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Syd Barrett

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Cambridge, England (1964 – 1974)

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett (born 6 January 1946 in Cambridge, England; died 7 July 2006 in Cambridge, England) was an English musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and painter, best remembered as a founder member of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd. He was the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter during the band’s psychedelic years, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work; he is also credited with naming the band. Barrett left the group in April 1968 amid speculations of mental illness exacerbated by drug use.

Barrett’s innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as using dissonance, distortion, and feedback had an enormous legacy, with a wide variety of musicians from David Bowie to Brian Eno to Jimmy Page and more drawing influence. In his post-musician life, Barrett continued with his painting and dedicated himself to gardening, never to return to the public eye. A number of biographies have been written since the 1980s, and Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him after he left, most notably the 1975 track “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”.

Barrett acquired the nickname “Syd” at the age of fifteen, a reference to an old local Cambridge drummer, Sid Barrett. Syd changed the spelling in order to differentiate himself from his namesake. 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”.

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