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Syd Barrett - The breakdown of Syd as told by his sister and band members - Radio Broadcast 09/06/

May 09, 2020
Five years ago this week, a 1960s icon passed away quietly in suburban Cambridge. Syd Barrett was once the creative heart of the Pink Floyd group, but during their first wave of success in 1976 he suffered a mental


. John Harris now explores the impact of it. about the


of the group and how they managed in Syd Barrett's Twilight world somehow. I hate to see this '60s guy with too much rose-colored glasses, but I think the agenda was completely set since he wrote that he was a huge talent, but he was also very difficult. Sid's intelligence and wit are the things I remember from him busking in St Tropez with him sitting in a tent late at night reading forbidden books.
syd barrett   the breakdown of syd as told by his sister and band members   radio broadcast 09 06
My good memories of him are not really related to music. He was always laughing. Always. He had a big twinkle in his eye when he was a kid. He was very attractive and exceptionally talented. He always had lots and lots of friends. He was very funny. he was just this wonderful, outspoken, flamboyant guy and clearly everyone expected him to get better and everyone was desperately trying to keep him on the bench we all loved him. This is Pink Floyd's Arnold Layne written and sung by the singer and creative. Syd Barrett in April 1967 became his first British hit.
syd barrett   the breakdown of syd as told by his sister and band members   radio broadcast 09 06

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syd barrett the breakdown of syd as told by his sister and band members radio broadcast 09 06...

A former art student Barrett had left his native Cambridge for London's Camberwell Art College in the mid-1960s and was about to be propelled into life as a pop star, a role that didn't sit well with him in On this show, we'll hear how Barrett tragically fell apart through the memories of his former


mates, including one of the last interviews with the late Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, explore how Barrett's drug use shattered his faculties and It resulted in him leaving the group after just one album, but Barrett's shadow loomed over Pink Floyd long after his departure and his self-imposed exile to suburban Cambridge, where he spent the rest of his life in the orbit of his loving family. as rock musicians frantically expanded their horizons in the mid-to-late 1960s.
syd barrett   the breakdown of syd as told by his sister and band members   radio broadcast 09 06
Syd Barrett reveled in experimental music at its best, but also he could write brilliant pop songs that made him a hit. in what was then known as the chart-topping Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner said that he was the lead singer, that he wrote the vast majority of the songs, that he was the lead guitarist, that he was absolutely the heart of the


, which was the Lennon and McCartney of the band, a bit curious, is the Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason. I mean, we played absolutely anything we could learn and we realized that if you had original material, that set the agenda and this mix of styles that Sid had, this rather curious lyric. brooding foki thing and then the very radical kind of interstellar overdrive 'which was really just like a brother ruff Jam that was like that PST resistance in that gate was the instrumental version of interstellar ever dropped but with a dynamic that was quite original in those days rock and roll keyboard player Richard Wright, the riff starts, it came from CID, the rest, whatever night we were playing, it would be different and what I had found. what was interesting about them was what they did, I suspect one called the improv switch, Sid and Rick really led and the others just kept going and scribbling and that seemed like a lot of fun driving to the gigs that it was. so noticeable that all of a sudden all these young men with much longer hair showed up and they will have fooled us and the afghan cows and all the kind of hippie Varma I was probably high at the time but I remember going oh my god what's going on here?
syd barrett   the breakdown of syd as told by his sister and band members   radio broadcast 09 06
We were a band, we weren't afraid to take risks, we didn't want to be your standard showbiz band. us lighting frenzy which was extraordinary, of course, he wanted to be successful and popular, and Sid particularly wanted to be a pop star, but he wanted to do it his own way with a cult that built up around the fascinating music and shows of lights of Pink Floyd and Alma Lane a Barrett's hit record as a lead writer and singer was in demand, he was also surrounded by a new crowd of dubious friends taking copious amounts of mind-altering drugs in his Cromwell Road flat in the West London, so even at this early stage in his musical progress, Sid was causing the other


