‘Lose your mind and play’ Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd ‘live’ on TOTP, 1967

I type this as someone who has (perhaps obsessively) gone out of his way—for decades now—acquiring Pink Floyd bootlegs. I couldn’t get enough of them, always trading up in quality if possible. There was always an endless supply of them, with “new” ones popping up constantly. It was a disease like stamp collecting. I even paid a hundred bucks for one that I just had to have…

Since YouTube launched in 2005, of course, there’s been so much additional Pink Floyd goodness making its way to the public—an avalanche really—which is the only way to explain how THIS ONE got past me in the Floydian deluge… I’d read a few years ago that the British Film Institute had located tapes of two of Pink Floyd’s three Top of the Pops appearances in the summer of 1967 and that the quality was a little ropey. I promptly forget about it, but that footage turned up on YouTube about a year ago, even if I just saw it myself this morning.

True the quality isn’t great—only one of the tapes was watchable apparently—but who’s going to complain about catching a rare glimpse of a still functional Syd Barrett fronting Pink Floyd on TOTP in 1967??? Before this video was located, practically the only documentation of the group’s trio of appearances on the program was the color shot used on the Syd Barrett bootleg “Unforgotten Hero” as seen above.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rock stars with their cats and dogs

Cool pictures of musicians with their pet dogs and cats, which show how even the most self-obsessed, narcissistic Rock god has a smidgen of humanity to care about someone other than themselves. Though admittedly, Iggy Pop looks like he’s about to eat his pet dog.
Patti Smith and stylist.
This is not a doggy bag, Iggy.
There’s a cat in there somewhere with Joey Ramone.
Tupac Shakur and a future internet meme.
Bjork and a kissing cousin.
O Superdog: Laurie Anderson and friend.
More cats and dogs and musicians, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip, captured on film
06:48 am


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

syd barrett's first trip
In 2000, at my favorite outré movie rental shop B-Ware Video, a cheap, bootleg-looking DVD arrived in stock, with a shoddily designed cover announcing its contents to be footage of founding Pink Floyd top dog Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip. I never did rent it—though I was keen to see it, I hadn’t partaken of psychedelics or even pot in years by then, so my interest wasn’t so great that there wasn’t always something else I’d have rather rented. So a long succession of “maybe next times” turned into an unequivocal “never” when, to my heartbreak, the store closed. I attended their inventory liquidation, but though I came home with a lot of brilliant stuff, someone seems to have beaten me to snapping up that Syd Barrett DVD; I couldn’t find it, so my curiosity about the formative psychedelic experience of one of the great architects of psychedelic music went unsatisfied.

But time and YouTube heal many of those kinds of wounds, and sure enough, it’s online in all its amateurish 8mm glory. The first half of the film features some dreamy and quite lovely overexposed footage of the young Barrett and some fellow hallucinogenic travelers gamboling through a field and setting a small brush fire - kids, don’t set fires when you’re tripping at home, OK? Then, at about 5:38 of the 11:34 opus, the scene abruptly shifts to the outside of Abbey Road Studios in London, where Pink Floyd are celebrating the signing of their recording contract with EMI. It would only be a few years before Barrett’s gifts were lost to the world due to drug-fueled mental illness, and the band would go on to inconhood without him. The man who shot the footage, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, contributed this synopsis to the film’s IMDB page:

I am Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and I shot this film of Syd on a visit from film school in London to my hometown, Cambridge. We were on the Gog Magog hills with a bunch of friends. David Gale is there along with Andrew Rawlinson, Russell Page, Lucy Pryor and my wife, Jenny. She’s the one in the yellow mac talking to the tree. The mushroom images are iconic and will last forever. It is an unselfconscious film. It was not planned. It just happened. The guy on the balcony is me at 101 Cromwell Road, London SW7. This footage was shot by Jenny. When David Gale wrote about 101 in The Independent he recalled: As the 60s began to generate heat, I found myself running with a fast crowd. I had moved into a flat near the Royal College of Art. I shared the flat with some close friends from Cambridge, including Syd Barrett, who was busy becoming a rock star with Pink Floyd. A few hundred yards down the street at 101 Cromwell Road, our preternaturally cool friend Nigel was running the hipster equivalent of an arty salon. Between our place and his, there passed the cream of London alternative society - poets, painters, film-makers, charlatans, activists, bores and self-styled visionaries. It was a good time for name-dropping: how could I forget the time at Nigels when I came across Allen Ginsberg asleep on a divan with a tiny white kitten on his bare chest? And wasn’t that Mick Jagger visible through the fumes? Look, there’s Nigel’s postcard from William Burroughs, who looks forward to meeting him when next he visits London! The other material is of the band outside EMI after their contract signing. It’s raw, unedited footage and stunning even so. It is silent but many people have subsequently put music to it on their youtube an google postings. Good luck to them.

