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Syd Barrett, Founder of Pink Floyd, Dies at 60

Troubled Genius Composed Many of the Band’s Early Songs

By Jill Lawless

 

AP LONDON (July 11) – Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd  but 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. She did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for many years.

 

The surviving members of the band – 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 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.

 

However, 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 the group’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 the seminal psychedelic band.

 

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 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.”

 

In a statement posted on his official Web site, Bowie said Barrett had been a “major inspiration.”

 

“His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed.”

 

The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.

 

 

Lyrics to Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On, You Crazy Diamond,’ which was written about Syd Barrett and appeared on 1975’s ‘Wish You Were Here’:

 

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze.

 

Come on you target for faraway laughter,

Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

 

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze.

 

Come on you raver, you seer of visions,

Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

 

Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Pile on many more layers and I’ll be joining you there.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

And we’ll bask in the shadow of yesterday’s triumph, and sail on the steel breeze.

 

Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,

Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!

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