Tag Archives: Psychedelic rock

Brian Jones – A Rock ‘n’ Roll Dandy

11 Oct

Brian Jones; an eccentric, decadent, creative, fashionable, extravagant and intelligent person was the soul of The Rolling Stones. As much as he was famous for his musical accomplishments and visionary ideas regarding The Stones, Brian Jones had a peculiar fashion style, and became a style icon of the 1960s as important as Marianne Faithfull, Twiggy, Pattie Boyd or Jane Birkin were.

1960s brian jones 6

Brian Jones seems to have stood out even in his teens. His fair locks, wide smile, mysterious gaze, perfect manners, romantic charm and attentive conversation all made him loveable with the girls. It’s not a secret that he loved them too, having had his first child aged only seventeen. Brian was a complex individual never the less, Bill Wyman remembers “There were two Brian’s… one was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking… the other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers… he pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond”. If it wasn’t for the introverted, deep-thinking side we might wouldn’t of had all the original sounds and ideas that shaped the band and made it popular, and still, if it wasn’t for his artistic, arrogant and swaggering side, I wouldn’t be here writing about the amazing fashion style he had!

A rebel even as a child, Brian successfully defied his parents in every aspect; his numerous romances and offspring, musical ambitions, the way he behaved, dressed, even cut his hair all made his parents angry, but hey, that was the intention. He certainly didn’t let others dictate his life. Highly intelligent, Brian passed two A-levels and seven O-levels and with the slightest effort he would excel academically, but even with the alleged 133 IQ, Brian blew it all away, and replaced the boring schoolwork with rock ‘n’ roll. I’m most obligated for that, and I’m sure the history of rock ‘n’ roll is too.

1960s brian jones 1

Though eccentric and eye-catching, Brian’s fashion style wasn’t as peculiar from the beginning. In the period 1963-65. he mostly wore striped Mod tailored suits and fairly neat bowl haircut. Even then, in those stiff and ordinary ‘Beatles’ style suits, usually worn by all the group members, Brian stood out with his  engaging smile, arrogant gaze and dandy-esque hairstyle. As the years went on, and the mod scene slowly waned in favor of more original, more daring and eclectic style inspired by Psychedelia, Brian’s style changed and evolved too. The change is the most visible in the haircut; blonde locks became more untamed and longer. The trousers became tighter, the boots bigger and the black-white geometric prints dictated by Mod style were discarded in favour of colours, paisleys, floral print, oriental scarfs combined with crimson coloured velvet Victorian inspired blouses plus plenty of jewellery on top.

Antique dealer and Brian’s friend, Christopher Gibbs, remembers ”Brian did absolutely love dressing up (…) He had a tremendous lot of clothes and spent an awful amount of time preparing himself for late-night forays into the clubs.”

1960s brian jones 7

Despite Brian’s numerous affairs, the love of his life seems to have been nobody else but Anita Pallenberg; half Italian half German rock chick, as eccentric, as daring, as decadent and every bit as impulsive and tempestuous as Brian himself. Their relationship was turbulent and ardent for the most of its course, and yet the two lovers were more similar to each other than they could possibly imagine. Their fashion style was very similar too, with Anita having almost the same hairstyle as Brian. Now remembered as one of the iconic 1960s couples, Anita and Brian met in Munchen on 14th September 1965. when Anita approached Brian after a gig offering him a joint which he gladly accepted. They started talking and a few months later they could be seen together swanning around London in Brian’s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, purchased from George Harrison. They moved into a sumptuously decorated flat at 1 Courtfield Road, South Kensington, which was, after their holiday in Morrocco the following year, embellished even more by rich fabrics and embroideries brought from there.

