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New Syd Barrett book - author explains more, and promo video Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Limited edition Syd Barrett bookBack in March, we told you about "Barrett", a new book which the publishers describe as "the definite visual companion to the creative work of Roger 'Syd' Barrett". A limited edition, high quality, large-format book, it focuses on the creative life of Syd. It's been authorised by the Syd Barrett Estate and a percentage of the sales from it will go to the Estate.

We've had a special preview of a number of the images to be included, and we are certain that this will be an absolutely essential book for all fans of Syd Barrett and the early Pink Floyd. It's a mesmerizing selection of pictures, not just Syd's artwork and letters (incredible in themselves), but rare photos including live, backstage, and portrait images, and endearing family snapshots – a collection the like of which has not been seen before.

We got together with Russell Beecher, the author and compiler of "Barrett", to get an insight into the development of this book. Our interview with him follows a four minute video preview of the book (below), with various people, including Miles, talking about Syd and his love of art, and enthusing over the "amazing pictures" that have been lined up for "Barrett"...

- Why another Syd Barrett book? What's different about this one?

Although there has been plenty written about Syd there hasn't been a large illustrated book that covers his whole life. At the book's inception I thought that to simply have many of the classic Syd images reproduced at a large size in high quality would be of great interest to fans but as research progressed I kept finding more and more unseen images, spanning all of Syd's life, and the book started to take on a life of its own.

One of the main differences with 'Barrett' is that it is being produced in co-operation with the Syd Barrett Estate which has allowed us access to rare and important visual material and so as well as scores of unseen photos of Syd and Pink Floyd we also have many of his paintings re-produced in high quality for the first time and we will also be featuring many of his illustrated letters that have been seen in public before at exhibitions before but not published in so many numbers at such high resolution.

- You produced the documentary 'A Technicolor Dream' - did that inspire you to work on this project, or was it in spite of that earlier work?

The reason for my work on both comes from a long interest in the work of Syd. The research I did for 'A Technicolor Dream' certainly informed my research for Barrett and I knew form my experience working on the documentary that there would be a lot of visually interesting material – I just didn't know there would be as much as we've found!

- How long have you been working on the book?

I suppose I have been researching it for almost 20 years as a fan of Syd and the Floyd and I carried a lot of my previous thinking from my work on 'A Technicolor Dream' but in-depth work in earnest on 'Barrett' began in early 2009.

- Who have you got interesting pictures from?

That would be telling! I can't tell you who I got them from but I can tell you what I've got. I have so far found completely unseen colour images from Syd and the Floyd at the All Saints Church London Free School gigs, the Architects Association gig, the launch of IT at the Roundhouse, UFO, the Madcap Laughs session, and many others of the Syd and the band that have not seen the light of day. We've also been lucky enough to receive images from the Barrett family and been granted access to Nick Mason's archive as well as the archives at EMI.

- How do you research something like this, and get it off the ground?

The research is deep and if you're not careful can be very overwhelming! The internet is a great resource just as a jumping off point and from there I just tried to get in touch with people and then see if they knew anyone else and so on and so forth. Luckily Syd is very well thought of, so people are generally happy to help. I think that maybe since Syd passed away and the dust has settled that those that knew him are more open to discuss his work. It has been easier to get people to co-operate as the book is mainly concerned with Syd's creative life and so there's not so much treading over the same old ground.

- Why are you doing the book as a limited edition?

Although there is widespread interest in Syd we believe that a book of this nature will appeal mainly to very true and dedicated fans of Syd and the early Floyd. We also wanted to make this something special, so the book will be a really high quality collectible edition, printed using the best materials and will come in a protective case, and that doesn't come cheap. Unseen images also come at a much higher price than standard previously published images. So by making the book a limited run at a higher price point we have more scope to include as much rare material as possible and make the book a treasure trove for Syd fans.

- Have you met with any resistance whilst pursuing this - for example, from the Floyd camp, or Rosemary Breen, or from Barrett fans?

Not really to be honest. In fact the fans have been most supportive and helpful and have given me leads to chase and in some cases have allowed us access to their rare Syd items. Again, I think because we are concentrating on Syd's creative life and are rightly presenting him in a positive light everyone has been helpful.

- What's been the biggest surprise during your research?

The biggest surprises for me have been the amount of unseen images that have come to light and also the high quality of Syd's art. I still can’t believe the sheer volume of unseen Syd and early Floyd images we have managed to track down and I'm sure there are many more hidden away in dusty boxes up in lofts and down in cellars all over the place! I was always a casual admirer of Syd’s artwork but had only seen a few items and the longer I have been working on the book and the more I see of his work, the more impressed I become. A lot of musicians present themselves as painters too but with Syd I think it goes far beyond that – just a cursory look at 'Fart Enjoy' tells you how accomplished, creative and even precocious he was in his art.

- Are there any things in particular you think Barrett fans will be surprised by, in the book?

As I have said before, the large amount of unseen photos, paintings, letters and other items of visual interest will surprise even the most devoted of Syd followers, and those of early Floyd, of course. I have had a few meetings with Syd aficionados and after showing them what I've found I've enjoyed the looks on their faces! And once the power of speech has returned I've had an identical response from all of them – "Where the hell did you get did you get those? How? When? Who? Can I look again please?"

Our thanks to Russell for his time - and yes, we were amongst those astonished by some of the pictures lined up for this publication! To register your interest in the book, ensure you visit BarrettBook.com and note your details through the "Register" link found at the top of their homepage. This doesn't lock you in to a purchase, but will give the publishers an indication of how much interest there is in the book. Without enough interest, the book won't be published, so don't forget!

 
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