reblogged frm link above
About a week before hooking up with Mark for this latest interview, I asked him if he’d be kind enough to allow me the pleasure of posting an article on his site that expands on some of the topics discussed in our latest pod-chat. Mark – being the laidback kind of guy he is – was up for that… so here I am!
What I’d like to delve into further is the possibility that founding Pink Floyd member, Syd Barrett was a victim of MK Ultra/Mind Control. I must point out however, that due to deadline restraints, this article is by no means conclusive. It’s merely a brief overview and analysis. I’ve taken a look at some (not all) of the available ‘evidence’ on offer and highlighted some of the classic ’tell-tale’ signs that you’ll be familiar with.
According to close friends and associates of Barrett‘s, there was a marked decline in his mental state from 1967 onwards, perhaps sometime during or after ‘The Pink Floyd’ (as they were then known) enjoyed two UK hit singles and a top-selling, critically acclaimed album (‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’). Syd was the band’s principle song-writer and visionary, and also its brightest star.
Weeks later, Syd went missing for a few days following the band’s performance at the multi-act ‘International Love-In’ at London’s Alexandra Palace. Pink Floyd keyboardist, Richard Wright recalls, “he went missing for the whole weekend and when he appeared again on the Monday, he was a totally different person. When they (the road crew) found Syd, they told us, ‘well, something’s happened to Syd.’ Something had happened to him, a total difference. He’d gone – still looking the same but somewhere else. They said, ‘something terrible has happened, he’s like a zombie.’” Floyd’s Roger Waters remembers, “the shock of seeing him, such a change. Very frightening. I couldn’t believe what had happened… because he came the next day, and he was a different person.”
Although it’s not exactly clear where Syd disappeared to during his ‘lost weekend,’ the reports of his altered personality upon his return are one of those “tell-tale” signs I was alluding to earlier. What we do know is Barrett was living in a flat at the notorious 101 Cromwell Road in London, which former Pink Floyd manager, Peter Jenner once described as being “run by heavy, loony messianic Acid freaks.” Legendary music-photographer, Mick Rock is quoted as saying that Syd’s flat was “a burnt-out place, the biggest hovel, the biggest shit-heap; a total Acid-shell, the craziest flat in the world. There were so many people, it was like a railway station. Two cats Syd had, one called Pink and one called Floyd, were still living in the flat after he left. He just left them there. Those were the cats they used to give Acid to.”
The ground-breaking light-shows that accompanied early-era Pink Floyd gigs were a taste of what would follow almost twenty years later with the advent of Acid House and then ‘Rave.’ But what effect did these lights have on Syd? In his book, ‘Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd – Dark Globe,’ author, Julian Palacios makes an interesting point:
Even without drugs, Barrett was up for days on end. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion brought on their own altered states. Syd’s sensitivity to flickering lights did not help… disdained strobes, though alternating lanterns with rapid-fire motion meant a flicker effect pummelled the stage Eyes closed or open, Barrett was subjected to lights pulsing in time with his brain-waves. At some point, Barrett let feeling trapped onstage get the better of him. He turned to face the lights, well aware they acted as (a) large-scale Dream Machine…
David Gilmour had been drafted into the band in 1968 as an extra guitarist, initially to act as Syd’s shadow during gigs in case he chose not to play his instrument (or even turn up in the first place for that matter). Looking back on the group’s somewhat ill-fated maiden tour of the US earlier in 1967, Nick Mason says, “Syd went mad on that very first American tour. He didn’t know where he was most of the time. He detuned his guitar onstage. He just stood there rattling strings, a bit weird even for us.” Barrett had very little to offer in the recording-studio either. The man who’d penned the band’s first two singles and the majority of their debut album, had nothing else to give – that is with the exception of a handful of tracks, a number of which remain unreleased to this day such as the rather aptly titled, ‘Vegetable Man,’ and ‘Scream Thy Last Scream.’ Pink Floyd’s second album released in 1968 and titled, ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ featured only one Barrett-penned song. His time was up. It was while the band was travelling to a gig in early 1968 that someone asked whether they should collect Syd on the way. Gilmour recalls that “somebody, probably Roger, said, ‘no, let’s not bother.’”
