Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pink Floyd's crazy diamond dead at 60 (Updated below)

Yes, Syd Barrett, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd has died. This means a lot to me since Pink Floyd was my favorite band from high school through college and beyond. Even now, when I hear Pink Floyd songs I am moved in a very very particular way. It all started when my sister gave me her warped copy of "Dark Side of the Moon" (post-Barrett). It took me awhile, but it gradually replaced Def Leppard to become my most listened to album and band. First I got hooked on "Money" and then the rest of the album followed, which led me to many other Floyd discoveries.

Actually, in 6th grade we used to all plug into the tape recorder in the library and listen to "Another Brick in the Wall" over and over again: "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control." And so I went on to get a Ph.D. Go figure?

The AP article by Jill Lawless--an appropriate name--has a particularly egregious error, which sooner or later will be corrected:
Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and the 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" — largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar — was a commercial and critical hit.

However, Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 — five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon." He was replaced by David Gilmour.
Floyd fans already caught it; the rest of you are in the dark. The article does not include Roger Waters as one of the founding members, and nowhere even mentions his name. Instead, David Gilmour is both one of the founding members and Syd's replacement. This is a shame.

Update: I also posted this at Daily Kos and got a lot of interesting comments. It was amazing how fast the comments multiplied. I think there are a lot of progressive Pink Floyd fans out there. Almost 200 people voted in the poll I posted there. Check out the results.

Here is a corrected version of the AP article that mentions Roger Waters.

Adam Berstein pens a good piece on Syd in the Washington Post:
Roger Keith Barrett was born Jan. 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England, where his father was a university lecturer in pathology. He was drawn to jazz and blues early on, playing ukulele and later switching to guitar, and he hung out in music clubs. He took his nickname from a old Cambridge jazz drummer he knew, Sid Barrett, and used a "y" for effect.

Mr. Barrett was an indifferent art student in London when he joined his high school friend Waters in a rock band that included Mason and Wright. Mr. Barrett wrote many of the group's early songs, inspired mostly by prodigious drug use and an astronomical atlas he carried everywhere.

He also renamed the band, formerly the Screaming Abdabs, after two obscure American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd "Dipper Boy" Council.
It also has the nitty gritty on Syd's life after he left the band. Kind of tragic:
After brief hospitalization, Mr. Barrett was cared for by his mother, and he rarely left home. After his mother died in 1991, his health worsened, and his eyesight began to fail. He enjoyed gardening, however, and was said to be skillful at stuffing peppers.
The revised AP article adds this fascinating tidbit about Syd's later years:
He spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England, and reverting to his real name, Roger Barrett.
He was a familiar figure, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store, but rarely spoke to the fans and journalists who sought him out over the years.


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