The melodic and dreamy intro to King Crimson’s, Formentera Lady, features the raw and earthy sound of a double bass. A beautiful lyrical accompaniment, written and sung by Peter Sinfield aptly describes the unique character of Formentera. “‘Houses iced in whitewash guard a pale shoreline…cornered by the cactus and the pine…here I wander where sweet sage and strange herbs grow.” Formentera Lady was the first track from King Crimsons fourth studio album, Islands, released in 1971 and marking a departure from previous albums, with its soft and warm ambient vibe. One can almost feel its influence on the Orbs classic track, Little Fluffy Clouds. It was Formentera that inspired some of the leading musicians of the late sixties, to pioneer the psychedelic sound, similar to the chillout genre created by José Padilla at Cafe Del Mar almost two decades later
The haunting and melancholy air that King Crimson create on the track, lends itself beautifully to Formentera . In Formentera Lady he writes about a “sun-baked crumpled stony road”, referring to the Roman road that stretches from Es Calo to Es Mirador. From Es Mirador, there are spectacular views of the entire island, including Ibiza and the mystical rock of Es Vedra. Formentera Lady makes reference to a legend of Es Vedra, as the soprano voice of Paulina Lucas, sings the, “song of the sirens” that lured sailors from Homer’s Odyssey. The writing evokes a real sense of attachment and it is clear that Sinfield understood the power of the island’s unique landscape well. He was not alone, as many musical artists went to Formentera to find inspiration for their music. In the late sixties and early seventies, it was a artistic refuge for those who sought awakening and a chance to get away from it all.
From Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, to Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan, Ibiza and her sister island Formentera attracted an eclectic mix of people. They would jam by the beach, at well known bars such as the Blue Bar on Platja Migjorn and nearby restaurant, Fonda Pepe. Other famous names associated with Formentera, included American rock band, The Velvet Underground and its lead vocalist, Nico. The stunning blonde model, was a friend of Bob Dylan and worked with Rolling Stone’s guitarist Brian Jones. Part of the hippy scene at the time, Nico was introduced to The Velvet Underground by its enigmatic manager, Andy Warhol. They released the iconic The Velvet Underground and Nico album in 1967, which is ranked #13 in the Rolling Stone magazine’s, 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Nico tragically died in Ibiza following a bicycle accident in 1988
Guitars were the instrument of musical expression on Formentera. One of the most influential female recording artists of the late 20th century, Joni Mitchell, was an exponent of the open, non standard style, of guitar tuning. “Joni’s weird chords” was the nickname given to her unique guitar playing, which featured multiple and alternative tunings in live performances. She found a natural home in Formentera, where she would sit by the beach and write songs.that would later appear in her 1971 Album, Blue. Today, a shrine to the art of guitar playing, proudly stands on Formentera. An artisan home, that nurtures and embodies all that is special about the guitar sound. Formentera Guitars, was established in 1988 and it is considered by many artists, as Europe’s most prestigious school of Guitars. It has an A List book of celebrity clients that grace the Worldwide stage with their guitars. A three week course to help build your very own custom designed guitar, is one of the main attractions of the school, located in Sant Ferran de Ses Roques. Over 1000 students have graduated from the school which is one of the islands most prestigious schools.
The psychedelic sound, which emerged in the late sixties, also had roots in Formentera. Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour, was inspired to write his album, which was chosen as, The Greatest Solo Album by a former Pink Floyd band member, by Planet Rock in 2009. When Pink Floyd recorded the album “Soundtrack from the Film More” they used an image of a windmill for the album cover. Legend has it, that this windmill was the one that Bob Dylan lived in when he stayed in the small village of El Pilar in 1967. Kevin Ayers, founding member of the pioneering psychedelic band, Soft Machine escaped to Formentera after touring with Jimmy Hendrix in America and wrote much of his first album,Joy Of A Toy, while living there. In more recent years, Chris Rea, recorded “On The Beach”, featuring La Mola lighthouse, one of the most amazing places to watch sunset in the Balearics.
Formentera’s golden era musically, was undoubtedly the late sixties and early seventies, as it inspired many musicians with its landscapes and way of life. The people who were part of that era are now in their seventies and many still live on the island. They understand the magic that was created by their fellow travelers and friends. A vibrant and rich bazaar of artistic individuality which produced a classic period for music in Ibiza. Like the renaissance walls constructed by the Catalans around Dalt Vila, the music that Formentera helped shape and build will also stand the test of time
“Houses iced in whitewash guard a pale shore-line Cornered by the cactus and the pine. Here I wander where sweet sage and strange herbs grow Down a sun-baked crumpled stony road. Dusty wheels leaning rusting in the sun; Snuff brown walls where spanish lizards run. Here I’m shadowed by a dragon fig tree’s fan Ringed by ants and musing over man. I’ll unwind my old strings while the sun shine down Won’t climb any high thing while the sun shine. Formentera lady sing your song for me Formentera lady sweet lover. Lamplights glows on old guitars the travellers strum; Insence children dance to an indian drum. Here odysseus charmed for dark circe fell, Still her perfume lingers still her spell. Time’s grey hand won’t catch me while the sun shine down Untie and unlatch me while the stars shine. Formentera lady dance your dance for me Formentera lady dark lover.”