Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Farewell to the Effervescing Elephant

The mysterious, reclusive, legendary, drug-addled founder of Pink Floyd is no more. Syd Barrett has died:
Syd Barrett, who founded Pink Floyd but later lived as a recluse, has died at the age of 60, according to a spokeswoman for the band.

A spokeswoman for Pink Floyd told the Press Association: "He died very peacefully a couple of days ago. There will be a private family funeral."

The singer and guitarist, born Roger Keith Barrett, wrote many of the early hits for the avant-garde rock band, including the 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and the band's first hit singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play."

I've read a number of books on Pink Floyd, one of the best being Nicholas Schaffner's Saucerful of Secrets. Barrett comes across as one of those fragile geniuses, sort of a mod version of Brian Wilson. As his drug use increased, he became more and more unstable, and his bandmates--Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright--took to treating him like shit. Understandable to an extent, but it's still somewhat shocking. It's some measure of redemption that over the past decade or so Gilmour championed Barrett's work somewhat, and was to a great degree responsible for the reissue of all of Barrett's solo work in the nice Crazy Diamond boxed set. Barrett's solo work never quite compares to his early stuff with Pink Floyd, but it's definitely interesting and you have to wonder what he could've accomplished had he not abused himself so. Directly or indirectly, he was responsible for giving the world a lot of great, enduring music, and I will always respect him for that.

Now Playing: Syd Barrett Opel

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