Syd Barrett

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Roger Keith Barrett
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Pink Floyd 

Syd Barrett clip

Syd Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006), born Roger Keith Barrett, was an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and painter. He is most remembered as a founding member of the psychedelic/progressive rock band Pink Floyd, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work, although he left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness exacerbated by heavy drug use.

Barrett was active as a rock musician for about seven years, recording three singles, two albums, and several unreleased songs with Pink Floyd, and two solo albums before going into self-imposed seclusion lasting more than thirty years. In his post rock-band life, he focused on his art and on gardening; he died in 2006. A number of biographies have been written about him since the 1980s and Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him after he left, the most known being the 1975 album Wish You Were Here.

Death and tributes

Barrett died at home in Cambridge on 7 July 2006 aged 60, from pancreatic cancer. He was cremated at a funeral held at Cambridge Crematorium on 18 July 2006; no Pink Floyd members attended.

In a statement, Wright said: "The band are very naturally upset and sad to hear of Syd Barrett's death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire." Gilmour said: "Do find time to play some of Syd's songs and to remember him as the madcap genius who made us all smile with his wonderfully eccentric songs about bikes, gnomes, and scarecrows. His career was painfully short, yet he touched more people than he could ever know."

NME produced a tribute issue to Barrett a week later with a photo of him on the cover. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Barrett's sister, Rosemary Breen, said that he had written an unpublished book about the history of art. According to local newspapers, Barrett left approximately £1.7 million to his four siblings, largely acquired from royalties from Pink Floyd compilations and live recordings featuring Barrett's songs.

 A tribute concert, "Madcap's Last Laugh", was held at the Barbican Centre, London, on 10 May 2007 with Barrett's bandmates and Robyn Hitchcock, Captain Sensible, Damon Albarn, Chrissie Hynde and Kevin Ayers. Gilmour, Wright and Mason performed the Barrett compositions "Bike" and "Arnold Layne", and Waters performed a solo version of his song "Flickering Flame".

In 2006, Barrett's home in St. Margaret's Square, Cambridge, was put on the market and attracted considerable interest. After over 100 showings, many to fans, it was sold to a French couple who knew nothing about Barrett. 

On 28 November 2006, Barrett's other possessions were sold at an auction at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, raising £120,000 for charity. Items sold included paintings, scrapbooks and everyday items that Barrett had decorated.

A series of events called The City Wakes was held in Cambridge in October 2008 to celebrate Barrett's life, art, and music. Breen supported this, the first series of official events in memory of her brother. After the festival's success, arts charity Escape Artists announced plans to create a centre in Cambridge, using art to help people with mental health problems. A memorial bench was placed in the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge and a more prominent tribute was planned in the city.




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