Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd
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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Video tribute ~the black and green scarecrow was sadder than me~

The Magic and Majesty of Pink Floyd

The Magic and Majesty of Pink Floyd
The ugly truths and bitter rivalries behind rock's most visionary band
This is an excerpt from the new issue of "Rolling Stone," on newsstands until April 5th, 2007.

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You've heard the legend: Cue up "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wizard of Oz," and trippiness ensues. Now we've set it up so you can judge for yourself. Watch the four creepiest sync-ups right now!

There was no reason these men should ever stand together again. Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright -- the four musicians who carried Pink Floyd forward after Syd Barrett fell from reason in 1968 -- had not appeared on a stage together since June 1981, and it hardly seemed possible they ever would again. Waters and Gilmour had famously shown contempt for each other for a quarter-century -- each felt the other had tried to dishonor his life's work and hinder his future. After Waters started a solo career in 1984, he went on to disparage his former bandmates. Guitarist and singer Gilmour, he said, "doesn't have any ideas," and drummer Mason "can't play" (Waters had long before thrown keyboardist Wright out of the band). Gilmour gave as good as he got. When he took his version of the band on tour, he appropriated Waters' most famous prop, a gigantic pig balloon, and attached testicles to it, which some read as a commentary on how he viewed the band's former bassist. ("So they put balls on my pig," Waters said. "Fuck them.")
The long squabble resulted in the deepest, ugliest split in rock & roll's history, and almost certainly the most irreparable. On that warm London night in early July 2005 when the four men finally gathered again as Pink Floyd in London's Hyde Park at the historic Live 8 concert, it's unlikely that all the past anger and hurt was easily forgotten or healed, but that's partly what made the moment so moving. They played and sang despite their bitterness, in part because the evening's cause -- to try to persuade the world's richest countries to forgive the debts of the poorest -- was in keeping with belief systems they genuinely shared.
But there was another reason for assembling that night that ran deeper in their history. They had a debt to pay that could never be paid, but it had to be admitted. Syd Barrett, a man who had been mysterious and lonely for decades, had been the heart of Pink Floyd in its earliest days -- he wrote their songs, gave them their style, made them a force in the British music scene -- but in 1968, Waters, Mason and Wright threw him out of the band after he slipped into mental disintegration. None of them had seen him since a surprise encounter in 1975 that left them stunned and in tears, but over the years he continued to define Pink Floyd, as they evolved the style he had left them, and as they began to think and write about the darkness that had eclipsed him. They owed Barrett something -- in a way, everything -- and if they failed to honor him that night at Live 8, before the world, they could never meaningfully attempt it again. That's because they knew Pink Floyd would not exist past this night, and perhaps they sensed that in the much-too-near future, neither would Barrett, the man who gave the band its name and original purpose.

The story of Pink Floyd is the story of the themes that raised and obsessed and tore at the band for almost four decades. That is, it's a story of madness, alienation, absence, hubris and a self-willed grace. There's really nothing else quite like it in popular music history. From the time they helped ignite a pop-cultural upheaval in London in the late 1960s to that touching appearance at Live 8, Pink Floyd always meant something in their moment. Indeed, the album that transfigured them in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon, managed to reflect the doubts and fears of a generation that had to cope with the loss of the ideals of the 1960s, and did it so effectively that it established Pink Floyd as one of the biggest, best-loved bands in rock & roll. Seven years later, the epic and bleak The Wall only made them bigger. But iThe Wall -- a story about a bitter, fucked-up loner rock star who could not bear the world around him -- proved even darker than it first seemed, as its author, Waters, increasingly could not bear the band around him. "If one of us was going to be called Pink Floyd, it's me," he told Rolling Stone in 1987, though the rest of Pink Floyd had other ideas.
Despite both triumphs and wounds, the band's members couldn't escape a certain bond -- not just a hatred for one another, but also a realization that without the community they once had, their music could never have mattered. Most of them were either born in or grew up around Cambridge -- a well-off university town that prized a progressive streak -- and appeared headed for careers in the arts. But what would bring Waters, Barrett, Mason and Wright together was a passion for the promising sounds of rock & roll, blues and R&B. Like other key British musicians -- including John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page -- Pink Floyd would take the spirit of experimentation that they gained from art school and apply it to the raw form of rock & roll, with results that would transform the culture around them.

Waters left Cambridge in 1962 to take architecture courses at Regent Street Polytechnic in London, where he met fellow student Mason. He was already playing guitar -- in fact, he sometimes practiced in class when he didn't want to study. In 1963, he and Mason joined an existing group, Sigma 6, where they met keyboard player Wright, who loved jazz and classical music. Wright and Mason were still fairly earnest about their possible architectural futures, but not Waters. He was already trying the patience of his lecturers. "I could have been an architect, but I don't think I'd have been very happy," he told journalist Caroline Boucher in 1970. "I hated being under the boot."