of Pink Floyd to be concerned, people have different opinions, but I think Sid was with a group of people and believed firmly that they were taking a lot of acid and they would see the truth and all that stuff, I think they were basically taking drugs and and I think that's the main reason for their mental instability.
Pink Floyd's friend and later guitarist, David Gilmour, since his magnetic character attracted a lot of people who, frankly, weren't his equal to him in Anyway, that's all and I'd rather encourage him and provide him with lots of drugs. I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I can't really say what LSD specifically does or what it did to sit down or what exacerbated because we were. very dependent on him at the time you see he was going through all this kind of stress of coming to terms with fame so there's enormous pressure for interviews and people recognize him on the street Sid what's all it means and I think he was just overwhelmed by that as Barrett dealt with the demands of his growing fame.
He also had to cope as primary songwriter with the recording of Pink Floyd's debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in August 1967. By this time, the group had become front men for London's burgeoning counterculture, so As well as trudging the British ballroom circuit as up-and-coming pop stars, they also played rather more exotic engagements like the 14-hour Technicolor dream benefit show in London. Alexandra Palace, if it wasn't a particularly good night for us when we got to the Technicolor dream, we actually had done another show in Holland that same night, so we weren't in the best shape and I think Sid was starting for later, to show off so worn with use, by now Sid had lost his temper.
I don't think he even realized where he was at and was trying to find different ways of coping with what had clearly become a very difficult position for them because it would be things like if he's going to show up to go to the concert as you know what songs he's going to sing due to growing concerns about his erratic behavior Sid was moved away from his Cromwell Road circle of friends to a Richmond flat with band member Richard Wright, we all loved him, he said, and clearly everyone expected improve and everyone was desperately trying to keep him in the band.
Word of his condition had reached the Barrett family in Cambridge and SIDS's mother, Sister Rosemar, was especially concerned. I mean, she was very worried, very worried, but could she do it? She tried to get him seen by a doctor and that sort of thing, but to no avail, I think, because he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he was accepted in his world. Being involved in drugs and therefore being drawn much more to Cambridge and family, there was new pressure on Syd, not least because Pink Floyd's record label EMI wanted a new singles manager, Peter Jana.
Until a recording that includes seeing Emily playing, he may have been different, but still, one was working with him in a way that was reasonably cohesive. I think it became that next summer of '67 that it became more difficult. David Gilmour visited the recording sessions to see Emily play. on his face when I got there they were working and we talked, but he had a very strange look with Sterry eyes that was not friendly, there was something that worried him, he didn't look like the same person and on that particular day I saw a sign of what that it was going to come in the same way you don't realize when you're a kid growing up I didn't realize it's very hard to see that day to day change and I think Dave I'm sure your observation is absolutely correct at that point I was leaning definitely in a weird mental place and was struggling, come on, maybe this was something that happened in waves and it was particularly bad timing, but I'm looking forward to what they were doing.
Seeing Emily play Thank you doesn't seem like too much of a problem so they've been a bit glamorous I feel like he was the charismatic person in the band between all of us he was the star my memory of Sid is that he was a very southern thing when he he went over the line seeing Emily play he hit the top ten in July 1967 and that month Pink Floyd would make three appearances on Top of the Pops but on one occasion Sid didn't show up at the TV studio where we reported to the BBC and they couldn't finding Sid Andrew King and Peter Jana finally found him and came back said something terrible had happened he's like a zombie the shock of seeing him change so much stopped enjoying it drummer Nick Mason again he had just lost interest in it and actually suffered a kind of a crisis of conscience that this wasn't art it was getting so commercial with television and record sales and i had been an art student and still painted and had a pretty rigorous view of art e how one should behave as was noted and I think that just meant that this was not really what he wanted to do Pink Floyd and their management didn't know how to deal with their uncaring leader these days a similar case would no doubt lead to a time off the commercial treadmill and a spell at a big name treatment center like the Priory, but these were much more innocent and more fast-paced. times and it was decided that what Sid needed was a fortnight in the sun, so Barrett was sent on a summer holiday to the Spanish island of Formentera with Richard Wright, the idea being to get S I got out of London, away from the acid, away of all his friends who treated him like a god, I mean, they worshiped him and clearly it was much more serious than we thought because he couldn't respond, he couldn't communicate, he couldn't. do anything informant error i think he had nightmares i mean real life nightmares trying to climb walls and the biggest change for me his eyes has had so much life in him and then his eyes just went black i mean we all wait but this rest and escape I was basically exhausted and just needed a complete rest, but clearly it was much more serious than that, it was very scary, I was very upset.
Richard said his girlfriends returned to the UK despite their deterioration. Barrett pitted Pink Floyd through another round of dates through September and October, then in November 1967 they began their first US concerts, we were so determined to continue we probably all pretended he was a little better because in reality Syd was the writer. After he was the leader the last thing we needed was to loosen his demeanor before the US tour got a little rough but it got really bad in America but it had to get pretty rough before we even considered doing it without him and without you I know, I think maybe it's the regret that we dragged him out for longer than we should have when he came back from the States that had a really shocking effect, it was after that that we started to worry about his mental health, but before he they could do it. even starting to fix their crumbling leader Pink Floyd joined a three week UK tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and it was all very upsetting and of course it was all disrupting our business because it meant we were getting pretty unreliable on that famous Hendrix . to find out if he'd be there for the bus the tool was relatively simple if there was no room to do anything but play three songs and get off again when that one didn't show up w Like a big deal one or two gigs we had David Ellis from the nice part of playing the guitar.
It was such a busy time that there were times when it was impossible for him to play and there are other times when you can sing. his playing got to a point where what was a cutting edge got a little unsettling and when he was playing the same note all the time it clearly got a little weird neither of us had any experience of what was going on it was you know what we had I have no idea how to deal with it pretty much every night everyone standing backstage waiting for Hendrix to come along it was an amazing tour utley but that was the end of this tour and we knew Syd just couldn't do it to alleviate something of the Pressure on Syd A decision was made for live performances Another guitarist would join the band freeing Barrett to do whatever he wanted Pink Floyd's choice was SIDS Former mate and street friend David Gilmour Yes, the The idea became that I would also be there and sing and play. and Syd would be there and play only if he felt it was too hard to tell how I said I perceived everything, even how well thought out it was.
Things changed when David joined the band. he also brought his unique style to the band as the days went by,these ideas were tweaked and to the point where Sid actually stayed there for a couple of gigs and didn't really do anything and then it was all decided by the band with David now in the band going without SID and I was living with Sid in Richmond trying to take care of him. I had the horrible idea that I had to tell Sid that I was just going out to buy cigarettes because if I said we were going to do a concert in whatever state I was in, he would come, so I had to lie to him if you want, so I just showed up and then I left.
I went and did the concert and I came back and he said "do it" you already have the cigarettes and this was flat four hours later he was trained so I feel a little bad for t If we don't pick him up and he doesn't come to the concerts anymore we hoped may he give us many more great songs and may everyone be happy on April 6, 1968, Syd Barrett announced his departure from the group. Free from his commitment to Pink Floyd, Sid spent a short time in hospital in the spring of 1968 around this time Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing was gaining a reputation as an expert on psychosis and an advocate of what was called anti-psychiatry and was contacted by Peter Jenner upon seeing that he was the obvious person to deal with and see if we could figure it out and all the questions started coming up about how to deal with the problem: who's crazy, the crazy guy or the people around him who say he's angry, because in a way, Lange was saying who should take the people. what they say is what they mean the efforts were made by a bunch of friends and by us in the band but frankly we didn't put enough effort into it we were basically busy I think we thought once it was gone it was gone it was, it's a different world today unfortunately at the time and within the circle of people around him we just didn't know enough about it I don't blame them Sid


