Let's see if the PP Guru can get this done in fifteen minutes or less. At least, Syd Barrett deserves that much.
The PP Guru must think the rest of the world lives in a vacuum. When the PP Guru received word of Syd's passing. The PP Guru stood up on his tunic haunches and announced: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Ears perked up. Eyes started rolling around in their sockets as immediate concern radiated from the PP Guru's fellow co-workers at Paramount: "What's wrong, PP Guru?? What terrible thing could happen that would make out cry out like that?"
The PP Guru's tear streaming purple hued profile turned almost ghost-white: "Whatever Deities you worship- please, the PP Guru implores you, say a humbled prayer for Syd Barrett- for he passed away this morning."
All the PP Guru's humbled acolyte followers looked at each other with complete bafflement and looked back at the PP Guru solemnly and uttered in unison.
"Who the fuck is Syd Barrett?"
The PP Guru heaved a bereaved sigh. Why does he even bother?
Well Syd - your recluse has finally come to an end. Your inspiration and the creation of Pink Floyd , in addition to the Beatles, the Animals, Procum Harem, and the Moody Blues was probably the green light that gave carte blanche to other bands such as Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant ELP, and Jethro Tull, and then their generation expanded to give credence to bands such as Marillion, IQ, Spock's Beard, Porcupine Tree, and Riverside.
Syd was the one who caused the whole entire domino effect to happen in the world of prog- the musical genre that the PP Guru is still so fond of. It's sad that mental illness and LSD took away his creative drive and determination to make contributions to further his career.
He was simply just happy enough to be riding his bike into the sunset of a peaceful English countryside. But his fellow bandmates made sure, despite their consistent bickering, made sure that he was cared for with frequent royalty contributions.
See? now Emily plays no more. Now's here's Sparky with the Wiki.
P.S. Ironically, Syd would pass away on the day when Pink Floyd would finally be releasing the much along awaited delay DVD of their last US tour called Pulse! which is in stores today!
Mental Floss Magazine mentions this re:
|Song by Pink Floyd|
|from the album Meddle |
|Released||October 30, 1971 (US) |
November 5, 1971 (UK)
|Recorded||January 1971 |
Abbey Road, London
March, April 1971
AIR Studios, London
Morgan Studios, London
June, July 1971
Morgan Studios, London
AIR Studios, London
AIR Studios, London
|Writer(s)||Roger Waters |
|Meddle Track Listing|
- This is about the Pink Floyd song, for the Bennie Benjamin and George David Weiss song, see Echoes (1950 song)
Written by all four members of the group (Roger Waters, Richard Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason), "Echoes" provides the extended finale to Pink Floyd's album Meddle. The track has a running time of 23:31 and takes up the entire B-side of the vinyl recording. It also appears in shortened form as the fifth track on the compilation album which took its name, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd. "Echoes" is the third-longest song in Pink Floyd's catalogue, after Atom Heart Mother (23:44) and the combined segments of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (over 26 minutes in total). Unlike those pieces, it is not explicitly divided into separate parts; however, the composition was originally assembled from separate fragments, and was later split in two parts to serve as both the opening and closing numbers in the band's film Live At Pompeii.
- Richard Wright - Keyboards, sound effects, vocals
- David Gilmour - Vocals, guitars, fretless bass guitar, sound effects
- Roger Waters - Bass guitar, sound effects
- Nick Mason - Drums, percussion, sound effects
"Echoes" ranks among the most ambitious and musically diverse Pink Floyd songs. The lyrics begin with a marine theme, inspired by the sonar-like sound created by Wright when his grand piano's high C# was sent through a Leslie rotating speaker (this was reportedly done as an experiment at the very beginning of the Meddle recordings). Ad lib notes on the same Leslie-inflected piano fade in and gradually build up from seemingly random notes into a backing harmony. Gilmour then enters with a soft, mid-tempo guitar solo that features extensive use of his trademark expressive bends. Bass and then drums enter, as guitar and the Leslie-piano continue through the vocal passages of the first verse. These are harmonized by two voices, Gilmour's and Wright's, and assume a leisurely delivery. The opening lyrics place the listener at an underwater location where 'everything is green and submarine'. A chord progression of C#m, G#m, F#m, G# hints at musical themes explored in later albums.
