Syd Barrett dies, age 60
Syd Barrett, the "crazy diamond" guitarist who shaped the early Pink Floyd psychedelic sound, has died nearly 40 years after becoming one of rock music's most dramatic casualties.
He turned into a recluse after an LSD-induced breakdown and in recent years suffered from complications due to diabetes.
After becoming severely ill last week, Barrett was admitted to Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge. He was discharged on Thursday and died the following day at his home, in St Margaret's Square, which he shared with his mother until she died a few years ago. He was 60.
His brother, Alan, said: "He died peacefully at home. There will be a private family funeral in the next few days."
Barrett walked away from fame as a cult figure, vanishing behind the blinds of his mother's semi-detached house, preferring to tend his garden, visit Sainsbury's on a bike and mutter inanities to unwelcome visitors.
Barrett reportedly entered a mental home at one stage, and latterly always avoided anybody who called on him. Wearing only his underpants he met his biographer Tim Willis at his front door and said: "I'm just looking after this place for the moment. I'm not going to stay here forever."
However, he is thought to have left a fortune. David Gilmour, drafted in to Pink Floyd during a period in which Barrett was behaving erratically, made sure that royalties on his compositions flowed steadily into his bank account.
Even though he was only with the band for its first three years and appeared on just one album, Piper At The Gates of Dawn, Barrett's quarterly income was still into seven figures. Friends said he was happy never to mention his cult status, adding that he was neither poor nor sad.
Rock stars paid tribute to him last night. David Bowie described Barrett as a "major inspiration", saying: "I can't tell you how sad I feel.
"The few times I saw him perform in London at UFO and the Marquee clubs during the 1960s will forever be etched in my mind. He was so charismatic and such a startlingly original songwriter. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed."
A statement from Pink Floyd said: "The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd's death. He was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire."
The former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon released a statement saying: "Lost him again ... For bang on 20 years Syd led me to better places."
BBC's Radio Cambridgeshire played the Floyd's Wish You Were Here, with its opening lyric, "So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain". The recording, in 1975, was the last time the band saw Barrett.
He ambled into the studio to listen and, initially, nobody recognised him, as the former 9st guitarist had become a shambolic, 16st balding man.
At first, Pink Floyd was Syd's band, made in his image, and making singular music with its quintessentially English take on psychedelia. But the feeling is that Barrett was a fragile figure from the first, and LSD, with its increasingly uncontrollable trips, put him over the edge.
Gilmour said he thought that Barrett's breakdown was always on the cards. "It was a deep-rooted thing. But I'll say the psychedelic experience might well have acted as a catalyst.
I just don't think he could deal with the vision of success and all the things that went with it."
Joe Boyd, his first producer, said: "It is a very sad and lonely tale. With the band and him, you had the feeling you were in the presence of people who were a soundtrack of a revolutionary period. I don't know what Swinging London would have been without him."
The Daily Telegraph
July 30, 2006 09:02 AM PDT
Yeah, that was so sad, his death. I bought Floyd's first album when I was about... I dunno, about 15, I think?
July 18, 2006 02:52 PM PDT
Just wanted to say, out of the blue, that you so rock, and I love this place. Keep up the excellent work.
(This from a 40-year old fogie :>)
July 17, 2006 06:14 AM PDT
I linked you on my site.
July 13, 2006 07:47 AM PDT
how sad:( I always wanted to explore the enigma that was Syd Barrett, I mean just listen to early Pink Floyd...that is some bizarre and wonderful stuff.
Thanks for posting this article Aims. I tried posting something about this earlier, but blogdrive was being a bastard earlier. So thanks. I'm glad to see that a few of the old authors are coming back.
Lynn, sorry I deleted ya but I hadn't heard from you for a LONG time. I just figured you didn't want to be a part of Vintage Rock anymore. If you wanna rejoin, you can. Just give me your email and I'll resend you the invite. But I am going to delete people who never post here, just to let you all know. I wrote why on the side bar.
July 13, 2006 01:39 AM PDT
I just saw another article about this online elsewhere, and opened up account to add it here....and I saw that I'm not an editor here anymore. I understand, I've been totally absent since last year; school and family kept me away....sorry for going AWOL, Kristy.
This is a shame about Syd, dropping out so early, but his huge influence after such a short stint speaks to his enormous talent.
July 12, 2006 08:00 PM PDT
I saw the story on the news this morning....made me so sad. So I went to work and played Echoes by Floyd all day, putting "Wish You Were Here" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" on repeat.
R.I.P Syd....you earned it.
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