When I was growing up in Blackpool there was a mystical figure that floated through our lives.
Jimmy Schwartz, who just died, was a real artist, a contemporary and beatnik friend of Roy Harper (he painted an album cover for him) who would live in a world full of whispers. He had been in london with the Floyd, he knew Syd Barrett, he knew all the heads and yet he was still lived here in Blackpool- and boy could he paint and draw. He was a poet and a mystic and was in touch with the moon and the stars and the sun.
Now and then you would see one of his paintings and it was full of life in a way that only great painters can breathe the life stuff into paint and brushes. A portrait here, a mural there, a given away abstract there- a true artist who lived for the moment and not for the awards.
He was born, Jimmy Edgar, in 1939 and was a lot older than us but when we bumped into him occasionally when he ghosted down to earth he was on our level. We respected him because he had lived the life and he was art and he spoke to us as fellow artists.
He had moved to Blackpool from Northern Ireland. There had been some heavy stories and he had to get out. Blackpool was always full of people drifting through and he stayed, changing his name several times before sticking to Jimmy Schwartz, he was the king bohemian in a town of outsiders and he touched everyone who ever met him.
I hadn’t seen him for a long time until a couple of years ago. I was making a film on Blackpool beach and was sat on the new impressive concrete headland and this figure was suddenly sat beside me. I knew instantly who it was. We started chatting, the last time we had met was in the mid nineties when he came over from Blackpool to watch me do a talk about Scorcese’s Mean Streets. It’s like he had appeared from nowhere to catch up. we chatted for an hour and then he suddenly disappeared again. He was already a ghost who had coloured the world in, an outsider spirit who was the mystical backdrop to generations of Blackpool artists and musicians…
This ones for you Jimmy- a true art spirit…