Roger Keith Barrett (born January 6, 1946 in Cambridge, England), known as Syd, was one of the founder members of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Pink Floyd.
He was originally the lead singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter but since he remained a member for only a short period, he is remembered primarily for his contributions to the band's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), and the hit singles "See Emily Play" and "Arnold Layne", plus two solo albums.
Although his activity in pop music was short, his influence on 60s artists (and those of successive generations) has been profound.
As Pink Floyd's popularity grew and his alleged consumption of psychotropic drugs (chiefly LSD) increased, Syd's appearance became unpredictable and his behavior a hinderance to the success of the band. After recording some parts for Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), Barrett 'left' the group. That is to say, the other members just discontinued picking him up to go to concerts. Syd increasingly withdrew from the world of music, releasing a couple of idiosyncratic solo albums The Madcap Laughs (1970) and Barrett (1970) en route. On these albums he worked together with former Pink Floyd band-mates Roger Waters and David Gilmour and members of The Soft Machine. Sessions for a third album were unfruitful.
He has contiuned to suffer mental ill health, leading to his occasional hospitalisation, and much unfounded speculation as to its causes and nature in the press and amongs his fans.
The Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here (1975) was a thematic tribute to Syd; the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", which opens and closes the album, has been acknowledged by Floyd members to be explicitly about their former frontman. The Television Personalities track "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" is another well-known tribute. Roger Waters supposedly used Syd's departure and condition as inspiration on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Waters also based some of the behavior and personality of Pink, his main character from The Wall, on real-life Barrett.
In 1988, EMI Records released Opel , an album of Barrett's studio outtakes and previously unreleased material recorded in 1970. EMI also released The Best of Syd Barrett - Wouldn't You Miss Me? in the UK on April 16, 2001, and in the United States on September 11, 2001.
The Madcap Laughs
The Peel Sessions
The Best of Syd Barrett - Wouldn't You Miss Me?
"It's sad that these people think he's such a wonderful subject, that he's a living legend when, in fact, there is this poor sad man who can't deal with life or himself. He's got uncontrollable things in him that he can't deal with and people think it's a marvellous, wonderful, romantic thing. It's just a sad, sad thing, a very nice and talented person who's just disintegrated."
- David Gilmour - Musician Magazine - December 1982
"Well, he's schizophrenic. And has been since 1968."