NME April 13 1974
“The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett”
First came the Floyd. Then came the void. And sometime in between this tragic passage the omens were there for all to see that something terribly wrong was happening to their golden boy but everyone was being too cool and ‘laissez-faire’ to accept them for what they were. Like that night, just as the summer of love was starting to crest into autumnal green, backstage as a London club where his group was about to take the stage, when Syd Barrett could be espied quietly blowing his mind to tiny psychedelic smithereens.
His kohl-encircled eyes were glazed and sunken and his hair looked even worse, bursting from his skull like a badly orchestrated explosion. All evening he’d been impossible to communicate with. Instead, he’d stayed slumped in a chair, hallucinating at an image of himself from a long grubby mirror while the others busied themselves, tugging a stray thread from their latest fop-hippie fashion accessory or tuning up their guitars.
Actually, it was down to Rick Wright, the keyboard player, to tune up the guitars. Roger Waters, the bass player, was unfortunately tone-deaf and, by this stage, well, let’s just say Syd was about as enamoured with the idea of maintaining concert tuning as he was with employing “chord progressions” or – God forbid – “coherent guitar solos.” Which is to say, not at all. As anarchy came screaming through his psyche, so the sound it made overwhelmed his muse and its music.
The rest of the group were actually all three standing on the stage, ready to begin, when Barrett finally awoke from his numb narcissistic reverie in front of the dressing-room mirror. First he roused himself into action by emptying a bottle of strong tranquilizers known as “Mandrax” of its contents and breaking the pills into tiny fragments on a nearby table. He then produced a large bottle of Brylcream, an extremely greasy form of British hair gel, and emptied the whole jar onto the pills. Next, taking the main residue of this gunk in both hands, he lifted it aloft, dumping the whole filthy mess on top of his head, letting it slowly seep on to his scalp and duly down his neck. Then he turned, picked up his white Telecaster with the groovy mirrored discs reflecting out, and stepped uncertainly towards the stage.
A quarter of an hour later, as the tom-toms were thumping their way into trance-time, the bass began booming out low ominous frequencies and the organ arched off into a tentative solo full of spicy Eastern cliches. But anyone could tell that Syd, once the leader, was no longer inhabiting the same planet as the other three. Sometimes he’d twang a few desultory notes, sometimes he’d run his slide up and down the strings but everything sounded so random and fragmented now that nothing he did really connected with the overall sound. Meanwhile the lighting had grown hot enough for Barrett’s acid-casualty hair remedy to start running amok in several grotesque oily streams down his neck and forehead while the residue of the broken pills was being deposited all over his face. It was then that everyone could see how desperately things were going wrong, for he looked like some grotesque waxwork of himself on fire, a blurred effigy of melting flesh and brain tissue coming apart in front of his peers, his fans and his followers.
There is a photograph of Syd Barrett which sometimes appears that was taken well before the darkness descended. He’s sweet sixteen and sitting cross-legged in the garden of his mother’s delightful house in Cambridge, playing with a kitten. The image it conveys is the very epitome of rising sixties affluence. His clothes are casual, his hair is neither long nor short, but already he’s got the air of someone from the first ranks of England’s “You’ve-never-had-it-so-good” generation who knows he possesses both good looks and easy charm, someone beamingly confident about his place in the future scheme of things. Why, there’s even an “I can’t help it if I’m lucky” twinkle in his eye, an impish grin that’s almost impossible not to be a little seduced by. It’s an image worth studying long and hard, because in only a matter of two years, maybe a little less, the twinkle in those eyes and the glow in those cheeks would be cruelly snuffed out, perhaps forever. Also, the picture indicates the nature of Syd Barrett’s roots. Nice. Genteel. Upper Middle Class. Cambridge. It was into this rarefied atmosphere that Barrett was born, one of five children, to Dr. Max Barrett, a police pathologist (and leading British authority on infant mortality), and his wife. He was always a popular, conscientious student, gifted artistically, and girls found him attractive.
