Bonhams Catalogue Autumn 2022.

The Bonhams Auction House, the company that once managed to sell a fake Barrett poem and went through with it despite our warnings, now has the lyrics of Vegetable Man for sale, allegedly in the handwriting of Syd Barrett. This has been published by PinkSydFloyd on Yeeshkul.

The document belongs to an ‘anonymous’ associate of the band who describes the song as follows.

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 to listen to those tracks in the same way…

The above quote has literally been taken from a 2014 innerview I had with Peter Jenner (with many thanks to co-author Rich Hall). It was simultaneously published at the Holy Church and Birdie Hop, but Bonhams doesn’t find it necessary to say where they took this quote from.

Vegetable Man Lyrics Sheet (original)
Vegetable Man Lyrics Sheet (original)

Vegetable Man

The handwritten lyrics for Vegetable Man include the chord breakdown of the song, all in Syd Barrett’s hand. Unfortunately, the picture on the Bonham website and catalogue is very difficult to decipher unless you enhance the contrast between the light blue ink and the white paper. And of course, this is what has been done, for instance in the Yeeshkul forum, by user Axefeld.

Vegetable Man Lyrics Sheet (enhanced by Felix Atagong)
Vegetable Man Lyrics Sheet (enhanced by Felix Atagong)


On the same forum, Goldenband concludes that the chords on the lyrics sheet are not the chords Pink Floyd plays on the record.

What Syd noted down as
"| D Db | A G# | E | A B | E |"
is, on the recorded version
"| Eb Db | A G# | E | G# A | B E |".
The BBC version is also a bit different, namely:
"| Eb D | A G# | E | G# A | B E |".

Don’t worry if this reads like Chinese to you, it reads like Chinese to me as well.


We have had multiple discussions about Syd’s lyrics over the decades, and even Rob Chapman’s book, aptly titled ‘The Lyrics of Syd Barrett’, has gotten it wrong on different occasions. (See our review at: The Syd Barrett Cookbook) The handwritten lyrics of Vegetable Man reopen the discussion of what Syd meant.

Detail from the Vegetable Man Lyrics sheet (taken from Yeeshkul)
Detail from the Vegetable Man Lyrics sheet (taken from Yeeshkul).


I see some words there that I can't hear on the recordings:
"my haircut looks so ----". I'd always heard "bad" , but there's a different word here, possibly 4 letters?
Same goes for: "so I change my gear and I find my -----". I'd heard "feet", the word here is possibly 5 letters?

Other Syd anoraks have chimed in:
Blackstrat01: I always thought it was "Find my niche."
Lennyif: I have always heard it as "Find my knees."

Blackstrat01: I always thought it was "My haircut looks so rare."
Goldenband: I think it might be "My haircut looks so fair."
Jaman57: I always heard "My haircut looks so fab."

For your information, Rob Chapman lists those as: "I bind my knees." and "My haircut looks so bad."

Detail from the Vegetable Man Lyrics sheet (taken from Yeeshkul)
Detail from the Vegetable Man Lyrics sheet (taken from Yeeshkul).

Early Years

Several (bootlegged) versions of Vegetable Man exist. In 2011, the Church published an article where some of these differences are mentioned: Scream Thy False Scream. Of course, in 2016, the fairly overpriced Early Years box set saw the first official release of the track.

We continue with a quote from the Bonhams catalogue:

It is believed this is the first time a complete set of Syd Barrett's handwritten lyrics have been offered at auction. This set was acquired by Pink Floyd’s first manager at the time the song was written and has been in his possession since.


Some idiots (not Sydiots!) with brains smaller than a rat claim the Vegetable Man lyrics sheet is a fake. Over at Birdie Hop, LX - that old, grey and wise grandfather of Sydolatry - posted the following message.

I know from his family that this document is 100% genuine.
I even know who is selling it and why this person is selling it.
I will not disclose that under any circumstances.
Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890). Mashup: Felix Atagong.
Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890). Mashup: Felix Atagong.
Rino Di Lernia
Rino Di Lernia.


If you are interested in purchasing this piece of rock ‘n’ roll history be sure to have a fat wallet. The auction prices have been estimated at £30,000 – 40,000, €34,000 – 46,000, US$33,000 – 44,000. See you on the 16th of November 2022 at 13:00 GMT.

