Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett Leaves the Planet

Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett leaves the planet although some would say he was never quite on it.
He died this past weekend on July 7, of that most earthly disease, cancer.

Syd Barrett was a founding member of Pink Floyd and the principal architect of it’s early sound on the album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn and to a lesser degree, A Saucer Full of Secrets.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Syd Barrett brought a combination of whimsy and cosmic chaos to Floyd heard on songs like “See Emily Play,” and “Interstellar Overdrive.” “Astronomy Domine” provided the siren call to the first generation of space music artists like Gong, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.

Barrett created several novel guitar effects, most prominent among them, glissando guitar. Using a metal bar, Barrett would stroke the guitar strings and through a combination of feedback and reverb create heavenly cascades like the aurora borealis turned to sound. Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage, both formerly of Gong, brought this sound to a high point and continue to employ it to this day.

STEVE HILLAGE from 1993 Echoes Interview:
Syd Barrett was a major influence. I saw a very early Pink Floyd concert before they were famous and that influenced me a lot. In fact he is the founder of glissando guitar. He used to do it with a Zippo lighter, cigarette lighter. And he showed that to Daevid Allen who used to be in Soft Machine and then Daevid Allen took that sound and made it a trademark sound of Gong. And then when I, I was already doing it myself out of sort of admiration in my earlier band. And then when I joined Gong, Daevid and I became the Glissando Brothers. And I’ve carried on in that mode ever since.

As have many others including guitarist Jeff Pearce and Robert Rich, who uses the technique on his lap steel guitar.

Syd Barrett got much of his inspiration in the flows of hallucinogens and they interacted poorly with his own mental health, later diagnosed as schizophrenia, causing him to spiral into madness. His story is captured on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and especially, Wish You Were Here, an album based on Barrett’s all to brief arc across the skies.

Dark Side of the Moon 30th Anniversary Edition Wish You Were Here

Remember when you were young, You shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, Like black holes in the sky. Shine on you crazy diamond
-Pink Floyd-Shine on You Crazy Diamond

It seems strange that just over this past weekend I was listening to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Wish You Were Here for the first time in years. Syd Barrett is everywhere.
Echoes will remember Syd Barrett on our Thursday, July 13 show.

Comment posted by
at 7/16/2006 12:47:27 PM

I preempted the scheduled mid-month July podcast at The Best Radio You Have Never Heard. ( for a tribute to Syd entitled “Here to Do My Parts”
This podcast is a tribute to Syd Barrett. Even though of course there is some Pink Floyd music in the show, it is more of a tribute to Syd’s vision. I like to think of it as traveling music for Syd’s iPod as he makes the trek to the Gates of Dawn, or perhaps some gardening music for the great beyond as, in his recent past, gardening was one of Syd’s few hobbies.
It is just under 80 minutes in length and a perfect late night journey while thinking about the great Madcap.
Let me know what you think . . .


Comment posted by
at 7/13/2006 7:56:27 PM

I am very sorry to hear of Sid’s passing. I recorded Pink Floyd for a friend who owned KDKB/KCAC Phoenix (Bill Compton III) in 1971-73 and later in 1975. I don’t remember the exact years. I still have the recording. The performance at Big Surf AZ was rained out. I did meet with the Band Prior to and after the concert. I met Sid in 1966-67 in San Fransisco, at the Fillmore West I believe. Later at “Ghiradelli Square” a notorious hang out for us hippie types back then. It was the summer of love after all and many artists like Iron Butterfly, Cream and others were just there. The sign above our heads said it best. “The San Fransico Happening. I was still just a kid but I hung out there with Jerry Garcia (Moby Grape) Janis Joplin, Grace E Slick and numerous others like Sweetwater. It is a part of my life that is hazy but memorable at the same time. Thanks for your tribute. Sids or your right John maybe it was Roger but I seem to remember something of Sid in there. Still a blur to me. but “Julia Dream” is still with me after all these years. Perhaps he is in a better place.
John Huling

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