Storm Thorgeson, another Cambridge las who went on to enjoy a long and creative relationship with the Pink Floyd as their sleeve designer, remembers Barrett as a “bright, extrovert kid. By 1962, we were all into Jimmy Smith. Then 1963 brought dope and rock. Syd was one of the first to get into the Beatles and the Stones. He smoked dope, pulled chicks – the usual thing. He had no problems on the surface. He was no introvert as far as I could tell back then.”
The same year he was caught merrily posing with his kitten he’d already joined his first group, Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, a timid-sounding youth club ensemble, fond of strumming out Cliff Richard and the Shadows numbers in the dens of their parents’ houses. Barrett would soon leave his childhood chums to secure a short tenure as bassist in a fledgling R ‘n’ B outfit known as Hollering Blues. At roughly the same time he began strumming an acoustic guitar at one of the city’s local folk clubs, notably a place called The Mill. He could be found mostly wherever attractive young people gathered together to play Beatles songs on village greens and smoke the odd stick of “pot.”
Then came the Architectural Abdabs, or the T-Set, as they were sometimes known. They were a five-piece, anyway, consisting of three aspiring student architects, a jazz guitarist called Bob Close and – the youngest member – recently moved to London as an art student, Roger Keith Barrett. (Barrett, like most other kids, had been landed with a nickname – “Syd” – which somehow remained long after his school days had been completed.) Of the three would-be architects, the most notable was Roger Waters, a Cambridge acquaintance of Barrett and a haughty youth over six feet tall who inwardly despised the druggy scene and sensibility his group became quickly bonded to.
Waters seethed with a terrible inner rage and his main obsession in life was to take control of everything he ever got involved with. His main ally was fellow student and London-based drummer Nick Mason, born into a life of luxury and fast sports cars, and more of a boozy “horray-Harry” type than a hippie. Rounding out the lineup was another Londoner, Richard Wright, a likeable flake who attended the same college as Waters and Mason, smoked dope, listened to a bit of jazz and noodled around on the keyboards. The band, it was generally considered, were pretty dire – but, as two of them emanated from the hip elitist circles of fruity old Cambridge, they were respected after a fashion, at least in their own area.
Before the advent of the Pink Floyd, Barrett had three brooding interests in life – music, painting and religion. A number of Barrett’s seniors in Cambridge were starting to get involved in an obscure form of Eastern mysticism known as “Sant Mat” or “The Path of the Masters,” which involved heady bouts of meditation, much contemplation of purity and the inner light, and the dispensing of wisdom by means of cosmic riddles. Syd attempted to involved himself in the faith, but was turned down for being “too young” (he was 19 at the time). The rejection was said to have troubled him deeply. “Syd has always had this big phobia about his age,” states Pete Barnes, who became involved in the labyrinthine complexities of Barrett’s affairs and general psyche after the Floyd split. “I mean, when we would try to get him back into the studio to record he would get very defensive and say ‘I’m only 24, I’m still too young. I’ve still got time. “That thing with religion could have been partly responsible for it.”
At any rate, Barrett lost all interest in spiritualism after the incident and soon enough, he’d be giving up his painting too. This was unfortunate as he’d been a good enough artist to land a scholarship at the prestigious Camberwell Art School in the London suburb of Peckham. Both Dave Gilmour and Storm claim that Barrett’s painting showed exceptional promise: “Syd was a great artist. I loved his work, but he just stopped. First it was the religion, then the painting. He was starting to shut himself off slowly even then.”
Music, still, remained. The Ab Dabs … well, let’s forget about them and examine the “Pink Floyd Sound” instead, which was really just the old band but minus Bob Close, who’d “never quite fitted in.”The Pink Floyd Sound name came from Syd, after a blues record he owned which featured two bluesmen from Georgia (sic), Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The two Christian names meshed together nicely, so … Anyway, the band was still none too inspiring – no original material, but long, anarchic versions of “Louie, Louie” and “Road Runner” into which would be interspersed liberal dosages of staccato freak-out guitar white noise and snake-charmer’s organ solos.