Barrett -- another young guitarist and art student -- arrived in London in September 1964, to study painting. Waters and Barrett had known each other back in Cambridge, where the charismatic Barrett was part of the bohemian set, learning about French existentialism and the 1950s Beat movement, and where he was already studying guitar with his friend David Gilmour. Barrett had a passion for the melodic form of the Beatles' music and for the blues-steeped pop of the Rolling Stones, but he was also given to unusual guitar tunings and an odd slide-guitar technique, and he became interested in finding a looser form of spontaneity when playing rock & roll. By the time Barrett joined up with Waters in London, Sigma 6 had become the Abdabs, then the Tea Set. By the autumn of 1965 they had settled on a four-man lineup: Waters on bass, Wright on keyboards, Mason on drums and Barrett on lead guitar and vocals. Barrett also gave the group a new identity: the Pink Floyd Sound, derived from the first names of two obscure blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council (and from the names of his cats). "It was great when Syd joined," Wright said, according to author Barry Miles, who would also be a witness to the band's rise. "Before him, we'd play the R&B classics, because that's what all groups were supposed to be doing then. . . . With Syd, the direction changed; it became more improvised around the guitar and keyboards. Roger started to play the bass as a lead instrument, and I started to introduce more of my classical feel."

After that, the first phase of the Pink Floyd story played out quickly -- for better and worse. The better part came out of a confluence of the band's ambitions and the fast-rising movement in London's youth culture. Experimentation and a daring new sense of social play increasingly became a part of not just popular culture in Britain but also daily life. In London, from 1965 to 1968, this all became enmeshed in a movement known as the London Underground. Whether they intended to or not, Pink Floyd, more than anybody -- more than the Beatles, for example -- became the sound, the central house band, of the movement. That's because Pink Floyd, billed sometimes as "London's farthest-out group," developed themselves and their music in the midst of it all, live, night after night, at events made up of a participatory audience that included many who were experimenting with marijuana, hashish and psychedelics. There were other acts popular in this circuit, including Soft Machine, Arthur Brown, Procol Harum, Tomorrow and the jazz group AMM, but Pink Floyd set themselves apart with two features: an increasingly complex and resourceful display of light projections that appeared to envelop and react to the band as it played, and their abstract style of improvisation that could appear formless and unruly one moment, then precise, pounding and exhilarating the next. Artist Duggie Fields, who was a close friend of Barrett's, said that "suddenly they got an enormous following in a very short space of time, shorter than it took for the Rolling Stones to happen."
By the end of 1966, Pink Floyd had signed a rather lucrative deal for the time with EMI (5,000 British pounds), which allowed them unlimited time to record their first album at the label's Abbey Road Studios. (They ended up recording during the same early-1967 stretch that the Beatles spent making Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.) EMI assigned the group to Norman Smith, who had been the Beatles' sound engineer. Smith appeared a strange fit -- reportedly he wasn't initially fond of the band's instrumental experiments in "Astronomy Domine" and "Interstellar Overdrive" -- and in later years he disparaged the group in unnecessarily unkind terms. "I could barely call it music," he said.

Still, what resulted from those sessions was something wonderful and enduring. With Pink Floyd's debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band loomed as a potentially matchless force in British rock, though Barrett was clearly the group's imaginative center. He wrote Lewis Carroll-indebted wordplay in songs about fantasy and childhood and horror and the I-Ching, all paired with remarkably intuitive melodies. He was the reason Pink Floyd were now the most notable new band in Britain, and he loved being a part of the cultural adventure that surrounded them. Jenny Fabian, who has done some of the best writing about the London scene, later told Mason in his book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd that Floyd "were the first authentic sound of acid consciousness. . . . They'd be up on stage like supernatural gargoyles playing their spaced-out music, and the same color that was exploding over them was exploding over us. It was like being taken over, mind, body and soul."

This matter of the band's psych-edelic effect was about to take on a painful resonance. At the peak of Pink Floyd's early creative powers, with a remarkable album now finished and set for a summer 1967 release, Syd Barrett began to fall apart. The onset was sudden. As the group's second single, "See Emily Play," vaulted into the Top Ten, Pink Floyd were set for three consecutive July appearances on a weekly British program, Top of the Pops. Barrett looked haggard and wary as the weeks progressed, until finally he walked off during the third show, frantic and angry. That was just the start. In the beginning of August, just as The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was being released, Pink Floyd's managers, Peter Jenner and Andrew King, canceled the band's English tour due to Barrett's "nervous exhaustion," and sent the singer on vacation with a doctor to a Spanish island. While there, Barrett spent some nights sleeping in a graveyard. Come November, during tours in America and Britain with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Barrett only grew worse. At too many shows, he stood onstage staring at some unknown space beyond the heads of the audience, not touching his guitar. Years later Mason told Barry Miles, in Pink Floyd: The Early Years, "You're trying to be in this band . . . and things aren't really working out and you don't really understand why. You can't believe that someone's deliberately trying to screw it up and yet the other half of you is saying, 'This man's crazy -- he's trying to destroy me!' "

