Sunday, May 30, 2021

Syd Barrett: Crazy Diamond - Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson


I know I've read some other bios on Syd, but it's been long enough that I do not really remember (and, in fact, there appears to be nothing on this blog, which means it was quite a while ago) but I found this at a good price and wanted to refresh myself with the psyched-out man and his story.

Growing up as a gifted visual artist, Syd (funnily, this nick-name was given him when, as a youngster, he hung out at jazz clubs) fell in love with rock'n'roll like millions of others and started a few bands, and fairly quickly fell in with Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - along with David Gilmour, who was an early friend and a sought-after local guitarist well before Syd made a name for himself.

Unlike millions of other, though, Syd delved deeply into LSD and while it made his pop tunes highly psychedelized, it also affected his psyche itself and robbed him of his personality, per those who knew him before his experimentations. This combined with the stress of sudden stardom with the hits "Arnold Layne" (highly controversial although I still can't comprehend how anyone understood that this song was about transvestitism solely from the fairly obscure lyrics) and especially "See Emily Play", strained Syd's mental equilibrium. It didn't take long for his unpredictability to cause him to be booted from his own band, but then he recorded - with the help of Gilmour - two solo records before leaving the music business altogether for a life of isolation.

The authors' obvious challenge was to create a book based on a reclusive character whose final recorded work was released in 1970 and who refused to speak to anyone in the ensuing years. They do manage to keep your interest for the rest of the story with random anecdotes and a basic timeline of his comings and goings over the years.

This is not overly sensationalized and seems to give a fairly truthful account of the man, his art and his life over the years. Well worth checking out for fans!