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Syd Barrett was the lead guitarist, vocalist, and principle songwriter in the original line up of Pink Floyd. During his brief time with the band (1966-68) he was the driving force behind the unit. After he left the band he made just two further solo albums which were both released in 1970, before withdrawing from public view to lead a quiet, and occasionally troubled life in Cambridge, the town of his birth.
Rob Chapman’s book is the first authoritative and exhaustively researched biography of Syd Barrett that fully celebrates his life and legacy as a musician, lyricist and artist, and which highlights the influence that he continues to have over contemporary bands and music fans alike.
Rob Chapman, a journalist and academic, aims miles beyond another reprisal of the mind-mashed Syd mythography. Chapman's account is rich on pretty much all fronts - analysis, social context and revelation. ... (Barrett's) memory is served well by this sympathetic, fascinating book.
In what will be considered Barrett's definitive biography, Rob Chapman unweaves the complicated threads of the 1960s counterculture, and shows how myths are formed around an artist, and the way memory and reputation act upon and re-create each other. Although this is perhaps aimed more at the enthusiast than the general reader, the story is accessible to everyone. You don't need to be a Pink Floyd fan - or even a music fan - to appreciate it.
On the whole this is a sad book about a man who was in effect burnt out in his early twenties, with almost forty years still to live. However, even anyone who might have only a tangential interest in the artist or the group will find it an incisive examination of what was happening to music and 'the underground' in the sixties and beyond. Chapman has drawn several themes together to create a gripping book, written with insight, sympathy and remarkable objectivity, which is ultimately far more than just a biography of the subject.
There's cause for a huge celebration due to the impending release of the very excellent 400+ page biography SYD BARRETT: A VERY IRREGULAR HEAD by Rob Chapman, whose impeccable research herein is nothing short of that of a Culture Hero ... read the book - it's compelling. Better still, after you've finished this book, you're gonna hate the rest of Pink Floyd even MORE than you already do ... Rob Chapman, Sir Rob Chapman, you're a heartbreaker, sir, but what a heroic piece of Cultural Retrieval.
Though Syd has been the subject of various biographies, none has approached his peculiar life, inspirations and struggles with both drugs and mental illness with anything like the sensitivity or rigour of Rob Chapman's heavyweight account. ... The recollections of (Barrett's) family - especially sister Rosemary - are invaluable, and Chapman's obvious feel for his subject and palpably zealous research make for a book that comes as close as any maybe will to capturing Barrett's wayward lightning in a bottle.
(Barrett is) seen as the archetypal rock 'n' roll burnout, a pioneering popster who unlocked the secret of flight, but flew too high and came crashing to earth. Rob Chapman's biography attempts to crack through the dark lens and catch a glimpse of the ordinary fallen angel behind the zombie mask. ... the surviving members of Pink Floyd declined to be interviewed for this book, although David Gilmour agreed to add some last-minute corrections.This actually proves a blessing in disguise - with the other members of Floyd relegated to the background, Chapman is free to let Syd's story breathe without Floyd's giant inflatable reputation looming over the proceedings.
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