In June 1975, Pink Floyd were busy recording the follow-up to their worldwide smash, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ at the legendary Abbey Road studios when an unusual visitor stopped by. Richard Wright remembers that “I saw this big bald guy sitting on the couch… about sixteen stone, huge bald fat guy. I didn’t think anything of it. In those days, it was normal for strangers to wander into our sessions. I thought, ‘he looks a bit strange.’ I sat down with Roger at the desk and we worked for about ten minutes. This guy kept on getting up and brushing his teeth and then sitting, doing weird things, but keeping quiet. I said to Roger, ‘who is he?’ Roger said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘well, I assumed he was a friend of yours.’ He said, ‘no, I don’t know who he is.’ It took me a long time. Then suddenly I realised it was Syd, after maybe forty-five minutes.” It just so happened that the band were working on a song that was dedicated to their former leading light when he walked in on them. Wright continues, “he came in as we were doing vocals for ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond,’ about Syd. He for some reason picked the day we were doing a song about him. A huge shock. I hadn’t seen him for about six years. He’d shaven all his hair off – his eyebrows, everything. Awful. Roger was in tears, we both were. Shocking, seven years of no contact, and then to walk in while we’re doing that track. Coincidence, karma, fate – who knows, very powerful.” Peter Jenner was there too. He says it was “terribly sad. This great fat, bald, mad person who we used to know and who this song was all about sitting there in another world. Weird. He kept brushing his teeth with this little toothbrush. I asked him what he’d been doing. He just smiled. What I’d call ‘barking mad,‘ terribly distressing.“ David Gilmour recalls that “he turned up for a couple of days then wandered off and we never saw him again.”
In 1981, Barrett moved in to his mother’s modest semi-detached home in Cambridge, the old university town where he was born and raised. He remained living there as a virtual recluse until his death from cancer in 2006 at the age of sixty – well, almost. He did spend some time in what his sister, Rosemary has reportedly said was a private “home for lost souls.” That’s not exactly how author, Julian Palacios describes it in his ‘Dark Globe’ biography however. He writes, “during 1983-‘84, Barrett spent eighteen months at Greenwoods, a National Health Service treatment facility” in Brentwood, a town in the county of Essex. It “offered in-patient rehabilitation for people with ’severe and enduring mental health problems and associated behavioural problems.’” Furthermore, physicians at Greenwoods are said to have diagnosed him as having a “personality disorder.”
Whilst Barrett lived a life of anonymity in Cambridge under the watchful eye of his sister and his mother, interest in Syd’s music and cultural legacy showed no signs of diminishing. Fans and journalists regularly came knocking at his front-door, but unfortunately for them, he often refused to entertain their curiosity. Rosemary has reportedly said, “having people coming to the door upset him… Some more extreme fans would stalk him. In the end he just disconnected his door-bell.” She claims “he showed no interest in Pink Floyd at all” or any other episode from his former life as a popular musician and song-writer to the point that he reverted back to his birth-name, ’Roger.’ It seems, as far as he was concerned, ‘Syd’ was a persona, an alter-ego that he no longer wanted to be shackled to… (I think you know where I’m going with this?)… Rosemary says, “my brother was two people. He was ‘Roger’ when we were children. ‘Syd,’ as most people knew him, was a nickname for just a few years. After that, he was ‘Roger’ again for the rest of his life.” Additionally, “if anyone called him ‘Syd’ he wouldn’t answer – ‘Syd’ was Pink Floyd.” In a 2009 interview, she said her brother maybe “just wanted to become the real person that he was, I’m not sure how genuine the ‘Syd’ character really was.”
I think we can mark that down as another “tell-tale” sign, right?
Opinion remains divided as to the exact nature of Barrett’s mental decline. Depending on which member of Pink Floyd you ask for example, it seems they either take the view that the LSD turned him into a schizophrenic, or visa versa. Personally, I do have to admit that I come away from all of this with the impression that he did sometimes play on his reputation as an Acid-soaked madman just to irritate people for his own amusement. He was, after all, a sharp-witted young man by all accounts and I’m sure that he was still capable of serving up the odd flash of brilliance in spite of his deteriorating mental state. Roger Waters remembers one such moment which occurred not long before Syd’s exit from Pink Floyd when his long-suffering band-mates repeatedly tried, and largely failed, to coax him into writing some new material. Waters says, “we were trying to get songs out of him… he came to a rehearsal… erm, room that we were in with a new song. ‘Oh, great. How does it go?’ I remember sitting down with him with a guitar and he was strumming away and, er, this song went… he said, ‘I’ll teach you the chorus okay, it goes like this: ‘Have you got it yet? Have you got it yet? Have you got it yet?’ And I went, ‘okay, yeah. Yeah, okay,’ and, er… we started playing together and he’d do it slightly different. And then he’d do it slightly different. And after he kept changing it… about the sixth time we’d done it… I went, ‘I’ve got it.’ And I just put the guitar down and that was it. That was the last time I ever did anything with him. It was a very clever joke. I was desperately trying to learn this thing, and it kept changing. ‘Have you got it yet?’ Yep. Got it.”