“Freak Out” was happening in the states at the time – the time being late 1966, the year of “Happening Ten Years Time Ago,” the Mothers of Invention and the first lysergic croaks from the West Coast. Not to mention “Revolver” and “Eight Miles High.” The future looked so “day-glo” bright, in six month’s time everyone would be having to sport little wire-rimmed dark glasses and pretend to be in the grip of some intense spiritual awakening. But the Pink Floyd Sound weren’t exactly looking to the future at this juncture. Peter Jenner, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and John “Hoppy” Hopkins, two of the London sixties counterculture’s more dynamic figures, were in the audience for one of their first London gigs, and were impressed enough to offer them some sort of management deal there and then.
Admits Jenner: “It was one of the first rock events I’d seen. I didn’t know anything about rock really.” (Jenner and Hopkins had in fact made one offer prior to the Floyd – to a band they’d heard on advance tape from New York called the Velvet Underground.) “Actually the Floyd then were barely semi-pro standard, now that I think about it. But I was so impressed by the electric guitar sound. That band was just at the point of breaking up then. It was weird. They just thought, ‘Oh well, might as well pack it all in.’ But as we came along, they decided to change their minds.”
The first underground coup involved adding a light show and setting up the UFO concerts. Jenner and Hopkins were leading emissaries of London’s alternative-underground network, and by allying themselves with this pair the Floyd became automatically the flagship band for the English underground movement. The next was activating a policy of playing only original compositions.
This is where Syd Barrett came into his own. Barrett hadn’t really composed tunes before this. He’d come up with a nonsense song called “Effervescing Elephant” when he was maybe sixteen and he’d once put music to a poem, to be found in James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” called “Golden Hair,” but that’s all he had to show when he first started the Floyd. “Syd was really amazing though,” says Jenner. “I mean, his inventiveness was quite astounding. All those songs from that whole Pink Floyd phase were written in no more than six months. He just started and took it from there.”
The first manifestation of Barrett’s songwriting talents was a bizarre opus entitled “Arnold Layne,” which dealt with a male cross-dresser stealing women’s underclothing from suburban washing lines. (Barrett had drawn the lyrics from real-life observations around Cambridge). It was weird, it was highly controversial and it was incredibly hip with its Fellini organ, bizarre subject matter and Barrett’s dead-pan quintessentially English monotone of a voice guiding the whole thing quaintly along.
The Floyd were now big stuff around Swinging London. Looking back on those early days, it was all so naive, but the music already had a depth and a sense of mystery going for it. Certainly, enough for prestigious folk like Brian Epstein to mouth off rhapsodies of praise on French radio and all the “chic” mags to throw in the token mention. There were even TV shows – good late-night avant-garde programmes for Hampstead trendies like “Look of the Week” on which the Floyd played “Pow R. Toc H.” Jenner remembers: “Syd’s influences were very much the Stones, the Beatles, the Byrds and Love. The Stones were the prominent ones, he wore out his copy of ‘Between the Buttons’ very quickly. Love’s first album, too. In fact, I was once trying to tell him about this Arthur Lee song I couldn’t remember the title of, so I just hummed the main riff. Syd picked up his guitar and followed what I was humming chord-wise. The chord pattern he worked out he went on to use as the main riff for ‘Interstellar Overdrive.’ ” As for his guitar playing: “He had this technique that I found very pleasing. Not that he was what you’d call a guitar hero. He wasn’t remotely in the class of Page or Clapton, say.”
The Floyd cult was growing as Barrett’s creativity was beginning to hit its stride. This creativity set the stage in Barrett’s song-writing for what can only be described as the quintessential marriage of the two ideal forms of English psychedelia – musical rococo freak-outs joining together with Barrett’s sudden ascent into the lyrical realms of ye olde English whimsical loone, wherein dwelt the likes of Edward Lear and Kenneth Grahame. Pervy old Lewis Carroll, of course, presided at the very head of the tea-party. And so Arnold Layne and washing lines gave way to the whole Games-for-May ceremony and “See Emily Play.” “I was sleeping in the woods one night after a gig we’d played somewhere, when I saw this girl appear before me. That girl is Emily.” Thus spoke the mighty Syd himself back in the May of ’67, obviously high as a kite lost in spring.
