Wednesday, July 12, 2006

newsFlash: Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, dies

I feel that given the impact that he and the early Floyd albums had in my high school and undergrad years, I should share with everyone that Syd Barrett, the founder and original lead singer/guitarist of Pink Floyd, died yesterday.

Barrett was responsible for the group's early singles, such as See Emily Play and Lucifer Sam, as well as penning almost all of their 1967 debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn . The ritualistic use and abuse of acid and other psychedlics, combined with the pressures of stardom, gradually incapacitated Barrett. In circumstances not unsimilar to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys' collapse after Pet Sounds, the band tried to keep Barrett around as a songwriter but replaced him on stage with a young David Gilmour. Barrett played a role in a couple of tunes on Pink Floyd's sophomore release, A Saucerful of Secrets, but that was the end of his Floyd contributions (Shine On You Crazy Diamond off of 1975's Wish You Were Here was a tribute to him).

Thankfully some of the band and related others coaxed Barrett into recorded two fascinating solo albums in 1970, the Madcap Laughs and Barrett (Opel, which consists of previously unreleased materials, was issued in 1988). As stated in the New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983), these albums are "a fascinating if disconcerting case study of someone who went the chemical distance and never returned". Thanks for all the beauty and madness, my friend. Rest in peace.
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7/12/2006 10:24:00 AM  

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