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Well, what do you know?
Keith “Syd” Barrett has died at the age of 60.

I was stunned to hear the news.
I mean, how can this be? Are you saying he wasn’t dead already?!?

The guy has been a recluse for the last 30 years.
Not a peep out of him. Not a word to his fans. Nothing.

Ok, give him a break. He had psychological problems.
Albeit self inflicted as a result of LSD induced mental breakdown, but still…

Yes he helped create one of the most influential bands of all times.
Yes he shaped the landscape of art rock as we know it.
Yes he was a musical genius.

But everything he has done is there on the record. It’s readily available to anyone seeking it. It’s not like we are being denied some potential reunion tour or anything. Obviously he was done with us a long time ago.

I, for one, do not grieve his passing.

If anything I suppose it is deaths like these that serve as a type of mortality milestone. Something to cause us to pause and reflect on our own time-lines.

Maybe therein lies the true catharsis.

Ah Pink Floyd, how I remember thee.

It was a combination of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes that saved me from a life of meaningless heavy metal and pop-rock in the mid 70’s. Although I must confess I did see Mahogany Rush aong with Angel, Humble Pie, & Mothers Finest at The Sam Houston Coliseum in 1980.

My second live rock concert ever was in 1977. It was Pink Floyd’s “Animals” tour at Jeppesen Stadium, now Robertson Stadium, home of the Houston Dynamo soccer team.

It was an awesome show, even if it was pouring down rain the whole time.
It was actually broadcast in quadraphonic sound.

I stayed loyal to Pink Floyd for a long time.

In 1984 I ventured out to see the David Gilmore’s “About Face” tour at The Houston Summit. Very nice.

I even went to see the Roger Waters tour in 1985. This was not the “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” tour from the year before featuring Eric Clapton on guitar. Sadly that never did make it to Houston. This was, and I kid you not, the “Pros and Cons Plus Some Old Pink Floyd Stuff-a multimedia extravaganza with quadraphonic sound” tour.

And it was just that. The first half of the show was the Pros and Cons album front to back. Then a short intermission and back for some classic Floyd from the early works all the way up to and including The Wall.

I was even giggling like a school girl a few years back as Cynthia and I were riding the train to London and I spotted and photographed Battersea Power Station.

These days I don’t listen to much Floyd. I tried to sit through a concert by Us and Them, Houston’s only Pink Floyd tribute band.

It was unbearable. I mean the band was technically pretty good and the performance was not, in and of itself, unpleasant. It was just whole atmosphere.

Imagine a cheezy Astroworld style Pink Floyd themed amusement park complete with bleary eyed stoners holding up lit cigarette lighters or pumping their fists while grimacing to the oppressive downbeat of a earnest effort at reproducing one of Pink Floyd’s rich art rock and roll musical tapestries.

It was all too much to bear so I got the hell out of dodge.

Of course those of you who know me might say “Hey, hypocrite! Didn’t I see you at a Light Rock Express show recently? Haven’t you been known to show up at an Allen Oldies Band concert on more than one occasion? Aren’t you like a big fan of Molly and the Ringwalds? Aren’t THEY just cheezy cover bands as well?”

To which I would reply “Yes, but they KNOW they’re cheezy.”

“Jay, why are you harshing my buzz, dude. I love Pink Floyd!”

I guess it’s a perceived difference in the presentation. The cover/tribute bands I enjoy don’t try to reproduce the exact experience from the original bands or the time period. It’s playful and, in some ways mocking or irreverent which I appreciate.

I will always treasure my memories and my own personal Pink Floyd experiences but I won’t try to recapture them or relive them. I will just remember them fondly. And I won’t pretend to be deeply affected by the passing of someone I barely might have known was even still alive in the first place.

I guess what I am saying is that Syd Barrett was missed long before he died.

The beat goes on
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4 thoughts on “The beat goes on

  • July 12, 2006 at 8:00 am
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    I was at the Summit half-house About Face show.

    And I have four theater seats from the Houston Coliseum, R.I.P.

    As for Syd, I didn’t even know his name. To me, Pink Floyd was David Gilmore, Roger Waters, and that other guy. Perhaps due to his early exit, my late entry, and a college roommate so detestable, that his love for Floyd became my distaste of them.

    Though Dub Side of the Moon I quite enjoy these days (by the Easy Star All-Stars).

  • July 13, 2006 at 9:42 pm
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    I made it to the Jesspesen stadium show also it was like my 5th concert, first time to see Pink Floyd. It’s cool to know someone else was there. YOU ROCK JAY!
    And then I think everyone @ #’s got free tickets to see them at Rice. The lightning show was fantastic accompained with the down pourand the MUSIC. I wanted to make the trek to Dallas, but the Pace Concert people wouldn’t let go of anymore tickets.
    I still have Syd Barrett’s to releases on vinyl. I have a deeper appericiation for them than when they were firsted released.
    I also made it out to see David Gilmore and Roger Waters tours.

    Sad thing is to be thought dead before your’e gone though.

  • July 14, 2006 at 10:01 pm
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    i saw PF at the rice show in … like, ’95? it’s still up there in my top five of “damn, that f’in blew me away” live performances…

    i recall seeing a documentary on PF and waters really talked about syd… like he wasn’t there, but he was always an influence even when he wasn’t. one story was when they were doing “wish you were here”… which was about syd!… syd actually showed up at the studio’s. all bloated, freaky, like… they just ignored him, but still… odd story

  • November 29, 2009 at 7:33 pm
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    I typed in Jeppesen stadium Houston and it brought up the image of your ticket stub. I clicked it and was then brought to your scathing review of my former band US AND THEM(I was the drummer). U NAILED it.

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