I’ve heard it told that among the party with Barrett that day was the young, soon to be legendary (and sadly, as of April 2013, deceased) graphic artist Storm Thorgerson, who would go on to co-found the design group Hipgnosis, and to personally design some of the most indelible album covers in rock history, including many for Pink Floyd. But as the actual shooter’s synopsis omits that bit of rock lore, I’m becoming inclined to doubt that legend’s veracity.

The accompanying music is spacey and ambient, and though maybe more than a hair too new-agey, it underscores the film’s dreaminess well. But as is noted in the synopsis, it was added later and it’s not Pink Floyd, and so this relic may not be of significant interest to the band’s more casual fans. But as a document of one of rock music’s consummate originals, it can be enjoyable in its own right so long as your expectations for it aren’t unrealistic. Copies are available for purchase in DVD and VHS formats.

Thanks to DM reader Rafael de Alday for shaking this loose from my memory banks.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Syd Barrett coloring book
11:35 am


Syd Barrett
coloring books

Simply titled “Barrett” this 2010 coloring book by Piper Gates Design can’t be found anywhere on web (at least not anymore, the listings were removed from eBay).

If you really gotta have one, I’d suggest contacting Piper Gates Design directly at this email address: Who knows? Maybe there are more? 

Update: Ian Percival of Piper Gates Design wrote to DM to say: “The book was not removed from ebay but sold out of its original print run in 2 days.”



Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Vashti Bunyan: Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind

My old friend, film composer and musician Adam Peters, came back from London a few years ago raving about a musician he’d just met there named Vashti Bunyan. Adam and I tend to agree about most music and I think he’s a musical genius himself, so when he’s enthusiastic about something new that I just have to hear, well, I just have to hear it.

What made his enthusiasm for Vashti Bunyan’s music even more compelling was that he’d been in London working as the musical director of that big Syd Barrett tribute concert and had been playing with the very cream of the crop of the rock world, including Damon Albarn, John Paul Jones, the great Kevin Ayers and of course, the Pink Floyd.

So this was exceptionally high praise indeed.

Now referred to as the “Grandmother of Freak Folk,” in the mid-1960s, Vashti Bunyan was a pretty London-born flower child who discovered Bob Dylan on a visit to New York and decided to becme a singer upon her return home. Like Nico and PP Arnold, shy-looking Vashti was spotted by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who had her record the Jagger/Richard’s composition Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind in 1965.

She recorded a few more songs, but nothing really stuck. She did the hippie thing for a while, traveling, living in communes and writing songs which eventually ended up on her album, Just Another Diamond Day, produced by Joe Boyd (Pink Floyd, Nick Drake) and recorded with members of the Fairport Convention and The Incredible String Band in 1970.

The results were haunting, as delicate as cotton candy, but the album was not a success. Bunyan turned away from a musical career, raising her three children on a farm. But it was not the end of her music. For years the reputation of Just Another Diamond Day grew steadily, trading at the very highest end of record collecting prices, often selling in excess of $1000, a fact Bunyan herself remained blissfully unaware of.

In 2000 Just Another Diamond Day was reissued on CD with bonus tracks. Bunyan’s ethereal music was embraced by a new generation of musicians such as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Animal Collective. The title track was used in a memorable T-Mobile advertisement. Her follow-up to Diamond Day, titled Lookaftering came out in 2005, a mere 35 years after its predecessor and was critically well-received.

A documentary film about her life, tracing the journeys that inspired the songs on the Diamond Day album, Vashti Bunyan: From Here To Before was released in 2008.

Vashti Bunyan performs Nick Drake’s “Which Will.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Crazy Diamond: The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story

In his essential book of collected rock music essays and profiles, The Dark Stuff, writer Nick Kent recounts how famed psychiatrist, R. D. Laing watched an interview tape of Pink Floyd’s genius and drug-addled leader, Syd Barrett and claimed the singer was incurable. Not long after, Kent saw the evidence for himself:

Less than five years earlier, I’d stood transfixed, watching [Syd] in all his retina scorching, dandified splendor as he’d performed with his group the Pink Floyd, silently praying that one day I might be just like him. Now, as he stood before me with his haunted eyes and fractured countenance, I was having second thoughts. I asked him about his current musical project (a short-lived trio called Stars…) as his eyes burned a hole through one of the four walls surrounding us with a stare so ominous it could strip the paint off the bonnet of a brand new car. ‘I had eggs and bacon for breakfast,’ he then intoned solemnly, as if reciting a distantly remembered mantra. I repeated my original question. ‘I’m sorry! I don’t speak French,’ he finally replied.