There has been a lot of conjecture and mythmaking over the years about what went so terribly wrong for Barrett in such a short amount of time. Many have attributed his disintegration to a steady overconsumption of LSD. He had taken the drug since his days in Cambridge, and in 1966 he lived in an apartment with people who ingested acid regularly and purportedly fed it to Barrett whether he was aware of it or not. ("We never ventured inside," said Mason. "It was not a world the rest of us frequented.") Others -- including Waters -- believe that the psychedelics triggered a dormant schizophrenia in Barrett. However, author Tim Willis, when researching 2002's Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's Lost Genius, discovered that Barrett had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia nor given medications, "on the grounds that he has an 'odd' mind rather than a sick one."
At the beginning of 1968, the band brought in Barrett's old Cambridge friend David Gilmour to take his place on guitars and vocals. The hope had been that Barrett might continue as a songwriter -- similar to the way that Brian Wilson still wrote material for the Beach Boys but no longer toured with them -- but even that seemed unfeasible. The band was having difficulty with some of Barrett's material -- "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" were songs they thought emanated from madness -- and they discarded those recordings. A few days after Gilmour joined, the band minus Barrett was en route to that night's performance when somebody asked, "Shall we pick up Syd?" The response was: "Fuck it, let's not bother." The band drove on and performed his songs that night without him, and never played with him again. As Pink Floyd worked on their next album, Barrett would sit in the studio's lobby with his guitar, waiting to be called into the sessions. He also stood before the stage one night at a club, glaring as Gilmour sang the songs Barrett had written. The instance unnerved Gilmour so much that he came close to quitting the band.

At the end of Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, the band included only one Barrett song, "Jugband Blues." It's doleful, even humorous, but its heartaching lyrics have always been seen as Barrett's self-diagnosis: "It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I'm almost obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here. . . . /And I'm wondering who could be writing this song." Those lines could work on another level, as Barrett's way of saying to the band, How could anybody so damaged or dispensable write a song this beautiful and original?

Waters, having set aside his higher education and any other ambitions, now made Pink Floyd his purpose. "He was the one," Gilmour told Barry Miles, "who had the courage to drive Syd out, because he realized that as long as Syd was in the band, they wouldn't keep it together, the chaos factor was too great. Roger always looked up to Syd and felt very guilty about the fact that he'd blown out his mate." Others, though, credited Gilmour -- now lead singer as well as lead guitarist -- with changing Pink Floyd's direction. In contrast to Barrett, Gilmour favored a more clearly structural and melodic approach. It was both this collaboration and competition between Waters and Gilmour that would largely drive Pink Floyd toward its triumphs, though it would also make for its troubles. In his early days in the band, Gilmour was already reacting to Waters' domineering manner, describing him as "a pushy sort of person."

For the next few years, the band made music that was as close to twentieth-century avant-garde methods as it was to rock & roll. "Pink Floyd is about pushing forward and taking risks," Waters said, and the music they made bore out his boast. Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother featured lengthy experiments in serial atonality and orchestral composition, and EMI may have felt at a loss at times for what to do with such records -- especially in America. That Pink Floyd's albums continued to prove hits in England was testament to a number of things -- including that much of the British pop audience at that time was receptive to the post-psychedelic form emerging as progressive rock. It also owed to the band's matchless sense of stagecraft. "In the future," Syd Barrett said in a 1967 interview, "groups are going to have to offer more than a pop show. They are going to have to offer a well-presented theater show." Pink Floyd would pursue that vision tirelessly, with performances that featured increasingly sophisticated light effects and giant props (including a massive octopus that rose from a lake during an outdoor show). In the late 1960s, these theatrics sometimes accompanied thematic suites such as The Man and The Journey, early tastes of Waters' appetite for conceptual works.

With Pink Floyd, there was a sense that this was a band working toward something -- some amalgam of music and ideas that would define its place in modern arts.

You've heard the legend: Cue up "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wizard of Oz," and trippiness ensues. Now we've set it up so you can judge for yourself. Watch the four creepiest sync-ups right now!
This is an excerpt from the new issue of "Rolling Stone," on newsstands until April 5th, 2007.

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Robyn Hitchcock Interview

For more than 30 years, Robyn Hitchcock has been writing twisted, unexpected pop songs -- first for the Soft Boys, later for himself. Tonight the 54-year-old plays T.T. the Bear's Place in Cambridge with the Venus 3, a band that includes REM guitarist Peter Buck. The group also played on his most recent album, 2006's "Ole! Tarantula." We spoke with Hitchcock by phone from New York City.


Q This song, "(A Man's Got To Know His Limitations) Briggs," raises a question for me. Who is
Briggs? I'm worried about him.

A Have you seen that Dirty Harry movie, "Magnum Force"? That's one of the characters.

Q Of course. I knew the line. I guess I forgot the lieutenant. You're a fan?