Embodiment of unconventional and eccentricity, Brian Jones indulged himself ever since his position in the band degraded. He entered fully into a life of debauchery, surrendering to the rock ‘n’ roll decadency. He became a ‘playboy prince’, an eccentric, somewhat arrogant and impulsive dandy, befriended art dealers and film directors, and started hanging out with rock elite, never hesitating to indulge his whims, no matter how eccentric they might be. Jones’ biographer wrote ‘Together they forged a revolutionary androgynous look, keeping their clothes together, mixing and matching not only fabrics and patterns, but cultures and even centuries. Jones would parade the streets of London wearing a Victorian lace shirt, floppy turn-of-the-century hat, Edwardian velvet frock coat, multi-coloured suede boots, accessorised scarves hanging from his neck, waist and legs along with lots of antique Berber jewellery.’

Music Personalities. pic: circa 1967. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones group with one time girl friend, Swedish actress Anita Pallenberg.

1960s brian jones and anita pallenberg 5

1960s brian jones and anita pallenberg 2

1960s brian jones and anita pallenberg 6

Marianne Faithfull also remembers some of the extravaganzas of the couple when it came to style:

One of the best things about visiting Anita and Brian was watching them get ready to go out. What a scene! They were both dauntless shoppers and excessively vain. Hours and hours were spent putting on clothes and taking them off again. Heaps of scarves, hats, shirts and boots flew out of drawers and trunks. Unending trying on of outfits, primping and sashaying. They were beautiful, they were the spitting image of each other and not an ounce of modesty existed between two of them. I would sit mesmerised for hours, watching them preening in the mirror, trying on each other’s clothes. All roles and gender would evaporate in these narcissistic performances, where Anita would turn Brian into the Sun King, Francoise Hardy or the mirror image of herself.”

Brian Jones’ wardrobe was transformed almost over night. There was no place for the clean cut tailored suits and striped black-white trousers with modest details that evoked the Mod spirit of the mid ’60s anymore. No more was it ‘Paint it black’; paint it in colours would be the new motto. Hippie psychedelic decadency has by 1965. took its place; crimson velvet, tightly fitted jackets, fur coats, trousers with floral print, fur waistcoats, ethnic jewellery, abundance of rings, necklaces, floppy hats, big boots…

1960s brian jones and anita pallenberg 3

However, the progress of his fashion style went hand in hand with his destructive behavior. He sank deeply into the rock and roll decadence, indulging in alcohol and drugs, particularly LSD. Resentful and exhausted, he drove around London in his black Rolls Royce with the number plait DD666, the DD apparently standing for Devil’s Disciple. Strung out, betrayed, weakened and assailed by his asthma attacks, bored and withered, his song-writing and music composing talents slowly waned. His role in the band was pretty much reduced to adding exotic elements to the already existing songs.

Brian Jones, although arrogant, impulsive, gregarious and charismatic young man with Byron like quality when it came to romances, was still a very important figure not only in forming The Rolling Stones, but in the Rock and Roll scene and the development of the 1960s Swinging London culture in general. Remembered today for the mystery surrounding his death as much as for his crucial role in the music scene, Brian J0nes, the man who played every instrument and had any girl he desired, was as eccentric as he was intelligent. His life was as wild and glamorous as it was short, filled with unimaginable decadence, drugs, beautiful music, arts, party, clothes, sex and women. Brian Jones is a symbol of the 1960s, a decade he ruled and sadly died with.

The Madcap Laughs

22 Jun

syd 47

Syd Barrett first entered the studio as a solo artist on 30th January 1968; just ten days after his last show with Pink Floyd, for what would be an unfruitful session. Sessions resumed in June and July produced songs Late Night, Octopus and Golden Hair; all featured on The Madcap Laughs. Peter Jenner, who had worked on these sessions claimed that they had not gone smoothly although he got on well with the singer. Shortly after July sessions Syd suddenly stopped recording, breaking up with his then girlfriend Lindsey Corner and then going off a drive around Britain in his Mini only to end up in psychiatric care in Cambridge.