rosemary I think they tried to help him I remember hearing he took him to a psi at the chiatric hospital they caught him and threw him at the door but of course he just walked away but he was always terribly stubborn about everything so I don't blame them at all so Rosemary's brother was ever diagnosed with some kind of disorder mental, no, he never diagnosed me with any personality disorder he just summed up what we have is a very eccentric very creative brain severely affected by huge doses of LSD v As to end the chaos and chaos followed now from Pink Floyd Sid fell asleep at friends' flats during the fall of 1968.
David Gilmour we were in contact the whole time. He slept in my apartment in Victoria. Yeah, I mean they still spent quite a bit of time together. Court Square and I got a flat in Old Brompton Road. I think it was a complete coincidence that we lived where I could look out from my kitchen into his kitchen very strange really like David and saying hello from his r Kitchen Tables Barrett decided to record again in April 1969. He returned to Abbey Road to record his album solo The Madcap Laughter and the following year released another album titled Barrett.
I still adore them. I'm just worried about people getting so excited about how great those albums are. It does not worry me. I just don't think that's not the real Sid. Now what am I? problem not from them i never got to hear crazy laughs' or the other Barrett i never got to hear those records because it was like a shadow of what i had known and this is trying to find the little bits of gold evening in the pan that was kind of washing up and then trying to unite them and make them lawless, while what he was doing with Floyd was producing the nuggets in late 1970.
Barrett had evidently had enough of London, not for the first time. walk home to cambridge and the warm safety of his mother winifred