Gilmour plays a chromatic riff between verses, accompanied with A and C#m chords, which eventually segues into his second solo. This contains more of his conventional trademarks, featuring multiple guitars harmonizing at various points. The drumming becomes more energetic and the guitar is in a higher register than in the introductory passage. This second solo eventually gives way to the song's first break. The guitar solos and backing riffs are replaced by a drum and bass groove with an almost funk-like chordal backing. The distinctive muted guitar part of this portion was reportedly inspired by the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations". 
The third guitar solo begins over this with a less controlled feel and more prominent improvisation. Then, a distant second guitar starts accompanying the first with distortion, feedback, wah pedal and whammy bar effects. The latter technique provides this solo with exaggerated pitch bends that resemble those of a slide guitar (Gilmour did use some slide for sound effects on the studio recording and for the intro in live performances from 1971 to 1975). Wright plays brief phrases on the Hammond organ, which slowly increase in intensity.
These organ fills, along with the bass and drum groove, begin fading away as the lead guitar gradually becomes more distant. A throbbing wind-like sound is introduced, created by Waters vibrating the strings of his bass guitar with a steel slide and feeding the signal through an Italian tape echo unit called the Binson Echorec. This starts increasing in volume as high pitched guitar 'screams' enter, resembling distorted whale song. They were actually created when Gilmour discovered the sound by accidentally reversing the cables to his wah pedal. Early live recordings of Pink Floyd performing the song "Embryo" in 1970 also feature this noise.
In the second half of the "Echoes" interlude, the screams die down to become background noises under the sound of rooks, which were added to the music from a tape archive recording (as had been done for some of the band's earlier songs, including "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"). Eventually, the entire ensemble is faded into a sustained Farfisa organ chord underneath a reprise of the sonar-like 'pings' from the introduction. Volume swells on the guitar accompanied by sustained organ chords combine to create a stark contrast to the screams of the previous interlude. This texture strongly suggests the feeling of clearing air and receding winds after a violent storm. Gilmour starts strumming muted notes from B to F# to D to E (rhythmically reminiscent of Another Brick in the Wall) on a guitar tuned to drop D over a slowly-building organ solo. The drumming becomes a combination of quick ride cymbal work and tom-tom fills.
Eventually, a glissando guitar riff with echo and distortion create a massive buildup of melodic tension, and in an anticlimactic moment, this segues into the soft vocal strains of the third verse. Unlike the previous verses, this is accompanied by intermittent guitar fills. After a final refrain, the song recedes into another wind-like noise: a tape loop of multi-tracked ascending male voice glissandos, similar to the effect of a Shepard tone. A soft call-and-response passage between guitar and keyboards retreats into more improvised phrases, before the chaotic 'winds' finally take over to end the song.
The piece had its genesis in a collection of musical experiments written separately by each band member, referred to as "Nothing, Parts 1-24". Subsequent tapes of work in progress were labelled "The Son of Nothing" and "The Return of the Son of Nothing"; the latter title was eventually used to introduce the as-yet unreleased work during its first live performances in early 1971.
During this stage of its development, the song's first verse had yet to be finalized. It originally referred to the meeting of two celestial bodies, but perhaps because of Waters' increasing concerns that Pink Floyd was being pigeonholed as a space rock band, the lyrics were rewritten to use underwater imagery instead. The title "Echoes" was also subjected to significant revisions before and after the release of Meddle: Waters, a devoted football fan, proposed that the band call its new piece "We Won the Double" in celebration of Arsenal's 1971 victory, and during a 1972 tour of Germany he jovially introduced it on two consecutive nights as "Looking Through the Knothole in Granny's Wooden Leg" and "The March of the Dam Busters", respectively. 
The song, then entitled "The Return of the Son of Nothing", was first performed in public on April 22, 1971 with the unrevised 'planetary' lyrics. These remained in place until sometime in late July of that year, when they were replaced by the more familiar 'albatross' lyrics. The song was first introduced as "Echoes" on the sixth of August, 1971. It was a staple of Pink Floyd's live performances from then until 1975 and was also played eleven times in 1987, near the beginning of the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. Most recently, David Gilmour has performed the song on his 2006 solo tour.
