Jumat, 09 April 2010

Me and Pink Floyd

The 60's part 2.

 Syd Barratt as I remember him

I was at Cambridge Art School with the late Roger 'Syd' Barratt, founder member of Pink Floyd. Though heading for a career as a painter Syd was playing in many different bands in the mid-sixties. In the Art School he was often seen practising guitar together with Dave Gilmour, a friend of mine who was studying English in the adjacent Technical College.
In 1965 the art students built a 'Pop Art' float for the Cambridge University Rag Week parade through the streets of Cambridge. Dave Gilmour, here literally an Art School hanger-on, can be seen top left perched precariously on the float:

On the other side of the float in this picture taken at the same moment I am the one standing, holding a collecting tin:

In 1966 after Syd (who had been in the year above me) had moved to London it fell on the more senior students to organise the Art School Christmas Party and comic revue. Syd had by now formed Pink Floyd with Cambridge friend Roger Waters and two others, Richard Wright and Nick Mason. They were beginning to make a name for themselves on the underground music scene in London, playing regularly at The Ufo Club in Tottenham Court Road, which happened to be near to the grotty flat Syd shared with Roger in Goodge Street.
A fellow student friend and myself arranged to meet Syd and Roger at their flat and ask them to do the the Christmas party gig. A Handsome fee of £20 was agreed and the party was organised. Here is a ticket for that party (we called it The Art School Psychedelic Freak Out) for 20 December 1966, Three months before Pink Floyd released their first single. The tickets were priced at seven shillings and sixpence per person (around 38p):

Syd and co. duly turned up with a couple of roadies as well and set up in the Life Drawing Studio, the biggest in the Art School and it had a stage.They put on their famous psychedelic light show which was simply oils and coloured liquids in slides dancing around to the heat of the projector, and very effective. We were trying to recreate the effect for weeks afterwards:

Apart from anything else the music was the loudest I'd heard or would wish to hear again especially in a small confined space. It was best heard from about two studios away. They played 'Arnold Lane' which they recorded two months later in February 1967 and released in March 1967. The BBC promptly banned the record because of its 'risque' lyrics about a transvestite who would steal clothes from washing lines. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Had we wanted to book Pink Floyd for the following Christmas party we would have to have added three noughts to the fee. I guess we caught them at the right time. After Syd's infamous 'breakdown' and ejection from the band (when Dave Gilmour replaced him), he returned to Cambridge and lived there until his death in 2006.
I thought Arnold Lane was extraordinary and bought two copies (sadly lost). Here is Arnold Lane with the lyrics below so we can all join in:

Arnold Layne had a strange hobby
Collecting clothes
Moonshine washing line
They suit him fine

On the wall hung a tall mirror
Distorted view, see through baby blue
He dug it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
Two to know, two to know, two to know
Why can't you see?

Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne

Now he's caught - a nasty sort of person.
They gave him time
Doors bang - chain gang - he hates it

Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
two to know, two to know, two to know,
Why can't you see?

Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Don't do it again.

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