Syd Barrett Receives Tributes at 60

The band’s later frontman honours the former – Published: 08 January 2006

Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour has paid tribute to the man he replaced in 1968.

Friday (January 6) was the 60th birthday of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s original iconic frontman, who left the band in their early stages to live a solitary life.

In an interview with the Independent, Gilmour reinforces the sensibilities of Barrett’s iconology – that of a fallen genius and a musical pioneer unable to deal with the workings of a band headed for global stardom:

“He was a truly magnetic personality,” says Gilmour. “When he was very young, he was a figure in his home town. People would look at him in the street and say, “There’s Syd Barrett,” and he would be only 14 years old.”

“In my opinion, [his breakdown] would have happened anyway. It was a deep-rooted thing. But I’ll say the psychedelic experience might well have acted as a catalyst. Still, I just don’t think he could deal with the vision of success and all the things that went with it.”

Gilmour was drafted into the band in early 1968 when Barrett’s behaviour was beginning to impact on the band. The concept; Barrett would stay behind the scenes for as long as he needed, writing and producing music. But, when he quit London in 1970 to return to the family home in Cambridge, it would spell the end of his creative output.

Gilmour also goes on to reveal the difficulties of recording Barrett in the studio during his later solo recordings;

“The potential of some of those songs… they could have really been fantastic. But trying to find a technique of working with Syd was so difficult. You had to pre-record tracks without him, working from one version of the song he had done, and then sit Syd down afterwards and try to get him to play and sing along. Or you could get him to do a performance of it on his own and then try to dub everything else on top.

“The concept of him performing with another bunch of musicians was clearly impossible because he’d change the song every time. He’d never do a song the same twice, I think quite deliberately.”