Bonhams Auction House
Syd Barrett / Pink Floyd: A Rare Set Of Handwritten Lyrics For Vegetable Man,
circa. 1967,


Surprise Visit

Birdie Hop member Rino Di Lernia visited Bonhams and took some pictures. (Thanks, Antonio Jesús Reyes for warning us.) The Church activated some Paint Shop Pro magic on it and here is the result.

Vegetable Man Lyrics
Vegetable Man Lyrics
Vegetable Man Lyrics. Original picture by Rino Di Lernia. Paint Shop Pro magic by Felix Atagong.

Auction Day

The auction took place on the 16th of November where the highest bid stranded at £22,000 - €25,120 - US$25,980, or about 3 quarters of the minimum bid. Thanks to Philippe Spadaccini from Pink Floyd Collectors we have the following screenshot.

Bonhams Online Auction
Bonhams Online Auction, vegetable Man stranded at £22,000.

Sold, or not?

There seems to be some confusion whether the lyrics have been sold of not. The minimum bid, believed to be £30,000, was not reached. The Bonhams site is pretty vague and mentions 'amended' on the Vegetable Man page, whatever that may signify. But it needs to be said that the lots that have been sold all carry a 'sold' tag on their page and that is not the case for VM.

Auction results
Bonhams auction results for lot 93.

Syd Hype

Whatever it is, the big Syd Barrett hype is perhaps over, something we have been witnessing before. Portrait of a Girl reached £6,500: Missing Person found. On the other hand Syd's Orange Dahlias in a Vase, auctioned in 2021, was sold for a whopping £22,000, while it was only estimated at £3,000! See: Orange Dahlias in a Vase.

This article will be updated if more news shows up. Some (enhanced) pictures will be published on our Tumblr page, with the “Vegetable Man” tag.

Other Meaningful Articles

While you’re at it, why don’t you read the articles about the auctions in 2022 and 2023 or the Rich Hall / Felix Atagong / Birdie Hop interview with Peter Jenner, dating from 2014?

An innerview with Peter Jenner: An innerview with Peter Jenner 
Bonhams Auctions 2022 (Vegetable Man): Vegetable Man For Sale 
Bonhams Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges): An Apple a Day… 
Omega Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges / Jugband Blues): Barrett on Paper 

The Church wishes to thank: Axefeld, Blackstrat01, Birdie Hop, Bonhams, Goldenband, Rich Hall, Alexander 'LX' Peter Hoffmann, Jaman57, Peter Jenner, Lennyif, Rino Di Lernia, Lisa Newman, Göran Nyström, PinkSydFloyd, Antonio Jesús Reyes, Philippe Spadaccini and all the beautiful people we have forgotten.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥

Sources (other than above mentioned links):

Bonhams: Rock, Pop & Film (catalogue), Bonhams London, 2021, p. 36-37.
Chapman, Rob: The Lyrics of Syd Barrett, Omnibus Press, London, 2021, p. 91.

The Yeeshkul forum thread (started by PinkSydFloyd):
Pink Floyd / Syd Barrett “Vegetable Man” Lyrics Auction!

Some links at the Church:
Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem 
An innerview with Peter Jenner 
The Syd Barrett Cookbook 
Scream Thy False Scream 


An Apple a Day…

Bonhams Rock, Pop & Film, 2023
Bonhams Rock, Pop & Film, 2023.

Our good friend Ewgeni Reingold put an interesting post on the Birdie Hop Facebook group (membership needed).

Bonhams is selling a part of Peter Jenner’s collection and there are a few items that may interest the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fan. An Arnold Layne factory pressing, some press pictures from the 5 man Floyd, a Fan Club letter and Management Stationery from Blackhill Enterprises.

However the most interesting item is, without doubt, the handwritten lyrics for Apples And Oranges, dating from 1967.


Each verse and the chorus are written across 32 lines over two pages of lined paper in blue ballpoint pen, with handwritten musical chords. Size: 8in x 13in (20.5cm x 33cm).

Apples & Oranges by Syd Barrett
Apples And Oranges by Syd Barrett.

Hereafter some extra titbits that have been taken from the Bonhams auction page.