A Well, I've seen the film, really by accident. Six times without ever meaning to. I don't watch a great deal of television, but it just sank into my consciousness and took root. I watched it in German. I got people to pirate it, and I just began to find a world there.

Q You also do a tribute to Arthur Kane, the late New York Doll.

A I saw the movie [the 2005 documentary "New York Doll"] and just thought it was really poignant. It encapsulate s his life like a firefly in a jar , and you see the cycle he went through. On a curve of decadence, falling through a window, finding Jesus, and getting a call from Morrissey to join the reformed Dolls. And going back there and being a rock star again for one moment and bang, two weeks later he's dead of leukemia.

Q You've worked with Peter Buck and Gillian Welch, even John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. Who have you not worked with that you'd like to work with?

A Brian Eno. I first saw him in 1967, when he came to my school. People like him would come in with their blue sunglasses and blow up helium balloons, and we'd write messages on them and send them into the sky. I'm sure he's incredibly expensive, but he's somebody I would love to work with.

Q How about Paul McCartney? I'd pay to hear that.

A If Paul were to walk in and say, "Let's go," I'm sure I would. But I don't think he does stuff like that. If Ringo Starr walked in and wanted to play drums, I wouldn't say no.

Q So in just about everything I read about you, you're compared to Syd Barrett. I like Syd, but he made, what, a few albums and then spent the next 35 years riding his bike and gardening.

A He was a really big influence. I don't know how much I sound like him these days, but I love his stuff. I recommend anyone check out those records. I think he's up there with Bob Dylan even though Dylan has produced a life's work.

Q Are there songs you actually get tired of, and sort of beg off playing live ?

A We've started doing "Balloon Man" again, but I haven't done it regularly since 15 years, since the end of the Egyptians. "Queen Elvis" I do fairly regularly, but there's no song I do every night.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joe Boyd's Book a Good Account of Sixties Music

Picture any key scene in the history of '60s music and you'll find Joe Boyd lurking somewhere in the frame. He'd rarely be at the center of the image. More likely you'll find him making trouble in the corner. But that's what gives Boyd's new memoir of the tie-dyed era, "White Bicycles," such charm, resonance and flair.

Serious music fans know Boyd as a key figure in '60s British folk-rock, having helped shape and produce Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake, along with running Hannibal Records, which brought their music into a new era. He was behind the mixing board when Bob Dylan went electric. He started the nightclub that made Pink Floyd the toast of London's psychedelic scene. He enticed Eric Clapton to start his first supergroup. And for years, he was just about the world's only champion of Nick Drake, the singer-songwriter who has been elevated to a cult icon decades after his death. Fewer know that Boyd actually hails from New Jersey or that his history traces back through associations with the jazz greats of the '50s, as well as the early American folk revival that followed.

But the most surprising thing about this legendary producer is that he can write. "White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s" is technically a memoir, but one in which the narrator practically disappears. Instead, he lets the events and the artists speak for themselves. Even though he's often the catalyst for wonderful things, he's also content to step aside and let the story of the music spill out.

"The book reads the way the records sound, which is that I'm not really visible," says Boyd, who'll be reading from the book - and presenting performances from longtime friend Geoff Muldauer - on Tuesday at Joe's Pub. "The music I produced is not very much to the forefront. And I tried to execute my skills to be invisible."

"White Bicycles" chronicles more misses than hits. In one hysterical paragraph, Boyd sums up having lost the chance to sign Cream, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Move, and Procol Harum, not to mention narrowly missing out on nabbing the British publishing rights to a then-unknown ABBA.

At Harvard, Boyd claims to have had a "brief, mad two-week period" where he imagined himself a novelist. But soon after that, he began booking shows for bluesmen such as Lonnie Johnson and Sleepy John Estes. Then he started selling their records and later wound up managing tours for the likes of Muddy Waters and the Rev. Gary Davis. A few years later, he opened the club UFO, which became a showcase for some of London's hottest bands in 1967.

One of the groups was Pink Floyd, and Boyd wound up producing the band's first single, "Arnold Layne," which relates the story of a man arrested for stealing laundry in the middle of the night.
It took Boyd 40 years to discover the song's origins - too late to include them in his book.
"After the book came out [in England], I was on the phone with Nick Mason from Floyd," Boyd says. "He told me that Syd Barrett's and Roger Waters' mothers used a room in each of their houses as a boardinghouse for students.

"And girl students in the house means underwear in the washing machine or on the line. So they grew up with this image, and then there was a case in Cambridge of some guy caught stealing lingerie. "All of this was going on while Syd and Roger were 13, 14, 15. And they get to be 19, 20, and it turns into a song - "Arnold Layne."

Boyd continued producing pop records into the late '80s, but now his Web site notifies musicians that he doesn't listen to demos and "I don't go to gigs involving WPSEs [White People Singing in English]."

Instead, he pursues unfamiliar sounds in world music, believing that it's become increasingly difficult to do anything novel in traditional pop forms.

