Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, dies
By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer
LONDON - Syd Barrett, the troubled Pink Floyd co-founder who spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, the band said Tuesday. He was 60.
A spokeswoman for the band said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for years.
The surviving members of Pink Floyd — David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright — said they were "very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death."
"Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire," they said in a statement.
Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with Waters, Mason and Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock and drug-laced, multimedia "happenings" made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene. The 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" — largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar — was a commercial and critical hit.
But Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 — five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon" — to be replaced by Gilmour.
Barrett released two solo albums — "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett" — but soon withdrew from the music business altogether. An album of previously unreleased material, "Opel," was issued in 1988.
He reverted to his real name, Roger Barrett, and spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England. Moving into his mother's suburban house, he passed the time painting and tending the garden. His former bandmates made sure Barrett continued to receive royalties from his work with Pink Floyd.
He was a familiar figure to neighbors, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store, but rarely spoke to the fans and journalists who sought him out over the years.
Despite his brief career, Barrett's fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians, from David Bowie — who covered the Barrett track "See Emily Play" — to the other members of Pink Floyd, who recorded the album "Wish You Were Here" as a tribute to their troubled bandmate.
It contained the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" — "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun." The band also dwelt on themes of mental illness on the albums "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall."
The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.
From David Bowie's website:
"I can't tell you how sad I feel. Syd was a major inspiration for me. The few times I saw him perform in London at UFO and the Marquee clubs during the sixties will forever be etched in my mind. He was so charismatic and such a startlingly original songwriter.
Also, along with Anthony Newley, he was the first guy I'd heard to sing pop or rock with a British accent. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed." - David Bowie, July 11th 2006