Who was Syd Barrett? One of the original psychedelic geniuses...and casualties. Sadly, few now know that he was the original creative force behind the far, far more famous Pink Floyd. Richie Unterberger explains:
I remember vividly that when I scored a copy of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and played it, it pretty much blew my mind. From the first cut, the haunting "See Emily Play" (the video linked to here), the whole album was, for want of a better word "trippy" and hinted at a strange, enticing world beyond my limited Silver Spring, MD horizons.Like a supernova, Roger "Syd" Barrett burned briefly and brightly, leaving an indelible mark upon psychedelic and progressive rock as the founder and original singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Barrett was responsible for most of their brilliant first album, 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but left and/or was fired from the band in early 1968 after his erratic behavior had made him too difficult to deal with (he appears on a couple tracks on their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets). Such was his stature within the original lineup that few observers thought the band could survive his departure; in fact, the original group's management decided to keep Syd on and leave the rest of the band to their own devices. Pink Floyd never recaptured the playful humor and mad energy of their work with Barrett.
Unlike Barrett, I made it back from that strange world. But I still love the album and, as Unterberger puts it, the "mad energy" behind it.