He is one of the most influential artists in psychedelic rock, he was the living spirit behind "Pink Floyd" in its early days and wrote most of their songs. He even gave the band its name/
Here are some interesting facts about Syd Barrett:
(Photo: Aubrey Powell)
1. He was born Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett in Cambridge, England, on January 6, 1946.
2. From an early age he began to take an interest in music. His father who was a pathologist and his mother who was a housewife, supported him in this matter.
3. When he was 11 he began attending a boys' school in Cambridge, where he first met David Gilmour and Roger Waters, who attended another school in the same compound.
4. About a month before he turned 16, his father died of cancer. It was an event that greatly influenced him and connected him to Roger Waters, also an orphan from a father.
5. By the way, they were both called Roger but Barrett adopted the name of a local drummer he admired, in the name of Syd.
6. In 1962 he began studying at the College of Arts and Technology at Cambridge, where he deepened his friendship with David Gilmour. They used to play together during breaks.
7. Barrett did a lot of painting at the time. His paintings were strange and unusual and showed his colorful and unconventional personality, which would later be expressed in psychedelic music as well.
8. In August 1965 Barrett and Gilmour spent their time as street performers in Spain and France. They used to play "The Beatles" songs.
9. Luck did not play for them. They did not even have enough money to buy food. In one case they were even arrested and in another case, Gilmour was hospitalized due to malnutrition.
10. Later Gilmour and Barrett traveled to France and lived in tents outside Paris.
11. Towards the end of 1965 Barrett came to London and joined his friend Waters, who two years earlier had formed a band called "Sigma 6", along with his friends from the College of Architecture, Nick Mason (drummer), Rick Wright (keyboardist), Clive Metcalfe (bass guitar) and - Juliette Gale (singer).
12. Right after Barrett joined the band he created a "revolution", that caused a change in the band lineup and a change in the musical style, which was then a combination of black music and rhythm and blues.
13. Barrett was the one who suggested that the band will change its name to "Pink Floyd", naming it after the blues players Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
14. In 1967, "Pink Floyd" signed a recording contract with EMI. They released 2 singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", which Barrett wrote by himself.
15. In March and June 1967, the band entered the studio to record their debut album - "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", which was released in August 1967.
16. Barrett wrote eight of the 11 songs on this great album on his own and co-wrote two more.
17. Beyond the musical control, Barrett also led the visual side of the band. He was charismatic, colorful, and used black nail polish and heavy makeup.
18. He was the one responsible for the psychedelic and experimental sound of "Pink Floyd", which was even accompanied by spectacular psychedelic visual effects, in the band's performances.
19. As a guitarist he produced strange and unique sounds from the guitar, using a cigarette lighter with which he played his instrument.
20. Barrett's drug use and especially LSD increased towards the end of 1967. The combination of his unsettled mental state and drugs further disrupted his condition. His behavior became strange and unexpected. He would suddenly leave the stage in the middle of a show, sometimes playing only one chord for the entire performance and one time disappearing for several days.
21. One of the stories that show his difficult situation at the time, was the one where he asked the band members not to "peel him". Barrett was just sure he was a banana.
22. On the band's recent rehearsal Barrett played a song called "Have You Got It Yet?" The band members said they could not play it due to its strange and crazy structure.
23. Barrett's situation forced Nick Mason to contact David Gilmour and offer him to join "Pink Floyd".
24. Another guitarist who was considered as Barrett's replacement was Jeff Beck, but Nick Mason noted years later that none of the band members dared to approach him and ask him to join.
25. Gilmour joined the band initially as an additional guitar player and later as a temporary replacement for Syd Barrett. Gilmour's first appearance with "Pink Floyd," along with Syd Barrett, was on January 12, 1968. You can read more about it here.
26. The band continued to perform in the aforementioned lineup with Syd Barrett and David Gilmour for an additional number of performances. However, following the worsening of Barrett's mental state, Gilmour became a permanent member of the band in his place and the band returned to four members lineup.
(Photo: (Instagram / @ pinkfloyd)
27. The band's last appearance with Barrett as a quintet was held on "Hastings" on January 20, 1968.
28. On January 26, 1968, on the band's way to a performance at "Southampton University", the four members simply decided not to pick up Barrett on their way. This was the band's first appearance as a quartet without Syd Barrett.
29. The band's original intention was that Barrett would continue in the band as a songwriter but not appear on stage, just like Brian Wilson from the "Beach Boys", but even this idea was soon abandoned due to Syd's dysfunction.
30. An official announcement of Syd's departure from the band would be issued only on April 6, 1968.
31. Gilmour and Barrett will continue to collaborate as part of Barrett's solo career. Gilmour has produced and participated in two of his 1970 solo albums: "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett".
32. Barrett always wanted to go back to "Pink Floyd". He would wait outside the recording studios, hoping he would be invited inside, but his friends had already moved on and evolved musically, while Barrett faded and became the shadow of himself.
33. One of the famous cases in which Barrett surprised his friends in the studioת was during the recordings of the album "Wish You Were Here". On June 9, 1975, Barrett entered Abbey Road Studios in London. He was fat, with shaved head and eyebrows and the band members did not even recognize him.
(Photo: Nick Mason's autobiography, "Inside Out" 2005)
33. As you know, the whole album is a kind of tribute to Barrett. The track "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" is a kind of lament for Syd Barrett, and its initials spell the name "Syd" as follows: Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
34. The song "Wish You Were Here" was also written about Syd Barrett and its lyrics speak for themselves. Similarly, the song "Welcome to the Machine" is a protest against the "money machine" of the record companies that put pressure on the band and on which Waters hung the blame for deteriorating Barrett's condition.
35. These were not the only poems written about Barrett. For example, the song "Brain Damage" from the album "The Dark Side Of The Moon" as well as the main character of the drugged rock star "Pink" from "The Wall", especially the line" Wild, Staring Eyes" line from the song "Nobody Home".
36. All of Barrett's attempts to return to music failed. He became eccentric and lonely. The recordings he made did not mature into the albums and the band he formed ("Stars") in 1972 was so bad it did not survive.
37. His attempt to record a third album in 1974 was unsuccessful and he decided to retire from music. He sold his rights to his solo albums and moved to an apartment hotel in London.
38. In 1978 Barrett moved to his mother's house and since then he has hardly been seen in public, for almost 30 years.
39. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic, with bipolar disorder and his medical condition was deteriorating. His spirit was broken, he suffered from an ulcer, diabetes, and also pancreatic cancer.
40. Barrett died on July 7, 2006, and is only 60 years old. His funeral was small and none of the "Pink Floyd" members were present.