Guitar Gallows Bio Information - Syd Barrett
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Syd Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006), born Roger Keith Barrett, was an English singer, songwriter, guitarist and artist. He is most remembered as a founding member of psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work, although he left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness exacerbated by heavy drug use.
Barrett was active as a rock musician for about seven years, recording two albums with Pink Floyd and two solo albums before going into self-imposed seclusion lasting more than thirty years. His post rock-band life was as an artist and a keen gardener, ending with his death in 2006. A number of biographies have been written about him since the 1980s and Pink Floyd wrote and recorded a classic song about him after he left, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on the 1975 album Wish You Were Here.
Barrett was born in the English city of Cambridge to a middle-class family. His father, Arthur Max Barrett, was a prominent pathologist, and both he and his wife, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger (as he was known then) in his music. When Barrett was three years old, his family moved to 183 Hills Road. After his brothers and sisters left home, his mother rented out rooms to lodgers, including a future Prime Minister of Japan. Barrett acquired the nickname "Syd" at the age of 14, a reference to an old local Cambridge jazz Double Bassist, Sid Barrett. Syd Barrett changed the spelling in order to differentiate himself from his namesake. His father died of cancer on 11 December 1961, less than a month before Barrett's 16th birthday. He attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys and Cambridge College of Arts and Technology.
Starting in 1964, the band that would become Pink Floyd underwent various line-up and name changes such as "The Abdabs", "The Screaming Abdabs", "Sigma 6" and "The Meggadeaths". In 1965, Barrett joined them as "The Tea Set", and when they found themselves playing a concert with a band of the same name, Barrett came up with the name "The Pink Floyd Sound" (later "The Pink Floyd"). He devised the name "Pink Floyd" by juxtaposing the first names of Pink Anderson and Floyd Council whom he had read about in a sleeve note by Paul Oliver for a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller LP (Philips BBL-7512): "Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, (...) Pink Anderson or Floyd Council—these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys".
There are many stories about Barrett's bizarre and intermittently psychotic behaviour — some are known to be true. According to Roger Waters, Barrett came into what was to be their last practice session with a new song he had dubbed "Have You Got It, Yet?". The song seemed simple enough when he first presented it to his bandmates, but it soon became impossibly difficult to learn and they eventually realized that while they were practising it, Barrett kept changing the arrangement. He would then play it again, with the arbitrary changes, and sing "Have you got it yet?". Eventually they realized they never would and that they were simply bearing the brunt of Barrett's idiosyncratic sense of humour.
After suffering from diabetes for several years, Barrett died at his home in Cambridge on Friday 7 July 2006. He was 60 years old. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, but this was usually reported as "complications from diabetes". The occupation on his death certificate was given as "retired musician." He was cremated, with his ashes given to a family member or friend.