Obituary: Lady June

"LADY" JUNE'S title was purely honorary, a mutation of the function for which for a time she was best known in London: landlady to many of the capital's more creative musicians.

In this role it was sometimes overlooked that she was one of the city's great catalysts, albeit at an underground hippie level; an inveterate thrower of parties, she spent her time in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Vale Court in Maida Vale inadvertently running what the musician Daevid Allen described as "London's premier smoking salon". "She was ferocious in the mornings until the first joint arrived: she'd hover over you with a wet cloth demanding that you clean the stove." At a birthday party that June threw there for her closest friend, Allen's wife Gilli Smyth, Robert Wyatt fell from a window, breaking his back.

It was when she finally moved permanently to the artists' community of Deya in Majorca, in 1975, that June fully came into herself: as much of an artist as any of her London tenants had been, a great British eccentric and cosmic prankster on a par with Lol Coxhill and Viv Stanshall. The last five years saw a period of almost unparalleled productivity that will climax in an exhibition at the La Residencia hotel in Deya that opens tomorrow.

"I think she found what she was looking for," said the musician Kevin Ayers, another of her tenants, who wrote the music for and produced her 1974 album Linguistic Leprosy. "She had been involved in fashion and didn't really like it. She had a longing to be an artist - at whatever cost - and discovered that in Deya."

Lady June was born June Campbell-Cramer in Doncaster in 1931. Her father, who had made money in fashion retailing, took her to Majorca as a teenager and she fell in love with the island. After working as a photographic model in London during the 1950s, June moved to Palma, continuing the same career.

One day she met Daevid Allen and the troupe of artists and musicians who were to become the Absurd jazz-rock group Gong. "We all felt we'd known her from before we met," remembered Allen. A close friend of his was a Frenchman called Michel Albert, the radical son of a right-wing general, "a gorgeous-looking guy, living in Deya, who spectacularly was trying to paint his acid trips. He became one of the loves of her life."

Moving to Deya, June also started painting, putting on the first of a series of exhibitions always characterised by surreal humour, which also emerged in her poetry. Deya was ruled over by the poet Robert Graves. "To live in Deya you had to have some sort of satisfactory relationship with him," remembered Allen. "Robert was very tolerant of June, and she hung out with him."

"Everyone got on well with the Graves family," recalled Ayers. "Lady June was part of the poetry scene at the theatre club. She liked being in a place where you could go to the beach and flirt. And be around people who were painting or writing."

Lady June always had a tendency towards hedonistic consumption of alcohol and soft drugs. Lynne Franks, who has a home in Deya, recalls June remonstrating with her daughter for smoking cigarettes. "Give them up. Take up joints - that's what I did," she told her in all seriousness. Her fondness for excess was often a way of overcoming a chronic shyness. "She smoked and drank a bit too much," said Pete Brown, the musician who wrote the lyrics for many songs by Cream. "She had a minor stroke a couple of years ago. She would work hard, get a bit wired, and that combined with smoking and drinking was not too good. But her paintings continued to be terrific and so funny. And she was always such a great spirit."

Three years ago she was part of a spectacular Deya poetry evening with Roger McGough and Brian Patten. But Lady June's most achieved performance was herself: she succeeded in turning her existence into living art, bristling with humour. Last year's Hit and Myth record was an emotive work, bolstered by her habitual wackiness. In recent months she had been completing Rebela, an autobiographical record with contributions from much of the Gong camp, as well as Lol Coxhill, Pete Brown and Galen Ayers.

Tomorrow's opening at La Residencia in Deya will go ahead; the sculptures and paintings will not be complemented, of course, by her performance art and poetry. Somehow you have the feeling Lady June would not be too worried about that. "This event is so well organised," she told Frances Graves last week, shortly before her fatal heart attack, "that it doesn't matter if I drop dead."

June Campbell-Cramer (Lady June), artist and musician: born Doncaster, Yorkshire 3 June 1931; died Deya, Majorca 7 June 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine