My Syd Barrett
Web Page
by "Toker_Smurf"

[from" ]

The Rush

Roger Keith Barrett was born in Cambridge on Jan 6,
1946. He had a natural talent for the arts, mostly
painting, but even at a young age he was already
showing a rebellious streak. To combat this his parents
bought him a banjo at the age of 11 after he seemed
inspired by his older brothers skiffle group.
Unfortunately his father died when Syd was only 12,
which some say was a contributing factor to Syd's later
mental breakdown.

He went to school at Cambridge High School for boys,
where he met future Floyd member George 'Roger' Waters.
Barrett's musical talents progressed to an acoustic
guitar by the age of 14, after many requests to his
mother. By the age of 15, Barrett had joined a band
called Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, along side Geoff
Mott, Clive Welham and Roger Waters. Around this time
Roger Barrett picked up the nick-name Syd after a local
jazz drummer called Sid Barrett.

It is also around this time that he was introduced to
the I-Ching or 'book of changes', an ancient book of
Chinese predictions. Many beleive that this interest in
the I-Ching influenced Syd very deeply, and he
certainly found time to study it, over the following
years. Evidence of this is found in a song he was to
write later, called "Chapter 24", the lyrics of which
were taken almost directly from the I-Ching.

He went on to Cambridge Technical College to study art,
where he first met David Gilmour. Ironically, Syd and
David would often practice guitar together and found
they had similar styles. By 1964 at the age of 18, Syd
decided to move to London to study painting at
Camberwell Art School. Whilst staying in London, Syd
shared a flat with his old friend Roger Waters, which
had previously been home to Nick Mason and Rick Wright.
No one had any idea that these three were soon to
become very important in Syd's life.

After spending most of their grant money on instruments
and equipment, Waters,Wright and Mason formed a
succession of bands, with various other artists. The
line ups changed on a semi-regular basis, as did the
names. Some of these were strange sounding, fanciful
names like: - Sigma 6; T-Set; the Meggadeaths; The
Architectural Abdabs; The Screaming Abdabs; the owner
of the flat, Mike Leonard even got a mention with
Leonards Lodgers.

Eventually Barret, Waters, Wright, and Mason formed a
group, which Syd suggested they call the Pink Floyd.
The name is said to have come from a couple records in
Syd's collection, two American blues musicians called
Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. This name was to
change quite often, from 'Pink Floyd' to 'The Pink
Floyd' to 'The Pink Floyd Sound' and eventually back
again. The name may have been changing however they
were begining to make a name for themselves.....

The High

The Pink Floyd developed a very experimental style with
songs like 'Interstelar Overdrive' and 'Astronomy
Domine', which attracted a very underground audience.
Syd was more a part of the underground scene than the
rest of the band, who insisted they not be "pidgeon
holed". Syd found people around him becoming more
involved in spirituality, especially the 'Path of
Enlightened Masters' or Sant Mat. He tried on two
occasions to become involved with this group but
nothing come of it. Many people believe this to be the
second major blow to Syd's moral (after his fathers
death), he did not however let his emotions about this
rejection, be seen. After all things were just getting

In Oct 1966 they got a regular weekly gig at the London
Free School's 'Sound and Light Workshop' in, Notting
Hill. Here, two Americans, Joel and Toni Brown from Tim
Leary's Millbrook Institute, projected slides over them
and thus began idea of a lightshow to accompany the

Pink Floyd were pulling huge crowds, most of which were
in to the 'underground' scene. So when Europe's first
underground newspaper, the "International Times" (IT)
was launched at a huge party in the London Roundhouse,
the Floyd were automatically invited to play. The Floyd
played with moving liquid slides projected over
themselves and the audience of almost 3,000 people.
Most of which had taken huge amounts of LSD and were
wearing kaftans, beads, bells body paints and such

On Oct 31, 1966 the Floyd plus Pete Jenner and Andrew
King set up Blackhill Enterprises as a six-way
partnership to manage the group. In November they got
in Joe Gannon to handle their lights because the
Brown's had returned to Millbrook.

Soon there was the begining of the UFO Club evenings,
held every Friday night in an Irish Ballroom on
Tottenham Court Road. UFO was to become the 'in' club
of the London underground scene. The Floyd got the
music and lights contract and eventually became the
resident house band. Less than a month later, the
musical director of UFO, Joe Boyd, produced their first
single -'Arnold Layne'. It was about a transvestite who
stole ladies underwear from washing-lines, and despite
being banned by the pirate station Radio London, it
reached No. 25 in the U.K. charts. This however
disturbed the fans of the 'underground' scene, as they
felt that the term 'underground' meant non-commmercial.
But once again the Floyd refused to be 'pidgeon holed'
as 'underground' anyway.