"A lot of what I hear today is kind of old news," he says. "Musicians in the '60s were fortunate because they were walking into a huge empty room. You could wander into a far wall and do something wacky, and nobody had ever done that before. "Today you walk into that room, and it's like a New York cocktail party," he adds. "Every bit of floor space is taken."

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Syd's London Homes

September – December 1964
Tottenham Street,
Camden, W1

David Gale, quoted by Palacios “When we moved from Cambridge, Syd and I shared a bedsit in Tottenham Street off Tottenham Court Road. "
"Seamus O’Connell was at school with Syd and his mother was a strange bohemian lady who read palms. And she used to read our palms in her flat on Tottenham Street. Syd and I got a room in this hideous block full of deranged people, and the rent tribunal practically insisting the landlord give it to us for free, it was so dreadful. Syd and I lived in the same room for a number of months before I moved down to nearby Earlham Street, near Cambridge Circus.” Seamus O’Connell: “He had a bedsit there. My mother had set up house in this place, and various friends had gotten bedsits there. An appalling place, but it had an atmosphere to it. And Syd was getting interested in the occult, which my mother was also into. She would do tarot card readings for him.”

January – December 1965

39 Stanhope Gardens,
Highgate, London N6

At some point in 1964-65, every member of the original Pink Floyd line up lived at Mike Leonard’s house: hence the brief use of the name ‘Leonard’s Lodgers’. Mike even bought a Farfisa organ and sat in occasionally. Syd joined the band in December 1964 and moved to Stanhope Gardens in January 1965, sharing a room with Roger Waters. Describing the living room, Palacios writes: “Syd must have been thrilled. After the qualor of Tottenham Court Road, here was a fantastic room, an archive of ephemera. Reflecting the deeply English collector’s mentality, Leonard had assembled a veritable treasure trove of base materials from which Syd refined his aesthetics. It was here that he sat at the slightly out of tune grand piano working out primitive versions of his new songs.”
Mike Leonard still lives there.

Early 1966 –Early 1967
2 Earlham Street,
Covent Garden, London WC2

Syd followed David Gale to Earlham Street, in the heart of the West End, where Charing Cross Road intersects with Shaftesbury Avenue. He and Lindsay Korner took the attic room. Peter Wynne-Wilson (the owner) and Susie Gawler-Wright also lived there.
Peter Jenner: “Syd was the most creative person I’ve ever known. It was extraordinary, in those few months at Earlham Street he wrote nearly all of his songs for the Floyd and the solo albums. It was all very casual, done off the top of the head. No tortured genius sweating through the pain as far as I could see.”

The building Syd lived in has been demolished and replaced… the new No. 2 has the newsagent’s with the ‘Time Out’ logo on the ground floor. But the Marquis Of Granby pub is unchanged.
Cambridge Circus

The Marquis Of Granby faces the Palace Theatre, currently showing ‘Spamalot’ for all you Python fans ! The area between the two is known as Cambridge Circus. Joe Boyd recalls encountering Syd there in 1967: “One evening in May I ran into Syd and his girlfriend in Cambridge Circus. It is strange to recall that early on a weekend evening there was almost no traffic in the heart of London. Syd was sprawled on the kerb, his velvet trousers torn and dirty, his eyes crazed. Lindsay told me he’d been taking acid for a week.”

Pollo Bar, Soho
Just around the corner from the Palace Theatre, on Old Compton Street, is the Pollo Bar (continue along Old Compton Street a couple of hundred yards to Wardour Street, home of the Marquee). A more distressing piece of history associated with Old Compton Street is that in 1999 it suffered a nail-bomb attack aimed at the gay community.

Nicholas Schaffner describes Syd and Lindsay’s early months at Earlham Street with Peter and Susie: “The two couples enjoyed a relaxed, bohemian existence, sleeping all morning, lingering for hours at the Pollo Bar in Old Compton Street over sandwiches, and often playing the Oriental board game ‘Go’ well into the night. “

Early 67 : 101 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 4DN

Syd moved to 101 with Lindsay. Also living there at that time: Duggie Fields, Nigel and Jenny Lesmoir-Gordon .

101 was a place of underground myth and legend well before Syd got there: when Donovan described the scene in ‘Sunny South Kensington’, he name checked not just John Paul Belmondo, Mary Quant and Allen Ginsberg, but 101 itself.

“Come loon soon down Cromwell Road, man,
You got to spread your wings.
A-flip out, skip out, trip-out, and a-make your stand, folks,
To dig me as I sing.”

