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Letter from Syd Barrett to his girlfriend Jenny Spires:

Dear Jen, you are a lit­tle dish.

I’ll tell you every­thing that hap­pened at the record­ing. We took all the gear into the stu­dio which was lit by hor­rid white lights, and cov­ered with wires and micro­phones. Rog had his amp behind a screen and Nicki was also screened off, and after a lit­tle bit of chat we tested every­thing for bal­ance, and then recorded five num­bers more or less straight off; but only the gui­tars and drums. We’r going to add all the singing and piano etc. next Wednes­day. The tracks sound ter­rific so far, espe­cially King Bee.

When I sing I have to stand in the mid­dle of the stu­dio with ear phones on, and every­one else watches from the other room, and I can’t see them at all but they can all see me. Also I can only just hear what I’m singing.

I hope you got home alright Jen, and that you had a good time. You wouldn’t have been able to come in to the record­ing and any­way it went on till after mid­night, and would have been a whop­ping drag for you.

It was a nice thing to be which was tra tra la. (do not bother to interupt)

Do what you want Jen. I love you very much and want to hear from you and you are very pretty.

I am a bit fed up with every­thing today and I want to be in Cam­bridge or Greece but not in Lon­don where all I do is spend money and travel. The sun is shin­ing though.

Love, Roger.

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(Source: recordgroove)




there are actual tears


*breathes heavily*

Nick Mason claims to have found footage of The Five Man Floyd with Syd and David OMFG I’M FREAKING OUT in a David Gilmour interview he mentioned that they took video of Syd dancing backstage and this is probably the film so so so so if they’re making an immersion set of th Barrett era they could release it along side all remastered Syd videos

(Source: jennifer-gentle)

the end of Stars and Syd Barrett’s musical career

Stars played a number of times at a hippie-community cafe called ‘The Dandelion’ and then one Saturday in the outdoor in the main square in Cambridge and then two shows at the (huge, cavernous) Corn Exchange on a Thursday (with Nektar) and Saturday, two days later, with the MC5.

Nektar, being prog, had state of the art audio—two WEM Audiomasters out front and monitors. I mixed the band. Another roadie was Nigel, who took care of the stage. I think it was a friend of his that taped the show. I was lent the tape by Nigel some months later and it sounded good; I gave it back without copying. I later heard he lost it. I believe that. If it were around, it would have surfaced by now.

The MC5 show was not recorded and was not a good show, mainly due to their being zero monitors—just a big PA amp with one volume knob (the MC5 naturally kept it up all the way) backstage, plus Nigel spread the band too far apart onstage. I was reduced to running back and forwards from frontstage to back trying to judge if there was feedback. Syd battled thru but any man would have had problems. The team chalked it up as a good try. You can’t win them all.

The promoter of these shows—Steve Brink—had promised that there would be no press, however he did invite a guy from the Melody Maker, Roy Hollingworth, who had some sort of nervous breakdown at the show (he later ended up in the bin). He wrote a
piece that came out the next Wednesday detailing a wave of absolute alienation he sensed at the show, and used Syd as a metaphor for it.

“Syd looked very unhappy at the Corn Exchange gig,” says Jack Monck. “It was very painful for him –he’d stop singing partway through a line, or he’d be singing off-mike – his whole body language was he just didn’t really want to be there.”
Although disastrous, the gig didn’t quite kill the band off. A couple of days later they played a second, less documented show at the Corn Exchange with German space-rock outfit Nektar. “The band took [the MC5 show] in their stride,” remembers Joly. “It was the first big gig and they looked forward to Saturday with Nektar. Being prog, Nektar had state of the art audio – two WEM Audiomasters out front and monitors. I mixed the band; Nigel took care of the stage. This was a much, much better show, and so everyone was happy.”
Any optimism, however, was short-lived. A few days later, Roy Hollingworth’s review of the MC5 gig appeared in Melody Maker. The piece was devastating and probably over dramatised, but doubtless accurate.
“Three figures to my front shrugged their shoulders, and left. They didn’t understand Syd Barrett. Neither did the people who talked in the very dark corners. Neither did the guy who pulled a market wagon noisily across the floor. Neither did the person who switched the house-lights on (to reveal that there were only about 30 people there). But The Madcap played on, as if he understood. He played and played and played. No tune in particular, no tune in fact. He sounded out of tune most of the time anyway. But the time was most certainly in his head. He played a demented solo that ran ragged lines up to ten minutes. His ragged hair fell over a face that fell over a guitar and seldom looked up. He changed time almost by the minute, the keys and chords made little sense. The fingers on his left hand met the frets like strangers. They formed chords, and then re-formed them, and then – apparently nearly got it right – and then wandered away again. And then Syd scratched his nose again, and let loose a very short sigh. It was like watching somebody piece together a memory that had suffered the most severe shell-shock.”
Twink: “He killed the band with that review. Syd came round with it in his hand the next day, and said ‘I don’t want to play anymore.’ So that was it. I thought there was a possibility that something like that might happen, but it was a shame that it did.”

