Bubala, Mumi & Max

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Syd BarrettOne of the most legendary figures of the English psychedelic movement has left us. Syd Barrett, founding front man for Pink Floyd has died in Cambridge, England at the age of 60. Though he only fronted the band for a short period of time from it’s formation through it’s first record release, the immortal 1967 classic "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn," he will be remembered for the great contributions that he made to Psychedelia. Songs like "Arnold Layne" about a guy whose hobby was to steal the clothes off of people’s washing lines are so immortal. The original Pink Floyd was one of the bands to play at the "14 hour Technicolor Dream," a music and cultural event in London that was attended by a who’s who of 60’s British rock and roll. That’s where Yoko Ono had people come up and cut off pieces of her clothes as a performance art piece. Paul McCartney praised Pink Floyd as the future of rock music as they recorded their first album.

Sadly, Syd became a HUGE acid head right when the band started to make it big, and he became too mental to work with. The band would be playing a show and Syd would just stand there playing one chord while staring off into space. He was quickly replaced by band friend, David Gilmour and the rest is history as they say. I’ve even heard stories about some of Syd’s acid friends. Not the Pink Floyd guys who were serious about their band and making it big, but other acid users that Syd hung out with. They would dose him up and lock him in a trunk for hours on end.

Syd Barrett did release a few solo albums, but they didn’t really go anywhere and it’s kind of clear if you listen to them the light had already or was fading. The guy really lost it. Not like Jimi Hendrix who just died young, and it was such a waste. Not really like Jerry Garcia who we all got to see get older and slowly waste away. Syd was more a combination of the two. He lost it very early on and when he showed up at the studio in 1975 to visit his old bandmates, they were all so shocked at how far gone their old friend had become and how fast it had happened. They didn’t even recognize him. Somebody had to tell them that this was Syd. That once handsome young lad now just had black orbs for eyes and had deteriorated quite a bit in the body department and he was more like a walking vegetable than a person hence the title of the album that Pink Floyd were working on at the time, "Wish You Were Here." The record is pretty much about him, and as I listen to it now that he has passed, it has become even more eerie.

Barrett was also one of the biggest rock and roll recluses shying away from everyone and everything for the past 30 plus years even though he started one of the most timeless rock and roll bands around. Just flip on any classic rock station and it won’t take long before a Pink Floyd song comes on. Unfortunately, they don’t usually play the songs that Syd wrote with them.

Recommended Listening:

Pink Floyd

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Wish You Were Here
London 66/67 (DVD) This is footage of the 14 Hr Technocolour Dream set to Pink Floyd music.

Syd Barrett

The Madcap Laughs
Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story (DVD)


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