Thanks for visiting the official Syd Barrett Website. One of the most influential musicians in British pop history, he was as appreciated
as much for his iconoclastic approach to the electric guitar as for his adventurous and imaginative songwriting.
A co-founder of Pink Floyd, he was also quintessentially English, penning idiosyncratic and unique songs, while, along with Ray Davies, was
probably responsible for a whole generation of musicians feeling that it was acceptable not to be American and to develop their own indigenous
band of rock music.
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Please take some time to explore his songs on the first two Pink Floyd albums or his solo recordings, or enjoy some of his paintings, by
clicking on the 'Art' heading above. You are also welcome to sign the Guest Book; just click on the icon on the left, and record your own
thoughts or read what others have written.
Syd died in July 2006 from complications arising from diabetes, but he is not forgotten.
Roger Keith Barrett was born on January 6, 1946 in Cambridge,
England. The young Roger was actively encouraged in his
music and art by his parents, Max and Winifred
at the age of seven he won a piano duet competition with
his sister and he was to be successful in poetry
contests while at Cambridge High School.
He knew Roger Waters from primary school and met David Gilmour
as a teenager, so their paths were to cross many times before
the formation of Pink Floyd. Roger Barrett acquired the nickname
'Syd' around the age of 14, in a reference to local bass player
Sid Barrett, hence the 'Syd' spelling for differentiation,
although other sources suggest the name had already been given to him at Scout camp.
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After a stint at Cambridge School of Art, Syd moved to London to
attend Camberwell Art College, and eventually hooked up with Roger Waters,
who was attending Regent Street Polytechnic.
Prior to that,
Syd had become a notable and popular bohemian figure on the Cambridge scene, swapping guitar chords
with David Gilmour and avidly enjoying a wide range of musical influences from jazz to obscure blues
combos. By the time he moved to London he had already been part of local bands including Geoff Mott and
the Mottoes, born out of collaborations at the Barrett family home from 1962 onwards.
On return trips to Cambridge he began playing guitar with The Hollerin' Blues, who by 1965 had turned into
Those Without. Meanwhile Roger Waters had formed a band called Sigma 6 with college friends including Richard
Wright and Nick Mason. When two of the 6 left, there was space for Syd to join, along with Rado ('Bob') Klose.
After some personnel and name changes, the band finally settled down into the Barrett / Mason / Waters / Wright lineup
in the summer of 1965 under the name of Pink Floyd, suggested by Syd and based on US bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Floyd (alternatively known as The Tea Set throughout
1965) was still a part-time band, allowing Syd to take
off to France in August with David Gilmour, the pair
being briefly detained by the St. Tropez police for
Pink Floyd/Tea Set's original style was based on American blues and r'n'b, but the birth of a UK psychedelic music scene
allowed them to develop Syd's performance-based ideas into something unique. Throughout 1966 they honed their live performance
skills, often developing songs into long jamming sequences, and by the end of the year Pink Floyd had become the pre-eminent
'underground' band. They picked up management too, and their first recordings were songs by Syd, who had established himself
as the band's creative innovator.
Pink Floyd signed to EMI Records in 1967, releasing
the singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play,
both written by Syd, and the album The Piper At
The Gates Of Dawn, again mostly composed by
Syd and considered to be one of the greatest British
However, as the band began to attract a
large fanbase, it became clear that Syd's fluid approach to writing, performing and recording spontaneous, one take only,
nothing repeated was increasingly at odds with the expectations of a musical scene that was still very conservative, especially outside London.
Possibly exacerbated by Syd's frequent experimentation with psychedelic drugs, his behaviour became more erratic, to the point that the band
decided to add a second guitarist for live performances. They hoped to call on Syd's compositional abilities for studio work, similar to Brian
Wilson's role in the Beach Boys, while David Gilmour would bolster the band in live shows. The experiment didn't really work and, in January 1968,
after a handful of shows as a 5-piece, the band elected not to pick Syd up on the way to a Southampton University show.
Syd and Floyd officially parted company in March 1968, with the band's management Blackhill Enterprises deciding to stick with Syd as a solo artist.
EMI's new Harvest label committed to a Barrett solo
project, and over the course of a year Syd recorded
The Madcap Laughs. Started briefly with Blackhill's
Peter Jenner, recording commenced in earnest in April
1969 with EMI's Malcolm Jones, later involving David
Gilmour and Roger Waters, who completed the album in
October for release in January 1970.
The Madcap Laughs was well received and sold reasonably
by the standards of the time, so EMI decided to record
a follow-up straight away. The sessions for the album
Barrett started on February 26, 1970, with David
Gilmour as producer, Richard Wright on keyboards and Humble
Pie's Jerry Shirley on drums. Sessions in April and July
followed, and the album was released in November 1970,
the last official Syd Barrett album, bar compilations.
Syd undertook very little musical activity between 1968
and 1972 outside the studio. On February 24, 1970, he appeared
on John Peel's BBC radio programme Top Gear playing
five songs, only one of which had been previously released.
Three would be re-recorded for the Barrett album,
while the song Two of a Kind (by Richard Wright)
was a one-off.
David Gilmour and Jerry Shirley also backed Syd for his
one and only live concert during this period, on June 6,
1970; the trio played four songs at the Olympia Exhibition
Hall, London, part of a Music and Fashion Festival.
Syd made one last appearance on BBC Radio, recording three
songs from Barrett on February 16, 1971.
In 1972, Syd formed a short-lived band called Stars with ex-Pink Fairies member Twink on drums and Jack Monck on bass. Though the band was initially well received, one of
their gigs at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge was disastrous, and Syd quit the band after a scathing review.
In August 1974, Peter Jenner convinced Syd to return to Abbey Road Studios in hope of recording another album, but little came of the sessions. Syd withdrew from the music industry and
subsequently returned to Cambridge for a life of painting, creating large abstract canvases.
Syd had one noted reunion with the members of Pink Floyd
on June 5, 1975 during the recording sessions for Wish
You Were Here, when he turned up at Abbey Road unannounced
as the band were working on Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
In 1988, EMI Records released an album of Syd's studio
out-takes and previously unreleased material recorded
from 1968 to 1970 under the title of Opel, a highly-regarded
track omitted from The Madcap Laughs. 1993's Crazy
Diamond is a box set of all three albums, each loaded
with further out-takes from his solo sessions. The
Best Of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't You Miss Me? was released
by EMI in the UK in April 2001, and in the U.S. in September
of that year.
Roger 'Syd' Barrett died of pancreatic cancer on July 7, 2006 at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, but his legacy lives on in the acknowledgement of his increasing influence over scores of musicians.
A short list of artists who have recorded his compositions would include Kevin Ayers, David Bowie, The Damned, Marianne Faithfull, Flaming Lips, John Frusciante, Robyn Hitchcock, The Jesus & Mary Chain,
The Lightning Seeds, Love & Rockets, Marc & The Mambas, Pearl Jam, Phish, Placebo, Primal Scream, R.E.M., The Smashing Pumpkins, The Soft Boys, Soundgarden, and Tangerine Dream.
A tribute concert for Syd was held at London's Barbican
Theatre on May 10, 2007, curated by Nick Laird-Clowes
and Joe Boyd. Roger Waters performed Flickering Flame
solo, and David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason
performed Arnold Layne. Other musicians paying
tribute included Damon Albarn, Kevin Ayers, Captain Sensible,
Mike Heron, Robyn Hitchcock, Chrissie Hynde, John Paul
Jones, Kate McGarrigle, and Martha Wainwright.
In 2010, EMI Records released An Introduction To Syd
Barrett, a new collection that brought together for
the first time tracks from Syd's Pink Floyd and solo work
on one album, including some brand-new remixes. David
Gilmour was executive producer of the album, and, together
with Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins at Astoria Studios,
remixed five tracks, including Octopus, She
Took A Long Cool Look, Dominoes, and Here
I Go. David Gilmour also added bass guitar to Here
I Go, while Pink Floyd's Matilda Mother also
received a fresh 2010 Mix. Brand new artwork in a gatefold
sleeve, including 4-colour liner notes with brand-new
graphics and all lyrics, was provided by long time Pink
Floyd associate and friend of Syd, Storm Thorgerson and
On March 18, 2011 a new book entitled Barrett, The
Definitive Visual Companion, was published by Essential
Works, authors Russell Beecher and Will Shutes drawing
on their extensive research to show Syd's work and life,
resulting in a comprehensive study of Syd the artist.
Containing the largest collection of Syd Barrett-related
images ever assembled, the book includes hundreds of unseen
and rare photographs of Syd and Pink Floyd, Syd's personal
love letters and all of Syd's original artworks. The book
offers an unprecedented insight into Syd's life and includes
comments from, and archive interviews with, many of Syd's
friends and colleagues including Joe Boyd, Barry Miles,
Libby Gausden-Chisman, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, Jenny Spires
and many more. It is available from barrettbook.com.