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Syd Barrett dies


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07/11/2006 8:55 AM, AP

Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd but spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, a spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday. He was 60.

The spokeswoman — who declined to give her name until the band made an official announcement — confirmed media reports that he had died. She said Barrett died several days ago. She did not disclose the cause of death.

RIP Syd. Hope you're in a better place now... :(

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Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, dies By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd but spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, a spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday. He was 60.

The spokeswoman — who declined to give her name until the band made an official announcement — confirmed media reports that he had died. She said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for many years.

Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and the 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" — largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar — was a commercial and critical hit.

However, Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 — five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon." He was replaced by David Gilmour.

Barrett released two solo albums — "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett" — but soon withdrew from the music business altogether.

He spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England, where he was a familiar figure, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store.

Despite his brief career, Barrett's fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians, from David Bowie — who covered the Barrett track "See Emily Play" — to the other members of Pink Floyd, who recorded the album "Wish You Were Here" as a tribute to their troubled bandmate.

The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.

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Pink Floyd's Founder Dies

Reclusive songwriter Roger "Syd" Barrett died a few days ago at the age of 60.

By Stephanie Cole

Roger "Syd" Barrett, the man who co-founded Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 60.

A spokeswoman for the band says the reclusive star died a few days ago, but wouldn't disclose the cause of his death, according to media reports.

Barrett co-founded the British group in 1965 with Roger Waters, and was the original singer, songwriter and lead guitarist. The troubled genius wrote a large amount of Pink Floyd's 1967 hit album 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.'

However, he was fired from the band in 1968 after his struggle with drug abuse left him riddled with psychological problems. He became a virtual recluse and spent his time in his hometown of Cambridge, England.

Pink Floyd legend Dave Gilmour paid tribute to Barrett's innovative songwriting on his 60th birthday on January 7th.

Gilmour insists his gifted contribution to the band will never be forgotten.

Roger "Syd" Barrett Biography

Like a supernova, Roger "Syd" Barrett burned briefly and brightly, leaving an indelible mark upon psychedelic and progressive rock as the founder and original singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Barrett was responsible for most of their brilliant first album, 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but left and/or was fired from the band in early 1968 after his erratic behavior had made him too difficult to deal with (he appears on a couple tracks on their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets).

Such was his stature within the original lineup that few observers thought the band could survive his departure; in fact, the original group's management decided to keep Syd on and leave the rest of the band to their own devices. Pink Floyd never recaptured the playful humor and mad energy of their work with Barrett.

After a period of hibernation, Barrett re-emerged in 1970 with a pair of albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, which featured considerable support from his former bandmates (especially his replacement, David Gilmour, who produced most of the sessions). Members of the Soft Machine also play on these records, which have a ragged, unfinished, and folky feel. Barrett's eccentric humor, sly wordplay, and infectious melodies range from brilliant to chaotic on his solo work.

Lacking the taut power of his recordings with the Floyd in 1967, they nevertheless remain fascinating and moving glimpses into a creative psyche gone awry after (it is theorized) too much fame and too many drugs too early. With increasing psychological problems, Barrett withdrew into near-total reclusion after these albums. He never released any more material, and these days rarely appears in public, let alone to play music.

Although they attracted little attention upon their release, his albums also attracted a cult audience. Barrett's music and mystique achieved a lasting influence that continues to grow over two decades later. Latter-day new wave psychedelic acts like Julian Cope, the Television Personalities, and (especially) Robyn Hitchcock acknowledge Barrett's tremendous influence on their work. The Barrett cult became large enough to warrant the release of an entire album of previously unreleased material and outtakes, Opel, in the late '80s, as well as his sessions for the BBC.

Bio Courtesy of Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

Copyright © 2003-2006 Clear Channel. All rights reserved.

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Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun

Shine on you crazy diamond

Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky

Shine on you crazy diamond

You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze

Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon

Shine on you crazy diamond

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light

Shine on you crazy diamond

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze

Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

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However, Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD.

He's lucky he lived that long, IMO. Syd Barrett was a nut, & too cuckoo to perform in the studio, I really can't blame David Gilmour for kicking him out of Pink Floyd.


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Here's a nice story from Syd's local newspaper the Cambidge Evening News:

Syd Barrett dies aged 60

SYD Barrett, the founder of Pink Floyd has died aged 60.

The wayward genius passed away from cancer last Friday in the scruffy semi-detached Cambridge home to which he retreated as a recluse more than 30 years ago.

A spokeswoman for Pink Floyd music publishers said: "I can confirm that Syd Barrett has died.

He died peacefully and there will be a private family funeral.

"We would ask that the family be left alone and be given space at this time."

The singer's funeral will be for family and no members of Pink Floyd are expected to attend.

Syd, who created, named and powered the pied pipers of the psychedelic rock movement, shunned fans and rarely ventured outside his front door following a psychedelic drug induced breakdown at the peak of his career. He was later immortalised in Pink Floyd's song Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

On his death certificate, his occupation was given as "retired musician".

