15 years ago today, the guitar world lost one of its most influential and enigmatic figures, Syd Barrett. A rare musical visionary, Barrett spearheaded London’s psychedelic rock scene of the Swinging ‘60s as singer, guitarist and principal songwriter of Pink Floyd.
Following his departure from the band in 1968, he embarked upon a solo career, releasing The Madcap Laughs in 1970, followed by Barrett later the same year. But it would be Pink Floyd’s 1967 singles – including "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" – along with the band’s Summer of Love debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn that Barrett became more widely known for.
In this kaleidoscopic clip of Pink Floyd’s epic instrumental opus "Interstellar Overdrive", Barrett can be seen playing a Danelectro model 3021 and his famous reflective disk-covered Fender Esquire. Combining a Binson Echorec Baby delay machine with an improvised slide (thought to be either a ruler or Zippo lighter) Barrett stirs up the kind of spacey, tripped out textures which made the band a hit in London’s UFO Club.
Though the band went on to achieve monumental success throughout the '70s following Barrett’s departure his influence endured, not only with respect to Pink Floyd but also the music world at large. Indeed, many guitarists and songwriters – including Graham Coxon and John Frusciante – have cited Syd Barrett as a major influence.
15 years gone, but not forgotten. Shine on you crazy diamond.
Buy Syd Barrett's 1970 debut solo album The Madcap Laughs here
Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.
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