Syd Barrett

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Syd Barrett

Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (born January 6, 1946 in Cambridge , † July 7, 2006 ibid) was a British guitarist , singer and songwriter . He was co-founder and creative head of the band Pink Floyd until he had to leave it in 1968 due to the onset of mental health problems. After releasing two more solo albums, he withdrew from the public in the mid-1970s. Today he is considered a pioneer of psychedelic rock and space rock because of his expressive guitar playing and his imaginative compositions .


Syd Barrett was an eccentric art student who played guitar and sang. His first band was Geoff Mott and the Mottoes in Cambridge in 1962. They rehearsed often in the Barrett family's large living room after his mother converted the house into a boarding house after his father's death. These recording sessions were often attended by Syd's older school friend, Roger Waters .

Barrett invented the band name "Pink Floyd". The first two Pink Floyd singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play as well as the debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) were made largely under Barrett's influence. During his time with Pink Floyd, Barrett first experienced drugs, especially LSD . According to the other band members, genius and madness were close to one another; the threshold was now exceeded more and more frequently by drug use. In addition, after the first commercial successes, the band was under pressure to write more hits.

As Barrett became more and more unreliable in terms of studio work and performances, the other band members decided in early 1968 to include their friend David Gilmour as an additional guitarist and singer in the band, in order to be able to perform despite Barrett's unpredictability. Syd Barrett's progressive loss of reality finally led to the termination of the collaboration. The last concert of the five-piece Pink Floyd took place on January 20, 1968 at Hastings Pier in Hastings, Sussex. Pink Floyd's separation from Barrett became officially known on April 6, 1968. David Gilmour says he has a guilty conscience to this day because he replaced Barrett in the band. The two guitarists had been friends who had taught each other to play the guitar. Waters also felt guilty about Barrett's dismissal. Pink Floyd then supported Barrett financially.

After being kicked out of Pink Floyd, Barrett began recording his own songs as a solo artist with the help of first Pink Floyd managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King, who continued to believe in his talent. After the release of two albums ( The Madcap Laughs and Barrett) , further recordings failed because of his mental health problems, which his steadily increasing drug use made worse. Barrett finally wavered between an absolutely chaotic behavior and total lethargy , there was also a clear loss of reality.

His last studio recordings date from November 1974. During the recording of the Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here , Barrett appeared in the studio to the surprise of the band, and so outwardly changed that they did not recognize him at first. The songs Wish You Were Here and Shine On You Crazy Diamond , which were written before it was released, are dedicated to him. In the mid-1970s, Syd Barrett retired from the rock business. He decided to move from London and return to Cambridge to live in seclusion with his mother. He gave his last interview in 1973. After his mother's death in 1991, he lived alone. This behavior gave birth to the myth that had grown around Syd Barrett. The fans were downright eager to report on their alleged Syd sightings . The Television Personalities have about the song I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives written. He died on July 7th, 2006 of cancer .

The musician and songwriter

Barrett composed pop songs that were groundbreaking for psychedelic rock music through unusual melodic and harmonic turns. He combined rock music with visual effects; under his leadership, Pink Floyd developed the first light show tailored to the music of a band. The first Pink Floyd appearances are therefore among the early examples of multimedia shows in rock music.

Barrett wrote almost all of the song material for the first Pink Floyd LP The Piper at the Gates of Dawn . A wide variety of musical influences stand side by side in his songs. Pieces like Matilda Mother are inspired by old nursery rhymes, while Here I Go , which was later made solo, has similarities with music hall songs. The probably best-known Barrett piece Astronomy Domine uses unusual chord depressions , which are neither comparable with blues cadences nor with pop songs from the time (chord sequence: E major E flat major G major A major). In this song Barrett also uses a slide guitar: "He transformed the slide guitar (which was previously mostly associated with the blues from the Mississippi Delta) into an inventory of the typically English dream landscapes of the Floyd." (Nicholas Schaffner). Barrett also shows the use of the echo box, which creates ghostly sound images in solo passages.

Barrett and the early Pink Floyd took advantage of the influences of American groups that moved in the mid-1960s between blues, modal jazz and early psychedelic borrowings. Here about who would Byrds or the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to name that is different from the world music experiments by jazz musicians like Yusef Lateef or John Coltrane were inspired and in pieces such as East West or Eight Miles High first oriental-style modal scales with Phrygian mode used . Matilda Mother's organ solo , for example, is based on such scales. Many Barrett songs are based on succinct guitar figures , which are nevertheless easy to implement in a playful way: Quart fingerings in golden hair or picking figures with open strings at the beginning of Matilda Mother .

After his separation from Pink Floyd, Barrett made two solo albums with The Madcap Laughs and Barrett , which, due to his drug problem, had production defects, but still demonstrated his strengths as a songwriter. Barrett was supported in his solo projects by Pink Floyd members Gilmour and Waters, who (sometimes without his participation) put together the final songs from the recorded fragments. The almost chamber music implementation of Golden Hair , a poem by James Joyce , or the piece Dominoes , which is reminiscent of Happy Together by the Turtles , are perhaps among the most important examples of Barrett's later music.

Reception and importance in pop culture

Although long since retired from the professional musical life, Barrett and his music experienced a kind of revival in the 1980s. Numerous musicians in the field between independent rock and experimental new wave cited him as a formative influence. On the LPs Beyond the Wildwood - A Tribute to Syd Barrett and Fuck Your Dreams, This Is Heaven (soundtrack to the film of the same name) musicians and bands such as Paul Roland and Minimal Compact presented their own versions of his songs. The Dark Globe cover version of the American cult band REM , which was published as a 7 ″ single in a flex version (much sought after by collectors) in SASSY magazine in 1990, is also very well known . Furthermore, Dark Globe is included in Germany in 1993 on the REM maxi CD single Everybody Hurts . Another version of this title has been recorded by the British formation Placebo . In 2008 well-known musicians - including his former bandmates from Pink Floyd and Roger Waters as solo artists - came together to hold a tribute concert .


With Pink Floyd


Singles and EPs

  • 1967: Arnold Layne / Candy and a Currant Bun (7 ″ single), on Columbia (DB 8156)
  • 1967: See Emily Play / Scarecrow (7 ″ single), on Columbia (DB 8214)
  • 1967: See Emily Play / Scarecrow / Arnold Layne / Candy and a Currant Bun (7 ″ -EP), on La Voz De Su Amo (EPL 14,377)
  • 1967: Flaming / The Gnome (7 ″ single), on Tower (378)
  • 1967: Apples and Oranges / Paint Box (7 ″ single), on Columbia (DB 8310)
  • 1967: Mathilda Mother (7 ″ acetate single), on Emidisc
  • 1968: Let There Be More Light / Remember a Day (7 ″ promo single), on Tower (440) and Odeon (OR-2367)


  • 1968: Tonite Let's All Make Love in London (LP), soundtrack to the film by Peter Whitehead , on Instant Records (INLP 002)
  • 1990: Tonite Let's All Make Love in London ... Plus (LP, CD), extended soundtrack for the film by Peter Whitehead, on See For Miles Records (SEEK 258)
  • 1997: Pink Floyd / 1967: The First 3 Singles (CD), on EMI (CDEMD 1117)



  • 1970: The Madcap Laughs (LP), on Harvest (SHVL 765)
  • 1970: Barrett (LP), on Harvest (SHSP 4007) or Odeon (OP-80173)
  • 1988: Opel (LP), on Harvest (SHSP 4126), Capitol Records (CI-91206) and EMI (064 7 91206 1)
  • 2004: The Radio One Sessions (CD), on Strange Fruit (SFRSCD127)

Singles and EPs

  • 1969: Octopus / Golden Hair (7 ″ single), on Harvest (HAR 5009)
  • 1988: Wouldn't You Miss Me (Dark Globe) (12 ″ promo single), on Capitol Records (SPRO-79606)
  • 1988: The Peel Sessions (12 ″ -EP), recorded on February 24, 1970 on Strange Fruit (SFPS043)
  • 1993: Crazy Diamond (7 ″ -EP), on Capitol Records (NR 7243 8 58186 7)


  • 1974: The Madcap Laughs / Barrett (2LP), on Harvest (SHDW 404)
  • 1992: Octopus. The Best Of (CD), on Cleopatra (CLEO 57712)
  • 1993: Crazy Diamond - The Complete Syd Barrett (3CD), on Harvest (SYD BOX 1, 0777 7 81412 2 8)
  • 2001: The Best Of Syd Barrett - Wouldn't You Miss Me? (CD), on Harvest, Capitol Records and EMI (7243 5 32320 2 3)
  • 2010: An Introduction to Syd Barrett (CD), on Harvest, Capitol Records and EMI (50999 9 07736 2 4, TOCP-70882)

With The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band (also stars )

  • 2014: Six Hour Technicolor Dream (CD), on Easy Action, with Fred Frith as a guest at the band's jam session at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, Great Britain on January 27, 1972


  • 1967: Tonite Lets All Make Love in London by Peter Whitehead
  • 1994: London 66–67 (VHS, PAL), at See For Miles Films Ltd. (PFVP1), outtakes from Tonite Lets All Make Love in London
  • 1994: Syd Barrett's First Trip (VHS, PAL, DVD), on Vexfilms and MVD Visual (DR-2780)
  • 2003: The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story (DVD), on Voiceprint (USD473) and Slam Dunk Media (SDMD2016), UK: platinumplatinum
  • 2006: Under Review (DVD), on Chrome Dreams (DVD - CVIS398)


  • Julian Palacios: Lost in the Woods: Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd. 1997, ISBN 0-7522-2328-3 .
  • Mike Watkinson, Pete Anderson: Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett and the Dawn of "Pink Floyd". ISBN 0-7119-8835-8 (contains some reprints of Barrett's paintings).
  • David Parker: Random Precision: Recording the Music of Syd Barrett, 1965-1974 . 2001, ISBN 1-901447-25-1 .
  • Nicholas Schaffner: Pink Floyd: from underground to rock icon. Revised and updated new edition (translated from the American), Hannibal, Höfen 2004, ISBN 3-85445-248-9 .
  • Michele Mari: Mr. Pink Floyd. Roman (translated by Birte Völker), Munich: Elke Heidenreich, 2011, ISBN 3-570-58026-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wieland Harms: The Unplugged Guitar Book. 20 of the most beautiful songs for acoustic guitar. Gerig Music, ISBN 3-87252-249-3 , p. 34.
  2. ^ A b Daily Mail article from July 12, 2006
  3. Obituary on of July 11, 2006 ( Memento of the original of October 10, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Barry Miles, Pink Floyd, The Early Years , Chapter 5, p. 94, ISBN 978-3-85445-278-2 , p. 200.
  5. Syd Barrett (top right) with Pink Floyd in 1968 shortly before the separation
  6. Syd Barrett in the Abbey Road studio while recording in 1975
  7. ^ Obituary to Zeit-Online from July 12, 2006
  9. tribute concert
  10. Dave Swanson, 'Lost' Syd Barrett Recordings To Be Released in: Ultimate Classic Rock, January 22, 2014
  11. Music Sales Awards: UK