Syd Barrett Book of Rare Images by Russell Beecher

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Syd Barrett Book

Essential Works are currently assembling Barrett – a large-format illustrated book centred on the creative life of Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett. Superbly produced, it will be the definitive visual companion to Syd’s work.

The book has been authorized by the Syd Barrett Estate and a percentage of the sales from it will go to the Estate.

This will be a real collectors’ item, featuring:

  • High quality heavyweight art paper
  • A slipcase in which it is presented
  • Cloth cover featuring one of Syd’s artworks
  • Full colour throughout

There will be over 100 images covering Syd’s life, out of which more than 60 are unseen and unpublished, including:

  • Images from the Barrett family archive
  • Images from Nick Mason’s personal archive
  • Images from the London Free School Benefit gigs at All Saints Church, the Architects Association gig, the launch of International Times at The Roundhouse, and UFO
  • Syd playing with Pink Floyd in Aarhus, Denmark
  • Images from the Madcap Laughs session, previously believed to have been lost
  • Syd’s artwork including paintings, sculptures, and collages, from different points in his life. Many unseen and few, if any, published in book form
  • Complete reproduction of the legendary Fart Enjoy
  • Illustrated letters from Syd published in print for the first time

It will only be available online and through specialist outlets and with an estimated price of £60.  It is likely to be released in the autumn of 2010.

Register Your Interest

Given the fact this will mainly be a collectors book, it is important to register your interest in the book by visiting the Barrett Book website and clicking “register” at the top right.  This does not commit you to anything but just lets the author know there is a market out there for the book and it viable to risk publishing.  So please take 20 seconds to register your interest!

The Contents

Barrett starts at the beginning, with photos from Syd’s youth along with comments from his sister Rosemary about her younger brother’s formative years.

As a teenager, Syd was a part of the creative Cambridge scene and this is where he started to develop his artistic and musical talents. The book will contain comments and thoughts from many of Syd’s musical associates, artistic accomplices, and girlfriends and friends from this era such as Viv Brans, Warren Dosanjh, Libby Gausden-Chisman, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, Jenny Spires, Anthony Stern, and even Jasper Rose who was his art teacher at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology.

Whilst a teenager Syd made a small book, Fart Enjoy, and gave it to his close friend Andrew Rawlinson. The whole of Fart Enjoy will be reprinted at full size in Barrett along with an interview with Andrew discussing Fart Enjoy and Syd.

In 1964 Syd moved to London to study at Camberwell and it was then that he began to play with the people who would later go on to become Pink Floyd. He sent many letters back to Cambridge which detail early gigs with the band, including one that discusses the band’s first ever foray into a recording studio.

Syd and Pink Floyd started to make a name for themselves in London in the September of 1966 when they played benefit gigs for the London Free School at All Saints Church in Notting Hill. The book will contain rare and previously unseen images with commentary from the photographers and other key individuals from the time such as Nick Mason and Roger Waters.

The next big step for the band was playing at The Roundhouse in October of that year for the launch of International Times. We have unearthed many, many hidden gems from this event which will be accompanied by interviews with the photographers as well as some of the protagonists involved such as Joe Boyd, Miles, and John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins.

The benefit gigs at the All Saints Church provided the blueprint for what was to become London’s first serious underground all-night club; the UFO. It was the nights that Pink Floyd played at the UFO that really got them going. We have managed to unearth images of the band from that time, as the glorious, pioneering lightshows painted highly Psychedelic pictures upon them.

On 16th December 1966, the band played at the Students’ Christmas Carnival at the Architects Association in London. The book covers, with generous visuals, both the gig and the rehearsals leading up to it.

The band’s ascent continued throughout the early months of 1967 as they began recording ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ and on 29th April they played the legendary ‘14-Hour Technicolor Dream’. Although no images exist of the band playing that night we have managed to track down some stunning images of the event itself that have never been available before that not only illustrate the enormity of the evening but give a flavour of what it must have been like during the night and the morning after.

The following month found the band playing their groundbreaking ‘Games For May’ gig on 12th May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The concert was a multi-media event and is seen by many as the genesis of how the band would look at live performance for the rest of their career.

The band had played their first ever European date on the same date as the ‘14-Hour Technicolor Dream’ and had hurried back from Holland to perform. They didn’t venture into Europe again until September 1967 when they did a mini-tour of Scandinavia and we have tracked down the only pictures that exist of the Barrett line-up of Pink Floyd playing in Aarhus, Denmark.

‘Christmas on Earth Continued’ at the Olympia on 22nd December 1967 is regarded as Syd’s last proper gig with Floyd as a 4 piece and we have unseen photos of the event, although not with the band, as well as images of Syd.

Syd’s tenure with the band did not go on for long after this event and he quickly embarked on a solo career. One of his most iconic shoots was for The Madcap Laughs album and although it was assumed that all of the images from that day had been published we have found some that have not.

After his two solo albums Syd disappeared from public view and, apart from one final musical venture – the short-lived and ill-fated ‘Stars’ – retreated from music and concentrated on what many believe was his true passion and calling: art.

Source [ Russell Beecher ]

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