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Syd Barrett

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GenreRock
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Albummer5
Sange51
AboutRoger Keith "Syd" Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) was an English musician, composer, singer-songwriter, and painter. Best known as a founder member of the band Pink Floyd, Barrett was the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter in its early years and is credited with naming the band. Barrett was excluded from Pink Floyd in April 1968 after David Gilmour took over as their new guitarist, and was briefly hospitalized amid speculation of mental illness.

Barrett was musically active for less than ten years. With Pink Floyd, he recorded four singles, their debut album (and contributed to the second one), and several unreleased songs. Barrett began his solo career in 1969 with the single "Octopus" from his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs (1970). The album was recorded over the course of a year with five different producers (Peter Jenner, Malcolm Jones, David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Barrett himself). Nearly two months after Madcap was released, Barrett began working on his second and final album, Barrett (1970), produced by Gilmour and featuring contributions from Richard Wright. Two years later, he left the music industry, retired from public life and strictly guarded his own privacy until his death in 2006. In 1988, an album of unreleased tracks and outtakes, Opel, was released by EMI with Barrett's approval.

Barrett's innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as dissonance, distortion and feedback influenced many musicians. His recordings are also noted for their strongly English-accented vocal delivery. After leaving the music industry, Barrett continued with painting and dedicated himself to gardening. Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him, most notably the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, which included "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", as homage to Barrett.

Syd Barrett was born as Roger Keith Barrett in the English city of Cambridge to a middle-class family living at 60 Glisson Road. Barrett was the fourth of five children. His father, Arthur Max Barrett, was a prominent pathologist and he was related to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, through Max's maternal grandmother Ellen Garrett, who was Elizabeth's cousin. In 1951 his family moved to 183 Hills Road.

Barrett played piano occasionally, but usually preferred writing and drawing. He got a ukulele at 10, a banjo at 11 and a Hofner acoustic guitar at 14. A year after he got his first acoustic guitar, he bought his first electric guitar and built his own amplifier. One story of how Barrett acquired the nickname "Syd" is that at the age of 14 he was named after an old local Cambridge jazz double bassist, Sid "The Beat" Barrett, which claims Syd Barrett changed the spelling to differentiate himself from his namesake. Another story is that when he was 13, his schoolmates nicknamed him "Syd" after he showed up to a field day at Abington Scout site wearing a flat cap instead of his Scout beret because "Syd" was a "working-class" name. He used both names interchangeably for several years. His sister Rosemary stated, "He was never Syd at home. He would never have allowed it." He was a Scout with the 7th Cambridge troop and went on to be a patrol leader.

At one point at Morley Memorial Junior School he was taught by Roger Waters' mother, Mary. Later, in 1957, he attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (with Waters). His father died of cancer on 11 December 1961, less than a month before Barrett's 16th birthday. Also on this day, Barrett had left the entry in his diary blank. By this time, his brothers and sisters had left home and his mother decided to rent out rooms to lodgers. Eager to help her son recover from his grief, Barrett's mother encouraged the band in which he played, Geoff Mott and The Mottoes, a band which Barrett formed, to perform in their front room. Roger Waters and Syd Barrett were childhood friends, and Waters often visited such gigs. At one point, Waters even organised a gig, a CND benefit at Friends Meeting House on 11 March 1962, but shortly afterwards Geoff Mott joined the Boston Crabs, and the Mottoes broke up.

In September 1962, Barrett had taken a place at the Cambridge Technical College art department, where he met David Gilmour. During the winter of 1962 and early 1963, the Beatles made an impact on Barrett, and he began to play Beatles songs at parties and at picnics. In 1963, Barrett became a Rolling Stones fan and, with then-girlfriend Libby Gausden, saw them perform at a village hall in Cambridgeshire. It was at this point Barrett started writing songs; one friend recalls hearing "Effervescing Elephant" (later to be recorded on his solo album Barrett). Also around this time, Barrett and Gilmour occasionally played acoustic gigs together. Barrett had played bass guitar with Those Without during the summer of 1963 and both bass and guitar with The Hollerin' Blues the next summer. In 1964, Barrett and Gausden saw Bob Dylan perform. After this performance, Barrett was inspired to write "Bob Dylan Blues". Barrett, now thinking about his future, decided to apply for Camberwell College of Arts in London. Barrett enrolled in the college in the summer of 1964 to study painting.

While Pink Floyd began by playing cover versions of American R&B songs,[43] by 1966 they had carved out their own style of improvised rock and roll, which drew as much from improvised jazz. After Bob Klose departed from the band, the band's direction changed. However, the change was not instantaneous, with more improvising on the guitars and keyboards. Mason reflected, "It always felt to me that most of the ideas were emanating from Syd at the time."

At this time, Barrett's reading reputedly included: Grimm's Fairy Tales, Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan, and The I-Ching. During this period, Barrett wrote most of the songs for Pink Floyd's first album, and also songs that would later appear on his solo albums. In 1966, a new rock concert venue, the UFO (pronounced as "you-foe"), opened in London and quickly became a haven for British psychedelic music. Pink Floyd, the house band, was its most popular attraction and after making appearances at the rival Roundhouse, became the most popular musical group of the "London Underground" psychedelic music scene.

By the end of 1966, Pink Floyd had gained a reliable management team in Andrew King and Peter Jenner. Towards the end of October 1966, Pink Floyd, with King and Jenner, set up Blackhill Enterprises, to manage the group's finances. Blackhill was staffed by lodgers Jenner found in his Edbrooke Road house, and among others, Barrett's flatmate, Peter Wynne Wilson (who became road manager, however, since he had more experience in lighting, he was also lighting assistant). King and Jenner wanted to prepare some demo recordings for a possible record deal, so at the end of October, they booked a session at Thompson Private Recording Studio, in Hemel Hempstead. King said of the demos: "That was the first time I realised they were going to write all their own material, Syd just turned into a songwriter, it seemed like overnight."

King and Jenner befriended American expatriate Joe Boyd, the promoter of the UFO Club, who was making a name for himself as one of the more important entrepreneurs on the British music scene. The newly hired booking agent, Bryan Morrison, and Boyd had proposed sending in better quality recordings. From Morrison's agency the band played a gig outside London for the first time. In November, the band performed the first (of many) strangely named concerts: Philadelic Music for Simian Hominids, a multimedia event arranged by the group's former landlord, Mike Leonard, at Hornsey College of Art. They performed at the Free School for the following two weeks, before performing at the Psychodelphia Versus Ian Smith event at the Roundhouse in December, arranged by the Majority Rule for Rhodesia Campaign, and an Oxfam benefit at the Albert Hall (the band's biggest venue up to this point).

At the beginning of 1967, Barrett was dating Jenny Spires (who would later marry future Stars member Jack Monck). However, unknown to Barrett, Spires had an affair with Peter Whitehead. Spires convinced Whitehead (who thought the band sounded like "bad Schoenberg") to use Pink Floyd in a film about the swinging London scene. So at the cost of £80, in January, Whitehead took the band into John Wood's Sound Techniques in Chelsea, with promoter Joe Boyd in tow. Here, the band recorded a 16-minute version of "Interstellar Overdrive" and another composition, "Nick's Boogie". Whitehead had filmed this recording, which was used in the film Tonite Let's All Make Love in London and later on the video release of London '66–'67. Whitehead later commented about the band that: "They were just completely welded together, just like a jazz group".

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