Most people know that Pink Floyd’s original guitarist wasn’t David Gilmour. Fewer, however, know that Syd Barrett wasn’t either. No, Bob Klose filled that role in 1964-65, as the earliest incarnation of the band — then undergoing a series of youthful name changes — began to coalesce.
Klose played lead in a six-person configuration that included Roger Waters, Rick Wright, Nick Mason and Wright’s future wife Juliette Gale, before eventually splitting over creative differences. By then, Barrett had joined what would become Pink Floyd, and the band was turning from the R&B style that Klose preferring toward psychedelia.
“When I look back on Bob Klose, he’s a great guitar player. … I’m very fond of him,” Mason says, as part of a newly released expanded interview for Eagle Rock’s rockumentary The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story. “He was far too good for us. That was part of the problem.”
Barrett, Klose, Waters, Wright and Mason actually performed as the Tea Set, the final incarnation before Barrett had the canny idea to rename the group in honor of Piedmont bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Barrett’s outsized personality, and quirky playing style, quickly transformed the group after Klose’s decision to leave.
“It’s part of that whole rock ‘n’ roll thing,” Mason confirms. “It’s actually not about being a brilliant musician. It’s about having some new ideas. I think Syd just played guitar in a slightly different way. He had a slightly different view of how to do things.”
Elsewhere, the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett film confirms that Klose appeared on a pair of early songs, “Lucy Leave” and “I’m a King Bee.” Klose continued to perform, even contributing to both the title track and “The Blue” on Gilmour’s terrific 2006 solo release On an Island — but his career focus shifted to photography.
As for the road not taken, Mason says: “We would have probably stayed in a more conservative groove, if Bob had stayed in the band.” And, alas, Piper at the Gates of Dawn — not to mention, of course Wish You Were Here — might never have happened.