Some thoughts about Syd Barrett

I guess most of my friends already know how much I love Syd Barrett (born Roger Keith Barrett – 6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006). He would have been 64 today, so I thought I’d write a little about him, and why I like him so much.

It’s not just his music, which is awesome, or his innocent whimsical lyrics (which became much darker after the onset of his mental illness), but it’s also the fact that he started one of the greatest bands of all time: Pink Floyd (and then they kicked him out of his own band WTF). Here’s a line drawing I made of Syd:

Syd Barrett line drawing

Syd Barrett

I think the thing that bothers me most about the whole Syd Barrett-acid casualty story is how everyone says, “oh yeah Syd blew his mind by taking too much acid” when possibly he was (unknown by him) being dosed with huge amounts of acid by 2 fuckers named Mad Jock and Mad Sue on a 2 month vacation (they deny this now, of course) – but there is no denying that when he came back from that vacation Dave Gilmour said he was “changed” and “didn’t seem to recognize me”.

It’s just a sad story, whatever the truth – but some of the music like Arnold Layne and See Emily Play will endure, it’s truly great and showcase his magnificent talent far better than his solo efforts (which nevertheless still show flashes of brilliance, but are an acquired taste to be sure).

If you’re curious about Syd’s story and want to read more, here are some links to get you started: Dolly Rocker, Scattered Needles and The Syd Barrett Archives.

Anyway, R.I.P. Syd – I think you were truly one of the greats.

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#1 greg on 03.12.10 at 2:38 pm

Just found your site…very nice! I’m not a Syd fan….I’m a Syd FREAK!! I have to wonder who his real friends were back then. I’ve heard of Jock & Sue….10 minutes in a round room with each of them is all I need. Everything about Syd, to me, was way ahead of it’s time. I mean, he was doing Hendrix BEFORE Hendrix, you know? Even Townshend called him legendary. So sick of the Urban legend bull. Thanks for a great article..Peace!

#2 Dave on 03.12.10 at 9:46 pm

greg, you are right on brother. you know what syd song i cant get out of my head here lately? Late Night. i hear implied chord structures under that melody that sound like an angelic choir in my brain. i wonder if what is playing in my head is what he intended