Syd Barrett: 10 Crazy True Rock Star Stories

Doctor declared him "incurable" without even meeting him
Doctor declared him "incurable" without even meeting him
You know someone has really truly lost their mind when even a certified psychiatrist can't figure him out. The band once consulted a doctor who declared Syd "incurable" - just by listening to him talk on a cassette tape. Safe to say at that point his insanity had reached uncharted levels.

(Photo: sglpix/Flickr)
He actually came up with the band's name somehow
He actually came up with the band's name somehow
Before they were Pink Floyd, they were "The Abdabs," "Sigma 6" and "The Meggadeaths." You'd think Syd came up with those ridiculous names, but he actually saved the band from them! The name Pink Floyd came from the combining of the names of two of Syd's favorite blues musicians at the time, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. So he made his biggest contribution to the band before he ever went off the deep end.

(By Fakstar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
Stayed with band after David Gilmour
Stayed with band after David Gilmour
David Gilmour initially joined Pink Floyd as a second guitar player, to cover for Syd whenever he decided not to perform, which was becoming increasingly more normal during his drugged-out phases. Syd would be on-stage with the band during shows, but often would just wander around and glare at Gilmour, who actually played and sang.

(By Bojars (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
Sprinkled drugs in his hair before a show
Sprinkled drugs in his hair before a show
A show in late 1967 had Syd looking like a "guttered candle" as he had an entire tube of gel squeezed into his hair melting down his face. He had also crushed Mandrax tranquilizers and added them to his hair before the performance. Nick Mason claims Syd "would never waste good mandies," but really nothing can be put past the guy in terms of bizarre on-stage behavior.

(Photo: Gordasm/Flickr)
"Have You got It, Yet?"
"Have You got It, Yet?"
Syd's last-ever practice session with the band had him presenting a new song called "Have You Got It, Yet?" Roger Waters and the rest of the band would learn the arrangement and practice it, but soon noticed Syd was changing the song as they were practicing. Then he would present them with the new arrangement and ask them, "Have You Got It, Yet?" It was some kind of sick joke to Syd, but really it was just a waste of time. At that point nothing he did was even funny.

(Photo: Smirky Corpse/Flickr)
Beat his girlfriend with a mandolin
Beat his girlfriend with a mandolin
Famed Pink Floyd photographer Storm Thorgersson once recounted a time when Syd's abuse toward his girlfriend turned from psychological to physical. He said he had to pull him off his girlfriend one time because he was beating her over the head with a mandolin. Considering how drugged up he was at the time, he probably thought he was slaying a dragon or something. That was probably the last time any woman ever trusted Syd.

(AP Photo, Files, PA)
Often wandered the streets with no particular destination
Often wandered the streets with no particular destination
Apparently the band let Syd do this just so he would stop bothering them with his behavior. People have recalled approaching Syd on the streets during such wandering episodes, where they'd ask him where he's going and he'd reply with some variation of "Far further than you could possibly imagine." Yeah, the guy was just gone.

(Photo: Voxel-Ux/Flickr)
Held women captive
Held women captive
One period describes Syd's time as a prison warden for his girlfriend, groupies and other women. He once kept his girlfriend locked up for several days and fed her with biscuits & water like she was in solitary confinement. Why did he do such inexplicably cruel things? Nobody will ever know. And even if we got an explanation, it surely wouldn't make any sense.

(AP Photo, Files, PA)
Detuned his guitar during a performance
Detuned his guitar during a performance
One famous on-stage incident happened at the Fillmore in San Francisco. During the song "Interstellar Overdrive," Syd began detuning his guitar, for no particular reason at all. Something like that might be cool if it's planned out and done deliberately, but randomly detuning your guitar with no rhyme or reason to it? That's just an a-hole move.

(AP Photo, Files, PA)
Would strum the same chord for entire shows
Would strum the same chord for entire shows
Near the end of his time in Pink Floyd, Syd's erratic off-stage behavior began spilling onto the stage. He would often stand there and strum the same chord on his guitar for entire shows, or sometimes not play at all. Whether any of the LSD'd-up fans in the crowd ever noticed is beyond us.

(AP Photo)
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