Unlike the Atom Heart Mother Suite, it was relatively easy for Pink Floyd to reproduce "Echoes" onstage (as can be seen in the Live at Pompeii film) without requiring additional musicians, though the swapping of keyboard sounds during the piece sometimes proved problematic in live performances. Originally, Wright would start the song by playing his grand piano through a Leslie speaker, then switch to the Hammond organ just before the first verse, switch again to the Farfisa organ during the 'seagull' middle section, back to the Hammond again for the last verse, and finally to piano for the outro. This required Roger Waters to provide the piano 'pings' at their re-entry after the middle section. The Farfisa was later dropped from the band's live keyboard setup and all its parts were played on the Hammond instead.
Starting in 1974, the musical arrangement was augmented by backing vocals from Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams and saxophone solos by Dick Parry added directly after the second verse and at the song's finale. All three of these additional artists joined Pink Floyd's touring party to take the latter Dark Side of the Moon performances, and added their own parts to the remainder of the concert (largely because the former artist was reluctant to leave and re-enter the stage throughout the show).  The last time the song would be played by all four members of Pink Floyd was at the concert in Knebworth closing their 1975 world tour. During performances given by the 'three-man' Pink Floyd in 1987, "Echoes" was played in a much shorter form than usual (with Gilmour singing the higher harmonies instead of Wright), and often as part of a medley with "Signs of Life". It was ultimately dropped from the set because Gilmour did not feel 'right' about singing the lyrics, and his backing artists played its music without the touches of improvisation that make "Echoes" a powerfully affecting piece.
On Gilmour's 2006 tour in support of On An Island, Wright plays a key part in the touring band, performing his original harmony vocals and keyboard parts on "Echoes". This new arrangement of the song is close to full-length, clocking in at around 22 minutes.
"Echoes" was released 3 years after the film and is 23 minutes and 31 seconds in length, the same as the "Infinite" segment. Sounds in the middle part of the song suggest to some listeners the feeling of travelling through an alien world. The drone vocalizations heard in the final scenes of 2001 seem to match with the discordant bass vibrations in the middle of "Echoes" as well the choral glissandos of its finale. Some argue that there are moments when the song and film soundtrack are nearly indistinguishable. Another notable link occurs during a change in scene at precisely the moment when guitar and keyboards crescendo as the lyrics re-enter for the final verse. Almost as a bonus, the early lyrics contain references to planets, which seems entirely suitable for the film's depiction of Jupiter and its moons. Adrian Maben re-created this marriage of music and image in his director's cut of Live at Pompeii using CGI.
Although no member of the band has ever declared the synchronization intentional and the technology to play back film in a recording studio circa 1971 would have been expensive and difficult for the band to acquire, Roger Waters is sometimes quoted as saying that the band's failure to contribute music on 2001's official score was his "greatest regret". Kubrick would later ask the band if he could use portions of the Atom Heart Mother Suite in his film A Clockwork Orange. Pink Floyd turned him down on the grounds that the music would sound silly if excerpted out of context; nevertheless, a copy of the album Atom Heart Mother is displayed behind the counter of a record shop in the film.
Years later, in an interesting postscript to the Kubrick/Floyd connection, Roger Waters asked the filmmaker's permission to include sound clips from Space Odyssey into his 1992 album Amused to Death. Waters' intention was to sample the dialogue and breathing sounds from the scene immediately prior to "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite", when Dave Bowman deactivates the computer HAL 9000. These were to be mixed in during the instrumental introduction to "Perfect Sense, Part One". After much deliberation, permission was declined in the interest of upholding Kubrick's own precedent of not granting such requests. Instead, Waters inserted his own shouting, whispering and breathing in a backwards message that refers to Kubrick by his Christian name. However, a live recording from his 2000 solo tour uses the original film dialogue as Waters intended.
