Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Syd Barrett, a creative genius, Rest in Peace.

Syd Barrett, pictured with Pink Floyd and top, his 1988 compilation 'Opel'.

I was sorry to hear today of the death of Syd Barrett, one time guitarist with the rock band Pink Floyd. I first got into listening to his work in about 1988 on my cassette driven Sony Walkman. I remember thinking that the Pink Floyd albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn(1967) and A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) were great albums while bassist Roger Walter’s tribute to him ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ rates as one of my all time favorite songs. His 1988 compilation Opel was another well used cassette i got into.
Barrett struggle with drugs and mental illness meant he dropped out of the band after a number of increasingly erratic performances both on and off stage. One anocdote I remember being told was that of Barrett putting an entire tube of Brylcreem (purportedly mixed with crushed heroin substitute Mandrax, giving it a chocolate like consistancy) on his head, which subsequently melted down his face under the heat of the stage lighting, making him look like "a guttered candle" and getting in his eyes causing huge discomfort. However drummer Nick Mason disputed this, stating in the Barrett biography, Madcap, "Syd would never waste good mandies."
Following a disastrous abridged tour of the US, David Gilmour (a school friend of Barrett's) was asked to join the band as a second guitarist in order to cover as Barrett's erratic behavior prevented him from performing. For a handful of shows Gilmour played and sang while Barrett wandered around on stage, occasionally deigning to join in playing.
In January 1968, on the way to a show at Southampton University, the band elected not to pick Barrett up. They attempted to retain him in the group as a songwriter, much as The Beach Boys had with Brian Wilson, but this proved to be untenable.
Despite his replacement David Gilmour’s protestations to the contary, drugs ruined a creative genius. . The last compilation of his solo work was entitled ‘Wouldn't You Miss Me?’ His many fans will.


Blogger Matt Dean said...

The Daily Telegraph's Robert Sandall has put together his 10 best songs to remember Syd Barrett by;
(1) Arnold Layne
(single, 1967)
(2) See Emily Play
(single, 1967)
(3) Astronomy Dominie
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album, 1967)
(4) Lucifer Sam
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album 1967)
(5) Matilda Mother
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album 1967)
(6) Scarecrow
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album 1967)
(7) The Gnome
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album 1967)
(8) Bike
(Piper at the Gates of Dawn album
(9) Jugband blues
(A Saucerful of Secrets album 1968)
(10)Gigolo Aunt
(Barrett album 1968)
They suggest that you buy them via their venture with Oxfam at where you can apparently buy the ten songs for half price- a fiver.
Hopefully Oxfam are making a few quid out of it too...

2:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats your favorite non-Barett Pink Floyd album Matt?

2:32 am  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

Probably one of the best selling two-
'Dark Side of the Moon' or
The Wall'.
'Wish You were here' is another classic, I even like the come-back album without Waters, 'Momentary Lapse of Reason' a lot, not so keen on 'The Division Bell' tho.

8:43 pm  

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