Barrett had naturally taken control of the group at
this point. His lead guitar sound was distinctive, and
he wrote most of their material. They signed to EMI for
a 5,000 advance, quite a lot for its time, but one of
the conditions was that they drop Boyd and use a staff
producer, Norman Smith. Barrett wrote new material
including See Emily Play (previously titled - Games For
May), the song was issued as a single. By July it was
at No. 6 in U.K. charts. They appeared on 'Top Of The
Pops' and were well on their way to becoming a big
group. Their first album, The Piper At The Gates Of
Dawn was released the following month and 10 out of the
11 songs on the album, were written by Barrett. He was
even responsible for the drawing on the back sleeve.

Two hit Singles under their belt, a large following and
an album in the shops. Things should have been perfect
for the Pink Floyd, yet there was trouble brewing.
Barrett was now deeply involved in the psychedelic side
of the underground. He was taking large amounts of LSD
and drawing the inspiration for much of his playing and
writing from it. The people around him were becoming
worried. His theory seemed to be - "If in doubt, take
another tab of acid", and this was causing him to
become very unpredictable...

The Comedown

While rest of the band had always been more into booze
than drugs, Barrett was now deeply involved in the
psychedelic side of the underground taking large
amounts of LSD and drawing the inspiration for much of
his playing and writing from it. He eventually became
very unpredictable, and on some gigs would only stand
and stare at the audience while simply strumming the
same chord over and over. On an appearance on 'Top of
the Pops' Syd refused to mime to 'See Emily Play' and
stood perfectly still throughout the performance. There
are many stories about his behaviour during this time
but it all meant the same thing: Syd was becoming yet
another acid casualty.

The Pink Floyd's third single 'Apples And Oranges' was
released in the Nov. It did not do well and things were
getting totally out of hand with Barrett. With this
they realised they had no choice but to make changes.
The band decided to get Syd's old friend, Dave Gilmour
to play guitar in Syds place. Eventually on 26 Jan did
not to pick him up on the way to a gig. Gilmour
officially joined the Floyd on Feb 18, 1968. The idea
was to keep Syd on as a songwriter, and have Gilmour do
the live and studio work in Syds place. Syd Barrett
officially left Pink floyd on Apr 6 1968, although he
had not performed live since 20 Jan.

Work began on Syd's first solo album 'The MadCap
Laughs' barely a month later. Recording at Abbey Road,
Syd was still under EMI, who had believed Syd to be the
better investment. During these recording sessions at
EMI, Peter Jenner (Syds manager), began to feel that
Syd's behaviour was more than a little eccentric. After
recording only a few tracks the sessions were abandoned
and were not resumed until Apr 1969. For the recording
of the final songs, the members of Pink Floyd were
brought in to produce. This strange situation was to
continue with Gilmour and Barrett working on many
peices. 'MadCap' was not released until Jan 1970. The
second solo album 'Barrett' was released later the same

Both albums sold well but Syd was now in a state a
disrepair and it was unlikely he was going to come
through it. His world was crumbling and there was very
little he could do about it. Syd was increasingly
distant and had very little enthusiasm about anything
including his music. For the previous couple of months
Syd had been unsure of his place in life, and was
contemplating returning to Cambridge. He was engaged to
Gala Pinion on Oct 1st 1970, and it is reported that,
half way through the engagement party, he went to the
bathroom and cut his long hair off. This would appear
to be a symbolic gesture, showing he now wished to fall
away from stardom and settle down.

However there is a very well known story that around 5
years later, whilst the Floyd were recording "Shine On
You Crazy Diamond" for their "Wish You Were Here"
album, Syd walked into the studio. It is said that the
band did not recognise Syd, due to gaining a few needed
Kg's and having no hair, but it is un-canny that he
should turn up un-announced that afternoon. The Pink
Floyd had decided to write the song in thanks to Syd
and to highlight his glory as singer, song-writer and
pure diamond.

Although he did continue to work on the odd occasion it
was obvious his heart was no longer in it. He did
release one further album in 1988 'Opel', which did
well but perhaps he felt that his time had passed. He
now lives in Cambridge and seems quite content to
return to some form of normality.

Shine on Roger...................................
the craziest diamond of them all............. Hope you are happy!!