Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Syd's Departure from Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd's first performance as a five-piece was Aston University, on January 12th. Following that, they played: Weston Super Mare 13 Jan, Lewes Sussex 19 Jan, Hastings Sussex 20 Jan. Syd Barrett played his last ever gig with Pink Floyd on Jan. 20, 1968. Barrett was the main songwriter, lead singer, guitarist and focal point for the psychedelic pioneers from their formation through the end of 1967, at which time, various issues led to his exit from the band. For that handful of shows David played and sang while Barrett wandered around on stage, occasionally deigning to join in playing. The other band members soon tired of Barrett’s antics.

The next show, at Southampton University on January 26th, was the one Syd was not picked up for. They were supported by Tyrannosaurus Rex, featuring Marc Bolan. Following this, the band hoped to keep Syd on as a songwriter, but have Gilmour be their performing guitarist. But Syd’s songwriting efforts (notably “Have You Got It Yet?”) seemed destined for commercial failure, and the rest of the band didn’t agree with his plan to add banjo and sax players to the group. So it was decided, on March 2, to break up the management partnership of Blackhill Enterprises, and Syd was thus formally and officially out of the group.

On February 1, 1968 Pink Floyd spent the day at Abbey Road studios working on what would become their second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets. Sessions had previously taken place with Syd Barrett and continued with David Gilmour throughout the rest of the month. On February 17, 1968 the band began a five-date tour of the Netherlands and Belgium. The trip also included a TV appearance for RTB in Brussels (performing new songs, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Corporal Clegg, among others) and two performances for ORTV in Paris, including a mimed performance of the single B-side Paintbox.

March 1, 1968 Pink Floyd's partnership with management company Blackhill Enterprises was formally dissolved. The band acquired a new manager, Steve O'Rourke, who was initially employed by their booking agents, the Bryan Morrison Agency. On March 16 Pink Floyd played London's hippest nightspot, Middle Earth in Covent Garden. Syd Barrett was among the audience. On March 28 Pink Floyd were filmed playing Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun for the BBC TV arts programme 'Omnibus'. The documentary, about pop music and politics, was later released as a video/DVD entitled All My Loving. On April 4 Pink Floyd began recording background music for the film noir The Committee, featuring former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones.

It wasn’t until April 6, 1968 that the Floyd officially announced that Syd had left the band. Barrett friend, poet Spike Hawkins, remembers Syd telling him about the early Floyd recordings, and how he “wanted to go much deeper, using music and lyrics as a key to opening doors.” Hawkins told Barrett he had in fact opened doors for the band, Barrett replied, “Yeah, with cheap keys.”

Barrett did not contribute any material to the band after A Saucerful of Secrets was released in 1968. Of the songs he wrote for Pink Floyd after The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, only one (“Jugband Blues”) made it to the band’s second album; one became a less-than-successful single (“Apples and Oranges”), and two others (“Scream Thy Last Scream” and “Vegetable Man”) were never officially released. Barrett supposedly spent some time outside the recording studio, waiting to be invited in (he also showed up to a few gigs and glared at Gilmour). Barrett played slide guitar on “Remember a Day” (which had been recorded during the The Piper at the Gates of Dawn sessions) and also played on “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”. His main contribution to the album, “Jugband Blues,” is often seen by Pink Floyd fans as Barrett’s admission that his days in the band were probably numbered (“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”, the song opens). In April of 1968 it was officially announced that he was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.

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