By the start of ’69 Barrett, somewhat recovered, resumed his music career and started working with another engineer Malcolm Jones, after both Jenner and Norman Smith (Pink Floyd’s producer at the time) had declined his request to work on the album. Over four sessions beginning on April 10th 1969. Syd had recorded songs Opel (a beautiful misty ballad that would not see the light of day until 1988), No good trying, No man’s land, Here I go and Love you. The sessions all together were not very productive because in those days recording four or five songs on just guitar in four or five hours wasn’t considered very productive. It was something the engineers tried to avoid.

syd 11

The Madcap laughs was released on January 3rd 1970. and it warmly received by the public. The Madness of King Syd seemed to have touched a nerve with a generation who had seen the end of the decade take a darker turn; failure of hippie revolution, Altamont and the bombing of Vietnam. The Madness of King Syd was something that attracted people to Syd; it seemed as if those around him wanted to drink from his spring of creativity and ingeniousness; they wanted to see what he sees, hear what he hears, venture into unknown area of mind. If anything the dark romance of a beautiful young Englishman gone mad certainly increased his allure. By late ’68 Syd was directionless and spent his time hanging out with west London hippie scene. He was taking copious doses of LSD daily and that proved to be his undoing.

During the recording of the album Syd was also on Mandrax and he’d sit on a stool and then fall off it. Barrett and his friends were taking the infamous LSD-25, a powerful psychiatric drug still legal in UK those days. It was almost a religious-like experience for Syd, and many others who indulged. Syd really did believe the psychedelic revolution was flowing through him. The world was changing and he thought we should all be perfect beings, cool and groovy. Syd began taking acid regularly with enthusiasm many found alarming. It was in May 1967. that his eyes crazed.  At the time of The Madcap Laughs Syd had already completely surrendered.

syd 14

The Madcap Laughs is an album filled with long forgotten symbolism. The songs are a mirror of Syd’s mental state of the time and in them he expressed, perhaps deliberately perhaps not, his loneliness and growing alienation. Though some of them have a cheerful rhythm like Love you, one can feel a spark of melancholy. In song Terrapin for example Syd shows his love of the blues while some of the songs sound more like a concept rather than a finished and polished songs. This album features some almost child-like songs with optimistic melodies and ostensibly cute themes (Love you and Here I go) through darker and deeper subjects (Dark globe, Golden Hair and No man’s land) to melancholic cries for rescue from his loneliness, alienation, hopelessness and feeling lost. Besides melancholy, most of the songs have a dreamy feel to it; psychedelic guitar work, most notably Late night. Song Golden Hair is actually based on a poem by James Joyce.

This album and the following Barrett reflect not just his state of mind but also the atmosphere at the time, sorrowful end of the sixties whose optimism, innocence and mind-expanding ideas had faded away. By that time the hedonistic atmosphere of the Swinging London was long lost. Perhaps albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett are a remembrance of the ’60s for they were created at the dusk of this beautiful era; era which Syd belonged to and sadly died with.

syd 19

Since loneliness pervades every corner of this album it’s no wonder that the album sleeve, that has contributed to a myth of a musician, is a portrait in alienation. Lyrics such as And I wondered for those I loved still (Long Gone), Inside me I feel alone and unreal (Late night), not to mention the haunting You feel me, away far, so empty, oh so alone, I want to come home (Feel) show how he felt at the time and what was on his crazy mind, and they also show that after all he was still acutely self-aware; aware of how lost he actually was, lost and lonely, alienated from the people that were his dear friends since teenage days.