The 1973 George Greenough film "Crystal Voyager" concludes with a 23 minute segment in which the full length of "Echoes" accompanies a montage of images shot by Greenough from a camera mounted on his surboard.
In interviews promoting Amused to Death, Waters asserted that Andrew Lloyd Webber had plagiarized themes from "Echoes" for sections of the musical The Phantom of the Opera; nevertheless, he decided that life was too short to bother filing a lawsuit regarding the matter. 
- ^ http://brain-damage.co.uk/general/dg06z.html
- ^ http://support.uni-oldenburg.de/~floyd/english/echoes/meddle.html
- ^ Turner, Col (2004). An Interview with Venetta Fields. (HTML) A Fleeting Glimpse. Retrieved on 2006-06-02.
- ^ http://www.synchronicityarkive.com/node/152
- ^ http://utopia.knoware.nl/users/ptr/pfloyd/interview/roger2.html
|Born||January 6, 1946|
|Died||July 7, 2006|
|Years Active||1965 - 1972|
Best remembered as one of the founding members of the group Pink Floyd, Barrett was active as a rock musician for only a few years, before he went into seclusion. His creative legacy and quintessentially English vocal delivery have since proven remarkably influential.
Barrett was born in Cambridge, England, to a well off middle class family. He was the youngest of five siblings. His father Arthur Barrett was a prominent pathologist and both he and his wife Winifred encouraged the young Roger (as he was then) in his music. Barrett acquired the nickname "Syd" at the age of 15, a reference to an old local Cambridge drummer, Sid Barrett. Syd changed the spelling in order to differentiate himself from his namesake.
Pink Floyd years (1965–1968)
Pink Floyd (originally called "The Tea Set," "The Abdabs," "The Screaming Abdabs," and "The Megadeaths" before Syd joined and created the name "The Pink Floyd Sound" then later "The Pink Floyd") was formed in 1965. It is generally recognized that he derived the name "Pink Floyd" juxtapositioning the first names of Pink Anderson and Floyd Council he had read about in a sleevenote by Paul Oliver for a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller LP (Philips BBL-7512): "Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, (...) Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys."
While the band began by playing cover versions of American R&B songs (much in the same vein as contemporaries The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and The Kinks), by 1966 they had carved out their own style of improvised rock and roll, which drew as much from improvised jazz as it did from British pop-rock, such as that championed by the Beatles. In that year, a new rock concert venue, the UFO, opened in London and quickly became a haven for British psychedelic music. Pink Floyd became their most popular attraction, and, after making appearances at the rival Roundhouse, became the most popular musical group of the so-called "London Underground" psychedelic music scene.
By the end of 1966, Pink Floyd had gained a reliable management team in Andrew King and Peter Jenner. The duo soon befriended American expatriate Joe Boyd, who was actively making a name for himself as one of the more important entrepreneurs on the British music scene. Boyd produced a recording session for the group in January 1967 at Sound Techniques in Chelsea, which resulted in a demo of the single "Arnold Layne". King and Jenner took the song to the recording behemoth EMI, who were impressed enough to offer the band a contract, under which they would be allowed to record an album. The band accepted. By the time the album was released, "Arnold Layne" had reached #21 on the British singles charts (despite a ban by the BBC) and a follow-up single, "See Emily Play" had sold even better, peaking at #6.
These first two singles, as well as a third ("Apples and Oranges"), were written by Syd Barrett. Barrett wrote most of the Floyd's early material, and was the principal visionary/author of their critically acclaimed 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Of the 11 songs on Piper, Barrett wrote eight and co-wrote another two. He was also an innovative guitarist, exploring the musical and sonic possibilities of dissonance, distortion, feedback, and the echo machine; his experimentation was partly inspired by free improvisation guitarist Keith Rowe . One of Barrett's trademarks was playing his Fender Esquire guitar by sliding a Zippo lighter up and down the fret-board through an old echo box to create the mysterious, otherworldly sounds that became associated with the group.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was recorded intermittently between January and July 1967, much of that time in the studio right next door to recording sessions for the Beatles' landmark album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. When Piper was released in August of that year, it became a smash hit in the UK, hitting #6 on the British album charts (the album was not nearly so successful in the USA). However, as the band began to attract a large fanbase, the pressures placed on Barrett contributed to him experiencing increasing psychiatric illness.