rosemary home again for me he was someone i had lost in that moment it was a very bad time for him he did some art , he made a huge canvas about six seven feet tall. wide and it was all black and in the bottom corner about an inch by an inch there was a little red square and I remember looking at it and thinking that he knew he was in trouble so he came home to say to mom and it was bad timing he was Rather distraught for a long time, Syd spent 1971 away from the public eye, but the following year he ventured once more on stage with a new band called the Stars.
Once Syd Barrett was seen by a paying audience in London meanwhile, Pink Floyd performed at the Rainbow Theater showing a new song cycle called Dark Side of the Moon subtitled a piece for assorted lunatics that would soon lead the group to stardom David Gilmour Dark Side of the Moon is about the insanity caused by the pressures of life and obviously for me Dark Side of the Moon is definitely heavily influenced by them. Sid Syd Barrett's condition still casts a shadow over his former colleagues and In the summer of 1975, as Pink Floyd were working on the follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon, one song in particular became highly significant, Shine On You, Crazy Diamond, was released. wrote about Syd, it came out of a haunting little guitar phrase that fell on my guitar. one day and it did something to Roger, that guitar moved something in Roger and started this whole process of them shining on you crazy diamond, which was specifically about Sid and his problems, and so a truly amazing episode on the fifth of June In 1975 Barrett appeared at Abbey Road Studios and visited with his former bandmates.
He came out of nowhere. Drummer Nick Mason again. Because I don't think anyone has seen it for a while. I think it was variable if people knew who he was. Well, no. I certainly didn't recognize him right away. I think everyone has survived flashes of health. The ring did not recognize him. so I sat next to Roger and


him that one of your friends said he didn't and he wouldn't tell me. I kept looking at him. I couldn't. I didn't get it for about 10 minutes and then he said yes. and i was just so shocked it's kind of weird but yeah he was there and it took a while before one of us was like dammit let's see if it's creepy because right now he's about 18 stones because I think he's on cortisone shaved.
All the hair on his body looked like eyebrows and all he did was jump off Ches's knee and sit back down about seven years since he left the band. remembering the song dedicated to he shines on you crazy diamond when he came in pure co incident there is no way he would have known what we are doing that the summer of 1975 was the last time the members of Pink Floyd saw Syd Barrett at that moment finally he left london forever after a period of eight years his sister rose marie then he came home to say she was mum he was pretty distraught for a long time but we're talking years and years and years aren't we probably ten more years of chaos?
Eventually, after a few years, he settled down and found a life with my mother and I throughout the 1980s. Syd lived in isolation. He was occasionally seen in Cambridge. A strange photograph of him appeared in the tabloids. He continued to paint and draw, but never returned to music. it became his sister's responsibility. He didn't see him every day. She saw him two, three times a week. He needed a lot of support in many ways to really learn to live. He had forgotten that you get up and have breakfast. you go shopping i come back you have lunch the normal routine of a day that had never appeared in his life was a worry was a worry maybe i took him too seriously but i loved him maybe too much so he was a slow learner but he was happy and that's what i fought for him he was happy and i think i think he did it Syd Barrett died on July 7, 2006 due to complications related to diabetes he was 60 years old once again his image looked anxiously at magazines, newspapers and television news as he became to tell his myth, syd was unexpectedly received in the sun bitch and foe cover declared him the original punk rocker given how long it had been since he was any kind of public figure his family was very shocked after 30 years of being figured out i'm right i thought it probably wouldn't be a reaction pleased really yes pleased by him though i would hate him he wanted to make his mark in life and i think he did it u in a very unusual way and that's all that would suit him I don't know he was such an amazingly unusual person so different and so original and we need people like him five years after he died and despite the small amount of music that he recorded, Syd Barrett remains a powerful influence on modern musicians, the best of his music still showing how to combine a dazzlingly experimental attitude with accomplished songwriting and his story of a creative light that burned so brightly before chemical excess led to a real tragedy, it always exerts an attraction, even if misplaced, in a certain type of adolescent romantic.
Furthermore, one thing is certain that it is impossible to understand the Pink Floyd saga without referring to the brilliant and at the same time tragic figure that defined its beginnings. to finish with those who saw the two faces of Syd Barrett Richard Wright David Gilmour and Nick Mason Sin in a way was the catalyst that produced Pink Floyd to have a talented roger or david or ricard sid really deserves t take any credit for all the best things we've done since i think without sidqa it probably wouldn't have been the dark side of the moon it probably wouldn't even have been the wall and the things that people still look up to today like me can make a strong claim that things like that occupy the nether regions of all of our minds at various times and that he was a brilliant, funny, intelligent and charming guy.
Seeing that everything disappeared is something very worrying and very sad, not only for people like me who knew him a lot. well, but obviously it has the same thing for thousands of people who loved his war, it was more than a product of his time. Sid was unique in someone so unique. kind of individualistic way of living and seeing life

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