September 07, 2012

An interview with Muz Murray, the first mystic 'gardener'.

Muz Murray has been a real protagonist of London underground scene, founder of the famous "Gandalf's Garden", a psychedelic mystic magazine edited in 1968 and 1969 (six issues printed) and thought, as he says, for "offering hope and a positive lifestyle to the lost and lonely".

Later, become Ramana Baba, he has been tripping all around the world, painting, writing books, recording music, making conferences about Mantra Yoga, Mystical Awakening, Massage and Meditation.
He has got a very intriguing Web site at full of  infos and stuffs (as the complete collection of "Gandalf's Garden" issues on CD-R format). 
I've contacted him for having an interview about his memories on the Third Ear Band (but, as he writes, "I will do my best, but I am not sure I can add much to what you already know..."), a band he loved and  interviewed in 1968 for his magazine (read at, writing probably the very first review of "Alchemy" on "Gandalf's Garden" # 5.

Why did you decide to dedicate an interview (one of the first ever...) to the Third Ear Band?
"I wanted express what was the feeling of the non-commercial music on the Scene at the time. And as soon as I saw the name ‘The Third Ear Band’ I knew this was something that would fit nicely in "Gandalf’s Garden" magazine. So I got in touch with Glen right away and we got on very well together. After hearing the music I wasn't disappointed and we became firm friends".

What kind of relations you had with the band and the Ladbroke Grove scene?
"We had a good rapport with the group also. They came and played freely at our Magical Sunday Benefit Concert at Middle Earth in Covent Garden [May 19th, 1968], London, in order to help us to bring out the second issue of "Gandalf’s Garden", together with other up-and-coming unknowns like Marc Bolan and David Bowie.
I used to live in Pembroke Villas next to Ladbroke Grove, so Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Road and market was my scene".

Have you ever watch/listen to the TEB in a live concert? Any memories about it?
"As mentioned, they came and played for us. And we saw them in concert and were with them in private sessions too. It was a great pleasure because their music put us into a state of dreamlike meditation without any effort. And they also seemed to go into a trance as they played. It was not like that they played, but the music came through them".

What kind of mood do you think people 'breathed' at their concerts?
"I’m sure it had the same effect that it had on us. I saw that audiences went off into pleasant dreams and did not like to spoil it by clapping afterwards".

What do you think about their music and more at large about their peculiar cultural/artistic project?
"It was not so much ‘music’ as such but more of an artistic expression of deep 'feeling'. It was exactly what was needed to counteract some of the popular rubbish played at the time. And it catered for more of the mystically inclined supporters that we were cultivating through "Gandalf's Garden" magazine and our mystical Centre down along the scruffy end of King’s Road".

Do you think they was authentic or, someone thinks nowadays, Glen Sweeney was a sort of mystic trickster?
"Then someone thinks wrong. Glen and the other musicians were totally sincere as far as I am concerned. They had to be, in order to play the kind of non-commercial music that was not going to earn them a fortune on "Top of the Pops". Glen often came to mediate with us at the Garden".

 The Gardeners meditating with Glen Sweeney (with hat) an Carolyn Looker on far right  (© Gandalf's Garden).

Have you got in your archive (if you have one) some stuffs of the band (photos, music, video...) for the Ghetto Raga archive?
"Alas, we could not afford a camera in those days, and video did not exist. I don’t think I have anything other than the photo attached. If I can find anything else I will send it to you".

                                                                              Muz Murray today

This is the original Muz Murray's review of "Alchemy" published on "Gandalf's Gardens" # 5 (note the beautiful EMI-Harvest promo ad below):

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)     

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