Barrett's behaviour became increasingly unpredictable, partly as a consequence of frequent experimentation with psychedelic drugs such as LSD. Many report seeing him on stage with the group, strumming on one chord through the entire concert, or not playing at all. At a show at The Filmore West in San Francisco, during a performance of "Interstellar Overdrive," Barrett slowly detuned his guitar, the audience seemed to enjoy such antics, unaware of the rest of the band's consternation. At another show Waters remembered Barrett putting hair gel (purportedly mixed with crushed Mandrax) on to his head which subsequently melted down his face under the heat of the stage lighting. However Nick Mason has disputed this, stating in the Barrett biography 'Madcap,' "Syd would never waste good mandies."
Following a disastrous abridged tour of the United States, David Gilmour (a school friend of Barrett's) was asked to join the band as a second guitarist in order to cover for Barrett as Barrett's erratic behaviour prevented him from performing. For a handful of shows David played and sang while Barrett wandered around on stage, occasionally deigning to join in playing. The other band members soon tired of Barrett's antics, and 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 untenable.
There are many stories about Barrett's bizarre and intermittently psychotic behaviour - many of which are undoubtedly apocryphal, although some are known to be true. According to Roger Waters, Barrett came into what was to be their last practice session with a new song he had dubbed "Have You Got It, Yet?" The song seemed simple enough when he first presented it to his bandmates, but it soon became impossibly difficult to learn: as they were practicing it, Barrett kept changing the arrangement. He would then play it again, with the arbitrary changes, and sing "Have you got it yet?" After more than an hour of trying to "get it," they realised they never would.
Barrett did not contribute any material to the band after A Saucerful of Secrets was released in 1968. Of the songs he recorded with Pink Floyd after Piper, only one ("Jugband Blues") made it to the band's second album; one became a less-than-successful single ("Apples and Oranges"), and two others were never officially released ("Scream Thy Last Scream" and "Vegetable Man"). Barrett supposedly spent some time outside the recording studio, waiting to be invited in (he also showed up to a few gigs and glared at Gilmour), it's possible that his contributions to the album (guitar on some of the tracks) were included as a concession to him. In March 1968 it was officially announced that he was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.
Solo years (1968–1972)
After leaving Pink Floyd, Barrett distanced himself from the public eye. However, at the behest of EMI and Harvest Records, he did have a brief solo career, releasing two mercurial solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. Much controversy has risen around the production work - which left Barrett's more vulnerable moments on tape to give the records a more "authentic" feel - but many feel the treatment does Barrett few favours and instead takes advantage of his fragile condition. Much of the material on both albums dates from Barrett's most productive period of songwriting, late 1966 - mid 1967, and it is believed that he wrote few new songs after he left Pink Floyd.
The first album, The Madcap Laughs, was recorded in two distinct sessions, both at Abbey Road Studios: a few tentative sessions took place between May and June 1968 (produced first by Peter Jenner and then by Malcolm Jones), while the bulk of the album was recorded between April and July 1969 (produced by David Gilmour and Roger Waters). This album offers an insight into Barrett's state of mind at the time; tracks such as "Dark Globe," have been seen as first-person narratives of schizophrenia. A few tracks on the album feature overdubs by members of the band Soft Machine.
The second album, Barrett, was recorded more sporadically than the first, with sessions taking place between February and July 1970. This effort sounds more polished than the first, but Barrett was arguably in a worse state. The album was produced by David Gilmour and featured Gilmour on bass guitar, Rick Wright on keyboard and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley.
Despite the numerous recording dates for his two solo albums, Barrett undertook very little musical activity between 1968 and 1972 outside the studio. On 24 February 1970, he appeared on John Peel's BBC radio programme Top Gear playing five songs - only one of which had been previously released. Three would be re-recorded for the Barrett album, while the song Two of a Kind was a one-off performance. (The song appears on the 2001 greatest hits album The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me?.) Barrett was accompanied on this session by David Gilmour and Jerry Shirley who played bass and percussion, respectively.
