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The madcap laughs no more

Syd Barrett, the enchanted hero of English psychedelic rock, appealed to a romantic idea of doomed genius, but also went on to live an ordinary life, says an ex-Pink Floyd producer

By Joe Boyd   August 2006

Soon after Syd Barrett’s death, Radio 4 played an interview he recorded with Hans Keller. It is a perfect 1960s culture-clash moment. The po-faced Keller with his strong Germanic accent demands to know “vy ze music must be zo loud!” The cliché would normally involve an inarticulate rock musician, mumbling ums and ers, but Syd calmly bats back all Keller’s forays, sounding as if he was born to be a Radio 4 pundit.

Hearing his speaking voice again after all these years brought back memories of old conversations and reminded me of the cultured intelligence that lurked inside the pop…

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