‘The Madcap Laughs’ Syd Barrett Interview

 Melody Maker: March 27, 1971  

Michael Watts talks to ex-Pink Floyd man Syd Barrett

That he became overbearingly egotistical, impossible to work with. That he was thrown out of The Pink Floyd. That he suffered a psychological crack-up. That he once went for an afternoon drive and ended up in Ibiza. That he went back to live with his mother in Cambridge as a part of a mental healing process. That occasionally he goes to the house of Richard Wright, The Floyd’s organist, and sits there silently for hours without speaking. 

Some of the stories are true.

Roger Waters: ‘When he was still in the band in the later stages, we got to the point where anyone of us was likely to tear his throat out at any minute because he was so impossible…

'When 'Emily' was a hit and we were third for three weeks, we did Top Of The Pops, and the third week we did it he didn't want to know. He got down there in an incredible state and said he wasn't gonna do it. We finally discovered the reason was that John Lennon didn't have to do Top Of The Pops so he didn't.'

In the past two years he has made a couple of albums. One of them was called ‘Barrett.’ The other was called ‘The Madcap Laughs.’

The cover of ‘Madcap’ has a picture of him crouching watchfully on the bare floorboards of a naked room. A nude girl stretches her body on the background.

The picture encapsulates the mood of his songs, which are pared-down and unembellished, unfashionably stripped of refined production values, so that one is left to concentrate on the words and the stream of consciousness effect. His work engenders a sense of gentle, brooding intimacy; a hesitant, but intense, awareness.

Syd Barrett came up to London last week and talked in the office of his music publisher, his first press interview for about a year. His hair is cut very short now, almost like a skinhead. Symbolic? Of what, then? He is very aware of what is going on around him, but his conversation is often obscure; it doesn’t always progress in linear fashion. He is painfully conscious of his indeterminate role in the music world: ‘I’ve never really proved myself wrong. I really need to prove myself right,’ he says.

Maybe he has it all figured. As he says in ‘Octopus,’ ‘the madcap laughed at the man on the border.’

Watts: What have you been doing since you left The Floyd, apart from making your two albums?

Syd: Well, I’m a painter, I was trained as a painter…I seem to have spent a little less time painting than I might’ve done…you know, it might have been a tremendous release getting absorbed in painting. Any way, I’ve been sitting about and writing. The fine arts thing at college was always too much for me to think about. What I was more involved in was being successful at arts school. But it didn’t transcend the feeling of playing at UFO and those sort of places with the lights and that, the fact that the group was getting bigger and bigger.

I’ve been at home in Cambridge with my mother. I’ve got lots of, well, children in a sense. My uncle…I’ve been getting used to a family existence, generally. Pretty unexciting. I work in a cellar, down in a cellar.

Watts: What would you sooner be a painter or a musician?

Syd: Well, I think of me being a painter eventually.

Watts: Do you see the last two years as a process of getting yourself together again?

Syd: No. Perhaps it has something to do with what I felt could be better as regards music, as far as my job goes generally, because I did find I needed a job. I wanted to do a job. I never admitted it because I’m a person who doesn’t admit it

Watts: There were stories you were going to go back to college, or get a job in a factory.

Syd: Well, of course, living in Cambridge I have to find something to do. I suppose I could’ve done a job. I haven’t been doing any work. I’m not really used to doing quick jobs and then stopping, but I’m sure it would be possible.

Watts: Tell me about The Floyd how did they start?

Syd: Roger Waters is older than I am. He was at the architecture school in London. I was studying at Cambridge I think it was before I had set up at Camberwell (art college). I was really moving backwards and forwards to London. I was living in Highgate with him, we shared a place there, and got a van and spent a lot of our grant on pubs and that sort of thing. We were playing Stones numbers. I suppose we were interested in playing guitars I picked up playing guitar quite quickly…I didn’t play much in Cambridge because I was from the art school, you know. But I was soon playing on the professional scene and began to write from there.

Watts: Your writing has always been concerned purely with songs rather than long instrumental pieces like the rest of The Floyd, hasn’t it?

Syd: Their choice of material was always very much to do with what they were thinking as architecture students. Rather unexciting people, I would’ve thought, primarily. I mean, anybody walking into an art school like that would’ve been tricked maybe they were working their entry into an art school.

But the choice of material was restricted, I suppose, by the fact that both Roger and I wrote different things. We wrote our own songs, played our own music. They were older, by about two years, I think. I was 18 or 19. I don’t know that there was really much conflict, except that perhaps the way we started to play wasn’t as impressive as it was to us, even, wasn’t as full of impact as it might’ve been. I mean, it was done very well, rather than considerably exciting. One thinks of it all as a dream.

