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The young Roger Barrett 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. 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 drummer Sid Barrett, hence the 'Syd' spelling for differentiation, although Roger himself rarely used it.

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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.

      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.

      Pink Floyd (alternatively known as The Tea Set throughout 1965) had a style 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. By the end of 1966 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 psychedelic albums. 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, 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.

      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 his 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 his estimable studio.

      Click here for a Selected Syd Barrett Discography [PDF].





THE MADCAP LAUGHS

Released on January 3rd 1970, THE MADCAP LAUGHS was the first of Syd's two solo albums.

Produced by:
Malcolm Jones (Tracks 1-4, 6, 15-17)
David Gilmour & Roger Waters (Tracks 5, 9-12, 18)
Syd Barrett & David Gilmour (Tracks 7, 8, 14)
Peter Jenner/Malcolm Jones (Track 13)
Peter Jenner (Track 19)

1. Terrapin
2. No Good Trying
3. Love You
4. No Man's Land
5. Dark Globe
6. Here I Go
7. Octopus
8. Golden Hair
9. Long Gone
10. She Took A Long Cold Look
11. Feel
12. If It's In You
13. Late Night

Bonus Tracks:
14. Octopus (Takes 1 and 2)
15. It's No Good Trying (Take 5)
16. Love You (Take 1)
17. Love You (Take 3)
18. She Took A Long Cold Look At Me (Take 4)
19. Golden Hair (Take 5)



BARRETT

Released on November 14th 1970, BARRETT was Syd's final solo album.

Produced by David Gilmour.

1. Baby Lemonade
2. Love Song
3. Dominoes
4. It Is Obvious
5. Rats
6. Maisie
7. Gigolo Aunt
8. Waving My Arms In The Air
9. I Never Lied To You
10. Wined And Dined
11. Wolfpack
12. Effervescing Elephant

Bonus Tracks:
13. Baby Lemonade Take 1
14. Waving My Arms In The Air Take 1
15. I Never Lied To You Take 1
16. Love Song Take 1
17. Dominoes Take 1
18. Dominoes Take 2
19. It Is Obvious Take 2



OPEL

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 'Opel'.

Produced by:
Malcolm Jones (Track 1)
Peter Jenner/Malcolm Jones (Tracks 2, 8)
David Gilmour (Tracks 3, 5-7, 9, 10, 13, 15-17, 20)
Syd Barrett & David Gilmour (Track 4)
Peter JennerĀ (Tracks 11, 14, 18, 19)
David Gilmour & Roger Waters (Track 12)

1. Opel
2. Clowns And Jugglers
3. Rats
4. Golden Hair
5. Dolly Rocker
6. Word Song
7. Wined And Dined
8. Swan Lee (Silas Lang)
9. Birdie Hop
10. Let's Split
11. Lanky (Part One)
12. Wouldn't You Miss Me (Dark Globe)
13. Milky Way
14. Golden Hair

Bonus Tracks:
15. Gigolo Aunt Take 9
16. It Is Obvious Take 3
17. It Is Obvious Take 5
18. Clowns And Jugglers Take 1
19. Late Night Take 2
20. Effervescing Elephant Take 2



WOULDN'T YOU MISS ME

'The Best Of Syd Barrett: Wouldn't
You Miss Me?' was released by EMI
in the UK on April 16th 2001, and in
the US on September 11th 2001.

1. Octopus (2001 Digital Remaster)
2. Late Night
3. Terrapin
4. Swan Lee (Silas Lang)
5. Wolfpack
6. Golden Hair
7. Here I Go
8. Long Gone
9. No Good Trying
10. Opel

11. Baby Lemonade (2001 Digital Remaster)
12. Gigolo Aunt
13. Dominoes
14. Wouldn't You Miss Me (Dark Globe)
15. Wined And Dined
16. Effervescing Elephant
17. Waving My Arms In The Air
18. I Never Lied To You
19. Love Song
20. Two Of A Kind
21. Bob Dylan Blues
22. Golden Hair (Instrumental)



SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND (BOX SET)

EMI issued 'Crazy Diamond' in 1993,
a box set of all three albums, each
loaded with further out-takes from
his solo sessions.

Disc 1: The Madcap Laughs

Disc 2: Barrett

Disc 3: Opel

 

 



THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN (2-CD SET)

Produced by: Norman Smith.

2-CD Version includes Mono (Disc 1) and Stereo (Disc 2) versions of:

1. Astronomy Domine
2. Lucifer Sam
3. Matilda Mother
4. Flaming
5. Pow R. Toc H.
6. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk
7. Interstellar Overdrive
8. The Gnome
9. Chapter 24
10. The Scarecrow
11. Bike



THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN (3-CD SET)

Produced by:
Norman Smith, except 'Arnold Layne'
and 'Candy And A Currant Bun'
produced by Joe Boyd.

3-CD Version includes Mono (Disc 1) and Stereo (Disc 2) versions of:

1. Astronomy Domine
2. Lucifer Sam
3. Matilda Mother
4. Flaming
5. Pow R. Toc H.
6. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk
7. Interstellar Overdrive
8. The Gnome
9. Chapter 24
10. The Scarecrow
11. Bike

Plus Disc 3:
1. Arnold Layne
2. Candy And A Currant Bun
3. See Emily Play
4. Apples And Oranges
5. Paintbox
6. Interstellar Overdrive (French Edit)
7. Apples And Oranges (Stereo version)
8. Matilda Mother (Alternative version)
9. Interstellar Overdrive (Take 6)



THE PINK FLOYD AND SYD BARRETT STORY (DVD)

50-minute documentary originally produced in 2001 for BBC TV's 'Arena' about the early days of Pink Floyd.

Features 2001 interviews with Bob Klose, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason.

Extras include Robyn Hitchcock performing 'Dominoes' and 'It Is Obvious', and Graham Coxon performing 'Love You'.

Directed by John Edginton.



AN INTRODUCTION TO SYD BARRETT

Released on October 4, 2010, this is the first compilation of Pink Floyd tracks together with Syd Barrett solo material. It includes all the song lyrics for the first time on any Syd Barrett album, plus a brand-new package by Storm Thorgerson's StormStudios, including new photography, graphics and illustrations.

Produced by:
Joe Boyd (Track 1)
Norman Smith (Tracks 2-6)
Malcolm Jones (Tracks 7, 8, 10)

1. Arnold Layne – Pink Floyd
2. See Emily Play – Pink Floyd
3. Apples And Oranges (Stereo Version) – Pink Floyd
4. Matilda Mother – Pink Floyd (2010 mix)
5. Chapter 24 – Pink Floyd
6. Bike – Pink Floyd
7. Terrapin – Syd Barrett
8. Love You – Syd Barrett
9. Dark Globe – Syd Barrett
10. Here I Go – Syd Barrett (2010 mix)
11. Octopus – Syd Barrett (2010 mix)
12. She Took A Long Cool Look – Syd Barrett (2010 mix)
13. If It's In You – Syd Barrett
14. Baby Lemonade – Syd Barrett
15. Dominoes – Syd Barrett (2010 mix)
16. Gigolo Aunt – Syd Barrett
17. Effervescing Elephant – Syd Barrett
18. Bob Dylan Blues – Syd Barrett

David Gilmour & Roger Waters (Tracks 9, 12, 13)
Syd Barrett & David Gilmour (Track 11)
David Gilmour (Tracks 14-17)