The album sleeve is mysterious and intriguing as the album itself. It shows Syd alone in his room with painted floor and a vase of daffodils. By the time of The Madcap Laughs Syd found refuge in an apartment in Wetherby Mansion near Earl’s court, far away from excesses of his previous home on Egerton Court. Syd’s apartment was far from being impressive; it had nasty electric fireplace, a few mobiles and there were only his bed, a desk with a record player and some canvases piled against the wall, some of which were started by a watery idea. A drab and sad place to be, lonely above all. In reality, his bohemian lifestyle masked his growing alienation prior to the subsequent complete withdrawal.

syd 18

The photo session for the album cover took place in spring 1969, most likely in March when Syd painted his floor in orange and purple stripes and then, proud of his work, invited his friend Mick Rock to come over and take some photos. At that time Syd lived with Iggy The Eskimo who was a friend of his ex-girlfriend Jenny Spires. Iggy and Syd weren’t lovers but she was a good company. She answered the door to Mick completely naked (usual thing for hippies and students of the time) who had just arrived that day only to find Syd in bed, still in his underpants; a moment he captured with his new camera Pentax he had just recently bought. After he’d got up, Syd donned a pair of trousers with colour stains on them; from the floor paint. Iggy then added kohl to his eyes to achieve that elegantly wasted look.

syd 33

syd 48

Anyways, the photos came natural all together; Mick worked with elements he had: a painted floor, a vase of daffodils, nude Iggy in the background and a huge Canadian car parked just in front of Wetherby Mansion. None of it was planned. Later that day, Storm Thorgerson arrived and his solo focus was the floor. He shoot photos in fading light placing a wide angled lens millimeters of the ground to achieve an Alice in Wonderland effect, giving the floor elastic quality. Syd just crouched by the fireplace and he looked natural; he spontaneously adapted to the background. His pose suggests defiant exhaustion and a dark edge of ‘knowing’. Syd looked like a poete maudit; something that came out of Rimbaud. There was only one corner of the room that Syd hadn’t painted and that was the only clean angle if you didn’t want to expose this ‘set’ for what it was; a drab living room with a nasty electric fireplace. As long as he occupied his island-mattress surrounded by striped painted floor, reality and a world of possibilities remained outside his door. The photo that would eventually be the cover photo was also taken by Thorgerson.

1875. Les Raboteurs de parquet - Gustave Caillebotte

The most interesting element of the photo is the painted floor and a story lies behind it too. Syd approached things as a painter, and he did that for the rest of his life. He was inspired to paint his floor in alternate stripes of orange and purple colours by Gustave Caillebotte’s 1875. painting Les Raboteurs de Parquet or Wood Floor Planers. Caillebotte was a French Impressionist artist though he painted in more realistic style then the rest of the Impressionists. The painting depicts men scraping wood floors in striated patterns; something that shows Caillebotte’s interest in everyday life and perspective. Syd admired that painting while he was still in Camberwell College of Arts; back in the 1964. when all the Pink Floyd psychedelia and LSD were ahead of him. Now, in 1969. he was crouching in the shadow of a human condition; from cheerful and dreamy psychedelic boy whose witty mind was behind The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Syd’s look in late ’69 mirrored the dark mood that had begun to engulf him.

syd 28

Also, grainy quality of the photo brings nostalgia and serves as a barrier between psychedelic vivid colours of the ’60s to more drab and sad reality that came with the ’70s. Long gone is the multicoloured glamour of the ’60s Swinging London psychedelia and instead the cover of The Madcap Laughs suggests the ’60s decadence exposed and photos have that sad party’s over feel.

Gimme Shelter – The End of The 1960s

18 Jun

There’s no doubt that the 1960s are my favourite decade of the 20th century. It’s a decade that symbolizes the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and hippie movement. For me it’s a wonderful decade inspiring in both musical and fashion sense. However, nothing lasts forever and so this decade came to an end but what it created culturally, musically and artistically can’t be erased.