(Hmm. Some people question why I have limited time for Donovan)

Palacios writes that ‘The Cromwell flat, since 1965, had been a critical nexus for underground (and illicit) activities of every shade and stripe. Painters, musicians, eccentrics, mystics and freaks mixed with film stars, pop icons and slumming hip young aristocrats. Duggie Fields remembers when Syd moved in: “The Pink Floyd used to rehearse in the flat and I used to go downstairs and put on Smokey Robinson as loud as possible. I just remember being surrounded by the Pink Floyd and hundreds of groupies instantly”.’
Well, all this couldn’t be allowed to continue, and sadly 101 no longer stands: instead, the Holiday Inn is now 97 Cromwell Road. But the next row of townhouses gives you a good idea of how it would have looked.
Sunny South Kensington (Tube Station)
Late 67 - January 1968
Egerton Court, Old Brompton Road,
South Kensington, SW7 3HT
Late 67 – January 1968: Egerton Court is at the start of Old Brompton Road, directly opposite South Kensington Tube Staton. Syd moved there with Lindsay. Also there at this time: David Gale, Nigel and Jenny, Storm Thorgesen, Po Powell. It may not get a mention in a Donovan song, but if anything, Egerton Court gave birth to even more lurid tales than 101. David Gale told Palacios “We all embarked on an extremely acid-crazed period. We had this long thin flat, a long corridor with rooms off to one side only, just outside South Kensington tube station…” It was here that concerns first grew about Syd’s violence towards Lindsay, that failed attempts were made to put him in touch with R.D. Laing and where Jonathan Meades believes Syd was locked in a cupboard during a bad trip.

January 68: Syd moved to Richmond Hill, TW10 with Lindsay. (There is a road called Richmond Hill, but it’s also the name of the area, so there was no obvious location to photograph. What may have made this address attractive to Syd is that it was close to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, which Rosemary tells us he returned to visit even in the 2000s).

Rick Wright moved there too, apparently in an attempt to separate Syd from the ‘acid-crazed’ Egerton Court environment. Ironically, Jock and Sue Kingsford, who had passed through Earlham Street and Cromwell Road, followed. That’s ‘Mad’ Jock and Sue, as they were nicknamed, one reason being their psychedelic intake.

In Mid 68, Syd split with Lindsay, drove round England in a mini with Jock and Sue, then returned to Cambridge, where he was admitted to hospital for a period. In late 68 he returned to London and crashed on floors for a while.

December 68 – Mid 70
29 Wetherby Mansions,
Earl’s Court Square, SW5 9BH.
Syd and Duggie Fields knew each other from Cromwell Road days. They agreed to take a flat in Earl’s Court. Syd invited Gayla Pinion to follow. This is the flat that features on the cover of ‘The Madcap Laughs’. Syd lived here through the majority of the recording of that album and all of ‘Barrett’.

Yet, Duggie recalls this as a period of inertia: “We lived in adjoining rooms, and I did all my work in my room, and sometimes the wall between us was flimsy. I knew exactly what was going on that side of the wall and I presume Syd knew exactly what was happening on this side. It was strange. I knew that he’d be lying in bed doing nothing, and I knew that he’d be lying there, thinking that while he was lying there, he had the potential to do anything in the world. But the minute he got up he limited his potential, so he did nothing in the end.”
Jenny Fabien, author of ‘Groupie’ (which includes a thinly-veiled portrait of Syd in this period as Ben from the Satin Odyssey) had her even more idyllic illusion shattered:

“I found him living up the road from Earl’s Court… Again he didn’t speak much at all. He was sitting in the corner on a mattress and he’d painted every other floorboard alternate colours. He boiled an egg in a kettle and ate it. And he listened over and over again to Beach Boys tapes, which I found distressing. We sat for hours and we may have touched fleetingly…”

“…He was completely self-indulgent with his thought processes, never trying to control or direct them within any bounds of reason. Reasoning was inconclusive and unnecessary to him, because one reason led to another indefinitely, like infinity. Surely reason should provide an answer, but as there was no answer, there was no reason. And I remembered all the beautiful songs he had written about gnomes and cats and stars and weird fairyland things. Then he looked straight at me and said ‘ISN’T IT BORING LYING HERE ALL DAY THINKING OF NOTHING’. "

The emphasis is Julian Palacios’, not mine, but I think he called it right: the wishful fantasies Jenny projected onto Syd were hers, not his. NO PICS FOR THE FOLLOWING PERIOD:

In Mid-70, Syd returned to his childhood home at Hills Road, Cambridge and took over the cellar. He was engaged to Gayla on 1st October 70. The couple also did some dog-sitting at Steve Marriot’s Essex house around this time. The engagement didn’t last. 1972 saw the ‘Stars’ era end inconclusively. Syd seems to have been hospitalised for a period at the end of the year.

Then, in 1973, Pink Floyd went interstellar with the Dark Side Of The Moon. Syd’s income began to grow, especially when ‘A Nice Pair’ was released in December 1973. He returned to the bright lights and the trappings of success.

Mid-Late 73:
Park Lane Hilton Hotel, London Syd took the penthouse apartment. I took this picture at serious risk to life and liberty, illegally parked alongside several lanes of traffic !