It might be difficult to comprehend now, given Pink Floyd’s mass appeal and status as one of the Great Giants of Rock, but back in 1966 and ’67 prior to signing with EMI, the band were – to pinch words from someone else’s article – “the psychedelic pied pipers of the ’London underground’ scene” thanks to their spaced-out live jams and groundbreaking, if somewhat hallucinatory lightshows. In short, whether due to accident or design, Syd Barrett rose to prominence during a time in cultural history when vast numbers of young people were ready and willing to fall under his influence. Consider the fairytale-like quality of some of the songs he wrote and recorded for Pink Floyd’s debut album in 1967 too. They’re said to have been inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis and Kenneth Grahame author of ‘Wind in the Willows.’ This unique fusion of psychedelic Pop, surrealism, and English whimsy was popular with other bands of the time such as The Beatles who that same year revisited their childhood with the singles ‘Penny Lane,’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ and would later reach back further drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll on ‘I Am the Walrus.’ Over in the US meanwhile, Jefferson Airplane released ‘White Rabbit,’ a psychedelic anthem that borrowed suggestive imagery from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ leading many to conclude that the track was a metaphor (or perhaps even a commercial) for mind-altering substances such as Acid and Magic Mushrooms. 1967 was also the year that Timothy Leary stood in front of an estimated 30,000 hippies at a mass gathering in San Francisco and called on them to: “Turn on, tune in, drop out” – and thousands, if not millions did so willingly – Syd included. Reflecting on the impact of the phrase, Leary reportedly stated, “unhappily, my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean ‘get Stoned and abandon all constructive activity.’” Well, it’s certainly been interpreted that way by a significant number of researchers and authors who claim the so-called ‘counter-culture’ of the 1960s was largely an orchestrated plot by the Military/Intelligence Complex to do just that and more. Pete Brown the poet and one-time song-writer for ‘60s Rock band, Cream was a friend of Syd’s, and according to recent reports, deeply suspicious of Leary‘s Acid crusade. In the 2010 biography, ‘Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head,‘ he claims he “got very angry” after realising that the 1960s drug-scene was “a diversion and people were getting damaged.” He goes on, “in hindsight of course it looks very much like it was pushed to the underground as a kind of semi-conspiracy thing. I mean, I am a paranoid conspiracy freak, I have to say that. But then most of it’s come true, hasn’t it? Most of it’s been sussed since then. Acid was made very appealing, with a nice PR campaign, and people got destroyed by it. It blunted the teeth of the so-called ‘underground,’ quite honestly. I don’t think that political awareness or even, for that matter, artistic awareness, is aided by continual drug use. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have the odd joint and relax, or have the odd pint down the pub. But you can’t build a revolution on it. You can’t even build one in your mind. I was very suspicious of Leary and all those people. They had dodgy connections. I wouldn’t have trusted them with a bag of peas. I didn’t buy those people. I think they did more damage than good.”
So, how does Syd Barrett figure in all this? Was he a ‘psychedelic pied piper’ leading a generation of unwitting youths a few steps closer towards a New World Order? Well, I don’t know about you, but having mulled over the “tell-tale” signs featured in this article, I’m inclined to subscribe to the view that MK Ultra/Mind Control definitely played a major factor, if he was indeed in the service of malevolent hidden forces that is.
** Matt Sergiou – Oct. 2nd 2013
Check out my blog ‘Conspiro Media’…
‘Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd – Dark Globe.’ – Justin Palacios
‘Pink Floyd – Pigs Might Fly.’ – Mark Blake
** Please feel free to contact me with any info/questions/comments regarding this article, or indeed anything else:
Thanks for taking the time to read this!