After World War II, Ibiza was one of several spots strewn across the Mediterranean that attracted two distinct expatriate types from northern Europe and North America. There were writers and artists ostensibly escaping from the crass materialism of New York and London, many of whose views were so incoherent that what they were really objecting to became by default the innate human capacity for rational thought; and the rich who felt hostility towards even the mildest attempts at wealth redistribution, and who liked the tax breaks offered to them by Spain’s fascist junta then headed by General Franco – even if the areas in which they settled tended to be those in which anti-fascist sentiments prevailed. Both groups were also swapping the cold of northern winters for year-round sunshine. In summer months their ranks were swelled initially by beatniks, then by hippies and ultimately by post-acid house ravers.
The Ibiza scene of the sixties included fixtures such as the musical duo Nina and Frederik, a Danish couple who combined beatnik and hippie leanings with aristocratic pretensions, since they were also known as Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt. In their publicity photographs of the late-fifties and early-sixties, Nina and Frederik are a perfect representation of the international beatnik jet set. On an eponymous Columbia records EP containing the songs I Would Amor Her, Oh Sinner Man, I Listen to the Ocean and Sippin’ Cider, they are depicted holding hands in matching orange V-neck jumpers, black slacks and black open neck shirts. The front cover shows the couple smiling face on to the camera, with Nina a little shorter than the bearded and wavy-haired Frederik. Nina is wearing red lipstick and her hair is pulled back. The flip-side of the record’s picture sleeve shows them in the same pose but taken from behind, and it becomes clear that Nina naturally has the same light brown shade of hair as Frederik, but she has dyed it blond and tied it into a pony tail. Nina and Frederik’s music, light folk sometimes tinged with calypso rhythms, is to my mind a lot less enthralling than their image.
Nina and Frederik were very much a musical phenomenon of the early-sixties with the songs I Listen To The Ocean, Little Donkey (their big hit), Longtime Boy and Sucu Sucu making the UK singles charts in 1960 and 1961; in the same years they made the UK albums charts with two different but identically titled eponymous albums on the Pye and Columbia labels respectively – the duo also saw action on the EP charts with their eponymous first four tracker, a follow up imaginatively titled Nina and Frederik No. 2, then Christmas At Home With Nina And Frederik, and their sole 1962 UK chart entry White Christmas. After his singing career hit the skids, the Baron took to using his yacht for dope smuggling, something Howard Marks documents in passing in his autobiography Mr Nice. For some years prior to this the Balearic Islands had already been acting as a magnet to hippie drug dealers. Incidentally, it has been reported that the 1994 murder of Frederik Van Pallandt was a hit organised by an Australian crime syndicate who’d reneged on an agreement to pay the Baron $10 million for smuggling their drugs on his yacht.
Ibiza also harboured top flight forgers, and it was here that the infamous Clifford Irving produced a biography of his neighbour Elmyr de Hory, who had very successfully faked paintings by assorted artists. Using de Hory as his inspiration, Irving went on to take the New York publishing industry for a ride with a fake Howard Hughes “autobiography”. When the scam was exposed and Irving became a hot news item in 1972, the coverage Baroness Nina received on the back of a short affair she’d had with him as he perpetrated his hoax revived her career as an entertainer. As a result, Van Pallandt enjoyed minor Hollywood fame, including appearances in four Robert Altman movies: The Long Goodbye (1973), A Wedding (1978), Quintet (1979) and O.C. and Stiggs (1985).
In an article entitled In Search Of The Beautiful Ghosts about the old days in Ibiza, which was published online via the Nth Postion website, Damien Enright reminisces about those who could be found in the cafes and bars of the old town. Among the things recalled are the moonlight gatherings instigated by Elmyr de Hory on the sea front beneath his house Figueretes. Of even greater importance was a watering hole called The Domino, the first foreign owned bar on Ibiza and the chief spiritual home of expatriate beatniks and hippies in Spain. During spring high tides, the sea came up through the floor of The Domino, but it was nonetheless somewhere the rich would socialise with beatnik dropouts.
Among the beatnik regulars in Ibiza were the Dutch counterculture activists Bart Hugues and Simon Vinkenoog; writers including the poet George Andrews (who co-edited The Book Of Grass with Vinkenoog), and Irma Kurtz (then a beat poet, more recently Cosmopolitan’s agony aunt); and lots of lesser known artists including Jan Cremer, my mother’s boyfriend Bruno de Galzain and photographer Lester Waldman. Aside from Nina and Frederik, the beautiful people who Enright recalls from the island’s jet set heyday include Terence Stamp, Nico, Terry Thomas, Charlotte Rampling and various rock stars including members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Among the hippie crowd, Jenny Fabian who authored the roman-a-clef Groupie and worked the door at London’s UFO club, was one of the island’s more famous boosters.
In terms of other international beatnik connections, the London based but itinerant guitarist Davy Graham ranks among the more prominent. Another musical couple who spent a lot of time in Ibiza were Henry Wolff and Nancy Hennings. Henry, I’m told was intellectually brilliant, but like Davy Graham became a notorious junkie. With his partner Hennings, Wolff recorded the influential Tibetan Bells (Island Records 1972) and a series of follow-up albums. They are early examples of ambient trance grooves which introduced a broad mass of western listeners to instruments such as Tibetan bells, gongs, and singing bowls. Wolff may also be the Henry Wolf (only one ‘f”) who appears in Barbet Schroeder’s first feature film More (1969), a narrative of junkie dropouts who high-tail it to Ibiza; but rather than Tibetan Bells, this movie features a Pink Floyd soundtrack.
The sounds may have changed, but when house music and super-sized clubs like Manumission arrived in Ibiza it was nothing new. The roots of the current Ibiza party scene stretch all the way back to the early-sixties.That said, it looks to me like the scene in Ibiza was better in 1962 – when my mother, Julia Callan-Thompson, first visited the island – than it is now. Early web reports suggest that this year (2009) Manumission will even disappoint fans of super-sized clubs (it won’t be running). So it goes…
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Tags: A Wedding, Barbet Schroeder, Bart Hugues, Bruno de Galzain, Charlotte Rampling, Christmas At Home With Nina And Frederik, Clifford Irving, Damien Enright, Davy Graham, Elmyr de Hory, Frederik Van Pallandt, George Andrews, Groupie, Henry Wolf, Howard Hughes, Howard Marks, I Listen to the Ocean, I Would Amor Her, Ibiza, Irma Kurtz, Jan Cremer, Jenny Fabian, Julia Callan-Thompson, Lester Waldman, Little Donkey, Longtime Boy, Manumission, More, Mr Nice, Nancy Hennings, Nico, Nina and Frederik, Nina and Frederik No. 2, Nina Van Pallandt, O.C. and Stiggs, Oh Sinner Man, Pink Floyd, Quintet, Robert Altman, Rolling Stones, Simon Vinkenoog, Sippin’ Cider, Sucu Sucu, Terence Stamp, Terry Thomas, The Beatles, The Book of Grass, The Long Goodbye, Tibetan Bells, UFO, White Christmas