Syd Barrett, English musician, Died at 60

  Music, Writers

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett died on the 7th of July 2006 at the age of 60; he was an English musician, composer, singer, songwriter, and painter.

Born as Roger Keith Barrett in the English city of Cambridge on the 6th of January 1946 to a middle-class family living at 60 Glisson Road.

Barrett was the third of five children.

His father, Arthur Max Barrett, was a prominent pathologist and he was related to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, through Max’s maternal grandmother Ellen Garrett, who was Elizabeth’s cousin.

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 (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. He went into self-imposed seclusion until his death in 2006.

At one point at Morley Memorial Junior School he was taught by Roger Waters’ mother, Mary. Later, in 1957, he attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (with Waters).

His father died of cancer on 11 December 1961, less than a month before Barrett’s 16th birthday.

Also on this day, Barrett had left the entry in his diary for this date blank.

By this time, his brothers and sisters had left home and his mother decided to rent out rooms to lodgers.

Eager to help her son recover from his grief, Barrett’s mother encouraged the band in which he played, Geoff Mott and The Mottoes, a band which Barrett formed, to perform in their front room.

Waters and Barrett were childhood friends, and Waters often visited such gigs.

At one point, Waters even organised a gig, a CND benefit at Friends Meeting House on 11 March 1962, but shortly afterwards Jeff Mott joined the Boston Crabs, and the Mottoes broke up.

In 1966, Pink Floyd found a management team and transitioned to being a full-time band, and in 1967 the band recorded and released their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

However, by the middle of that year, Barrett’s behavior became more unusual, and many attributed it to a psychotic break induced by LSD.

In one concert he slowly detuned his guitar on stage; in others, he strummed one chord the entire show or didn’t play at all.

In television appearances, he gave one-word answers to interviewers’ questions or simply stared blankly and remained mute.

During their 1967 tour with Jimi Hendrix, the band had to bring in a substitute guitarist when Barrett didn’t show up or couldn’t perform, and by the end of the year, they hired David Gilmour as a second guitarist to cover for Barrett.

In 1996, Barrett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of Pink Floyd, but he did not attend the ceremony.