The energy and collaborative genius of Pink Floyd has been unable to be emulated by any other progressive band in music. Syd Barret was the founder and leader of the band throughout the early-mid sixties. Syd provided the lead guitar and lead vocals with the help of his fellow members Roger Waters (vocals and bass), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards and vocals). From the very beginning the band was noticed for their experimentation and progressive edge which ultimately helped them gain a large following in London’s underground music scene at the time. Not long after forming the band they released their debut album “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” Music critics were impressed by the unique edge that Pink Floyd offered with their music. In fact, Syd Barret’s wildly poetic lyrics and the members experimental use of their instruments offered up the fundamentals that many budding progressive rock musicians used both then and now.
Unfortunately, Barret had suffered from Schizophrenia most of his life and overtime it had become an implosive force that not only damaged relationships in his life, but also negatively impacted his ability to create with his fellow band members. Throughout the 60’s Barret’s mental health had declined considerably causing him to leave the band in April of 1968. Around the same time David Gilmour had joined and Roger Waters took conceptual lead of the band. Although Barret was no longer a part of Pink Floyd it is no question that his memory and spirit lingered within their music long after he left. In fact, many of their pieces were dedicated to the beloved member including: The Wall, Wish You Were Here and Dark Side Of The Moon. Their 1973 album Wish You Were Here was one of their albums that seemed to mostly revolve around the love and sadness the band felt over both Barret and his condition. Featured on the album was Roger Waters incredible composition “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”.
Ironically enough, Syd Barret was at the recording sessions for the song. However, none of the members had realized it was him in the studio due to his weight gain and shaven head. When they finally realized who it was they asked him what he thought of the piece and all he could say is… “it sounds a bit old.” It was obvious to them that Syd was not well and it was something that deeply saddened each one of the members. Sadly, Barret’s mental health only continued to decline and it was not long before he had alienated himself completely from everyone. The story of Syd Barret is certainly a tragic one, but when you realize the story and background behind some of the bands most popular pieces it makes them all the more powerful! To listen and watch the full composition of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” click the video below! It is an incredible piece that showcases the dynamic and experimental energy of Pink Floyd. Click below to enjoy!