Syd Barrett

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Syd Barrett (6 January 19467 July 2006), born Roger Keith Barrett, was an English singer, songwriter, guitarist and artist. He is most remembered as a founding member of psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work, although he left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness exacerbated by heavy drug use. .


  • I'm full of dust and guitars…
    • Rolling Stone, December 1971
  • All middle men are bad.
  • I don't think I'm easy to talk about. I've got a very irregular head. And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway.
    • Rolling Stone, December 1971
  • And what exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke?
    • Jugband Blues
  • It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here, and I'm most obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here.
    • Jugband Blues
  • Well, I'm a painter, I was trained as a painter…I seem to have spent a little less time painting than I might've done…But it didn't transcend the feeling of playing at UFO and those sort of places with the lights and that, the fact that the group was getting bigger and bigger.
    • Melody Maker, March 1971
  • That's all I wanted to do as a kid. Play a guitar properly and jump around. But too many people got in the way.
    • Rolling Stone, December 1971
  • I remember the last time we were in the studio that Nick (Mason) ripped this fart. It was one of the most atrocious things the others had ever smelled in their lives. While Roger and Rick fled in terror, I asked Nick for seconds.
    • Billboard, February 1967
  • Well, I've got a colour telly, and a fridge. I've got some pork chops in the fridge, but the chops keep going off, so I have to keep buying more.
    • In response to being asked by David Gilmour what he was up to lately during an unexpected reunion in 1975, as written in Nick Mason's Inside Out
  • We feel that in the future, groups are going to have to offer much more than just a pop show. They'll have to offer a well-presented theatre show.
  • Their choice of material was always very much to do with what they were thinking as architecture students. Rather unexciting people, I would've thought, primarily. I mean, anybody walking into an art school like that would've been tricked--maybe they were working their entry into an art school.
    • Syd Barrett interview in Melody Maker, 1971-03-27

About Syd Barrett[edit]

  • Syd was so beautiful with his violet eyes. I only sort of lay beside him, nothing more could be accomplished. Then he had a breakdown and was gone. He hardly spoke. He would just tolerate me because I was so overpowered, so in awe that I didn't really speak either. I only hung around him for two or three weeks just before he flipped and was virtually removed from the group. I knew Syd was wonderful because he wrote such wonderful songs. He didn't have to speak because the fact that he couldn't speak made him who he was: this person who wrote these mysterious songs. I just liked looking at him: he was very pretty. A lot of the time with pop stars, when they open their mouths, it was all completely ruined anyway. So it was perfect that he was like that. My first pop star and it was just wonderful that he didn't speak.
    • Jenny Fabian, Groupie (1969)
  • It's sad that these people think he's such a wonderful subject, that he's a living legend when, in fact, there is this poor sad man who can't deal with life or himself. He's got uncontrollable things in him that he can't deal with and people think it's a marvellous, wonderful, romantic thing. It's just a sad, sad thing, a very nice and talented person who's just disintegrated.
  • Well, he's schizophrenic. And has been since 1968.
  • If you had said to a young Syd, ‘Look, this is your bargain in life, you know, you’re going to do this fantastic stuff, but it won’t be forever, it’ll be this short period. There’s the dotted line, are you going to sign for this?’ I suspect, maybe, a lot of people would sign for that, for making their mark.
    • Bob Klose, The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story (2003)

  • I knew Syd personally between 1989 and 1991 - it would be over egging the pudding to suggest he was my friend although I considered him (perhaps incorrectly) to be a friend of a friend.

I didn't know who he was at the time and only found out the truth more than 10 years later during a conversation with Steve Hillage backstage at (I think) the Brixton Academy. I don't really recognise the pen-portraits of his legendary "insanity". I certainly never at the time considered him as anything other than eccentric. He often used to turn-up with tiny (2 or 3 inches square) paintings of the most exquisite beauty and intricacy - and was completely unmoved by our repeated entreaties for him to stage an exhibition. He also used to write the most stupendously awful poetry. However, I would not have described it as schizophrenic word-stew - it was more like he'd started off with a poem and systematically stripped-out all poem-y elements to leave something that was the prosodic equivalent of corn-flakes made from granite chippings. We were never slow to offer our criticism of his writing and often expressed amazement at his concurrent fascination with the poetry of Lord Byron. I never witnessed him taking drugs, although we all did, and he would only drink, maybe half a pint of beer during the course of two or three hours. He was not the most extrovert man, but neither was he reclusive or particularly misanthropic. He was always keen to show people his artwork and would often walk up to strangers in the pub and start pulling out pictures and poems and discuss them. Despite his self-evident otherworldliness and often extreme scruffiness I recall he was generally well-liked and was certainly acknowledged as a fine artist. Time to get my coat.. Damn near blubbing

"Twas in another lifetime one of toil and blood, When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud, I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form, 'Come in' she said 'I'll give you shelter from the storm'" Ok. Am blubbing.* Autumn Leaves in a comment on Lily Marlen's blog.

  • Q: Did you find him difficult to work with?

Wyatt: Absolutely not, no. Very easy. Almost too easy. He was very, very easygoing. So easygoing that you didn't necessarily know what he wanted, or whether he was pleased with it or not, because he seemed quite pleased with what you did. I think possibly he may have suffered as well from moving into the world of commercial culture, as they did. I think it might have been very confusing for him. Being an artist, working in an attic, to us - this may be a silly illusion, it's just a silly romantic dream, just like being a pop star. But I don't think his romantic dreams were anything to do with the responsibilities of commercial pop stardom. It's not a snobbishness, this thing about commercial stuff. It's just the fact that it seems to have a momentum all its own, and there seems to be demands made on it. You know how it is with, for example, Hollywood films--they're really accountant-led. Being big and famous doesn't get you more freedom, it gets you less, you know what I mean? It happens in the music itself as well. All the machinery that starts to come into gear, from management and touring and the whole way it's done, the musician becomes a fairly small cog in a machine where all these sort of semi-comatose people in the industry certainly come alive, and they certainly know how to act. And suddenly, your whole life is being run by lawyers and accountants. And you're meant to be very pleased, because you've made it and so on. But in fact, you're just getting carried along in a flow where your own personal thing can get completely lost. As I say, it's not a question of snobbery. Some wonderful stuff comes out of that. But if you did have your own little thing, maybe it can't survive being put through that kind of process. I have no idea, but I imagine that could easily have been what happened to Syd. That the actual success of the band just completely threw him off-balance, I can imagine.* [[Robert Wyatt, Drummer with the Soft Machine, in an Interview}}

  • "He was firstly an artist and secondly a musician. If ever he was asked what he did, the reaction would always be 'I'm an artist', never 'I'm a musician.' *

Rosemary Breen's Interview

  • '... I remember seeing an early R.E.M. gig at the Hammersmith Odeon. I went backstage and they were all very warm and welcoming, apart from Michael Stipe who just sat in the corner with his back to me. Then he went on for the encore and did an a cappella version of [Syd's] 'Black Globe', which might have been his way of saying, "Syd was all right but you're an arsehole."'*

Roger Waters

(Note: It was "Dark Globe" by Syd Barrett. And R. Waters also said that he liked Syd´s song always and at all and also the a capella version of Mr. Stipe.)

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