Gilmour and Shirley also backed Barrett for his one and only live concert during this period. The gig took place on 6 June 1970 at the Olympia Exhibition Hall, London, and was part of a "Music and Fashion Festival". The trio performed four songs, playing for less than half an hour, and due to poor mixing, the vocals were inaudible until part-way through the last number. At the end of the fourth song, Barrett unexpectedly but politely put down his guitar and walked off the stage.
Syd Barrett made one last appearance on BBC Radio, recording three songs at their studios on 16 February 1971. All three came from the Barrett album, and were presumably aired to encourage people to buy the record. At this stage, though, Barrett seemed to have little interest in recording music, and even less interest in performing it live. After this session, he would take a hiatus from his music career that lasted more than a year. He was said to have eaten a horses head as a joke.
Later years (1972-2006)
In 1972, Barrett formed a short-lived band called Stars with ex-Pink Fairies member Twink on drums and Jack Monck on bass. Though the band was initially well-received, one of their gigs at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge proved to be disastrous and Barrett decided to leave soon afterwards.
In 1974, Peter Jenner convinced Barrett to return to Abbey Road Studios in hope of recording another album. However, little became of the sessions, which lasted three days and consisted of blues rhythm tracks with tentative and disjointed guitar overdubs (the only titled track is the intriguing "If You Go, Don't Be Slow"). Once again, Barrett withdrew from the music industry. He sold the rights to his solo albums back to the record label, moved into a London hotel and when the money ran out he walked back to Cambridge to live in his mother's basement. Further attempts to bring him back (including one endeavour by The Damned who wanted him to produce their second album) were all fruitless. Up until his death, Barrett still received royalties from his work with Pink Floyd from each compilation and some of the live albums and singles that had featured his songs; Gilmour has commented that he "[made] sure the money [got] to him alright."
The Wish You Were Here sessions
Syd Barrett had one noted reunion with Pink Floyd, in 1975 during the recording sessions for Wish You Were Here. Barrett attended the Abbey Road session unannounced and watched the band record Shine On You Crazy Diamond — coincidentally, a song about him. At that time, Syd had gained a lot of weight and had shaved off all of his hair, including his eyebrows, and his ex-bandmates did not at first recognise him (one of the photographs in Nick Mason's book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd appears to have been taken that day; it is captioned simply: Syd Barrett, 5th June 1975). Eventually, they realised who he was and Roger Waters was so distressed that he was reduced to tears. Members of the band also reported on their featured VH1 episode of Behind The Music that Barrett held a toothbrush and attempted to brush his teeth by holding the brush still and jumping up and down. A reference to this reunion appears in the film Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), where the character 'Pink,' played by Bob Geldof, shaves off his eyebrows after succumbing to the pressures of life and fame.
In an interview for VH1, Rick Wright spoke about the session, saying: "One thing that really stands out in my mind, that I'll never forget; I was going in to the the Shine On sessions. I went in the studio and I saw this guy sitting at the back of the studio, he was only as far away as you are from me. And I didn't recognise him. I said, 'Who's that guy behind you?' 'That's Syd.' And I just cracked up, I couldn't believe it... he had shaven all his hair off... I mean, his eyebrows, everything... he was jumping up and down brushing his teeth, it was awful. And, uh, I was in, I mean Roger was in tears, I think I was; we were both in tears. It was very shocking... seven years of no contact and then to walk in while we're actually doing that particular track. I don't know – coincidence, karma, fate, who knows? But it was very, very, very powerful." In another interview, Nick Mason has said: "When I think about it, I can still see his eyes, but... it was everything else that was different." In yet another interview, Roger Waters has said: "I had no idea who he was for a very long time."
In 1988, EMI Records released an album of Barrett's studio outtakes and previously unreleased material recorded from 1968 to 1970 under the title Opel. In 1993 it issued another release, Crazy Diamond, a box set of all three albums, each loaded with further out-takes from his solo sessions that illustrated vividly Barrett's inability or refusal to play a song the same way twice. 