Perhaps Barrett just wanted to avoid the dandified Kent. Then again, when Kent “rubbed up against the likes of Syd Barrett” he astutley realized:

...these were people who’d gotten what they actually wanted, only to find out it was the last thing on earth they actually needed…

This isn’t to dismiss Barrett’s immense talent or achievements - for one, he took an average band and turned them into something quite incredible. And his importance was such that when he left, his bandmates went on to make music inspired by his absence.

The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story was originally screened in 2001, as part of the BBC’s Omnibus strand as Syd Barrett - Crazy Diamond. The documentary gives a fascinating portrait of Barrett’s brilliant rise and tragic fall through a drug-induced breakdown. Contributions come from Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour, artist Duggie Fields (who describes sharing an apartment with the Crazy Diamond), Robyn Hitchcock, and, of course, archive of Syd Barrett - who, incidentally, watched the doc, when it was first broadcast and enjoyed seeing the archive, though found the music “too loud”.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Twilight World of Syd Barrett
08:59 am


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

There was a terrific, moving documentary last week on BBC Radio 4, “The Twilight World of Syd Barrett.”  Featuring Barrett’s caretaker/sister Rosemary, original Floyd manager Peter Jenner, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and one of the last interviews with Rick Wright:

Five years after his death, Syd Barrett lives on freeze framed, still young and a striking lost soul of the sixties whose brief moment of creativity outshines those long years of solitude shut away in a terraced house in his home town of Cambridge.

This revealing programme hears how his band Pink Floyd (and family) coped with Barrett’s mental breakdown and explores the hurriedly arranged holiday to the Spanish island of Formentera - where the star unravelled. In the programme we also hear about Barrett’s pioneering brand of English psychedelic pop typified on early Pink Floyd recordings ‘Arnold Layne’, ‘See Emily Play’ and the strange songs on Pink Floyd’s impressive debut album ‘The Piper At the Gates of Dawn’.

Undoubtedly Barrett’s experimentation with the drug LSD affected him mentally and the band members reveal how concerned they were when he began to go catatonic on-stage, playing music that had little to do with their material, or not playing at all. By Spring 1968 Barrett was out of the group and after a brief period of hibernation, he re-emerged in 1970 with a pair of albums, ‘The Madcap Laughs’ and ‘Barrett’, but they failed to chart and Barrett retired to a hermit life existence under the watchful gaze of his caring sister Rosemary (featured in the programme)

John Harris presents the program. Listen to it here.

Below, “Rhamadan,” a sprawling, 20-minute-long instrumental jam recorded during The Madcap Laughs sessions with Tyrannosaurus Rex bongo player Steve Peregrine Took. This comes only as a free download for people who bought An Introduction to Syd Barrett on iTunes or the physical CD. As someon\e who owns more Syd Barrett bootlegs than is perhaps necessary, it’s great to be able to finally hear this quasi-legendary track.


It’s worth noting that the new stereo remixes done by David Gilmour are especially nice-sounding. I thought they were a huge improvement myself. If you have any doubts, have a quick listen to “Octopus.” Not an insignificant upgrade in the audio fidelity department, I think you’ll agree:

One question for EMI, though: Where are “Scream Thy Last Scream” and “Vegetable Man” anyway??? WHEN will these tracks be given a proper release?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stolen Syd Barrett painting returned
08:39 am


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

An original painting done by the late Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett that was stolen from a London art gallery over the weekend has been returned, according to The Wire magazine.

Barrett’s self portrait was from London’s Idea Generation Gallery on Saturday April 9th, right off the wall of the “Syd Barrett Arts & Letters exhibition.” The painting was a gift, done in 1961 or 62, for his then girlfriend Libby Gausden.

Gausden and the gallery offered a $2000 reward and appealed for the safe return of the painting. On the 12th of April, the painting was returned via post to the gallery in perfect condition. You can see some of the now-closed Syd Barrett exhibition online here. Reasonably priced prints from the show are also for sale. I particularly liked this one:
Below, Syd Barrett and Roger Waters try to remain polite in the face of ridiculously uptight classical music critic Hans Keller, after the band play “Astronomy Domine” on BBC’s Look of the Week.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Syd Barrett tribute concert: The Madcap’s Last Laugh
12:31 pm


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett
Roger Waters

Here’s a real treat: On the 10th of May, 2007 at London’s Barbican Centre, a diverse group of great musicians got together to honor the memory of the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd. The musical director for the show was one of my best friends, Adam Peters (you’ve heard his cello in Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon,” “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy and on many albums. Adam also did the soundtrack to my Disinformation TV series).

Also appearing with Roger Waters, was my former next door neighbor in NYC, Jon Carin. Jon actually has played with both Pink Floyd AND Roger Waters. I think he’s the only person to have a foot in both camps, which is interesting position to be in, I think you’ll agree.