These lyrics for 'Apples and Oranges' have been in the possession of Peter Jenner since they were written in 1967. Jenner was the first manager for Pink Floyd. He co-founded Blackhill Enterprises with his childhood friend Andrew King in 1966 after discovering the band, leaving his career as a lecturer at the London School of Economics. The pair first saw Pink Floyd at the Marquee Club and although having no prior experience in the music industry, they decided to found their production/management company. This enabled them to become the bands managers as well as set up the first South Bank concert 'Pink Floyd Games For May' in 1967. This lead to further ventures such as the now legendary 'Hyde Park Free Festival' in 1968 which 120,000 people attended and that was held for eight consecutive years.

Following signing up the fledgling Pink Floyd, Jenner and King invested in new musical equipment, clothing and promotion for each member. However it was Syd Barrett that the pair saw as the principle songwriter and creative force in the group. Jenner in particular took Syd under his wing identifying his vulnerability. Syd was the lead singer, song writer and face of a new genre of progressive psychedelic rock. However behind all this, Syd's mental state was beginning to deteriorate, and he was starting to become lost to drugs and the pressures from the industry at the time.

Apples And Oranges, tinkered by Felix Atagong.
Apples And Oranges, tinkered by Felix Atagong.

The complete handwritten lyrics in this lot are written in the hand of Syd Barrett. The lyrics are titled and include the chord breakdown for the melody and released version of the song. 'Apples and Oranges' was the last single released by the original Pink Floyd band line-up, (Syd, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright) before the bands first US tour. The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on the 26th and 27th October 1967. It was released on the 27th November but failed to make it into the charts, with B-side for the single 'Paint Box' written by Richard Wright.

According to Syd the song was based on a girl in a supermarket, "It's a happy song, and it's got a touch of Christmas. It's about a girl who I saw just walking round town, in Richmond." commented Barrett, when discussing the narrative.

This lot is sold without copyright, all rights remaining with Syd Barrett Music Ltd.

Estimation: £20,000 - £30,000

URL : https://www.bonhams.com/auction/28539/lot/159/syd-barrett-pink-floyd-a-rare-set-of-handwritten-lyrics-for-apples-and-oranges-1967/

Result: not sold.


A second item to be auctioned is a typed lyric sheet for Apples And Oranges, dating from 1967. It contains the complete lyrics and chorus for the song across 25 lines. Size: 8in x 10in (20cm x 25cm). This also comes from the collection of Peter Jenner and it’s estimated at £800 - £1,200.

Apples And Oranges, typoscript.
Apples And Oranges, typescript.

URL: https://www.bonhams.com/auction/28539/lot/165/syd-barrett-pink-floyd-a-typed-lyric-sheet-for-apples-and-oranges-1967/

Result: not sold.

Rino Di Lernia
"Rino Di Lernia.

Update 2023 05 26: End Results

The auction closed at 24 May 2023, 12:00 BST. Drkrazee, who followed the aution, posted the following on Reddit:

Sadly the reserve wasn't met on this and the lot got passed. Maybe next time!

Just like in the previous Peter Jenner auction, where he tried to sell Vegetable Man, it appears that the minimum bid was not reached.

Other (less expensive) items did find buyers though:
Syd Barrett / Pink Floyd: Three Black And White Vintage Press Photographs Of Syd Barrett, Sold for £640 inc. premium.
Pink Floyd: Three Black And White Vintage Prints Of Pink Floyd, Sold for £640 inc. premium.
Pink Floyd: Fan Club letter and Management Stationery from Blackhill Enterprises. Sold for £140 inc. premium.
Pink Floyd: Two Black And White Vintage Press Photos Of Syd Barrett. Sold for £640 inc. premium.
Pink Floyd: A Handbill for 'Games for May - The Pink Floyd'. Sold for £2,048 inc. premium.

Surprise Visit

Rino Di Lernia visited Bonhams and took some pictures of the lyrics sheet. They can be seen at The Pink Floyd Clan (Facebook).

Picure: Rino Di Lernia
Picture: Rino Di Lernia. Some tinkering by Felix Atagong.

Second auction

On the 4th of July 2023 this item was auctioned a second time, by Omega Auctions : Omega Showcase Sale - Guitars, Music Memorabilia and Rare Vinyl Records


Two lined sheets of paper (each approx 20 x 33cm) with handwritten lyrics by Syd Barrett c 1967 for Pink Floyd - Apples and Oranges. With verses, chorus and chord structures. 32 lines. Very good condition. Also to include a one page typed set of lyrics for 'Apples and Oranges', which according to accompanying provenance documents, was likely used within the 'Blackhill' offices for publishing purposes. Provenance: both the handwritten and typed lyrics are from the collection of Peter Jenner, legendary manager of Pink Floyd and other noted acts of the 1960s-1990s. Both are accompanied with signed letters of authenticity from the daughter of Peter and archivist of the Jenner collection since the 1990s.

It was sold for £15,000.

Apples and Oranges Lyrics
Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Lyrics
Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Appled and oranges Typed Lyrics
Apples and Oranges Typed Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.

Other Meaningful Articles

While you’re at it, why don’t you read the article about the auction of Vegetable Man in 2022 or the Rich Hall / Felix Atagong / Birdie Hop interview with Peter Jenner, dating from 2014?

Vegetable Man For Sale 
An innerview with Peter Jenner 

Omega Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges / Jugband Blues): Barrett on Paper 

Many thanks to: Birdie Hop, Drkrazee, Ewgeni Reingold, Petra Eder, Rino Di Lernia.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Literature (as quoted from the Bonhams auction page):
Povey, Glenn The Complete Pink Floyd, The Ultimate Reference, Stirling, New Yok, 2016
Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, V&A Publishing, London, 2017

Pictures taken from Bonhams and Rino Di Lernia, some enhanced by Felix Atagong.


Barrett on Paper

Blackhill Logo
Blackhill Logo.


On July 4, 2023, Omega Auctions had a ‘Showcase Sale’ of Guitars, Music memorabilia, and Rare Vinyl Records. So far, nothing spectacular, as these things are auctioned every day. But lots 419 and 430 were something else for the early Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett collectors.

This is merely a post for archival purposes, as the items generated almost no interest whatsoever. Perhaps they weren’t mentioned on social media to keep the number of potential bidders as low as possible.

The following descriptions and pictures have been taken from the auction website.


A page of lined paper (20 x 33cm) with three verses (19 lines) and chord structures for Pink Floyd - Jugband Blues, in the hand of Syd Barrett. Jugband was to Barrett's sole songwriting contribution on 'Saucerful of Secrets'.

Provenance: from the collection of Peter Jenner, legendary manager of Pink Floyd and other noted acts of the 1960s-1990s. Accompanied with signed letter of authenticity from the daughter of Peter and archivist of the Jenner collection since the 1990s.

As far as we know these handwritten lyrics weren’t auctioned before. For more information about Jugband Blues you can read our article from 2014: Hurricane over London.

Jugband Blues was sold for £9,500.

URL: https://bid.omegaauctions.co.uk/auction/lot/lot-419---pink-floyd---syd-barretts-handwritten-lyrics-for-jugband-blues


Jugband Blues Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Jugband Blues Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.


Two lined sheets of paper (each approx 20 x 33cm) with handwritten lyrics by Syd Barrett c 1967 for Pink Floyd - Apples and Oranges. With verses, chorus and chord structures. 32 lines. Very good condition. Also to include a one page typed set of lyrics for 'Apples and Oranges', which according to accompanying provenance documents, was likely used within the 'Blackhill' offices for publishing purposes.

Provenance: both the handwritten and typed lyrics are from the collection of Peter Jenner, legendary manager of Pink Floyd and other noted acts of the 1960s-1990s. Both are accompanied with signed letters of authenticity from the daughter of Peter and archivist of the Jenner collection since the 1990s.

This was sold for £15,000.

URL: https://bid.omegaauctions.co.uk/auction/lot/lot-430---pink-floyd---handwritten-lyrics-by-syd-barrett-for-apples-and-oranges

Those who do consult this blog will perhaps remember that this item was put up for sale before. It was part of the Bonhams Rock, Pop & Film auction of May 2023, where it didn’t reach the bottom price of £20,000, with an estimation to get close to £30,000.  

You can find our previous article about it at: An Apple a Day… 


Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Syd Barrett Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Typed Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.
Apples and Oranges Typed Lyrics. Taken from Omega Auctions.


