Get Your Free Audiobook

Listen with a free trial

A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook free.
1 credit/month after trial—to buy any title you like, yours to keep.
Listen all you want to a selection of thousands of Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
$16.45 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $33.47

Buy Now for $33.47

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

“I don’t think I’m easy to talk about. I’ve got a very irregular head. And I’m not anything that you think I am anyway” (Syd Barrett, Rolling Stone, 1971).

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett was the definition of a golden boy. With good looks and an aptitude for music, he was a charismatic child who fast became a teenage leader in 1960s England. Along with three school chums - Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason - he formed what would become Pink Floyd. Starting as a British cover band, they soon pioneered a new sound: British psychedelic rock. With early, trippy, Barrett-penned hits, Pink Floyd captured the zeitgeist of swinging London in all its technicolor glory.

But there was a dark side. Barrett fell in with some hardcore hippies and began taking large quantities of LSD. His already-fragile mental state - most believe him to have been schizophrenic - further unraveled. The once bright-eyed lad was quickly replaced by a sinister, dead-eyed shadow of his former self given to eccentric, reclusive, and sometimes violent behavior. Sacked from the band, Barrett retreated to his mother’s house, where he remained until his death, rarely seen or heard.

A Very Irregular Head lifts the veil of secrecy that has surrounded Syd Barrett for nearly four decades, drawing on exclusive access to family, friends, archives, journals, letters, and artwork to create the definitive portrait of a brilliant, tragic artist. Besides capturing the promise of Barrett’s youth, Chapman challenges the notion that Barrett was a hopelessly lost recluse in his later years and creates a portrait of a true British eccentric who is rightfully placed within a rich literary lineage which stretches through Kenneth Graham, Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, John Lennon, David Bowie, and on up to Damon Albarn of Blur.

A tragic, affectionate, and compelling portrait of a singular artist, this will stand as the authoritative word on this very English genius for years to come.

©2010 Rob Chapman (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

More from the same

What listeners say about A Very Irregular Head

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched and respectfully written

I loved this book. It's a sad tale indeed but highlights the connection between art. psychology, music history, literature and rock star trappings (amongst other things). I have been oddly inspired by this story. It doesnt unravel the mystery per se and leaves you with more questions which you know can never be answered. I tend to think Syd was more an architect of his own isolation than the traditional mythologies about him would have you believe. He was certainly damaged and a sad and misunderstood soul but seemed to find some solace in his own company. There are some very well used quotes from Susan Sontag in the text that tallk about the artist and silence that resonates so clearly with Syd's story. Upon finishing the book and listening to Syd's solo LPs I now get a sense of nausa that is difficult to explain. I feel out of my body and out of my own head!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ajit
  • Ajit
  • 01-05-2017

Very Touching

Wonderful Book. Very calm study by Rob Chapman. Giving due respect to Syd Barrett and his family. Simon Vance is a pleasure as always.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew Elliott
  • Matthew Elliott
  • 24-01-2017

Unlocks the Mystery.

As a fan of Syd's work, I was excited to hear this book - am not disappointed!
An intimate, beautiful portrait of a struggling soul, who has often been sidetracked as a madman with very little regard.
Check it out!!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dennis L. Myers Jr.
  • Dennis L. Myers Jr.
  • 11-03-2021

The best Syd Barrett biography

While not breaking any new ground in terms of the rock ‘n’ roll biography template, Rob Chapman‘s book is fantastically researched and extremely well written. He clearly understands personalities and has no trouble explaining music. Granted the first quarter of the book is a little slow, but after that it is exceptional in its efforts to understand the subject, not as a madman, but somebody who Ultimately was just uncomfortable with the demands of pop stardom. Yes, drugs played a role but more than anything Syd was neither equipped nor willing to continue down the path that left him unfulfilled. His last years are particularly sad but nowhere near as bleak and catatonic as the legends would lead you to believe. Chapman certainly uncovers some interesting new nuggets and I learned so much. I didn’t want the book to end; if anything, I wish it were twice as long.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andy Enright
  • Andy Enright
  • 23-11-2021

Very well done. Thank you!

Thank you Rob Chapman for finally presenting the world and Barrett fans a comprehensive and well researched portrait of Syd the man, the artist, the musician instead of the normal fare of half-truths, myths, and sensationalism. Probably of little interest to those who are not already fans of Syd Barrett or Pink Floyd, but a gripping and haunting story of a little understood genius nonetheless. Bravo. Well narrated and well written.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Listener
  • Listener
  • 22-11-2021

Detailed account of an extraordinary person by a t

Rob Chapman clearly was an admirer of Syd’s art from the early beginnings, his revisiting of his musical hero serves not only as an opportunity for him to reconnect with this iconic ‘madman’ but also to dispel the mystery and myth surrounding his life. What we get is a detailed account that aims to set the record straight and is uncompromising at calling out inaccuracies, exaggerations, false memories or blatant fabrications we have been fed for decades about Syd’s life and his artistic decline in his early twenties, his attempts at recording additional albums, and his later quite ordinary years living in hotels and later with his family.

And so we get a very detailed account of Syd’s life, with information from multiple sources converging into something close to truth. Syd’s influences, art, musical abilities, interests, drug usage, romantic endeavors, mental health decline are all in here in enough detail that we truly get a sense of who Syd was. Detailed analysis of Syd’s lyrics and their probable origins and inspirations are clearly laid out and substantiated by extensive research. In between we get a commentary on the relevant events surrounding Syd, be it pop culture, music, art scene intertwined sometimes at length might seem tedious at first but turn out to be very important at painting a complete picture.
There is not a lot of Pink Floyd mentioned beyond what is relevant to Syd’s story, especially after his departure from his own band we get the impression that perhaps Roger, Rick and Nick simply did not know what to do, and chose instead to focus on the money making machine that Pink Floyd was becoming. The only member ironically who surfaced multiple times in Syds later years is David who, perhaps pushed by guilt of being Syds successor, was compelled to help with finishing two of Syd’s solo albums and shaping them into something somewhat cohesive.

Chapman can be very critical yet matter of fact when describing the tribute Pink Floyd attempted with songs such Shine On You Crazy Diamond. In fact Chapman is quite critical and cynical of other once great musical acts of Syd’s era (including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney etc.) who by continuing their music careers way beyond their prime might have reduced themselves to caricatures of their former selves without even realizing it, something Syd unintentionally or perhaps intentionally avoided and Chapman wants you to be the judge of that.

A brief word on narration, which is excellent to my ears and kept me interested throughout the read, brings me to the end of my short review. For anyone interested in understanding who Syd Barrett was, and are prepared to abandon their caricature of the man, this is the book for you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tami Mahaffey
  • Tami Mahaffey
  • 17-11-2021

Genius

Barrett was a creative genius and true artist. The author did an excellent job telling this story. This is not for your average “Pink Floyd” or “Arnold Layne” layman. For those who truly loved and connected with whatever the deeper element Roger had within him, you will appreciate this work. Like his career, the story ended too soon. It left me wanting more, sadly, there was nothing else that could be told.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark B.
  • Mark B.
  • 09-11-2021

Wonderful biography of a great artist

This is exceptionally well researched, written, and narrated. Thoroughly informative and enjoyable. God bless Syd.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rusty METAL J
  • Rusty METAL J
  • 25-08-2021

GREAT

I am a huge fan of The FLOYD an Syd. This was informative as well as entertaining.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anthbe
  • Anthbe
  • 12-07-2021

Excellent book

Likely due to the cover, I was surprised by the quality of this book, thoughtful and well written, factual and careful in its conclusions, very satisfying listen.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Craig Adamson
  • Craig Adamson
  • 05-07-2021

For music or Pink Floyd historians only

Wow! That was a slog. I never would have been able to get through the actual book by reading it.

I was tempted many times to stop listening to the book and start another. I kept hoping for more interesting things to appear but this life of Rodger “Syd” Barrett was more or less Monday in after age 30.

To the authors credit particularly near the end of the book he talks through the mini fables and/or myths regarding Syd Barrett‘s mental illness and supposed to sent into madness. Not only did he dispatch of these problems but explained why they weren’t possible due to many interviews and personal interactions between Syd and numerous others.

I do admire the author for doing the research and the hard work of putting this book together. He is obviously in love with Syd Barrett from a fan perspective. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just did not enjoy the book and the minutia that went through it as I do so do not have enough passion for his music and suppose genius.

Again Syd Barrett may be a genius and he may have done mini pioneering things rock music a small piece of that history being his formation and naming of the band Pink Floyd. However I find it interesting that the author in numerous cases disparages others for minimizing his influence on rock while in various chapters he denigrates other well-known artists And often verbally savage Waze. The author is definitely a full-time defender of Syd Barrett and all that is his life and work. So again without a better appreciation of the artist myself this book could’ve been about 100 pages in length and I may have enjoyed it much more.

I would not read or listen to this book again personally. I really do think you need to be a music historian and more importantly Pink Floyd needs to be your favorite band to take the time and interest in delving into this book.

On another note there’s quite a bit of English history related to literature as well as art and other esoteric references that were lost on me. So you may need to be much more cultured than I am to find More enjoyment.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.