Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd Founder, Dead at 60
Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s original singer, has died of cancer at the age of 60.
Syd Barrett, the former lead singer of Pink Floyd and one of the key figures of the 60s, has died at the Cambridgeshire home to which he retreated as a recluse more than 30 years ago. The Guardian has learned that the singer, 60, who suffered from a psychedelic-drug induced breakdown while at the peak of his career, died last Friday from cancer. His brother Alan confirmed his death, saying only: “He died peacefully at home. There will be a private family funeral in the next few days.”
Born Roger Keith Barrett in Cambridge in 1946, he acquired the nickname Syd aged 15. He left Pink Floyd in 1968, just as the band was about to achieve worldwide recognition, and lived in the basement of his mother Winfred’s semi-detached house, where he boarded up the windows to keep out the eyes of both the press and fans. He recorded two solo albums.
Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond, from the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, was said by many to be a salute to him. Barrett’s use of drugs, particularly LSD, in the 60s, was well-documented and he was often described as the original acid casualty.
A statement issued on behalf of Pink Floyd said: “The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett’s death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire.” Dave Gilmour, the Pink Floyd guitarist drafted in to the band during a period in which Barrett was behaving erratically, said in an interview earlier this year that he thought that Barrett’s breakdown would have happened anyway.
Barrett was, in a sense, Floyd’s Pete Best. Still, one has to look at his life and wonder what might have been. Gilmour may well be quite right: The drugs might have been a symptom rather than a cause of his collapse.