By Rob Chapman
“I don't imagine I'm effortless to discuss. I've obtained a really abnormal head. And I'm nothing that you simply imagine i'm anyway.”—Syd Barrett’s final interview, Rolling Stone, 1971 Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett (1946–2006) used to be, through all debts, the very definition of a golden boy. Blessed with attractiveness and a ordinary flair for portray and track, he was once a charismatic, elfin baby loved by means of all, who quickly turned a teenage chief in Cambridge, England, the place a burgeoning bohemian scene used to be flourishing within the early Sixties. besides 3 acquaintances and collaborators—Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason—he shaped what might quickly turn into purple Floyd, and rock ’n’ roll was once by no means an analogous. beginning as a customary British hide band aping approximations of yankee rhythm ’n’ blues, they quickly pioneered a completely new sound, and British psychedelic rock was once born. With early, trippy, Barrett-penned pop hits equivalent to “Arnold Layne” (about a clothesline-thieving cross-dresser) and “See Emily Play” (written in particular for the epochal “Games For May” concert), purple Floyd, with Syd Barrett as their major inventive visionary, captured the zeitgeist of “Swinging” London in all its Technicolor glory. But there has been a dismal aspect to all this new-found freedom. Barrett, like such a lot of round him, started huge amounts of a innovative new drug, LSD, and his already-fragile psychological state—coupled with a character inherently unsuited to the lifetime of a pop star—began to resolve. The as soon as bright-eyed lad used to be quick changed, probably in a single day, via a glowering, sinister, dead-eyed shadow of his former self, given to erratic, hugely eccentric, reclusive, and occasionally violent habit. unavoidably sacked from the band, Barrett retreated from London to his mother’s condo in Cambridge, the place he could stay until eventually his loss of life, basically infrequently visible or heard, extra fueling the mystery. In the interim, crimson Floyd emerged from the underground to develop into one of many largest overseas rock bands of all time, freeing multi-platinum albums, many who dealt thematically with the lack of their good friend Syd Barrett: The darkish part of the Moon, want You have been right here, and The Wall are all, on many degrees, approximately him. In A Very abnormal Head, journalist Rob Chapman lifts the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the legend of Syd Barrett for almost 4 a long time, drawing on unique entry to family members, pals, records, journals, letters, and art to create the definitive portrait of an excellent and tragic artist. in addition to taking pictures the entire promise of Barrett’s younger years, Chapman demanding situations the oft-held idea that Barrett was once a hopelessly misplaced recluse in his later years, and creates a portrait of a real British eccentric who's rightfully put inside of a wealthy literary lineage that stretches via Kenneth Graham, Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, John Lennon, David Bowie, and on as much as the pioneers of Britpop. A tragic, affectionate, and compelling portrait of a novel artist, A Very abnormal Head will stand because the authoritative notice in this very English genius for years yet to come.
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Extra info for A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett
Jones said. I tried to explain again why I was asking questions, but Mr. Jones had been hurt too many times by lies and by the truth in print, and he was nowhere near ready to trust a writer. He told me that their youngest child, Barbara, born in 1946, now a physical education teacher, wanted no part of anything to do with Brian, and he asked me to leave her alone. He ground his teeth again. But he couldn't stop himself from talking and bringing out family photograph albums. One photograph showed Brian about five years old, playing with a grey tabby cat.
Finally the flashes stopped and for a long moment there were no questions, no one could think what to ask, the confrontation was enough: three years ago when the Stones last toured the United States, most of the people now here to interview them were teenagers screaming in darkened arenas their adoration of the Stones, who were going in the interim to be arrested, to swap women, to break up, to die, and yet here they are, elbows on the table. The younger reporters, most of whom if the place had been raided would probably have gone down for possession of dope, did not look like any the Stones had seen before at an American press conference.
We all sat down, Mrs. Jones in a chair at one end of the room, me at the other end, Mr. Jones in the middle, gazing at the cold fireplace. I tried to explain what I was doing, but the room was capturing all my mind. It contained, besides us and an orange tomcat, typically turgid English furnishings, an old Heathkit record player, an older radio, a black and white television set, a flowering bonsai tree under a glass dome, an American Indian figurine given to each of the Stones in 1964 by the German teen magazine Bravo, and on the mantle over the fireplace, a little rubber doll with bright red trousers and a white mane of spun nylon hair, the most vulgar possible caricature of Brian, and yet it seemed a totem to him, the central object in this tiny grotesque room.
A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett by Rob Chapman