Syd Barrett, troubled genius of Pink Floyd

Dead at 60

Syd Barrett.

Long live PF.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Steve Audio has a nice post with video:…zy.html

After spending sometime re-listening to Roger “Syd” Barrett’s music, the early pop singles; “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, the albums “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “The Madcap Laughs”, I can’t hear any great pieces of pop/rock work, even for its time, neither could I when I first heard them in the early 1980’s. The rock myth is definitely bigger than the music.

What I have a lot of sympathy for is a young 20-year-old “Syd” Barrett in 1966, who had obvious mental problems that were exacerbated by over use of hallucagenics, pressures of rock/pop stardom and being reject by his band/friends with the remarks “Let’s not pick “Syd” up for the gigs”. Who then was turned into a myth by the media and the man’s tragic life being subsequently exploited by Pink Floyd as a means to write rock/pop songs for the albums “Dark side of the moon”, “Wish You were here” and to some extent “The Wall”. I hope Pink Floyd gave “Syd” some royalties for exploiting his tragic life. At least he has Peace at last.

Pop has no shame.



I can’t hear any great pieces of pop/rock work, even for its time, neither could I when I first heard them in the early 1980’s. The rock myth is definitely bigger than the music.

The 80’s is too late for a first listening to get the impact they had at the time. You needed to be there to understand. It was quite different and strangely refreshing at the time. Those songs were not big hits or changed things like wildfire, so in that sense you are right. So, it wasn’t necessarily the pieces themselves, or Sid himself, but the outgrowth that too place afterwards. Bigger than the music? Sure. The tree is always bigger than the seed.

Pink Floyd made sure Sid got paid all his royalties through the years, still getting them and his estate (his mother most likely) should continue to get them. They looked after their old frail friend very well in many more ways that monetary. They paid great tribute to Sid and have always acknowledged his influence. That’s not exploiting.

Sid was one screwed up individual, no doubt. Peace be with him.

Yeah, by all accounts Syd hasn’t suffered financially over the years at all. Remember that every time PF or Roger does a tour, the back catalog gets a sales spike. So Syd, being the primary writer on the first album, benefits from that. His songs feature heavily on Relics too, which has sold a bunch over the years. I’m not saying that PF are saints or anything, but I think it’s a bit tough to portray them as such mercenary opportunists.

Also, by all accounts the band had to make that decision to not pick him up for the gig, because he was barely coherent at the time and was messing up their shows, not even tuning his guitar, not playing along with the tunes etc.

Also, re: their early pop singles, these are not actually a representation of what PF was about at the time. Their impact was based on their live performances which were mainly adventurous improvisations. PF, guided by Syd at that early stage, were truly the first to even go there, at least in London. The closest example of that on Piper is Interstellar Overdrive. It sounds totally dated now but it was absolutely new then. PF are on record at the time as saying that they felt they had to write pop songs (e.g. Arnold Layne) to get radio airplay, but they really just wanted people to come to their live shows and hear what they did there.

I agree that the PF myth is huge and lucrative, but their music was really good too (at least up until the Wall). When Roger made special mention of Syd at Live 8 it was obvious that it was a truly heartfelt tribute.


The tree is always bigger than the seed.

Great line!

The oxen are slow…
But the earth is patient.