It was glorious for a while. “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was being recorded at the same time as “Sergeant Pepper” over in Abbey Road and the two bands would occasionally meet up to check out each other’s latest masterpiece. Paul McCartney would sometimes step out to share a joint and bestow his papal blessing on “Piper,” a record that manages to capture Barrett’s blinding spurt of acid creativity in its perfect ascendant. There are songs about hallucinating felines, the “I-Ching,” about strange exotic fables and the spirit of Albion suddenly transformed into space- age day-glo. It’s a breath-taking record and things only start to cloud over at the very end, with “Bike,” which augurs things to come, reeking as it does of warped crazy basements and Barrett’s eccentricities beginning to go the way of the warped. For, concurrent with all this mind-blowing music-making strange things were starting to happen to the Floyd but more particularly to Barrett himself.
“See Emily Play” went Top Five, which enabled Barrett to live out his pop star infatuation number to the hilt. The Hendrix curls, the kaftans from “Granny’s,” snakeskin boots and Fender Telecasters were now all his for the asking. But there were also these new unstabalizing elements to take into account. First came the ego problems and slight prima donna fits, but gradually the Floyd, Jenner and all, realized that something deeper was going on. Take the Floyd’s three Top Of The Pops appearances for “Emily.” “The first time,” says Jenner, “Syd dressed up like a pop star. The second time he came out in his straight-forward, fairly scruffy clothes, looking rather unshaven. The third time he came down to the studio in his pop star clothes and then changed into complete rags for the actual TV spot.” It was all something to do with the fact that John Lennon had stated publicly he wouldn’t appear on Top Of The Pops. Syd seemed to envisage Lennon as some sort of yardstick by which to measure his own situation as a pop star. “Syd was always complaining that John Lennon owned a house while he only had a flat,” states Peter Barnes.
But there were far darker manifestations. Barrett was at that point involved in a relationship with an attractive model named Lynsey Horner – an affair which took an ugly turn for the worse when the lady appeared on Peter Jenner’s doorstep fairly savagely beaten up. “I couldn’t believe it at the time. I had this firm picture of Syd as this really gentle guy, which is what he was, basically.” (In fact, there are numerous fairly unpleasant tales about this particular affair, including one that claims Barrett locked the girl in a room for a solid week, pushing water biscuits under the door so she wouldn’t starve.) To make matters worse, Syd’s eyes were starting to cement themselves into a foreboding – nay – quite terrifying stare which *really* started to put the frighteners on anyone in his company. The head would tilt back slightly, the eyes would get misty and bloated. Then they would stare right at you and right through you at the same time. Perhaps it was just the drugs. He was subjected to a frightening amount of the stuff and seems to have been “tripping” constantly through 1967. Even when he wasn’t dosing himself, sundry flat-mates – among them the aptly named “Mad Sue” and “Mad Jack” – would be slipping it into his tea, unbeknownst to him.
A nationwide tour of Great Britain followed – Jimi Hendrix, the Move, the Nice and the Floyd all on one bill – but it didn’t help matters at all. Syd often wouldn’t turn up on time, sometimes didn’t play at all, and always sat by himself on the tour coach, looked estranged while the rest of the Floyd socialized with the Nice (guitarist David O’List played with the band when Barrett was incapable). Apparently Hendrix used to refer to the Floyd leader – somewhat ironically – as “Laughing Syd Barrett.” But surely these two uncrowned kings of acid rock must have socialized in some capacity? “Not really,” states Jenner. “Hendrix had his own limousine. Syd didn’t really talk to anyone. I mean, by now he was going on stage and playing one chord throughout the set. He was into this thing of total anarchistic experiment and never really considered the other members of the band.”
