Pink Floyd: the Highs and Lows of LSD

Psychedelics and rock n roll have gone hand in hand for many years. The Beatles loved acid, Hendrix was identified to dabble in LSD and Eric Clapton additionally loved hallucinogens. The query is: do psychedelics trigger brilliance? Or does brilliance gravitate in the direction of psychedelics? As we speak we’re going to be zooming in on psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd and, extra particularly, their lead guitarist and lyricist Syd Barrett. His musical profession and life is probably the right instance of the highs and lows of LSD.

Did it make him? Or did it break him? That’s up for debate, however an attention-grabbing story no much less.

The legalization of psychedelics is a sizzling matter of dialogue proper now, and we’re right here to maintain you up to date each step of the way in which. For extra articles like this one, keep in mind to subscribe to the Psychedelics Weekly E-newsletteryour high supply for every part associated to this rising and vital trade.

Pink Floyd

In 2004, the Impartial referred to Pink Floyd as ‘the most important band of all time’

“Now Pink Floyd have obtained an accolade to match the enormity of their sound and performances – by being named the most important band of all time, forward of acts corresponding to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.”

However who really have been these guys and why did they go away such a mark on the world? Pink Floyd, beforehand often known as Pink Floyd Sound, have been a psychedelic rock band who shaped within the Nineteen Sixties. The primary members have been Syd Barrett on lead guitar and lyrics, bassist Roger Waters, keyboard participant Rick Wright and guitarist David Gilmour. These 4 made up the unique band. It’s vital to keep in mind that Pink Floyd nonetheless exists immediately, form of. Syd Barrett, after fighting LSD, died in 2004 of Pancreatic Most cancers. He was the life and soul of the band, subsequently, the group have been by no means actually the identical once more after that. Just like how Pleasure Division tried to proceed as New Order after the loss of life of the unbelievable Ian Curtis. It was by no means actually the identical. 

Pink Floyd boasted 15 studio albums, 4 reside albums, 27 singles and 6 primary albums. Their finest promoting tune was One other Brick within the Wall and their primary album was Darkish Aspect of the Moon. The band led the psychedelic rock style throughout their time. In reality, their sound was so unique, that it’s arduous to not know once you’re listening to a Floyd tune. The choral music, reverby guitar and religious lyrics are such a symptom of Pink Floyd’s genius and, particularly, the magic of Syd Barrett. He, many imagine, was the diamond within the crown. Far Out Journal goes into depth about why Syd’s writing capability was so distinctive:

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“A real genius pop tune economises its use of time. The toughest a part of writing a superb pop tune is crafting that uncommon gem of a centre – the straightforward half is creating the shell round it. So when that point comes, the listener may have been entranced within the outer layers of the tune. The gem inside the center makes itself identified and shines its mystique, blinding the listener only for a couple of moments, and whereas it’s a brief second at that, it utterly adjustments our understanding and emotions concerning the tune – that’s the hook…Syd understood how one can write this type of hook.’

Syd Barrett most undoubtedly suffered from psychological well being points and his obsession with LSD, many believed, to be worsening his situation. Nevertheless, that is solely hypothesis. The actual fact is that in 1968, throughout a recording of their album A Saucerful of Secrets and techniques , David Gilmour started to take extra guitar and band obligations as a consequence of Barrett’s situation. Gilmour joined the band in January of 1968 because the frontman and guitarist and, basically, changed Syd who he’d identified since their faculty days. Barrett was reportedly mentally unbalanced and coping with drug dependancy. He was unhinged. In an open and trustworthy interview about his guilt after 1968, Gilmour stated:

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“I don’t suppose I noticed any choice, however to simply do one of the best that I might. I’m certain we have been all filled with some form of guilt, and remained that manner for a very long time… I feel there have been solely 5 gigs, as I keep in mind it, the place there was the 5 of us performed collectively. Then we ceased to go choose him up.”

After this, Pink Floyd have been by no means the identical. Nevertheless, it’s vital to notice that while rock n roll is stuffed with genius artists who might be tough to work with, the bands who’ve stood the take a look at of time are those who’ve banded collectively via the unhealthy instances. Have a look at Oasis, their flame burned shiny, however for a really brief time frame as a result of tumultuous relationship between Liam and Noel Gallagher. Alternatively, when you take a look at the Beatles, they caught collectively via thick and skinny and solely loss of life tore them aside. Nevertheless, geniuses do exist. And typically it takes a little bit of psychological imbalance to be an actual genius. It comes with its highs and lows. 