When Adam got back from the concert, full of great stories about the experience, I was eager to hear a CD of the show, but he told me that it had not been recorded because the idea was that this was a very special event and if you were there, you saw and heard something amazing, but that would… evaporate. Of course Pink Floyd fans being what they are, at least one enterprising fellow made a pretty good audience recording. Here ‘tis as generously shared by the Brain Damage podcast. The show starts about 7 minutes in. This is pretty fucking amazing:


This incredible event was a tribute to the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, produced by Nick Laird-Clowes (of Dream Academy) with associate producer Joe Boyd (early Pink Floyd’s producer and founder of legendary UFO club in London). Surprise performances from Roger Waters himself with Jon Carin then the entire current Pink Floyd line-up (David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason) were absolutely unbelievable!

The numerous other artists performing Syd Barrett’s music included Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), The Bees, Vashti Bunyan, Captain Sensible, Robyn Hitchcock. The house band included Andy Bell (bass, Oasis), Simon Finley (drums, Echo & The Bunnymen) and Ted Barnes (guitar, Beth Orton).  A remarkably fitting tribute to Roger “Syd” Barrett.  Doctored for supersound!

Set 1
1. Show intro
2. Bike - Sense of Sound Choir
3. Flaming - Captain Sensible & Monty Oxymoron
4. Here I Go - Kevin Ayers
5. Oh, What A Dream - Kevin Ayers
6. Baby Lemonade - Nick Laird-Clowes & Damon Albarn
7. Octopus - The Bees
8. The Gnome - Nick Laird-Clowes & Neulander
9. Matilda Mother - Mike Heron
10. Golden Hair - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
11. See Emily Play - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
12. Flickering Flame - Roger Waters & Jon Carin

Set 2
13. Video presentation
14. Chapter 24 - Gordon Anderson & Sense of Sound Choir
15. The Scarecrow - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
16. Love Song - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
17. Ian Barrett - Talking about his uncle Roger “Syd” Barrett
18. The Word Song - Damon Albarn, Kate St. John & David Coulter
19. Astronomy Domine - Captain Sensible & Jon Carin
20. Terrapin - Robyn Hitchcock
21. Gigolo Aunt - Robyn Hitchcock, John Paul Jones & Ruby Wright
22. Dark Globe (wouldn’t you miss me) - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
23. Late Night - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
24. Joe Boyd - Talking about Roger “Syd” Barrett and organising the show
25. Arnold Layne - David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright
26. Jugband Blues from video presentation
27. Bike - Jam Session with all musicians (except for Roger Waters)

Below, Syd Barrett in action with the Pink Floyd, 1968: “Jugband Blues”

Thank you Jesse Merlin!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tea With Duggie Fields

Tea With Duggie Fields is a beautiful and fascinating short film by Federico Fianchini, in which the Genius of Earls Court talks about his life, his art and his influences.

Fields has painted from the age of 11, when his earliest work, an abstract painting, was entered into a local exhibition amid incredulity that a child could paint so brilliantly. With an interest in structure and design, Fields briefly studied architecture, before he attended the Chelsea School of Art, between 1964 and 1968.

In the late sixties, as he established himself as an artist of note, Fields shared a flat with Pink Floyd’s crazy diamond, Syd Barrett. During the 1970s, he developed his brilliant day-glo style that inspired Marc Bolan, Stanley Kubrick, Derek Jarman and David Bowie, who was snapped with William Burroughs wearing Fields’ portrait of Malcolm McDowall.

Fields’ paintings have been variously described as Pop Art, Post Modernist and Minimalist, but in essence, Fields is very much his own art movement, one he termed MAXIMALism - “Minimalism with a plus plus plus.”

Iconic, unique and startlingly original, his work ranges from portraits of Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe, Zandra Rhodes, the artist Andrew Logan, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, to potent images of sexual intercourse, landscapes and his own distinct interpretations of his favored artistic influences (Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian).

Today, the Genius of Earl’s Court continues with his brilliance as painter, digital artist, musician, writer and photographer.

Bonus clips including Duggie Fields on Syd Barrett plus ‘I Wonder Why’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Scream thy last scream, Vegetable Man: Early unreleased Pink Floyd tracks
04:48 pm


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

The Syd Barrett-penned “Scream Thy Last Scream” was supposed to be Pink Floyd’s fourth single (fitting in after “Apples and Oranges” and before “It Would Be Be So Nice”) but the song, and its intended b-side, “Vegetable Man” (about a loser superhero) were never released. Having said that they’ve been heavily bootlegged for years, since acetates (glass test pressings) were cut. In fact, there are several versions (mono, two stereo mixes) known to exist. I can’t believe such amazing songs have never been given legit release on a Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett compilation.

“Vegetable Man” was memorably covered by the Jesus and Marychain as the b-side to their “Upside Down” single.

You can download a full complement of these tunes at the great Pathway To Unknown Worlds blog.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment