On this day in 1967, Pink Floyd started recording their second single release ‘See Emily Play’ at Sound Techniques Studios in Chelsea, London. Released as a single in the UK, the song also featured on the American version of the band’s debut album, ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn.’
See Emily Play was written by the band’s original frontman – eccentric visionary Syd Barrett - who was reportedly inspired by the antics of one of the band’s early fans - Emily Young. Barrett believed that he had seen Emily sleeping in the woods during a particularly strong psychedelic adventure and felt compelled to write about her exploits. In a recent interview looking back at that time, Emily describes her impressions of Syd:
"He was absolutely delicious. He was a natural poet and artist, a creature of the forest, like Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He was going through hell at the time because he was taking far too much acid and he knew he was in danger."
Emily wasn’t the only person to notice a change in Syd. During rehearsals, Barrett’s friend David Gilmour - who was not yet a member of the band at that stage - dropped in to see how things were going and was shocked at how much Barrett’s personality appeared to have changed as a result of his recreational drug use. His habits had literally altered his mind. A few months later Gilmour joined the band with the intention of keeping Barrett as a non-performing songwriter whilst his personal life continued to unravel. Sadly this became unworkable and Barrett left the band in April 1968.
Barrett’s contribution to the band’s legacy and his array of creative talents are reflected in our distinctive selection of Worn Free Syd Barrett tees which convey his ingenuity and unique influence on the early Floyd sound. After leaving Pink Floyd, Barrett recorded two solo albums. His first single release was entitled ‘Octopus’ and the design for our Worn Free Syd Barrett Octopus t-shirt was taken from a button badge that Barrett drew himself. Although his mental state meant that his tenure with the band became unworkable, the Floyd continued to draw inspiration from Barrett even when he was doing his own thing. They wrote and recorded several tributes to their friend, including the 1975 album ‘Wish You Were Here’ featuring the moving homage ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’. Sadly in 1972 Barrett quit the music industry for good and withdrew from public life until his untimely death in 2006 - but his legacy lives on.
And what became of young Emily? Well it seems that some of the band’s creative magic rubbed off on the sixteen-year-old muse. She went on to become Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor. She is also rather posh and is now the ‘Right Honourable Emily Young,’ daughter of Wayland Young, 2nd Baron of Kennet. Genuine rock royalty!