Music

Syd Barrett

A founder member of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett's subsequent breakdown, disappearance and secluded lifestyle made him one of British rock's most mythical figures. Born into a middle-class family in Cambridge, he adopted the name Syd from a local jazz musician, met Roger Waters after playing with his first band The Mottoes and studied painting at Camberwell Art School. It was Barrett who came up with the name Pink Floyd (from two blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council) and the band started out playing American R&B covers. Soon, however, they began improvising with jazz arrangements becoming key figures in the exploding psychedelic era, playing regularly at London's UFO Club, releasing their debut single Arnold Layne - Barrett's song about a transvestite - in 1967. Banned in some places, it wasn't a big hit but established Floyd as cutting edge pioneers of progressive rock and, led to a major breakthrough with another Barrett song See Emily Play - featuring some extraordinary slide guitar by Barrett. He was also the prime creative force behind third single Apples & Oranges and the 1967 debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn but, with his songs becoming increasingly complex and his behaviour more and more erratic, he left Floyd in 1968. Two solo albums followed - The Madcap Laughs and Barrett - but by 1971 he'd effectively retired, despite forming a short-lived new band called Stars. There were various attempts to get him working again, but Barrett lived the rest of his life quietly back home in Cambridge until his death at 60 in 2006. Pink Floyd paid tribute to his wayward genius with the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

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07-07-2011