Syd Barrett was the creative force behind the nascent Pink Floyd. After only one album and a handful of singles he became the most high profile Acid casualty in Rock history and suffered what was ostensibly a complete breakdown that lead to him being ousted from the band.
If that had been the full extent of his career it would have been sufficient to assure him a place in the lexicon of Rock as the principle exponent of the psychedelic phenomenon. But it wasn’t over yet.
Syd was nursed to a partial recovery and coaxed back into the studio by Gilmour and Wright. The ideas were still there and he went on to record two more extraordinary albums (the dregs making up a third) full of the fantastical imagery and characters that he had deployed so well in the early Floyd songs.
These albums were not so complex and lavishly produced as the first Floyd album but they were just as adventurous and innovative. Syd had not lost it.
The problem was that Syd was still delicate. I met him at the time he was recording in Abbey Road studio. I was there with Roy Harper and we bumped into him in a corridor. He was quiet timid and shy and what I remember most is those eyes. They were big, shiny and black. It was like looking into a void. Floyd got it spot on in ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’.
The albums were brilliant and they even tried to get Syd back on the road to promote them. He had an adoring fan base who were with him all the way but he simply could not cope. At his one attempt he fumbled through a couple of songs and walked off. That was it.
Syd went on to become a reclusive hermit, living with his mother, painting and whiling away the time. He never recorded again and probably never wrote any more songs.
Syd was as amazing character as the people he created in his songs. He left us with a number of psychedelic classics in his inimitable fantasy style that sounded so simple yet nobody has proved able to replicate.
There is only one Syd Barrett.