There was also this thing with Syd that the Floyd were “my band.” Enter David Gilmour, not long back from working with various groups in France – an old mate and an able guitarist. The implications were obvious. Jenner recalls: “At the time Dave was doing very effective take-offs of Hendrix-style guitar-playing. So the band said, ‘Play like Syd Barrett.’ ” But surely David Gilmour had his own style – the slide and echo sound? “That’s *Syd* onstage. Syd used to play with slide and a bunch of echo-boxes.” (Gilmour begs to differ on this point, claiming it was he who first introduced Barrett to this particular technique.)
The Floyd played maybe four gigs as a five-piece and then Barrett was ousted. The final outrage had been a rehearsal in which Syd had forced them through an excruciating new composition which kept changing chords, timings and lyrics. The only constant was the chorus which had Barrett shouting, “Have you got it yet?” (the song’s apparent title) and the others having to chant back at him, “No, no, no.” It took them over three hours to realize it was Barrett’s way of saying “F*ck you, you stupid bourgeois wankers.” But then again, maybe he thought what they’d played was truly brilliant. It was impossible to tell anymore. The next day, on their way to a gig, Roger Waters forbade the others in the car to pick up Barrett and that was the last time he ever played as a member of the Pink Floyd. In one sense it was a courageous move – in another it was very ruthless. But everyone else thought it was rather justified. Except Syd. “Yeah, Syd does resent the Floyd,” claims Jenner. “I don’t know – he may *still* call them ‘my band’ for all I know.”
Syd Barrett loped off into the stoned hinterlands of Earls Court to sink back into some full-time freak-flag flying, but not before he’d stayed over at South Kensington awhile with Storm Thorgerson: “Syd was well into his ‘orbiting’ phase by then. He was travelling very fast in his own private sphere and I thought I could be a mediator of some sort. Y’see, I think you’re going to have to make the point that Syd’s madness was not caused by any linear progression of events, but more a circular haze of situations that meshed together on top of themselves and Syd. His stay didn’t last long and didn’t end nicely. I just couldn’t handle those stares anymore.”
By this time the Floyd and Blackhill Enterprises had parted company, with Jenner choosing Barrett as a brighter hope. What happened to the Floyd is now history: they survived and flourished with mighty concept albums often reflecting on their fallen leader’s mental condition in their lyrics.
Meanwhile, Syd most certainly did not flourish. “The Madcap Laughs,” Barrett’s first solo album, took a sporadic but nonetheless laborious year to complete. Production credits constantly changed hands – from Peter Jenner to Malcolm Jones (who gave up half-way through), finally to Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters. By this time Barrett’s creative processes refused to mesh properly and so the results were often jagged and unapproachable. Basically they were exercises in distance – the Madcap waving whimsically out from the haze. Or maybe he was drowning. Many of the tracks, though, like “Terrapin,” almost just lay there, scratching themselves in front of you. They exist completely inside themselves, like weird little insects or exotic fish, the listener looking inside the tank at the activity. “I think Syd was in good shape when he made “Madcap,” Jenner offers. “He was still writing good songs, probably in the same state as he was during ‘Jugband Blues.’ “
Others beg to differ – Thorgeson, for example: “The thing was that all those guys had to cope with Syd out of his head on Mandrax half the time. He got so mandied up on those sessions, his hand would slip through the strings and he’d fall off the stool.” June Bolan, ex-wife of Marc and one-time secretary of Peter Jenner, has even worse recollections: “I went to all Syd’s acid breakdowns. He used to come round to my house at five in the morning covered in mud from Holland Park when he’d freaked out. He used to go to the Youth Hostel in Holland Park, climb up on the roof and get wrecked and spaced, and he’d walk all the way to Sheperd’s Bush, where I was living.
