Syd Barrett’s contribution to music was profound, explosive and grievously short-lived.
The Pink Floyd co-founder was a key proponent of psychedelic and experimental music, both explicitly and indirectly influencing a generations of creative minds from the late 60s and forever onwards.
Sadly, the front-man’s mental state was volatile, and by late 1967, was beginning to disintegrate thanks predominantly to the huge amounts of LSD he was ingesting.
Famously, this was the main reason he was ejected from Pink Floyd (the infamous story recalls that the rest of the band, sick to death of his increasingly unstable stage antics, decided not to pick him up on the way to a show), and the beginning of a very steep downward slope for Barrett, which ended tragically in 2006 when he died of pancreatic cancer – his death certificate reading, ‘Occupation: Retired Musician.’
But that’s a whole other story.
Watch Syd Barrett’s First Trip, home footage of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett’s first experience with psychedelics.
The video below takes place a year earlier, in 1966. It recounts Barrett’s first experience with psychedelics in a colourful, nostalgic home footage format – a grisly contrast to the events it preceded.
Titled simply, Syd Barrett’s First Trip, the first half of the film follows Barrett and a band of mates as they frolic in a field on acid, rolling in lush grass and starting a fire (probably not a good idea).
As Dangerous Minds note, it is said that amongst the party there is a young graphic artist Storm Thorgerson who you might know better as the founder of Hipgnosis, the design collective who created some of the most iconic album covers of all time, including Pink Floyd’s own.
The film then suddenly cuts to a psychedelically-dressed Pink Floyd outside Abbey Road studios, where they are celebrating having just signed their first contract with EMI.
The man who shot most of the footage, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, wrote this synopsis on the film’s IMDB page:
“I am Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and I shot this film of Syd on a visit from film school in London to my hometown, Cambridge. We were on the Gog Magog hills with a bunch of friends. David Gale is there along with Andrew Rawlinson, Russell Page, Lucy Pryor and my wife, Jenny. She’s the one in the yellow mac talking to the tree. The mushroom images are iconic and will last forever. It is an unselfconscious film. It was not planned. It just happened.
The guy on the balcony is me at 101 Cromwell Road, London SW7. This footage was shot by Jenny. When David Gale wrote about 101 in The Independent he recalled: As the 60s began to generate heat, I found myself running with a fast crowd. I had moved into a flat near the Royal College of Art. I shared the flat with some close friends from Cambridge, including Syd Barrett, who was busy becoming a rock star with Pink Floyd.
A few hundred yards down the street at 101 Cromwell Road, our preternaturally cool friend Nigel was running the hipster equivalent of an arty salon. Between our place and his, there passed the cream of London alternative society – poets, painters, film-makers, charlatans, activists, bores and self-styled visionaries. It was a good time for name-dropping: how could I forget the time at Nigels when I came across Allen Ginsberg asleep on a divan with a tiny white kitten on his bare chest? And wasn’t that Mick Jagger visible through the fumes?
Look, there’s Nigel’s postcard from William Burroughs, who looks forward to meeting him when next he visits London! The other material is of the band outside EMI after their contract signing. It’s raw, unedited footage and stunning even so. It is silent but many people have subsequently put music to it on their youtube an google postings. Good luck to them.”