Born Roger Keith Barrett on January 6, 1946, in Cambridge, he was given the nickname Syd aged 15.

During the 1960s, when Syd came of age, Cambridge played a very special part in the spiritual birth of modern pop music across Britain and American.

The local music scene was thriving with bands such as Geof Mott and the Mottoes, the Sundowners, the Swinging Vibros and the Redcaps all vying for popularity.

The Victoria Ballroom - where Marks & Spencer now stands on the Market Square - was one of the most popular hangouts. Musicians including Toni Santi, Clive Welham, Willie Wilson and Nick Barraclough

* now a BBC Radio 2 presenter - were the names on everyone's lips.

But the two Cambridge men who were to have the most lasting effect on British music were Syd, guitarist with Geof Mott and Mottoes, and Dave Gilmour, singer and guitarist with the band Jokers Wild.

Syd formed Pink Floyd in 1965.

His controversial departure was in '68 after he had penned the hit singles Arnold Layneand See Emily Play along with the songs on the first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

While the band went on to achieve worldwide fame, he lived in the basement of his mother's semi in Cambridge, where he boarded up the windows to keep out of the eyes of the press and fans. He recorded two solo albums.

Syd's withdrawal from public life led him to enjoy cult status among some Pink Floyd fans, with many websites and books dedicated to him. He was often described as the first acid casualty.

Clive Welham said: "I only knew Syd before his breakdown. He was a wonderful man - a nice guy with a lovely sense of humour. He was very likeable and had no malice in him.

"He was a very talented painter as well as a musician. How on earth he got mixed up with such awful drugs, I don't know, but he liked to try things and clearly went too far.

"I have often seen him around Cambridge but never talk to him - he was always in a world of his own.

It would have felt wrong and I think it would've been a disastrous things to do - I doubt he would've known who I was."

Last year, in the run-up to Pink Floyd's reunion for Live 8 - in which Syd did not take part - neighbours said the former rock star never answered his door to callers and remained a recluse. They said he found it hard to make eye contact.

At this point, his sister Rosemary Breen, who lived a few miles from Syd in Cambridge, told the News he had not spoken to his former band mates - Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright, or his replacement, Dave Gilmour - for nearly three decades.

She said: "That is another life for him, another world in another time.

He is not Syd anymore, he is Roger.

There is no contact (with the band members) and he does not want them to get in touch with him."

She added: "He does DIY, he listens to music and he goes out."

Mrs Breen helped care for Syd in the years following his breakdown.

She has declined to comment on his death.

Syd's brother Alan Barrett said from his home in Linton, near Cambridge: "Roger died on Friday.

There will be a small family funeral soon. We just wish to be left alone."

Syd's father died when he was still in his teens. It is believed this is one of the factors that led to his downfall.

The late Bernard Stubbings, who ran the city's main music shop with the legendary Cambridge jazz band leader Ken Stevens, remembered Syd in the early days as he played alongside him in Geof Mott and the Mottoes.

Bernard died in 2003. Before his death he recalled Syd: "Syd was a lovely bloke, pure and simple. We all loved him."

It is understood that Syd financed his modest lifestyle through royalties from his Pink Floyd and solo records.

Group's roots were laid in city's pubs and clubs

THE story of Pink Floyd is well- documented, but their roots lay firmly in the pubs, cafes and nightspots of Cambridge in the 1960s - a highpoint which the local music scene has never managed to live up to again.

Syd and Dave Gilmour dominated the Cambridge scene in the early 1960s.

Syd left Cambridge on receiving a scholarship to Camberwell Arts School in London in 1963 and joined a band with his old friend from Cambridge, Roger Waters.

Fellow Cantabrigian émigrés Rick Wright and Nick Mason also joined the band and, after a succession of names including Sigma 6, The T Set, the Meggadeaths and The Screaming Abdabs, Syd eventually suggested taking the names of two Georgia bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, and combining the names to create Pink Floyd.

Syd wrote the hit singles Arnold Layneand See Emily Playalong with the songs on the first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

Two years later, his brain frazzled by drugs, he left the group, his legacy already assured.

Pink Floyd went on to achieve worldwide recognition with epic albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall.

In the 1980s relationships among band members soured and Roger Waters left the band.

He started a legal battle with the remaining members for the rights to the name Pink Floyd, but he failed in his attempt and went on to record solo work instead.

The feud, one of the greatest in rock history, ended for the Live 8 concert in July 2005.

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I reserve using the word "genius" to describe only a select few musicians of the last half-century. Syd was one of them. It takes a true genius to create such unique and original music in which naming the influences is nearly impossible, and the influenced uncalculable. For as short of a time he shared with us his artistic talent, it is amazing to see (and hear) how he continues to inspire 40 years later. You're one of my biggest musical influences, Syd Barrett, and will always be one of my favorite musicians.

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