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Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett dies

11th July 2006

Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett has died at his Cambridgeshire home from what is believed to be complications from diabetes.  The 60-year-old, who suffered a breakdown in the Sixties following his use of LSD, had been a virtual recluse for more than three decades after completely withdrawing from the public spotlight in the early Seventies.  He passed away last Friday, although news of his death has today only been announced.

Pink Floyd issued a statement saying, "The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett’s death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire.”

As the initial leader of Pink Floyd he put in place the foundations of one of the most successful bands in the history of rock music, emerging as their principal songwriter and singer.  Born Roger Keith Barrett in January 1946 in Cambridge, he acquired the name Syd while at Cambridge High School which he attended with future Floyd colleagues Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

In 1965 Waters invited Barrett to join his group, which became known as the Pink Floyd Sound at the suggestion of Barrett, while, having then lost the "Sound" from their name, they quickly became a key part of London’s underground scene of the mid Sixties.

Barrett penned their first two hit singles, Arnold Layne (which reached number 20 in the UK) and See Emily Play (a UK number six), while their first album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn followed later in 1967.  However, their third single Apples And Oranges reflected Barrett’s worsening mental state.  David Gilmour joined the line-up in February 1968, giving rise to suggestions Barrett would follow the example of Brian Wilson and stop touring with the band to concentrate on his songwriting.  Instead his departure from the band was announced the following April. The last Floyd album he appeared on was their second set A Saucerful Of Secrets, released in July 1968.

Barrett then started on his first solo album, which eventually involved the assistance of Gilmour and Waters.  The resultant The Madcap Laughs, which made it to number 40 in the UK chart in February 1970, included the track Octopus, which was issued as a single.  A second album, Barrett, followed, but, despite suggesting he was "totally together" in an interview towards the end of 1971, he was becoming ever more reclusive.  He formed a new group with Delivery’s bass player Jack Monck and former Pink Fairies/Pretty Things drummer Twink but after one performance he failed to show for the next planned gig.  An attempt to return to recording in 1974 ended in failure but he did turn up unannounced during the recording of his former band’s album Wish You Were Here, although played no part in any of the sessions.  Wish You Were Here, issued in 1975, included the band’s own tribute to their fallen colleague, Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Despite being a recluse since the mid-Seventies, Barrett remained an inspirational figure to many musicians.

 

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