1964. Pattie Boyd with The Rolling Stones

The year 1965. was year zero for rock and roll. It was the year everything begun. In the early ’60s music for teenagers was sweet, safe and slightly soulless. Radio stations were filled with manufactured pop created by song writing teams in pop factories. Teenage girls’ idols were nice, proper white kids singing pop with a little beat such as Bobby Vee and Bobby Vinton who would went to American Bandstand and lip synched. That sound was manufactured by the American market for the British market. However, people were getting tired of it. The new generation of British teenagers craved for music with more raw, rebellious edge. They found what they were looking for in blues; music of the American black underclass, music emerged from suffering. British working class totally identified with the black America. Blues had that element of underground rage, something which British teens craved for.

Out with the old and in with the new. By 1965. a generation of rebellious teenagers who had grown up listening to black American blues had invented their own adrenaline charged sound: Rock. The Who brought attitude and volume. The Rolling Stones brought swagger and sex. The Kinks came on the music scene with their distorted guitar sound. Even Bob Dylan was inspired by the new sound and with his leather jacket and hairstyle he was almost like a Rolling Stone wanna-be.

1960s the rolling stones

It was playing blues that melted the emotional polar frost of the 1950s post-war English austerity. Because of its emphasis on improvisations it unlocked the creativity in young artists playing it. In 1962. a band was formed in suburb west London – The Rolling Stones when the singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards bonded over a shared love of the blues. When The Stones became more well known they stopped playing at venues such as The Crawdaddy Club. Instead, they gave up their place for the new band whose sound would be the first to denote the true Rock sound – band The Who.

The Who combined the rebellious spirit, Mod-scene image with the bold self-expression of the Pop Art. They were also very interesting because they made fashion statements with their clothes. Guitarist Pete Townshend wore particularly bold and memorable gear. He wore a jacket made out of a flag, for example and the drummer Keith Moon wore Pop Art T-shirts with targets and hearts. Pop Art was popular because it was not as confined as other art movements and consequently became an important part of 1960s culture, and an important part of Swinging London as well.  With The Who exploring more provocative imagery and ideas, it was clear that the new music movement was taking shape.

floyd 18.tif

syd 60

Swinging London or the capital of cool, as it was sometimes called, was a place to be in the 1960s. After the initial blues-inspired Rock came something more avant-garde, Rock evolved and psychedelic-art rock emerged from the sound of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett exploring what he could do with his guitar. In 1967. Pink Floyd released a single Arnold Layne, a song about a clothes-stealing transvestite, introducing a new concept in Rock music – psychedelia. This was rock meets the mad hatter’s tea party. Pink Floyd’s debut album The Piper at The Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967; at the peak of London’s Summer of love. Pink Floyd had previously recorded a single See Emily Play on 23rd May 1967, and released it less than a month later. The song was about a psychedelic schoolgirl whom Syd Barrett had reportedly seen after taking acid and falling asleep in the woods. Characteristics of psychedelic rock in this song are use of echo and reverb, whimsical lyrics and the slide-guitar work done by Syd using a plastic ruler.

Syd Barrett enrolled in Camberwell College of Arts in London in summer of 1964. to study painting. Camberwell proved to be a hothouse of ideas. Actually, art schools developed what we today know as the 1960s Swinging London for they were the place where the creativity came from. Education authorities put those who did not fit in elsewhere into art collages. Entrance qualifications were vague, with academic scores waived when portfolios showed promise. Art schools produced gifted painters, promising fashion designers, artists and musicians. Even in art schools, the ground for psychedelia was set with drab post-war colours discarded in favour of violent pinks, aquas and reds. Art college students liked their music likewise amplified; sharp, short and shocking. Syd felt that art was made of the moment and the springboard to the next work and next moment. Other notable musicians that were attending art schools were Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Ray Davies.

syd 14

So at around 1967. psychedelic culture prevailed over the Mod culture that dominated during the first half of the decade. The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in June 1967, just before the peak of summer of love, marks the transition between pop to the more psychedelic sound. Psychedelia might have opened minds to new ideas, sounds and images but it also propelled rock music into world of hedonism and excess. The Who came to America in summer of 1967. They shocked the hippies with their destructive and aggressive performance but Monterey soon established the festival as an arena for rock ‘n’ roll music, but it also represented the climax of summer of love for the optimism of the ’60s gave way to more volatile and uncertain times.

