It was 50 years ago this month (3rd January 1970) that a most unique rock album was released, The Madcap Laughs by Syd Barrett – an example of “art brut” in music. In a distinctly non-commercial move, the album missed the Christmas market, in spite of a final recording session as early as July 26, 1969. Some say it was held back not to compete with Ummagumma. Syd Barrett probably did not care.

The famous photo sessions with daffodils and a naked Iggy Rose took place in April. The less known but officially commissioned “yoga session” actually took place in October. Some of these so-called yoga photos by Storm Thorgerson ended up on the inside of the original gatefold cover – with the madcap theme in full bloom.

Storm shows us Syd Barrett with his head up in the clouds and beyond, and several creepy images that spawn almost like octopus tentacles from his torso. To remove any debate about the nature of the imagery there is also an image of Syd with a cracked head at the bottom of the gatefold. Top center, Syd seems to have his head stuck in a TV set and top left is an even more odd image and a bit of a mystery: A baby and some sort of tool against nasal congestion (?). Storm took weird to new levels with this inside cover! EMI probably did well in selecting among the April photos for the cover.

The cover art notwithstanding, The Madcap Laughs was actually created in a happy time window. Syd had in 1969 left behind him his annus horribilis and gained new hope, much thanks to Malcolm Jones, and new love with Gala Pinion. The spring and summer also included the build-up to the moon landing, the anticipation of the Woodstock concert and, more importantly for Syd, the return to stage by Bob Dylan after three long years away from the public eye.

When the album was released things had changed. The end of the year turned darker, much darker, and all too well showed that the 1960s were over. For the hippie generation, two serious blows were dealt when in December the link between the Manson family and their atrocities was fully uncovered and the tragic Altamont festival played out.

Therefore, The Madcap Laughs, in all its darkness, holds a special lighter place in time. Syd, in love again, had embarked in a daffodil-filled springtime on recordings that would go on to form an outstanding collection on one of rock music’s enduringly legendary albums.

Join us in wishing Happy Golden Anniversary to the magic Madcap album.

With thanks for text – Goran Nystrom.

Syd Barrett – Christmas 1967 Copyright The Syd Barrett Estate

Syd was born 74 years ago on 6th January 1946.  For more of his life story, please visit the bio section of this website.

This photo is from the family archives and pictures Syd, aged 21, enjoying Christmas day at home with his family. 

Brighten your January with some Syd merch, 0ur online merchandise store is offering 15% of all orders for a limited period.  Please do visit the shop and take a look around.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition is moving to a new location; Their Mortal Remains is moving to Madrid, Spain, and will be running from 10 May 2019 through to 15 September 2019.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to catch this exhibition then this could be your time. It will take place at the IFEMA – the Trade Fair Institution of Spain. The Exhibition takes you through the 50 years of Pink Floyd including the early Syd years.

Tickets are available for the exhibition via and

The Barrett book has been out for a while now but if you haven’t heard about it, it offers a definitive visual companion to Syd’s life and art.  The book was created in collaboration with the Barrett family. 

Full details about the book can be found here:

The Ballad of Syd & Morgan by Haydn Middleton has recently been published by Propolis Books. The book explores a fictional account of a meeting between Syd Barrett and the author EM Forster:

A short counterfactual novel, published exactly fifty years after the encounter it purports to describe.

A beautiful young man dressed in Cuban heels and a crushed-velvet jacket cuts a dash as he strides up Silver Street in his native Cambridge, heading for the ornate splendour of King’s College. It is 1968. He is the 22 year old Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, and his destination is home to the great Edwardian novelist, 89 year old E M Forster.

What follows is a tender exchange of truths between two men belonging to opposite ends of the 20th century, but who find within each other’s company shadows of the same demons, loves and losses as well as the familiar weight of the creative impulse. They become unlikely comrades passing fleetingly through each other’s lives. Conjuring the mischievous spirit of Pan, Haydn Middleton has created an exquisite fiction involving two towering figures of English culture.

The Ballad of Syd & Morgan is a deeply moving but joyous portrait of the despair and redemption at the heart of artistic endeavour, as well as the essential solace of companionship – wherever it may be found.

Interested? You can buy the book at the Propolis book website.

There are three launch parties, please consider yourself invited! If you would like to attend any of these events, please rsvp to

Here are the details for the launch parties:
2 November
The Book Hive, 53 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1HL

8 November 2018
Burley Fisher Books, 400 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AA

6.30pm – 9.30pm
29 November
The Coslett Café, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT

Don’t miss Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets tour, the supergroup formed by the Pink Floyd drummer to play the band’s early songs, including tracks penned by Syd. With Nick Mason on drums, the line-up includes Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, Lee Harris of the Blockheads, Guy Pratt and Dom Beken. Click here for more details.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition moves onto it’s next stop at Dortmunder U in Germany.  The exhibition will be opened on the 15th September 2018 and stay there until February 2019.  For further information on the exhibition, please visit the museum’s website

Addenbrookes Hospital is going to provide the site for a garden in honour of Syd Barrett. The centre piece of the garden will include a sculpture of Syd free wheeling on his bike. The site is perfect as it will offer an outdoor place for visitors to the hospital who might need a peaceful space in which to walk or sit. The hospital holds significance as it is where Syd was treated towards the end of his life and it is also the place of the Barrett Room which is named in honour of Syd’s father, the pathologist Dr Arthur Max Barrett.

UPDATE JULY 2018: this project is currently on hold.

The Pink Floyd exhibition which ran at the V&A last year opens in Rome on 18th January 2018.  This exhibition takes the visitor on a tour of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett.  Tickets are available from the main exhibition site.