Watts: Did you like what they were doing the fact that the music was gradually moving away from songs like ‘See Emily Play’?

Syd: Singles are always simple…all the equipment was battered and worn all the stuff we started out with was our own, the guitars were our own property. The electronic noises were probably necessary. They were very exciting. That’s all really. The whole thing at the time was playing on stage.

Watts: Was it only you who wanted to make singles?

Syd: It was probably me alone, I think. Obviously, being a pop group one wanted to have singles. I think ‘Emily’ was fourth in the hits.

Watts: Why did you leave them?

Syd: It wasn’t really a war. I suppose it was really just a matter of being a little offhand about things. We didn’t feel there was one thing which was gonna make the decision at the minute. I mean, we did split up, and there was a lot of trouble. I don’t think the Pink Floyd had any trouble, but I had an awful scene, probably self-inflicted, having a mini and going all over England and things. Still…

Watts: Do you think the glamour went to your head at all?

Syd: I don’t know. Perhaps you could see it as something went to one’s head, but I don’t know that it was relevant.

Watts: There were stories you had left because you had been freaked out by acid trips.

Syd: Well, I don’t know, it don’t seem to have much to do with the job. I only know the thing of playing, of being a musician, was very exciting. Obviously, one was better off with a silver guitar with mirrors and things all over it than people who ended up on the floor or anywhere else in London.

The general concept, I didn’t feel so conscious of it as perhaps I should. I mean, one’s position as a member of London’s young people’s, I dunno what you’d call it underground wasn’t it, wasn’t necessarily realised and felt, I don’t think, especially from the point of view of groups.

I remember at UFO one week one group, then another week another group, going in and out, making that set-up, and I didn’t think it was as active as it could’ve been. I was really surprised that UFO finished. I only read last week that itUs not finished. Joe Boyd did all the work on it and I was really amazed when he left. What we were doing was a microcosm of the whole sort of philosophy and it tended to be a little bit cheap. The fact that the show had to be put together; the fact that we weren’t living in luxurious places with luxurious things around us. I think I would always advocate that sort of thing the luxurious life. It’s probably because I don’t do much work.

Watts: Were you not at all involved in acid, then, during its heyday among rock bands?

Syd: No. It was all, I suppose, related to living in London. I was lucky enough…I’ve always thought of going back to a place where you can drink tea and sit on the carpet. I’ve been fortunate enough to do that. All that time…you’ve just reminded me of it. I thought it was good fun. I thought The Soft Machine were good fun. They were playing on ‘Madcap,’ except for Kevin Ayers.

Watts: Are you trying to create a mood in your songs, rather than tell a story?

Syd: Yes, very much. It would be terrific to do much more mood stuff. They’re very pure, you know, the words…I feel I’m jabbering. I really think the whole thing is based on me being a guitarist and having done the last thing about two or three years ago in a group around England and Europe and The States, and then coming back and hardly having done anything, so I don’t really know what to say. I feel, perhaps, I could be claimed as being redundant almost. I don’t feel active, and that my public conscience is fully satisfied.

Watts: Don’t you think that people still remember you?

Syd: Yes, I should think so.

Watts: Then why don’t you get some musicians, go on the road and do some gigs?

Syd: I feel though the record would still be the thing to do. And touring and playing might make that impossible to do.

Watts: Don’t you fancy playing live again after two years?

Syd: Yes, very much.

Watts: What’s the hang-up then? Is it getting the right musicians around you?

Syd: Yeah.

Watts: What would be of primary importance whether they were brilliant musicians or whether you could get on with them?

Syd: I’m afraid I think I’d have to get on with them. They’d have to be good musicians. I think they’d be difficult to find. They’d have to be lively.

Watts: Would you say, therefore, you were a difficult person to get on with?

Syd: No. Probably my own impatience is the only thing, because it has to be very easy. You can play guitar in your canteen, you know, your hair might be longer, but there’s a lot more to playing than travelling around universities and things.

Watts: Why don’t you go out on your own playing acoustic? I think you might be very successful.

Syd: Yeah…that’s nice. Well, I’ve only got an electric. I’ve got a black Fender which needs replacing. I haven’t got any blue jeans…I really prefer electric music.

Watts: What records do you listen to?

Syd: Well, I haven’t bought a lot. I’ve got things like Ma Rainey recently. Terrific, really fantastic.

Watts: Are you going into the blues, then, in your writing?

Syd: I suppose so. Different groups do different things…one feels that Slade would be an interesting thing to hear, you know.

Watts: Will there be a third solo album?

Syd: Yeah. I’ve got some songs in the studio, still. And I’ve got a couple of tapes. It should be 12 singles, and jolly good singles. I think I shall be able to produce this one myself. I think it was always easier to do that.

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