Music Videos obscure beginnings It was i…
Music Videos obscure beginnings
It was in the can-do spirit of ’63 and ’64, that the first made-for-TV music-video was directed by Barney using a super-eight movie camera, because he didn’t have a video camera.
Although I had moved out of Marylebone and was living in West Ken, we filmed much of it in my old flat in/on Marylebone High Street. We invited a crew of friends and created a party for us to film. See somewhere elsewhere in this long guff of a blog for more about about the movie.
David Wills in a mirror 1967
Fulcher in full rave-up mode, dancing in very typical style, center, between Roy Burge and Lorry Sartorio, Leigh Court, 1966
The Bubbles Saga
As one of Barney’s Boswells, I’m confused in writing all this way-back-a-when, as to whether I was in England in 1976, ’77 and ’78 (I have subsequently checked it out, and I was) and what I did when. My passport is of some help, but not all the stamps are legible, some entries are not stamped. Maybe my sketchbooks will tell a story (they did). It would help to know and be able to contribute more to the Lore and Works of the Lord Bubbles. To try to find the life behind the art. So bear with me while I wing it here once more in the back-a-when machine. (Don’t try any of this at home, kids.)
This is all a little twitchy, but I feel knowing what happened in the Bubbles saga is like documenting the trail of the messiah for all us apostles. He’s laughing.
Let’s see now…I could have been there three years running I visited England; my folks were slowly dying. It was a difficult time. I was definitely in England in ’77; I saw the Elvis ‘checkered’ cover in production in Barney’s white-washed office with the black stereo and pillars.
(Maybe that’s where I saw the Paolozzi’s portfolio, on Paul Street, no, I think it wasin ’83 in Islington.)
1976 (?). Arriving fresh in the ‘Grove, straight from the Haight in San Francisco, one Saturday around 11 AM in early May, I coincidentally met up with the, ’til then untraceable, Barney, right there on Basset Road, in Ladbroke Grove. Also coincidentally, this was right outside my old apartment from the time when Teenburger was round the corner. At the time I met him on Basset Road, Barney was getting his new secret studio together on Nosey Parker Street (his studios were often secret. Never did visit that one).
Barney mentioned coincidences, said how he had met Higson in the East End…How we had met Ed Moulton through the girls at the Carnival shop on Hammersmith Rd. We’d gone to his party, recorded at that house…How Ed had split with the money and left Barney fucked, and that was when he met Chris Higson – while wandering disconsolate, thinking to finish it all in the street.
It was Higson who had told him about the contact for what would be Stiff.
Radio Wales’ promoter Dai Davies, was involved; he was then the front for Elton John and formerly with Brainiac, who were, I’m sure, the inspiration for some of Spinal Tap
Last I had heard of Higson, was he’d been literally stoned (with rocks in Ethiopia) in a jeep driving on his way to get married in what was then Tanganyika, so it was a surprise just to find out he was still alive. There would be records down at the Burn Center in Odstock, Salisbury.
Out for a little fresh air
Barney was fresh out from the asylum after a medical condition, up North somewhere, where he’d had a job in a warehouse to prove he was competent to his psych-tech. He said, “I was pretty good at it” and explained why, “I’d worked in that lolly factory.” Where he’d “pizzed in the vats” to show disrespect to the management, in Teddington, summer hols. 1959. Some other time, at his fancy house in 1983, Barney tells me that his parents had seen a picture of himself that you can see in gorham’s book, where Barney has set up a picture as though he was hanging himself, he said this was used as proof that he was nuts. He went ont o say “There a few things I done what was more indicative of beinn’ a bit off than that, right?”
We walked down to Ladbroke Grove, then crossed the road onto Cambridge Gardens, Barney talking about a religion of shape, which came from the spiritual writings of Wassily Kandinsky, whose teaching was about the cross pollination between painting and music, and the basics of basic design.
He also referenced the work of Bubbles Hero of the Day, Kasmir Malevich, who said, and was almost quoted word for word by Barney on Cambridge Gardens, “All past and present painting…has been imprisoned by the shapes of nature, waiting to be liberated, to speak its own language, independent of reason… ”
Wait, what Barney really said was that, “shapes have a life, a meaning of their own, they are everywhere. They are talking to us, have a language. They’re alive. Right?”
Malevich said, “I have cracked the links and the limitations of colour.” One of Kasmir’s most famous pieces – and how he signed his work was, a black square.
We past a lorry with the FedEx logo on it, turning into the ‘Grove, as we crossed the road against moving traffic whizzing by, he said, “Look see what I mean – it’s everywhere.” He was referring to the arrow formed by the negative space between the ‘Ex.’
The Mylar Mask Mystery
I said I was going to visit the old Teenburger/Frendz office, asked would his protectors blame me if we smoked a joint? (I was right, Justin De B did.) Barney said that’s where he was headed anyway.