Syd Barrett

Roger Keith, later often known as Syd Barrett, was the lead singer and guitarist of Pink Floyd earlier than Gilmour took his place in 1968. He has been championed for his stream-of-consciousness writing, the place it looks like he’s actually simply permitting his thoughts to do dances on the web page. This sort of writing freedom and creativeness is difficult to come back by and, maybe, it’ll by no means be matched once more. Within the first tune of Darkish Aspect of the Moon, Converse To Me, Barrett wrote:

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“I’ve been mad for f*cking years, completely years, been

over the sting for yonks, been working me buns off for bands…

I’ve all the time been mad, I do know I’ve been mad, just like the

most of us…very arduous to clarify why you’re mad, even

when you’re not mad…”

That is maybe an ideal abstract of his psychological state at that time in his life. However, his and Pink Floyd’s finest piece of labor was in all probability that album. Darkish Aspect of the Moon has a case to being one of the best music album ever written. Your entire album performs via easily and is a religious expertise. The unbelievable vocal explosion throughout Nice Gig within the Sky is likely one of the main highlights. Some have likened the album to an LSD journey as a consequence of its ebbs and flows and exquisite journey. 

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LSD and Barrett

It was within the 60s that Barrett started to delve into the world of psychedelics. While psychological well being points didn’t have the voiced platform that they do now, many professionals have theorised that Barett did have pre-existing psychological well being situations; maybe even schizophrenia. Nevertheless, while many want to label Barett’s expertise with LSD as a tragedy, that might be an enormous waste. Barrett evidently noticed the world in another way, in a manner that almost all of the world doesn’t. Syd Barrett stated about himself:

“I don’t suppose I’m simple to speak about. I’ve bought a really irregular head. And I’m not something that you just suppose I’m anyway.”

Society is just too fast to demonize folks like Syd Barrett. They cherished him when he was writing unbelievable lyrics, however hated him when he was mentally imbalanced. Each side to Syd have been intrinsically him. The reality is that his mind and switch to psychedelics really benefited Pink Floyd in an exquisite manner. 

“Pink Floyd started taking out the R&B covers that have been being imitated by numerous different bands from the period and embracing unique sounds. And the extremely smart Barrett, already identified for marching to his personal peculiar beat, started closely ingesting LSD and producing tune lyrics that have been seemingly pulled from unknown realms of the cosmos.”

He was a genius already, however LSD’s mind-opening capabilities was permitting him to go that step additional in his music. Simply because the Beatles had carried out, Pink Floyd’s music was turning into unpredictable and extremely unique. This was Barett at his finest.

The Downfall

Nevertheless, Syd Barrett was most undoubtedly unwell. While he handed in 2004 as a consequence of Pancreatic Most cancers, many believed he’d died lengthy earlier than that. Whether or not this was as a consequence of LSD, pre current psychological well being situations, or the stress of fame, nobody will ever really know. Folks will body it the way in which they wish to match their narrative. In 1968, Syd formally left the band and Gilmour changed him. The bassist of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, stated:

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“It felt to me on the time that Syd was type of drifting off the rails, and once you’re drifting off the rails the worst factor you are able to do is begin messing round with hallucinogens … It undoubtedly exacerbated the signs that, loosely strung collectively, you and I would name schizophrenia. He heard voices. He grew to become incommunicative. He became a distinct individual; [his eyes] have been black holes within the sky.”

Gilmour, who was a college buddy of Barret, additionally highlighted how this new persona was out of character for him:

“Syd didn’t appear to acknowledge me and simply stared again… I bought to know that look fairly nicely and I’ll go on file as saying that was when he modified. It was a shock. He was a distinct individual.”


Barrett’s genius flame shon extraordinarily brightly, however not for very lengthy. The band went on with out him out of professionalism, however the actual soul and magic was now gone. This wasn’t the primary time an artist had suffered from related situations and it undoubtedly gained’t be the final. Does music breed such a individual? Does LSD breed such a individual? Does fame create such a individual? Or is true genius really one thing that’s unattainable? Maybe the price of pondering so extremely in another way and magically, is that there’ll inevitably be a downfall. That was the case with Barrett. Syd gravitated in the direction of psychedelics as a result of they matched him as a substance, the remainder of the world didn’t come shut. He’ll go down as one other younger one who suffered from psychological sickness in unforgiving London throughout his 20s. 

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Disclaimer: Hello, I’m a researcher and author. I’m not a physician, lawyer, or businessperson. All info in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions acknowledged are mine. I’m not giving anybody recommendation, and although I’m very happy to debate matters, ought to somebody have an additional query or concern, they need to search steerage from a related skilled.

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