December 1973 intermittently - 1982
Flat 902, Chelsea Cloisters, SW3 3DW. This was Syd’s home for many of the next eight years, though interrupted by returns to Cambridge. According to myth, his time was spent watching the telly til all hours, eating pork chops, drinking Guinness and shaving his eyebrows. Agent Bryan Morrison, describing Syd in this period: “He doesn’t have any involvement with anything or anybody. He is a recluse with about 25 guitars around him. I see him very rarely. I mean, I know where he is, but he doesn’t want to be bothered; he just sits there all day, watching television and getting fat. That’s what he does.”
The Marlborough Arms

Just around the corner from Chelsea Cloisters: it’s now a classy restaurant, but close in on the panel in the red brick wall to find the original moniker. Chelsea Cloisters doorman, Ronnie Salmon: “He used to drink in The Marlborough just around the corner… When I used to go round for a few beers with my mates, we’d see him sitting over in the corner as if in a dream. He was on his own all the time… always on his own. I’d try to get him to talk about his music, but he just wasn’t interested.”

Sweet Shop

Harrod’s is within a 5 minute walk of Chelsea Cloisters. A number of ‘classic’ Barrett encounters took place there. At various times, he has said to have been seen in Harrod’s with

a) A bulging carrier bag of sweets
b) Several pairs of trousers of different sizes
c) A Yogi Bear tie
d) Gayla Pinion

Take your pick ! In 1981, Syd was declared bankrupt and returned to live with Win in Cambridge, taking the smaller back bedroom of 6 St. Margaret’s Square. It seems that a spell in Fulbourne psychiatric hospital followed in 81/82. In Summer 1982. Syd made a brief return to Chelsea Cloisters, for a matter of weeks. He then returned to St. Margaret’s Square and resumed life as Roger Keith Barrett.

To see these pics and more in high resolution, go here...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Article posted on March 11th, 2007

Shine on

Syd Barrett and the Saints

by David Nantais

The ambiguous and narrow space between holiness, genius and insanity is where all of these figures, Barrett included, find common ground. Is it not possible that God could work through a person’s mental illness, odd behavior or alleged visions?

Syd Barrett, co-founder of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, recently passed away at the age of 60. Barrett was a troubled soul, an amalgamation of genius and lunacy who, in the 60’s, ingested LSD like Pez candy and wrote narcotic-inspired songs that influenced thousands of musicians. Barrett’s tenure in Pink Floyd was short—he lasted only one album after which his band mates dismissed him for his crazy, erratic behavior, and replaced him with guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour. Syd spent the past 3 decades living in anonymity in England, avoiding the press and staying far away from the music business.

Despite, or perhaps due to his quasi-monastic seclusion, many rock bands continued to cite Barrett as an influence decades after writing his last song. I recall first hearing about Barrett from one of my first band mates in the late eighties. We were playing in a band called the Stonemasons in Ann Arbor, MI and, as guys in bands do, we discussed our musical influences as often as possible. “Check this out,” exclaimed our bass player Bob, who put on Floyd’s first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, “You’ve GOT to hear this!” The whimsical but catchy song “Bike” blasted out of his stereo speakers, shaking the dormitory walls. The song impressed me for quite some time—I can still recall its melody and quirky lyrics. Almost a dozen years later, a band I played with in Chicago covered Barrett’s tune "Matilda Mother," another track from Piper. Barrett’s music, similar to that of cult favorites, The Velvet Underground, never sold millions of records, but, as one music critic exaggeratedly quipped, everyone who bought a copy started a band.

Stories of Strange Behavior

To be honest, what intrigued me about Syd Barrett was not so much the bizarre chord progressions in his songs, it was his strange behavior and the near-mythic stories that emerged about him. I heard stories from fellow musicians—I have subsequently dubbed them “musical legends,” very akin to the “urban legend” stories that teenagers trade during sleepover parties. Barrett’s LSD use, they claimed, brought his mind to a place beyond genius and into lunacy. This is why he spent time interned in a sanitarium—he saw what human beings should never see. Did he see God? Did he have a vision that altered his perception forever or was he simply a unique variation on the sad “live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse” cliché: live fast, die old(er) and hold a private funeral? Who knows? I admit that I was fascinated by these musical legends, and what’s more, I believed I could discern a kernel of truth within them.

The ambiguous and narrow space between holiness, genius and insanity is where all of these figures, Barrett included, find common ground. Is it not possible that God could work through a person’s mental illness, odd behavior or alleged visions?

In his Autobiography, Ignatius Loyola describes a vision he had of three musical notes that he discerned symbolized the Trinity. St. Teresa of Avila experienced “Intellectual visions and locutions,” according to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. Often, these fascinating experiences of the divine are what attract people to the saints. When it comes to saints’ life activities, going to daily mass never holds the same panache as touching a leper’s sores, bi-locating, or hearing the Virgin Mary deliver a message to the world. These instances of strange behaviors are attractive to us—they are far from ordinary and most of us will never experience anything close to them. Some of their contemporaries assumed that many of these saints were insane. Apologists, however, proclaim that their bizarre visions and behavior were the result of their hearts and minds being totally infused with God’s love.

