Tears of a clown

Photograph David Wills copyright 1967.

Photograph by me of Barney Bubbles in full hippie regalia preparing for the Alexandra Palace all weekend gig in 1967. Friends of the blog who have seen this picture commented that, “There appears to be a great sadness in this photo don’t you think? Tears of a clown… ”

I agree, guess it really does capture the moment in time when, as my earlier log said, Britain changed forever when Barney dropped acid. This is him overcoming his home town of Whitton’s straight-lace with a vengeance. As a suburbanite he was being very physically brave to valiantly overcome his short-back-and-sides to do the flower power thing seen here.   I said to him, “I have to get a picture of this.”

Barney could change the style-of-the-day with ease. Weeks (or years) in advance of other like minded motion sensors. Barney took on each new mode he felt worthy of his committed intensity. He was using each successive ‘gang’ affiliation as fresh take on media to explore his ideas. Moving effortlessly from rocker (an early film with Roy Burge) on through Mod that took, like, three weeks in early ’62. Moving on to to Hippie (as seen here) in one day, becoming head, punk, new wave and on. All the while translating ideas gleaned from his extensive reading and seeing, from Warhol to Burroughs, Blake, and Buddha, into the arcana of his commercial work.

Looking at the expression on Barney I see amongst other elements, “I think I can stay still for a moment. Stay balanced. I know something you don’t. Acid. I’m buzzing. Focus on the lens. The world is a big place. You don’t know what is going down do you Mr Jones? Half smile. Maybe you’ll never know. Big change going on here, life will never be the same, it’s shame you won’t join me.” The face reminds me that he was an awesomely deep thinker and able to enforce his ideas on others with a witheringly deep glance, combined with his gleefully encouraging grin – an effective combo that made others feel stupid to disagree.

This photograph is also remarkable in that it is one of the few full frontal, up close face shots of his nibs – I guess another must have been his passport pix.

For those looking for deeper meaning it is worth noting that he has a mask painted on his face and another to overlay it, a riddle under a conundrum. He is also wearing my dad’s leather, US issued (it had cups for earphones) aviator’s helmet. He was flying.

For the history minded, the town of Whitton is named for the place where a Saxon local government ‘Hundred’ met.

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