EMI also released The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me? in the UK on April 16, 2001, and in the United States on September 11, 2001. This was the first time his song "Bob Dylan Blues" was ever officially released, taken from a demo tape that David Gilmour had kept after an early 70s recording session. Also worthy of mention is the bootleg collection Have You Got It Yet?, a 19-disc audio/visual compilation composed of several live performances of Barrett both solo and with Pink Floyd, containing some versions considered superior to those that were officially released. Among the main attractions of the collection are tracks for his never-released third album. There are also interviews with other Pink Floyd members, video footage and covers from other artists.
According to a 2005 profile by his biographer Tim Willis, Barrett, who had reverted to using his original name of Roger, continued to live in his late mother's semi-detached home in Cambridge, and had returned to his original art-form of painting, creating large abstract canvases. He was also said to have been an avid gardener. His main point of contact with the outside world was his sister, Rosemary, who lived nearby. While reclusive, it was his physical health that prompted most concern, being afflicted with stomach ulcers and type two diabetes.
Although Barrett had not appeared or spoken in public since the mid-1970s, time did little to diminish interest in his life and work; reporters and fans still travelled to Cambridge to seek him out, despite his attempts to live a quiet life, and many photos from the 1980s to the present of Barrett being annoyed by paparazzi when walking or biking to the store had been published in various places. A planned screen biography entitled "Crazy Diamond," which was to have been produced by Ridley Scott and directed by former Pink Floyd collaborator Peter Medak from a script by Ted Shuttleworth, ran into legal and rights issues and was shelved indefinitely.
Apparently, Barrett was not happy being reminded about his past as a musician and the other members of Pink Floyd had no direct contact with him. However, he did go to his sister's house in 2002 to watch the BBC Omnibus documentary made about him – reportedly he found some of it "too noisy", though he's said to have enjoyed hearing "See Emily Play" again.
There has been much speculation concerning the psychological well-being of Syd Barrett. Many believe he suffered from schizophrenia, though he didn't totally fit the typical profile for that condition. Additionally, some have suggested that Barrett had traits associated with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition most often placed on the autism spectrum.
Barrett's use of recreational drugs, especially LSD, during the 1960s is well-documented. Some believe that Barrett's drug use helped trigger (or at the very least inflame) his mental illness. In an article published in 2006, Gilmour was quoted as saying: "In my opinion, his breakdown would have happened anyway. It was a deep-rooted thing. But I'll say the psychedelic experience might well have acted as a catalyst. Still, I just don't think he could deal with the vision of success and all the things that went with it."
There is also the possibility that the sudden death of his father (a respected pathologist) when he was 11 caused him considerable anguish and left emotional scars that probably sowed some of the seeds of his later malaise. The subject matter of a lot of his songs, the nursery rhymes and fairy tale fantasies, were reminiscent for him of a "happier" period of his childhood before his father's passing.
Many artists have acknowledged Barrett's influence on their work. Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend were early fans; Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Brian Eno, and The Damned all expressed interest in working with him at some point during the 1970s. In fact, Bowie recorded a cover of "See Emily Play" on his 1973 album Pin Ups. On a VH1 program, honoring rock bands and artists, Pete Townshend gave a speech honoring Syd Barrett, and telling a story where he told Eric Clapton that he had to come see this guy play, who was Barrett. Townshend called Barrett legendary. Syd was one of Townshend's many influences, along with John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and even Joe Walsh. Syd as guitarist was remarkable for his free-form style in playing chords (and not the echo, the tapes or the effects); his rhythmic guitar, as well as his minimalist and dissonant solos, can be seen as a major influence on punk, post-punk and grunge guitarists.
Barrett's decline had a profound effect on Roger Waters' song-writing, and the theme of mental illness would permeate Pink Floyd's later albums, particularly 1973's Dark Side of the Moon and 1979's The Wall. One track from Dark Side of the Moon, entitled Brain Damage, contained a specific reference to Barrett's mental illness. A later line in the song references "the band you're in starts playing different tunes," which is a situation Barrett often got into when suffering from the symptoms of his mental illness. Wish You Were Here (1975) was a conscious tribute to Barrett. Other artists that have written tributes to Barrett include his contemporary Kevin Ayers (of the Soft Machine), who wrote the song "Oh Wot a Dream" as a tribute (Barrett provided guitar to an early version of Ayers' "Singing a Song in the Morning"). Barrett fan Robyn Hitchcock is repeatedly compared to Barrett, has covered many of his songs live and on record, and has paid homage to his forebearer with the songs "The Man Who Invented Himself" and "(Feels Like) 1974." The Television Personalities track "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" from their 1978 album And don't the kids love it is another well-known tribute, apparently based on fact.
