29 Wetherby Mansions, Mick and Syd
Tributes were rolling for Mick Rock on the day of an almost total eclipse, Friday 19th November 2021, as The Man Who Shot the Seventies – was also sadly eclipsed. His famous photographs of Syd Barrett at 29 Wetherby Mansions, Earls Court Square SW5 9BH appeared on the cover of The Madcap Laughs. Both Rock and Barrett also shared a flat at 101 Cromwell Road. (A numbered copy of Rock’s tribute to Barrett, Psychedelic Renegades, signed by both men, is around $6500). For all that Bowie made Mick Rock famous, it all began for Rock in one of the most prestigious colleges in Cambridge, for the man with the long lens and long scarves. Partly, perhaps, because David Bowie loved Syd Barrett. Below, is The Madcap Laughs cover by Mick Rock from the session also with Evelyn Rose and Barrett (black and white, below) at 29 Wetherby Mansions. Gallery and book sources, below.
“David Loved Syd”
Barney Hoskyns spoke to Mick Rock (his real name) about both Bowie and Barrett.
Caius College, Cambridge and Syd Barrett
From the solid Youth Culture in Modern Britain by David Fowler.
This is from Julian Palacios’s Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe.
In The Beginning Was Syd
Syd Barrett asked Mick to photograph the cover of his solo album, recounted here on YouTube. “In the beginning was Syd. Psychedelic Syd,” Rock remembers.
Cambridge, London, New York
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The Jean Genie and the Mars Hotel
Rock shot the “Jean Genie” video in San Francisco, mostly in a studio but also outside of the Mars Hotel, where Bowie stands by as Cyrinda Foxe poses.
Just before Bowie passed away, Mick Rock co-signed a limited edition art book with him.
Gucci and Yoga
Beyond Bowie and commemorative work with Lou Reed for Transformer’s 45th anniversary, Rock shot Gucci Cruise’s 2018 campaign and used yoga to help sustain his energy levels.
Having experimented with both L.S.D. and T.M. at Cambridge in the late Sixties, Mick Rock’s next move by 1970 was Hatha yoga, which he was taught in Notting Hil Gate. “The altered states I’d gotten into through opening up my third eye with acid had become part of me, and yoga fortified all this,” he said, in an interview on his website.
Chain-smokig, coke-snorting, heart-attack-surviving Mick Rock lived the archetypal 1970’s lifestyle to the hilt, until he took Lou Reed’s advice about Kundalini yoga and became a convert at Kundalini Yoga East at 873 Broadway.
In his later years he could be found doing daily headstands and chanting for prosperity. His work was also most recently auctioned for the NHS, Care International and CALM.
Why CALM? Rock said, “We were always so big and butch for the longest time. Then David Bowie and Lou Reed ,among others, came along and stirred things up. I’ve known a lot of people who have suffered from depression, drug addiction, and have committed suicide. The boys need a little protection and fostering!!”
One of his last exclusive interviews was with Eluxe Magazine, here. His work will live on in art galleries and museums around the world.
Evelyn Rose aka Iggy The Eskimo
At the time Rock was photographing him for the album, Barrett painted the floor of his bedroom in Wetherby Mansions, Earls Court, orange and purple, with Evelyn Rose, better known by the misnomers Iggy The Eskimo and Iggy The Inuit. (Below, Mick Rock).
Mick Rock: “When I arrived for The Madcap Laughs photo session, Syd was still in his underpants. His lady friend of two weeks, ‘Iggy the Eskimo’, was naked in the kitchen.”
In Psychedelic Renegades, Mick Rock told their remarkable story for the first time. And the last time, it turns out.
Signed Edition of Psychedelic Renegades here.
Photographs by Mick Rock at Mutual Art
Barrett by Rock at The Wall of Sound Gallery
Mick Rock at Artsy (Main Image)