Strictly business

14 May 2010

When Pink Floyd’s keyboard player, Rick Wright, died 18 months ago I wrote a post about the transition of the band from the avant garde to the mainstream commecial, a process which started with the expulsion of Syd Barrett.

So it’s worth noting the appearance of a new biography of Barrett by Rob Chapman; I saw a review by the novelist Toby Litt, and – more – that it disputes the familiar story that Barrett’s eviction was because the drugs had worked all too well.

Chapman’s analysis of how Barrett came to be ousted by the other members of the Floyd is particularly convincing. “Each will have had to convince their parents, and themselves, that they were going to make a go of ‘this pop lark’ . . . Faced with the prospect of having their best-laid plans sabotaged by a recalcitrant and obstructive spirit like Syd Barrett, they made the hard-headed, but entirely rational, decision to continue without him . . . The rest is accountancy.”

Chapman’s verdict, as summarised by Toby Litt:

Barrett’s problem, like the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, was that the pop scene was just too conservative, too protestant-work-ethic.

The photo of Barrett is from Opel Productions’ website, and is used with thanks.

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