Holiness, Genius and Insanity

Who is correct? Could it be that both parties have a partial grasp of the truth? The ambiguous and narrow space between holiness, genius and insanity is a place where all of these figures, Barrett included, find common ground. Is it not possible that God could work through a person’s mental illness, odd behavior or alleged visions? Millions of people flock to supposed Marian apparition sites every year, yet only a small minority has reported actually seeing the Virgin Mary appear. Whether or not these are “legitimate” visions is an issue about which not even the Catholic Church has given a final word. What cannot be denied, however, is that millions of faithful people have found strength, grace and have come closer to God as a result of visiting these places.

I am not saying that Syd Barrett is a contemporary saint. But why have Barrett’s music and life remained so attractive years after he disappeared from the public eye? There’s no doubt that, despite his faults and addictions, Barrett left an indelible mark on rock and roll music and influenced generations of listeners and musicians with his creative writing and beguiling guitar playing. His music was his gift to the world, and just perhaps, it was also the way God worked through him.

David Nantais is a campus minister at St. Mary’s Student Parish at the University of Michigan.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

30th Annv. of Dark Side of the Moon

dark side of the moon
Dark Side of the Moon stayed in the Billboard Charts a record 741 weeks. This April marks the thirtith year of it's release. Check the NPR link for more information:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Sixties Pink Floyd Photos

pink floyd pictures photos
Feast your eyes on these! New Pink Floyd pics! They appear to be from 1965! Look:

Syd in 1965

With white Telecaster.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Syd Barrett Tribute, Barbican London, May 10th

Syd Barrett
Madcap's Last Laugh 10 May 2007 / 19:30 Barbican Hall Part of Only Connect
Tickets: £15 / £20 / £25 subject to availability

book tickets
An evening in homage to the eccentric genius of Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett whose creative legacy and quintessential English vocal delivery has proven remarkably influential. Barrett was an obscure figure whose life-long struggle with mental illness shortened his creative period in music to only 7 years, however during that short time such classics as Arnold Layne and See Emily Play and Floyds first album The Piper at The Gates of Dawn were all written and recorded.

Recently David Bowie, Bobby Gillespie, Brian Eno and Jimmy Page have all paid personal tribute to the 'Crazy Diamond'.

This special event curated with Barrett's first producer Joe Boyd features many special guests performing Syd’s songs as well as rare film footage, lighting effects and spoken word.

Produced by the Barbican

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Jugband Blues Video

Tangerine Dream to Play Syd Tribute April 20 in London

Tangerine Dream have announced plans to play a single show in London to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The German "Kraut Rock" pioneers will be performing an intimate show at the Astoria on April 20.

The band will perform the entirety of their forthcoming studio album Madcap's Flaming Duty (released in the UK by Voiceprint on 2nd April). The album is dedicated to Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett, with song lyrics adapted from 17th and 18th century poets including Walt Whitman and William Blake.

The full tracklisting is:

Astrophel And Stella'
Shape My Sin'
The Blessed Damozel'
The Divorce'
A Dream Of Death'
Hear The Voice'
Lake Of Pontchartrain'
Mad Song'
One Hour Of Madness'
Hymn To Intellectual Beauty'
Solution Of All Problems'

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Israeli Band Wins Arnold Layne Song Contest

The Israeli band Rockfour has won first prize at an international music competition that was judged by David Gilmour and David Bowie. The contest called for various groups to record a cover version of the song Arnold Layne, Pink Floyd's first single composed by the late Syd Barrett, released in 1967. The prize was a day of recording at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London.

Members of the group, Baruch Ben Yitzhak, Isser Tennenbaum and Mark Lazar, are currently on a tour in the US which includes Philadelphia, New York and Texas. Overseas performances are expected to end on March 16th, and at the beginning of April the group is expected to release its new album "Memories of the Never Happened."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Syd Barrett's Possessions Raking in the Dough

syd barrett pink floyd
A painting by Syd Barrett, titled: A Design for a Panel of Abstract Crosses, sold at auction for £4,000. It was sold in a fine art auction at Cheffins in Cambridge, UK. It was painted in 1965 and given to his girlfriend, Vivien Brans. It was then passed to her nephew, who is from Cambridge.

Last November, seventy-six of Syd's personal items, from his former home in St Margaret's Square, Cambridge, fetched a total of £120,000 at Cheffins. They ranged from a homemade breadbin and set of stereo speakers to an armchair with stain on the head-rest where Barrett had reclined.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Roky Erickson's Legal Rights Restored!

Roky Erickson's legal rights were fully restored on Feb. 23, 2007 Since 2001, Roky had been under the legal guardianship of his brother Sumner Erickson. This is being celebrated at the Fifth Annual Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social. The Ice Cream Social is being held at Threadgills (301 W. Riverside Drive, 512-472-9304) and will run from 2 until 8 p.m. Admission is $20 and children under 12 are admitted free.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New Golden Dawn Album