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Happening - Summer 1967 - Côte d'Azur
 
 
Rare footage of Soft Machine performing naked at the 1967 Sun Love happening in Cogolin, near Saint Tropez, on the French Riviera.

“The Picasso part lasted an hour, that depended on the Soft Machine, and afterwards there were happenings, concerts… An American actor told us ‘come back to my place, I’ve got a swimming pool’, so we went and we created a happening which took the piss out of the faux-mystics, and we made a pseudo ritual to the rising sun, we took the piss out those people who were taking the piss out of the hippies, it was Sun Love…” (J.J. Lebel)


 




 
Extrait de Sunlove de J.J. Lebel (Ed. RE:VOIR), avec Soft Machine - Juillet 1967
N/B - 16mm








“My second movie, SUNLOVE was shot in 16mm color in 1967, mostly with friends such as a bunch of Living Theatre actors and others who happened to be in town. It starts out with the straight reportage of one of my happenings, SUNLOVE, where about fifty people sat naked, looking calmly at the sunset.
Not really "worshipping" the sun but
identifying with its slow motion dropping into the
horizon. We had taken LSD, it was sort of a
naturalistic meditative ritual connecting with the cosmic day/night cycle, amongst pine trees in which birds were singing themselves to sleep as the sun went down, above the Bay of Saint-Tropez. This took place on the property of an American actor straight from Hollywood called Ricky Cooper who had visited our Picasso play "Desire Caught by the Tail" (Le Desir attrape par la queue) directed by yours truly and produced by Victor Herbert. The Soft Machine were there because they had also taken part in my version of the Picasso play, that had taken place in the suburbs of Saint-Tropez, under a giant rented circus tent. Picasso gave me the rights to put on his play, which has not very much to do with theater, but had a lot to do with Dadaism and eroticism.”


"So, we filmed the SUNLOVE Happening around and in Ricky's swimming pool. Some of the people you see in there are anonymous friendly nomads from all over the world, but also included some of the Warhol gang, such as Ultra Violet, who was also in the Picasso play by the way, and the great sculptor John Chamberlain, who was her boyfriend then. They are some of the people that are naked swimming around such as the Soft Machine rock band, they were all naked playing music stoned and dancing as in a medieval fresco depicting Paradise."


"What is the music on the film, the whole length of the movie?

Finally, when I reached 80, the Centre Pompidou decided to give me a show - that was five years ago - they included my two movies in the exhibition along with paintings and collages. "But there's something missing," they said, "it's the music." I said, "Well, you know, we didn't have any money to tape music. We just shot silent movies." One of the technicians at the Paris Cinematheque, where they cleaned up the movie for the show, said "Well, I have some old vintage Soft Machine material, and if you want, I'll do some editing for you and use that as music for the film." I said, "Do what you want," and he did. That's the music that you hear. But it was done 50 years after the movie was shot."
(Interview with J.J. Lebel by Pip Chodorov / 2020 - in booklet accompanying the DVD SunLove).



Dans un passionnant entretien avec Aymeric Leroy, publié en 2021, Mike Zwerin évoque cet été 1967 au cours duquel Soft Machine se produira à de nombreuses reprises sur la Côte d'Azur.

  American jazz critic Michael Zwerin wrote the first major article on Soft Machine for Down Beat in the summer of 1967, when he chanced upon the band in Saint-Tropez performing in front of the Café des Arts. Subsequently he witnessed the band playing as part of the avant-garde play by Picasso "Le Désir Attrapé par la Queue" and took Robert Wyatt to the Antibes Jazz Festival to meet saxophonist Paul Desmond who was performing there with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.