R.E.M. has covered the haunting "Dark Globe", as have Soundgarden, Placebo and Lost and Profound. The Smashing Pumpkins have covered "Terrapin." Gary Lucas and Voivod have covered "Astronomy Domine". The Industrial collective Rx composed of Kevin Ogilvie (Nivek Ogre) and Martin Atkins have recorded a version of "The Scarecrow." At the Drive-In's frontmen (now the main members of The Mars Volta) covered "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" and have claimed that they tried constantly to emulate The Piper at the Gates of Dawn's sound in their music. Slowdive covered "Golden Hair," which was a Syd Barrett version of the poem by James Joyce, on their EP "Holding Our Breath." Phish has performed several Barrett solo songs in concert, including "Love You," "Terrapin", "Baby Lemonade," "It's No Good Trying," and the Piper at the Gates of Dawn track "Bike."
Other artists/bands that have claimed influence and/or covered Barrett's work include Étienne Daho, This Mortal Coil, Marc Bolan, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Robert Smith (of The Cure), Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths), Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine), Primal Scream, Voivod (band), The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things, The Beta Band, Lone Pigeon, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, The Flaming Lips, REM, Mercury Rev, Replicants (featuring former members of Tool and Failure), East Bay Ray (of the Dead Kennedys), Camper Van Beethoven, Voivod, The Three O'Clock, Pearl Jam, Love and Rockets, Elevator To Hell, The Melvins, Transatlantic, Phish, Dream Theater, Graham Coxon (formerly of Blur), John Frusciante (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Eppo, Skobot Bzzzz, and the Vinyl Skyway.
Most bands in the Elephant 6 collective, such as Of Montreal, have a very distinct Barrett influence in their music, and Italian group Jennifer Gentle (named after a line from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn's "Lucifer Sam") emulates the sound of Piper and Barrett's solo work.
- Barrett is portrayed briefly in the opening scene of Tom Stoppard's play Rock 'n' Roll (2006) but his life and music (including the disastrous Cambridge Corn Exchange concert and his later reclusive lifestyle) are a recurring motif in the work.
- Syd Barrett is the subject of the Television Personalities song I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives.
Albums with Pink Floyd
Compilations with Pink Floyd
- Relics (14 May 1971) #34 UK, #152 US
- Works (1983)
- Shine On (1992 box set)
- Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (5 November 2001) #2 UK, #2 US
- Syd Barrett (November 1974) US #163: The Madcap Laughs and Barrett packaged together
- Crazy Diamond (April 1993): Boxed set with all three studio albums with bonus tracks
- The Best of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me? (16 April 2001): Contains one previously unreleased track ("Bob Dylan Blues")
- ? EMI Records Ltd., "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" cassette insert.
- Julian Palacios, Lost In The Woods: Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd (Boxtree, 1997) ISBN 0752223283
- Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson, Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of "Pink Floyd" ISBN 0711988358 (includes some of Barrett's paintings).
- Tim Willis, Madcap: The half-life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's lost genius" (Short Books, 2002) ISBN 1-904095-24-0
- You shone like the sun - Syd Barrett biography and "interview" in The Observer, October 2002.
- Have You Got It Yet? - Fan Compilation of CDs and VCDs.
- Dolly Rocker - The legend of Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett.
- VegetableFriends - The original Syd Barrett & Robyn Hitchcock Discussion Group
- syd-barrett.it - in English (fansite)
- sydbarrett.net - Comprehensive fansite, regularly updated with an active forum.
- sydbarrett.org - In-depth fansite, forum, plus a New Syd Barrett Appreciation Society.