David Gilmour takes over on vocals as Pink Floyd visit Bouton Rouge, 1968
Syd Barrett may have been one of the intrinsic factors of Pink Floyd’s early notoriety, but by late 1967 his drug-taking had begun to spiral out of control and the band was in jeopardy. With the writing on the wall, the band drafted in David Gilmour to help supplement his erratic guitar playing.
As the singer’s voice and, most importantly, his connection with the band and their reality began to drift further and further out of reach the group began preparing for band life without Syd.
By the following February, the band began to appear without the singer as he became more and more lost in his own world. The first performance without the enigmatic Barrett saw David Gilmour take over the mic for the first time and sing one of Syd’s tracks on the French TV programme, Bouton Rouge.
The show was a live music programme that ran for an alarmingly short time between 1967 and 1968. During that time the studio welcomed a host of incredible bands of the moments. British acts The Yardbirds, The Small Faces, landed with aplomb on the effortlessly chic show.
The footage below sees Floyd take to the studio stage for the first time without their lead singer and look decisively unnerved by life without him. The first moments of the performance are a vision of that future, as Roger Waters takes the mic on brooding swirl of ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ and ‘Let there Be [More] Light’, from their upcoming second album A Saucerful of Secrets.
Bouton Rouge still needed to please their viewers though and soon some numbers form their powerful debut Piper at the Gates of Dawn, would also need to be played. The band’s ‘Astronomy Domine’ would be sung by Richard Wright, just as the keyboardist had done on the album. But the real notable moment came when David Gilmour stepped up to take over the mic for Syd Barrett’s own song, ‘Flaming’.
The performance may be a little rigid and Gilmour may look a touch wooden but as he’s singing the somewhat disturbing it provides an accurate vision of the crossroads the band were at. Barrett’s departure from the band may have been officially announced in April 1968 but this was the moment Pink Floyd began their new journey.