Syd Barrett's short career lasted from the mid-sixties, when he became famous as the singer, guitarist and main songwriter of Pink Floyd, to 1972, when he withdrew from the public eye to spend the remainder of his life as a recluse. He was responsible for much of the Floyd's early material, including the hit single "See Emily Play" (chosen as John Peel's Climber on Radio London for the week beginning 28th May 1967) and several of the tracks on the band's first album, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, which Peel played on the Perfumed Garden for some weeks before its official release on 5 August 1967. However, his behaviour first became erratic during the second half of 1967 (although he participated in the band's first two sessions for Top Gear) and the other members of Pink Floyd eventually decided to replace him in April 1968.

At this stage in their career the Floyd were the "stars" of the British underground scene and Peel not only played their records but also frequently acted as compere at performances such as the Hyde Park free concert of summer 1968. Although Peel later recounted that he had had a friendly relationship with the band (especially drummer Nick Mason) he never referred to any events involving Syd Barrett.

Barrett's two solo albums did not sell as well as those of his former bandmates, but were unusual and intriguing enough to attract Peel's attention; he was the only Radio One DJ to play tracks from the first, and Barrett was booked for a session (details below - a second BBC session was recorded at the time of the second album for Bob Harris).

As the Syd Barrett legend began to grow, with appreciation of his songwriting skills combining with accounts of his sometimes alarming behaviour, his Peel session began to be valued as an addition to his slim catalogue of recorded work. Therefore it was one of the sessions selected for the penultimate Top Gear in 1975 and was repeated again in 1981, illustrating how Barrett's music, unlike the later work of Pink Floyd, appealed to the post-punk generation. The appearance of a new biography and a further set of reissues of his work in 2010 shows that his influence is ongoing.


One session only. Released as 'The Peel Sessions' by Strange Fruit in 1987 (SFPS 043) on 12" vinyl, and shortly afterwards on CD single. Session included on 'The Radio Sessions' CD, issued by Strange Fruit in 2004 (SFRSCD127).

1. Recorded 1970-02-24. First broadcast 14 March 1970. Repeated 30 May 1970, 26 December 1970 (Effervescing Elephant only), 22 September 1975, 30 April 1981, 22 June 1982.

  • Baby Lemonade / Effervescing Elephant / Gigolo Aunt / Terrapin / Two Of A Kind


  • ‘He didn’t talk to us (during the session); he talked to Dave Gilmour who’d tell us what he thought Syd had said.’ [1]


  • Syd Barrett (Guitar, Vocals)
  • Dave Gilmour (Organ, Bass, Guitar)
  • Jerry Shirley (Drums)
  • Alan Styles (Guitar)

Festive Fifty Entries


Other Shows Played

(The list below is researched only from the database of this site and is almost certainly incomplete. Please add more information if known.)

  • 15 November 1969: Octopus (single) Harvest
  • 03 January 1970: Late Night (LP - The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 17 January 1970: Love You (LP - The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 31 January 1970: Golden Hair (LP - The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 21 February 1970: No Good Trying (LP – The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 07 November 1970: Effervescing Elephant (LP – Barrett)
  • 28 November 1970: Love Song (LP - Barrett)
  • 24 May 1973: No Good Trying (LP – The Madman Laughs) Harvest
  • 24 September 1974: No Good Trying (LP - The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 29 September 1978: Octopus (single) Harvest
  • 09 September 1980: Gigolo Aunt
  • 26 May 1984 (BFBS): Golden Hair (7") Harvest HAR 5009
  • 21 August 1985: Love You (LP - The Madcap Laughs) Harvest
  • 07 February 1988 (BFBS): Terrapin (12" - The Peel Sessions) Strange Fruit
  • 29 February 1988: Terrapin (12" - The Peel Sessions) Strange Fruit
  • 13 January 1996 (BFBS): JP: "Back in 1967, 1968, I sat down to make an LP ... I was going to be reading out, and somebody was going to add instrumentation to it later on, but I was going to read out hippy song lyrics, and I'd already recorded three or four of Syd Barrett's things, and this was an official release, a proper record company that wanted to do it. Then I listened to the playbacks at some stage, and I just thought, "This isn't on. If I do this and I finish this, it's going to haunt me for the rest of my life." So I aborted the entire project, and I think I made sure I got the tapes, I don't think any of them exist. By Jove, it was a narrow escape."
  • 05 August 1996: Baby Lemonade (session) (John Peel's Classic Sessions)

See Also

External Links