Now I am very good at making people's dreams come true. If someone has a picture in their head, I'm very good at interpreting it and making the scene work. I'm not the greatest guy to make the initial picture. And one of the great things about working with Barney was that in literally 30 seconds he could just generate great visual beginnings. I probably creatively miss him more than anyone in London. There are very few designers you'll ever come across who are actually going to spark like that. And not just with me. He could do it with anybody.
He was incredibly nervous, he lived on the edge of sanity. At one point he gave up and we found him in a supermarket stacking shelves. He was always like this, from art school days. Always worried about his weight, swigging `Wate-On'. He was a bit aware of being little and physically inconsequential and he was always trying to put weight on. Like a lot of very very bright, very talented people he did live on this edge of insanity.
But people who worked with him, whether they were clients, or people like me or even straight, hard-nosed printers, they all had incredible respect. He had an enormous talent, he was a terrific visionary and his design now is ahead of its time. There's a whole cult of collecting Bubbles going on now."
Update February 10 2010:For more information and previously unseen documentation and images than you'll find in any book currently available on the legendary Barney go see Barney Bubbles? What a laugh. The history of Barney Bubbles, as told by a life-long friend and designer, David Wills.
Update March 23 2000: Will Birch's book, "No Sleep Till Canvey Island", is an in depth history of the British Pub Rock scene of the '70s and contains a wealth of information on Brinsley Schwarz, Famepushers, Barney Bubbles, Stiff Records, Friends magazine, and other stuff mentioned on these pages. Now available in association with Amazon.co.uk.
The interview texts are from
"Days in the Life: Voices from the London Underground 1961-71" by Jonathon Green,
used here with permission. Any reproduction is prohibited without permission from the author.
Days in the Life excerpts © Jonathon Green
contact: Phil Franks (freax AT arrakis.es)
Freax/Friends website produced by Malcolm Humes