Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Won’t you miss me? Wouldn't you miss me at all?

Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, dies

I'm not a huge Pink Floyd fan (the only albums of theirs I own are Piper, Meddle, Wish You Were Here, and Animals), but it always struck me as sad that Barrett never really understood what he started. There's a sad anecdote in Saucerful of Secrets about Barrett wandering into the studio during the sessions for Wish You Were Here:

On June 5, yet another legendary guest materialized, un-announced, at the Abbey Road studios. It was Dave and Ginger's wedding day as well as the eve of the band's second 1975 US tour, and the Floyd were frantically trying to wrap up a final mix of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." With the voices of Roger and Dave summoning the spirit of Syd Barrett from the studio monitors, who should lurch in but an obese man with shaven head and eyebrows, wearing a white trenchcoat and white shoes and clutching a white plastic bag. Gilmour was the first to notice him sniffing around the Floyd's equipment; but, preoccupied with other matters, he figured that the odd-looking character was some EMI minion.

"He came into the studio," recalls Rick Wright, "and no one recognized this person. I remember going in, and Roger was already in the studio working. I came in and sat next to Roger. After ten minutes, Roger said to me, 'Do you know who that guy is?' I said, 'I have no idea. I assumed it was a friend of yours.' He said 'Think, think.' And I kept looking at him - and I suddenly realized it was Syd!" Waters, by his own account, was "in fucking tears" upon divining the identity of "this great, fat, bald, mad person."

Another visitor from the past, Andrew King, thought Barrett looked like nothing so much as a chef at some Middle American burger joint. King tried to break the ice by asking his former star client how he'd put on so much weight. "I've got a large fridge in the kitchen," Syd explained, "and I've been eating a lot of pork chops." Barrett then reportedly let it be known that he was now ready for the Floyd to make use of his services once again.

As his ex-colleagues applied themselves to the onerous task of mixing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," replaying it over and over, Syd fell silent, giving no sign of understanding that he was the hero of this stirring tribute. Finally, when they asked for the track to be played yet another time, he interrupted: "Why bother? You've heard it once already."

Barrett subsequently joined the others at the EMI canteen for the Gilmour's wedding reception. After unnerving unsuspecting guests - some of whom mistook him for a Hare Krishna fanatic - with his maniacal laughter and penetrating stares, Syd vanished into the night without saying goodbye.

The following day, the Floyd left for America without him. None of them has ever seen him since.

Here's hoping that the latter years of Syd's life were peaceful as he lived them out surrounded by his family and hopefully finding satisfaction in his painting and gardening.

Pink Floyd performing Astronomy Domine with Barrett:

1 Comments:

Blogger Chapel Hillbilly said...

I hear ya on this one. Although Syd was long gone way before his passing, he was really crucial to a musical movement that wouldn't really find it's way until another 25 years or so later.

6:54 AM  

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