“He was extraordinary … like a candle that was about to be snuffed out at any minute. Really, all illuminations. He took a lot of acid. Lots of people can take some acid and cope with it in their lives, but if you take three or four trips in a day and you do that every day … and then, because it was the hip drug, you do around somebody’s house for a cup of tea and they’d spike you. People did that a lot to Syd.”
“Barrett,” the second album, was recorded in a much shorter space of time. Dave Gilmour was called in to produce and brought in Rick Wright and Jerry Shirley, Humble Pie’s drummer, to help: “We had basically three alternatives at that point, working with Syd,” says Gilmour. “One, we could actually work with him in the studio, playing along as he put down his tracks – which was almost impossible, though we succeeded on ‘Gigolo Aunt.’ The second was laying down some kind of track before and then having him play over it. The third was him putting his basic ideas down with just a guitar and vocals and then we’d try and make something of it all . It was mostly a case of me saying ‘Well, what have you got then, Syd?’ and he’d search around and eventually work something out.”
The Barrett disintegration process continued throughout this album, giving it a feel more akin to that of a one-off demo. Occasionally songs would be shot through with sustained glimpses of Barrett’s poetic sensibility at its most vivid, like “Wolfpack” or “Rats,” with menacing double-edged nonsense rhymes. “Dominoes” is probably the album’s most arresting track, as well as being the only real pointer to what the Floyd might have sounded like had Barrett been more in control of his “orbiting.” The song is rather exquisite – reflecting a classic kind of lazy English summer afternoon ambience which spirals up and almost defies time and space, before drifting into an archetypal Floyd minor-chord refrain straight out of “More.” Gilmour says: “The song just ended after Syd had finished singing and I wanted a gradual fade so I added that section myself. I even ended up playing the drums on that.”
Most intimates claim Gilmour by this time had become perhaps the only person around who could communicate effectively with Barrett. “Oh, I don’t think *anyone* can communicate with Syd. I did those albums because I like the songs, not, as I suppose some might think, because I felt guilty taking his place in the Floyd. I was concerned that he wouldn’t fall completely apart. The final remix on “Madcap” was all mine as well.”
In between the two solo albums, EMI Harvest or Morrison had decided to set up a bunch of press interviews for Barrett, whose style of conversation was scarcely suited to the tailor-made requirements of the media. Most couldn’t make any sense whatsoever out of his verbal ramblings, others suspected something was seriously wrong and pinpointed the Barrett malady in their pieces. Peter Barnes did one of the interviews: “It was fairly ludicrous on the surface. I mean, you just had to go along with it all – Syd would say something completely incongruous one minute like , ‘It’s getting heavy, innit?’ and then you’d just have to say, ‘Yeah, Syd, it’s getting heavy,’ and the conversation would dwell on *that* for five minutes. Actually, listening to the tape afterwards you could work out that there was some kind of logic there – except that Syd would suddenly be answering a question you’d asked him ten minutes ago while you were off on a different topic altogether.”
Another Syd quirk had always been in his obsessive tampering with the fine head of black hair that rested firmly on the Barrett cranium. Somewhere along the line, our hero had decided to shave it all down to a sparse grizzle, known appropriately as the “Borstal Crop.” “I can’t really comment too accurately,” states Jenner, “But I’m rather tempted to view it as a symbolic gesture. Y’know – goodbye to being a pop star, and all that.”
Barrett, by this time, was well slumped into his real twilight period, living in the cellar of his mother’s house in Cambridge. And this is where the story gets singularly depressing. An interview with Rolling Stone at Christmas 1971 showed Barrett to be living out his life with a certain whimsical self-reliance. At one point in the conversation hen declared, “I’m really totally together, I even think I should be.” Almost exactly a year later, out of the sheer torment of his own inertia, Barrett went temporarily completely haywire and smashed his head through the basement ceiling. In between these two dates, he went back into the studio to attempt another record. “It was an abortion,” claims Barnes. “He just kept overdubbing guitar part on guitar part until it was just a total chaotic mess. He also wouldn’t show anyone his lyrics – I fear actually because he hadn’t written any.” Jenner was also present: “It was horribly frustrating because there were sporadic glimpses of the old Syd coming through, and then it would get horribly distorted again.” Nothing remains from the sessions.
