Pink Floyd has lost its
Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett the brilliant,
erratic catalyst for Floyd’s early success, "died peacefully at home" last
Friday at 60, according to his brother. The musician had been in ill health for
years, battling type 2 diabetes, as well as stomach ulcers.
A singer and guitarist, and originally the band’s principal songwriter,
Barrett masterminded Pink Floyd’s breakthrough album, Pipers at the Gates of
Dawn, before being sidelined in the late 1960s by LSD-induced behavioral
In a statement, the surviving members of the seminal band, said they "are
naturally very upset and sad" at the news of Barrett’s passing. "Syd was the
guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to
Barrett fronted the band during its initial rise to fame, culminating with
the 1967 classic The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which mixed jazz, rock
and R&B with psychedelia–a template for the prog-rock sound the band
refined in its 1970s heyday–and propelled Floyd to stardom.
But Barrett couldn’t enjoy the band’s triumphs. He began to suffer from
increasingly severe mental problems brought on by his heavy use of LSD and
mood-altering drugs, frequently faltering during concerts.
In January 1968, his Floyd mates invited friend and fellow guitarist-vocalist David Gilmour to take over playing
Barrett’s parts during live shows, but with the understanding that Barrett would
continue writing and recording songs.
Ultimately though, as Barrett grew increasingly unpredictable and his musical
output dwindled, he was booted from the band. Only one track he wrote, "Jugband
Blues," made it onto Floyd’s second album, 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets.
With Waters assuming band leadership, Floyd cemented its legendary status
with a string of masterpieces, including 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon, the 1975
tribute to Barrett, Wish You Were Here, which featured the epic track
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond," and 1979’s The Wall.
The post-Barrett Pink Floyd sold over 200 million albums and became one of
the most mesmerizing live acts in music history. The band, Barrett included, was
inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Pink Floyd Founder Dies
Jul 11, 2006, 10:00 AM PT
Syd Barrett: a true rock legend
Guardian, July 11, 2006 07:30 PM
Pink Floyd Timeline