These weren’t the only times that handwritten lyrics of Syd Barrett from the Peter Jenner archives were auctioned. The Bonhams Autumn Sale of 2022 had Syd’s copy of Vegetable Man. (See: Vegetable Man For Sale)

While they tried keeping it a secret that it came from Peter Jenner, this was obviously clear, especially when they quoted from the ‘innerview’ this blog had with Peter Jenner in 2014, without mentioning its source. (See: An innerview with Peter Jenner)

Vegetable Man had a bottom price of £30,000, which wasn’t reached as the highest bid was £22,000. We assume that the item wasn’t sold then and there, but as it didn’t show up at Omega Auctions, it might have found a seller outside the auction.

Pictures of the handwritten lyrics can be consulted at: Vegetable Man For Sale.


So far, three handwritten lyrics (and one typescript) have been put up for sale, coming from Peter Jernner’s archives. The question is why these are absent from ‘The Lyrics of Syd Barrett’, compiled and investigated by Rob Chapman, especially as the foreword of this book was written by Jenner himself. (Read our review at: The Syd Barrett Cookbook)

But the attentive reader of this blog knows that the Pink Floyd marketing machine is of far greater importance than historical accuracy.

Other Meaningful Articles

While you’re at it, why don’t you read the articles about the auctions in 2022 and 2023 or the Rich Hall / Felix Atagong / Birdie Hop interview with Peter Jenner, dating from 2014?

An innerview with Peter Jenner: An innerview with Peter Jenner 
Bonhams Auctions 2022 (Vegetable Man): Vegetable Man For Sale 
Bonhams Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges): An Apple a Day… 
Omega Auctions 2023 (Apples and Oranges / Jugband Blues): Barrett on Paper 

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


10 years ago – season 6 (2013-2014)

Holy Church Wordcloud (2018). Artwork: Dolly Rocker. Concept: Felix Atagong
Holy Church Wordcloud (2018). Artwork: Dolly Rocker. Concept: Felix Atagong.

The fifth season overview of The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, that we published last year, wasn’t a great deal, and we duly apologise for that. But this blog post, listing the highlights of season six, starting in August 2013, is packed with remarkable entries. Some years are betters than others, we guess. So let’s start immediately. What did the Church do 10 years ago?

Rich Hall
Rich Hall.

Rich Hall

For our fifth anniversary, we had a wild party with a soundtrack that was specially created for this celebration, sort of. Multi-instrumentalist Rich Hall recorded the album Birdie Hop and the Sydiots, and it’s still an interesting record a decade later. 

Article: Reverends and Sydiots 

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots
July 2013
Instruments & vocals by Rich Hall.
Mixed by Rich Hall and Ron Bay.
Mastered by Ron Bay.

Streaming & digital download (name your own price system, 0.00 is an option as well).

I ham (not) him
I ham (not) him.

Jonathan Charles

Did Roger Keith Barrett send a Canadian fan a handwritten message, somewhere in 2003? It might be true, or not, depending on your point of view. Probably no one longer remembers this, especially not the truckloads of new Syd Barrett fans who have surfaced in the last years. That’s why the Church still exists, to archive these awkward little bits and pieces that otherwise would disappear in the fog of time.

Article (that also has a bit about the legendary Radharani Krishna, if someone remembers her): Making it clear... 

Picture: Baron Wolman, 11 November 1967.
Picture: Baron Wolman, 11 November 1967.

Jean-Marie Deschamps

A question that pop-ups from time to time is, who is standing behind the boys, at the Sausalito Casa Madrona hotel? The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit already answered this question a decade ago. No need to thank us, just another world exclusive from the Church.

Article: If you're going to Sausalito 

Soyuz TM3 patch
Soyuz TM3 mission patch.

Didier 'spAce' Marouani

Does anyone remember how Pink Floyd bragged in 1988 that they were, and we quote David Gilmour, ‘the first rock band to be played in space’? This was not the case as astronaut Al Worden had taken some mixtapes with him on the Apollo 15 mission (1971) containing The Beatles, George Harrison, Simon & Garfunkel and The Moody Blues.

Perhaps Pink Floyd was the first ‘rock band’ to be played on a Russian space vehicle? Not true either, as cosmonaut Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov took a CD player and two small boxes to the MIR Space Station in July 1987. The first (and perhaps only) CD played on it was Space Opera by French composer Didier Marouani from a band, appropriately named, spAce. It is in the ambient synth-pop genre, so not really ‘rock’, but we wanted to tell the story anyway.

When the batteries gave up, the MIR sound system was tossed outside and if it didn’t enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, it is still floating somewhere in outer space.

Andrew Rawlinson
Andrew Rawlinson.

Andrew Rawlinson

Fart Enjoy is a handmade arty-farty booklet, created by Syd Barrett, in March or April 1966. It was believed it dated from 1964 or 1965 until the Holy Church looked into the matter. We also identified the ‘anonymous’ pin-up, glued on page 13 and a testimony of Barrett’s juvenile misogynous humour. It’s hard being a Barrett investigator.

Article (NSFW): Smart Enjoy 

Peter Jenner
Peter Jenner.

Peter Jenner

In November 2013 Rich Hall, then a Birdie Hop administrator, got in contact with Peter Jenner and wanted to know if Syd Barrett fans could ask him some questions. A message was put on two Facebook groups and in less than a week over one hundred different questions were harvested. Jenner was 'struck by the quantity' and kindly asked to slim it down a bit. About a dozen questions were withheld and Felix Atagong, another Birdie Hop administrator, interviewed Peter.

Several in-group earthquakes and tsunamis happened after that, but the interview still stands on its own.

Article: An innerview with Peter Jenner 

 Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

Mohammed Abdullah John ‘Twink’ Alder

If the Peter Jenner interview was season six’s number one highlight, the next topic surely was number two. 2014 saw the release of a 1972 live album of the short-lived Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band. Nothing extraordinary, you might say, but tracks 5 to 7 have a special guest star jamming. His name: Syd Barrett.

The album stayed in copyright purgatory for a decade. The master tape was confiscated, in real Men In Black style, by suits belonging to the Pink Floyd management or their record company. Fansites and official pages pretend it has never existed and so does the official Syd Barrett website. Reason enough for the Holy Church to investigate with a 5 part series, including interviews with Carlton Sandercock (from Easy Action record company), Mohammed Abdullah John ‘Twink’ Alder and Fred Frith. 

The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story 
Syd's Last Stand 
An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action) 
An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink 
An innerview with Fred Frith 

So far for our overview of what happened a decade ago at the Church. Keep on rolling!

The Church is a one-man project that relies a lot on the wisdom of others. For the sixth season, we had help from the following people, websites and organisations, and perhaps we have even forgotten a few. 

Anonymous, A Fleeting Glimpse, Al Baker, Alexander P. Hoffmann, Allen Lancer, Andre Borgdorff, Andrew Charles Potts, Anita Buckett, Anni Paisley, Anthony Stern, Antonio Jesus, b_squared, Baron Wolman, Beechwoods, Birdie Hop, Bruno Barbato Jacobovitz, Cambridge News, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa, Cathy Peek Collier, Cheesecake Joe Perry, Chris Farmer, Clay Jordan, Col Turner, Cyberspace, Demamo, the Deschamps family, Didier Marouani, Dion Johnson, Easy Action, Ebronte, Ewgeni Reingold, FraKcman (Mark Graham), Fred Frith, Gary Lucas, Gaz Hunter, Gian Palacios-Świątkowski, ‎Giulio Bonfissuto, Göran Nyström, Hallucalation, HYGIY, Ian Barrett, James Vandervest, Jane Harris, Jenny Spires, Jim Gillespie, Joanne 'Charley' Milne, Jon Felix, Jonathan Charles, Keith Jordan, Kiloh Smith, Late Night, Laughing Madcaps, Lisa Newman, Mark Blake, Mark Sturdy, Matthew Horsley, Memo Hernandez, Michael Ramshaw, Michael Rawding, Mick Brown, Mike Baess, Mike Kemp, Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Mr. Pinky, MvB, Neptune Pink Floyd, Orgone Accumulator, Paul Newlove, Paul Piper, Peter 'Felix' Jansens, Phil Etheridge, Psych62, Radharani Krishna, Raymond John Nebbitt, Rich Hall, Richard Mason Né Withnell, Rick Barnes, Saygeddylee, Spaceward Studios, Stanislav V. Grigorev, Stefan Mühle, Steve Czapla, Steve Francombe, Supervehicle, Syd Wonder, Sydzappa, Tim Doyle, USA National Register off Historic Places, Vintage Erotica Forum, Viper, Warren Dosanjh, Wolfpack, Yeeshkul, Younglight, Yves Leclerc...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