Utopia of the ’67 could not possibly last for it was not universally accepted. Psychedelic youth and hippies were only one segment of society, and only one fragment of it. You could just feel the change in the air; the atmosphere changed and it all became much more politicized. The Woodstock ’69 festival would see the sun set on the sixties hippie dream. By that time the business started to be more in control of the music; the freedom of the sixties was lost forever. It was a beginning of something; a beginning of the end.

the rolling stones 2

the rolling stones 3

The Rolling Stones quickly dragged inspiration from the changing mood and uncertainty of those times. They were one of the few bands that found creative zeal in the darkness. There was a new world going on but The Stones weren’t afraid to embrace it. They channeled all that darkness with morbid relish in one song; Sympathy for the devil. It was the theme that fascinated them since they dipped into blues. However, The Stones would be plunged into the darkness of their own in a year marked by controversy and tragedy, from the mysterious death of the guitarist Brian Jones to the murderous chaos of the Altamont festival in California in December 1969. when they recruited Hell’s Angles to provide the security. Hell’s Angels soon caused turmoil and the man was murdered as the cameras rolled. The innocence of the ’60s was lost forever.

In the song Gimme shelter it seems as if The Stones were asking for a shelter, some place safe from the turmoil, darkness and uncertainty that overshadowed the Sun like the dark clouds. (The floods is threat’ning/ My very life today/ Gimme, gimme shelter/ Or I’m gonna fade away) Another song from the same album Let it Bleed released in ’69 called You can’t always get what you want also reflects the atmosphere of the time. Each verse discusses a topic relevant to the ’60s: love, politics and drugs. The song captures the essence of the initial optimism and the eventual disillusion, followed by the resigned pragmatism of the chorus. (I saw her today at the reception / In her glass was a bleeding man / She was practiced at the art of deception/ Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands.) Rock provided a soundtrack for the changing times. It had become an incredible political and artistic force. It had given music volume and attitude.

syd 47

Still, the dark atmosphere at the dusk of the sixties had impact on other artists, such as Syd Barrett. Compared to Pink Floyd’s first album The piper at the gates of dawn that mirrors the optimism and decadence of the Swinging London, Syd’s main contribution to the second album was the song Jugband blues whose lyrics show that inside his mind he was still acutely self-aware despite the madness and darkness that had begun to engulf him. The dusk of the sixties proved to be a fruitful period not just for The Rolling Stones but for Barrett as well for its product was his solo album The Madcap laughs.

The Madcap laughs, released in January 1970. but recorded between 28. May 1968. and 5. August ’69, was Barrett’s debut solo album. It was warmly received and the madness of king Syd seemed to have touched a nerve with a generation who had seen the end of the decade take a darker turn with Altamont, the bombing of Vietnam and apparent failure of hippie culture. Its lyrics are introspective and range from lovely, almost child-like songs about love and friendship (Terrapin: I really love you/ And I mean you/ The star above you/ Crystal blue) to deeper and darker subject that mirrored what he was feeling at the time; I’ll take Dark Globe as an example; its a cliche to say that the opening lines are memorable, no, they are much more than that, they are haunting and loveable and strange, dark and crooked at the same time. (Oh where are you now/ Pussy willow that smiled on this leaf/ When I was alone/ You promised to stone from your heart.) In other songs he expresses his sadness and loneliness (You feel me/ Away far/ Too empty/ Oh so alone, I want to come home), something which young people at the time could relate to for they felt slightly betrayed and lost at looking at the ’60s the golden years of their youth gone by.

syd 19

1960s faded away, but they left us with achievements that cannot be denied. They produced numerous good bands, ventured into unknown areas of music, brought new and daring fashions and shaped attitudes and ideals that had not been forgotten despite the time gone by.