Pink Floyd’s “Crazy Diamond” Syd Barrett was born on this day in 1946

He was one of the founding members of the band and had a key role in developing their early sound

Pink Floyd’s “Crazy Diamond” Syd Barrett was born on this day in 1946

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett was born on January 6th, 1946 in Cambridge, England. Barret was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd that he named, during their early years the main vocalist and songwriter. Barrett was excluded from Pink Floyd in April 1968 after David Gilmour took over as their new guitarist, and was briefly hospitalised amid speculation of mental illness.Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1964 with Roger Waters and Richard Wright and by 1966 the band had became the most popular musical group of the “London Underground” psychedelic music scene. Syd’s innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as dissonance, distortion and feedback earned him a reputation within the British music scene and the band began to be invited to appear in concerts and TV shows all over Europe and the U.S. His recordings are also noted for their strongly English-accented vocal delivery. Songs such as “See Emily Play”, “Arnold Layne” or “Bike” are some of the best examples of Barrett’s vocals during his period with Pink Floyd, while songs such as “Astronomy Domine”, “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Lucifer Sam” are demonstrative of his unique guitar technique and sound. Barrett was musically active for less than ten years. With Pink Floyd, he recorded four singles, their debut album (and contributed to the second one), and several unreleased songs. Barrett began his solo career in 1969 with the single “Octopus” from his first solo album, “The Madcap Laughs” in 1970. The album was recorded over the course of a year with five different producers (Peter Jenner, Malcolm Jones, David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Barrett himself). Nearly two months after “Madcap” was released, Barrett began working on his second and final album, “Barrett” (1970), produced by Gilmour and featuring contributions from Richard Wright. Two years later, he left the music industry, retired from public life and strictly guarded his own privacy, exploring the art of painting and dedicating himself to gardening until his death in 2006. In a 2016 interview, his sister Rosemary Breen said that his mind was brilliant, bordering on that seen in Asperger’s syndrome, Barrett’s use of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, during the 1960’s is well documented, and there were theories he subsequently suffered from schizophrenia. Rick Wright asserts that Barrett’s problems stemmed from a massive overdose of acid, as the change in his personality and behavior came on quite suddenly, but Roger Waters maintains that Barrett suffered “without a doubt” from schizophrenia. After suffering from diabetes for several years, Barrett died at home in Cambridge on July 7th, 2006, aged 60. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. The occupation on his death certificate was “retired musician”. Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him, most notably the 1975 album “Wish You Were Here”, which included “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, as homage to Barrett.

Watch a rare BBC appearance of  a Pink Floyd interview with Syd Barrett and performing “Astronomy Domine” in 1967

Watch the 1967 promo film for “Jugband Blues” by Pink Floyd

Listen to Pink Floyd’s first two albums “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “A Saucerful of Secrets” plus singles from the Syd Barrett era on Spotify

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