"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sid Barrett

Last Year while reading a blog I found a URL where Pink Floyd was performing "Wish You Were Here." It is a truly great song. Wish I could find the URL.

Supposedly the song is a tribute to the founder of Pink Floyd - Sid Barrett. From there the story gets interesting.

By accounts Sid was a gifted, artistic young man who fell into drugs; possibly LSD and other drugs. Within 3 or 4 years he was no longer with Pink Floyd. He had, in a psychological sense, gotten "lost" and was no longer able to participate with the band. They ultimately replaced him with a childhood friend, David Gilmour. Still, in the early 70's he managed to do two albums but as one writer suggested; listening to his albums was listening to someone going through a complete nervous breakdown.

Since then he has disappeared from music and fame. He, by all accounts, lives in Cambridge, England and as recently as 3 years ago, some photo journalist shot a picture of this balding man in shorts and tennis shoes walking along, carrying a paper and seemingly distracted. There is nothing in the picture that suggests of the young genius who was doing cutting edge music in the 60's. But apparently it was/is Sid Barrett.

Sid has been hospitalized in the past, and lived with his mother in her basement until her death in 1991. At one time he talked of making a come-back in the 1980s but that was followed a month later by him sticking his head through the ceiling of his basement requiring further hospitalization.

NOBODY has direct contact with him. Due to residuals, his estate still brings in over 6 figures a year but apparently he lives reclusively by himself and avoids all contact with people who would be interested in his past as a musician or as a member of Pink Floyd. Nobody in Pink Floyd has spoken with him since the 70s. It is rumored that two of the core members, Gilmour and Waters, may have made sure he's had enough money to survive over the years. The rumours also suggests he has not owned a guitar in years and has never returned from his psychological exile.

Probably interviewing him would be very difficult and not very fruitful. He has all the signs of a paranoid schizophrenic. These people are not dangerous, for the most part, but they are truly incapable of comprehensive verbal give and take. They can be very frustating to talk to. When interviewing them, one always hopes there will be a glimmer of insight, a porthole into their soul. But there never is. Their schizophrenia is a wall of defense that is not easily breached.

Sid Barret is now probably 58 and he will never be anything more than he is now. A recluse, a non-musician; a hermit. One day he will die and there will be 1,000 articles about his strange and sad life. Sid, we all "wish you were here." JB

[Sid Barret died July 7th, 2006, a couple of years after the original post.]


Anonymous said...

You should have had 1% of his talent, brief as it was. Wanker!

rabbi-philosopher said...

Dear Anon,

I was touched by the Sid Barrett story. It is profoundly sad.