Walking down Ladbroke Grove, Barney oddly changed gears, said how Hell-Fire Arthur Brown had showed him the other side, “You know, back in the old days.” I don’t recall Hellfire as anything other than a thunderously good 18th century club-theme for a cave, but Fulcher/Bubbles obviously did. The souvenir Arthur Brown mylar mask, that Barney gave me as a memento in 83, was left over from an Arthur Brown show, an important piece of memorabilia, one of the only ‘things’ apart from his portfolio of work he’d saved.
On Portobello, we visited the derelict studio over the record and batik and shibori-dyed, hippie clothes-shops, what was once Teenburger, Friends, and Frendz. Now an echoing empty office, with nothing but Funky Paul’s painting of the Monopoly board still on the wall; the studio where I had to call out, one memorable day, “Fire! Abandon the studio!”– when Tiny Tony started an inferno in the basement that went a bit wrong. (But we did get the issue out on time.)
Tiny Tony did in fact proffer the joint. We walked back to the railway station. As we approached the looming darkness of the bridges on Ladbroke Grove, Barney said he was going to “end it” and he asked me to join him in the ultimate graphic event, “the most extreme protest… ” death.
I nodded and smiled, said a bland, British, “Nah.” changed the subject, and caught the train to Camden Town, Barney by bus, was off to Whitton.
1977. One day, a sunny Sunday as I walked back six miles from Barney’s in the City to stay at my old flat on Basset Rd. with the vivacious ‘Eleanor’ whom I had met one Saturday in the kaff on Portobello and who remarkably, was living in my old apartment on Basset Road.
That day I got busted, literally red handed, vermillion spray-gloss dribbling down my forearm. Nabbed, for stenciling a Street Lightnin’ Gang, World Teleport graffiti on a traffic-light control box, nicked fair and square by Sgt. Bootsy Snudge (I kid not) of the Notting Hill Gate Police, the guys who gunned-up on Oz, just as Bootsy was headed home for a kip and a legs-up. he was right pizzed.
As I was being questioned, I drew portraits of the handsome coppers in the station, so that, amused at my art, they eventually ended up acting in my defense, as they looked in a big legal tome, for a lesser offense than the ‘Malicious Mischief’ – a hanging felony at one time, that Bootsy had been aiming at, and that they were going to book me for. … Instead they found ‘Defacing a Pale’ after much laughter and tea and cakes brought by the char-lady, who honest to god, said, “here y’ are ducks.”
The cop, Bootsy, who lived in Abinger, Kent, slept that night in the cell to save time, so that first thing in the morning we’d have the trial, and he’d get back home as soon as possible. They sent me ‘home’ to sleep with Lucinda Cowel up in the loft, on Basset Road, in what had been the LA antique restorer, Rita George’s boudoir where I’d first been dosed back in 1970. All very exciting it was too.
The odd arrangement enabled Bootsy to get priority on the roster, and we could both appear in Marylebone Magistrate’s court first thing, early on Monday, to get Bootsy home for a ‘weekend’ break – as long as I plead guilty. They never got the Oz connection. I got fined 75 pounds, and got my stencil back, I claimed it as an ‘Art Object.” There was a mention in Time Out.
Another odd coincidence to add to all the others in this adventure: Ms Cowell left, went back to San Francisco to her boy-friend – and ended up living at the same address as I had lived in 1975, on Clay street.
What with the trial and my mum ill, I never made it to Barney’s arranged visit to see that spirit of the boards, Dan Leno’s spriritual and family heir, our ex-Conran swoon-maker, Alison.
But I veer off focus.
Visit to the Horniman Museum
1977 (All dates are suspect.) He didn’t mention how long he’d been painting, I got the impression it was something he’d been doing awhile. We went to the Horniman Museum and he said, about a scenic, tackily painted, dry brush, mural background there, “Boy, that’s cheap,” and I was surprised he thought that, made me think he’d been painting (as opposed to illustrating) a lot. Our friend Lorry used to do background paintings for the Nat Hist Mus, so we had a particular interest in the subject.
Walking back, sitting on Parliament Hill looking out over London, Barney looks out over the city, and says in an open, and at the same conspiratorial tone, “Look at all that… we rule, it’s all ours… we can do anything we want… it’s easy… if we want to.” It was true. Honest megalomania, he was right. (The group noun ‘we’ was interesting. Maybe the ‘royal we’, but it was a buddy thing too.)
I saw the art for Hawklords in production in ’78. Barney at that time with an alarmingly large mullah’s beard and huge hair, still wearing his pea coat and skinny Levis. I saw the cover and booklet, on Portobello with the late Tiny Tony. I wonder, could Barney have worked on it and brought it by to show Nick? Hmmm. I never did visit Parker Street Studio. Did I meet him in 307 Portobello Rd and did he bring the art with him? Yeah, could be. Yeah, and then I go visit our old friend Alison in Fleet, Hants. We went for a walk, very self consciously and incongruously holding hands as we walked round an alfalfa field on his “daily constitutional.” Later that day in the derelict water meadows, Barney tried to kill me as I jumped the weir.
To be continued…