June 26, 2017

"Blackhill Bullshit", a very rare underground magazine by Blackhill Enterprises agency.

Blackhill Enterprises was the main agency of the Third Ear Band. Founded in October 1966 by Peter Jenner and Andrew King, taking the name from King's holiday cottage in Wales ("Blackhill Farmhouse"), it managed bands and musicians as Pink Floyd, Edgar Broughton Band, Roy Harper, Kevin Ayers & the Whole World, Al Stewart, Bridget St. Jones, Michael Chapman, Pete Brown... the cream of the English underground.

Andrew King and Peter Jenner with the staff at Blackhill headquarter
(photo ©Adrian Boot)
Blackhill made an agreement with E.M.I. and gave many artists (often produced by Jenner and King themselves)  to its subsidiary label Harvest Records managed by Malcolm Jones,  that published records from June 1969 to July 1985. Harvest catalogue is one of the most creative ever, a peculiar, unique mood for listeners to feel the end of '60's-beginning '70's.

Blackhill Enterprises staff with Glen Sweeney on the centre (beyond Andrew King) (photo ©Adrian Boot)

Judgements on Blackhill's experience are controversial: for Glen Sweeney and Paul Minns the agency was a mixture of improvisation and naivete; for Andrew King the Third Ear Band's approach to music biz was amateurish. "Blackhill was only interested in Art, TEB were only interested in Money (and sex and drugs)", stated a caustic King when I interviewed him. "EMI didn't know what they were interested in, but felt that should be money involved. There wasn't really anyone at EMI (except perhaps Malcolm Jones) capable of having a conversation with them. So Blackhill was always the go-between; and really Blackhill had no clear plans as to what we were trying to achieve.The TEB were so divorced from the normal sort of "act", that it was always difficult to see them as anything more than a sort of strange hobby; despite the fact that they sold a lot more records than more conventional bands (e.g. Kevin Ayers)."

Apart this, Blackhill was certainly an hotbed of creativity and inventiveness. They promoted the first free live concerts in England, made innovative graphics for posters, handbills, press releases, coining ironic promotional saying as the emblematic "No announcements, numbers lasting 15 to 20 minutes, art form or cons?" about the TEB's music (from the original tour programme with Al Stewart, January-February 1970).

One of the less known Blackhill's outputs, now very rare objects for collectors (one single issue was sold in 2013 for £40!), was the magazine "Blackhill Bullshit", a 16 colour pages plus cover published by Cornfield Music Limited and distributed free to concert promoters and agents in order to publicise agency's artists.

"After the first couple of issues (edited by Hugh Nolan), Adrian Boot took charge as editor, and designed the layout and artwork (the work of Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Simon Deitch, Wally Wood, Skip Williamson and Fred Pipes also appeared regularly).
The first two issues feature Mick Farren's pared-down autobiography, as well as Chris Welch on Ron Geesin, Pete Jenner's report from LA, features on the Battered Ornaments, Edgar Broughton, John Martyn and others, plus news of concerts, tours, and Implosion at the Roundhouse.
"Issue #4 announces Pink Floyd's July 1970 free concert in Hyde Park, and prints a full-page ad. for Phun City, with artwork by Ed Barker, and issue #5, amidst numerous, irreverent comments on the music scene, reports from various rock festivals, including Phun City ("One long boring rip off").

Issue #6 features a three-way interview with Edgar Broughton, Steve Broughton and Pete Jenner, and #7 solicits help for Bullshit's "massive legal costs… We're constantly being plagued with writs, constantly being sued for libel" (these included an obscenity case after apprentice vicars in Bristol were sent the magazine: IT #124 reported that "It is rumoured that the lovely Lyn of Blackhill didn't exercise her discretion quite enough when mailing out the mag, and the young vicars received a nasty cultural shock"). "
Issue 4 (see above) shows Glen Sweeney on front cover and Paul Minns, Ursula Smith and Richard Coff on the back. 
Glen and Paul never talked to me about this magazine, so it's possible they didn't give too much importance to it (infact it seems there are no many references to the Third Ear Band on the issues).

Just eight issues was printed from November 1969 to March 1972, when Blackhill started to have some troubles to stay in the market.

"Blackhill Bullshit" #1 (November 1969)

no©2017 Luca Chino Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   


  1. Very interesting, thank you.

  2. ---
    "Blackhill was only interested in Art, TEB were only interested in Money (and sex and drugs)", stated a caustic King when I interviewed him.
    Is the quote accurate - were the TEB only tied to an agency for the money?

    1. The quote is absolutely accurate, since I had this interview with King by letter and he wrote me just that (as you can read at https://ghettoraga.blogspot.it/2009/12/blackhill-enterprises-manager-and.html).
      In any case, about drugs, sex and money which bands could state the opposite at the time? I think TEB was sincerely interested into art, I mean the possibility to talk to the deep dimension of human soul (third eye/ear)...

  3. Ciao Luca, se guardi la pagina facebook della TEB troverai un breve ricordo di Genesis P. Orridge (ex Throbbing Gristle e Psychic TV, come certamente sai...) che a quanto pare ha suonato con uno di loro nel '69... Gli ho chiesto se ha altri ricordi da condividere, magari se lo avvicini anche tu riesci ad "estorcergli" qualcosa di più :-) Saluti

    1. Ti ringrazio per la segnalazione. Avevo saputo qualcosa del genere anni fa, ma non ne ho mai accertato la veridicità. D'altronde, Glen e Paul non me ne avevamo mai parlato e pensavo si trattasse solo di voci...
      Non avendo attivato Facebook, però, non saprei come contattarlo. Hai per caso una sua mail? Eventualmente scrivimi pure sulla casella di posta personale che proverò a contattarlo e a strappargli un'intervista...