Syd Barrett's departure from Pink Floyd.
When, in 1968. Syd Barrett was fired from Pink FloydThe band was going through some bad times. And no, it wasn't that any of the members regretted the loss of their comrade (though they did). It was just that the whole world seemed to have given up on the Floyds. As he recalled David Gilmour:
"People were really upset after Sid left. Everyone thought Sid was all the band had. We were just written off as yesterday's stars..."
Not only the public, but also management thought the band was doomed after Sid left.
Lineup changes that will be key - in a good way
Yes, Sid was the mastermind and leader of the band, and it was he who gave it its name and recognizable style. However, his inner demons became unbearable not only for himself, but also for the rest of the guys. It's been said that geniuses are insane. And that's true. But not everyone can cope with his madness - some just dissolve in it... Sid was like that. He completely lost the ability to create - at rehearsals he couldn't play a basic riff, and before the concerts he refused to go on stage. Even though his dismissal became difficult decision for the rest of the Floyds, it was essential to keeping the project alive - even though it was a struggle.
It all started in 1967: that's when the band decided to expand to five members, and invited the following to join the lineup David Gilmour. Gilmore and Barrett had known each other since they were 15 years old, and so David didn't take long to accept the offer. As he would later say:
"I wasn't crazy to say no!"
Gilmore soon realized, however, that his old comrade "a little out of it.":
"They were recording 'See Emily Play' and Sid called and invited me into the studio. When I got there, he said he didn't want me there. What's more: he looked at me like he didn't understand what I was doing there - for the first few seconds he couldn't seem to remember me at all..."
A year later, the band made the decision to move on - without Sid. And that decision cost them very expensive... Especially for Gilmore, who took his place.
"At first I felt I had to change a lot of things, and it was a paranoid experience. After all, Syd was a living legend... It took me a long time to feel part of the band after Syd left. It was such a strange band and it was very hard for me to understand what we were doing. We were all really upset after Sid left. Everyone thought Sid was all there was to the band and fired us. It was a tough time..."
Management made the wrong choice
After Syd's departure, the clouds descended over the band. Even their management team Peter Jenner and Andrew King turned away from them in favor of Barrett: they broke their contracts with Pink Floyd and decided to devote themselves to Sid, or rather to his solo career. They saw much more potential in him... Nevertheless, the guys had no hard feelings towards Syd, and even on the contrary - Gilmour and Waters played and produced a number of songs on his solo debut. Gilmour later recalled:
"It was a crazy experience! God knows what Sid was doing! He was one of the greatest tragedies of rock and roll. He was one of the most talented people and would give a fantastic amount to this world..."
It's no secret that after his firing, Sid's insane personality loomed over the band, becoming its vector, inspiration and curse. Each member had their own regrets and inner feelings. So, Gilmore once confessed:
"I never went to see him, even though his family kind of discouraged it, and I regret that I never went up to his house and just knocked on the door. I think we could have gone over to his house for a cup of tea and just had a friendly chat... That's probably my biggest regret."
"The most famous poster boy of the counterculture..."
"Do you already have this? The story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd." - a new documentary about Syd and the band, co-directed with his childhood friend. Storm Thorgersonwhose design company Hipgnosis is known for its Floyd album covers. Alas, Storm passed away in 2013... He was interviewed shortly before and this is what he told us:
"Syd has become the ghost of Pink Floyd. Look at The Rolling Stones - they lost Brian Jones! But they moved on and never looked back. In the case of Floyd - every time they sat down to write a new album, they looked back and remembered Syd. He became their inspiration, their tragedy, their unspoken ghostly fifth member who never left their minds... In a way Sid never left. He also became the most famous poster boy of the counterculture because he was so intelligent, inspiring and inspired, yet doomed. He is the Icarus of the 1960s, and his downfall was seen by most as that "substances are bad!". He might have been able to bounce back and keep creating, but I don't think there was any creativity left. We don't know what destroyed it, whether it was substances or whether something was preventing him from creating... He actually reached a stage where he was quite happy with what he was doing with his life. He always said he painted because he was an artist. I think he took music as a kind of flashpoint in his life."