And then there was Stars, a band formed by Twink, ex-drummer of Tomorrow, Pretty Things and Pink Faries. Twink was another native of Cambridge, had previously known Barrett marginally well, and somehow dragged the Madcap into forming a band including himself and a bass player called Jack Monck. The main Stars gig occurred at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, where they were second-billed to the MC5. It was an exercise in total musical cacophony and, after a half an hour or so, Barrett simply unplugged his guitar and sauntered off the stage to return once again to his mother and his basement. Since that time, Syd Barrett may or may not have worked in a factory for a week or so/worked as a gardener/tried to enroll as an architecture student/grown mushrooms in his basement/been a tramp/spent two weeks in New York busking/tried to become Pink Floyd’s roadie.
All the above are stories told to me by various semi-authentic sources. More than likely, most of them are total fabrications. One thing though appears to be clear: Syd Barrett is unable to write songs anymore. (“Either that or he writes songs and won’t show them to anyone,” says Jenner.) In the meantime, Barrett has been elevated into the position of perhaps the leading mysterioso figure in the whole world of rock. Arthur Lee and Brian Wilson are the only others who loom anywhere near as large in that bizarre twilight zone of notoriety and myth-weaving. In countries as diverse as France, the USA and Japan, Barrett is still a source of fanatical concern. Throughout the seventies there was even a Syd Barrett International Appreciation Society centered in Britain which put out magazines, T-shirts and buttons.
“I mentioned the Society to Syd once,” states Peter Barnes. “He just said it was OK, y’know. He’s really not interested in any of it. It’s ironic, I suppose – he’s much bigger now as the silent cult-figure doing nothing than he was when he was functioning. It’s strange also because apparently he still talks about making a third album. I don’t know – I think Dave is the only one who could pull it off. There seems to be a relationship there.” David Gilmour is decidedly less convinced about the strength of his relationship with Syd Barrett, however: “First of all, I don’t know what Syd thinks or *how* he thinks. Still, I think, of all the people you’ve spoken to probably only Storm and I really know the whole story and can see it all in the right focus. I mean, Syd was a strange guy even back in Cambridge. He was a very respected figure back there in his own way. In my opinion, it’s a family situation that’s at the root of it all. His father’s death affected him very heavily and his mother always pampered him, almost made him out to be a genius of sorts. I remember I really started to get worried when I went along to the session for ‘See Emily Play.’ He was strange even then. That terrifying stare of his was already starting to appear. “Yeah, it was fairly obvious that I was brought in to take over from him, at least on stage. But it was absolutely impossible to gauge his feelings about it. I honestly don’t think Syd has opinions as such. He functions on a totally different plain of logic, and some people will claim, ‘Well yeah man he’s on a higher cosmic level,’ but basically there’s something drastically wrong. It wasn’t just the drugs.
We’d both done acid before the whole Floyd thing. It’s just a mental foible which grew all out of proportion. I remember all sorts of strange things happening. At one point he was wearing lipstick, dressing in high heels and believing he had homosexual tendencies. We all felt he should have gone to see a psychiatrist, though someone in fact played an interview he did to R.D.Laing, and Laing claimed he was incurable. What can you do? We did a couple of his songs live on “Ummagumma. ” We used “Jugband Blues” for no ulterior motive. It was just a good song. I mean, that “Nice Pair” collection will see him doing all right for a couple of years. All of which only postpones the day of judgement, I suppose. Sometimes I think that maybe, if he was left to his own devices, he just might get it together. But it is a tragedy – a terrible tragedy because the guy was a real innovator. One of the three or four greats along with Dylan. I know though that something is terribly wrong because Syd isn’t happy, and that really is the criterion, isn’t it? But then I suppose it’s all part and parcel of being a legend in your own lifetime.”