Born 6 January 1946 Syd Barrett was a typically British, and idiosyncratic, rock star in his relatively short but influential time as a musician, composer, and singer-songwriter. Like many in the band he co-founded, Pink Floyd, he was from Cambridge. In their psychedelic 1960s days Barrett was driving creative force, helping to define their early sound. He named the band, wrote many of the lyrics, played guitar, and sung lead vocals.
Barrett recorded four singles with them along with their inaugural album Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Barrett left Pink Floyd in the spring of 1968, eight months after the album’s release, but not before recording material which contributed to their 2nd studio album, A Saucerful of Secrets. After leaving Pink Floyd Barrett embarked on a solo career, releasing the single “Octopus” in 1969, which became the first single from his debut album The Madcap Laughs (1970). He followed this album with his 2nd and last solo album Barrett, released a month after The Madcap Laughs in February 1970.
Eight years later in 1978 Barrett left London and the music industry and returned to Cambridge after battling mental illness. Apart from a few intermittent trips to London, Barrett remained a recluse most of his life, and died at his home in Cambridge on 7 July 2006, aged 60 years old. Barrett’s influence can been felt in his inventive guitar techniques, experimental methods like distortion, feedback, and dissonance. Along with his quirky, playful lyrics and English-accented, eccentric vocal delivery.
Not only can his legacy be felt in his musical influence, but also in the musical tributes Pink Floyd paid to him too. Noticeably in their 1975 album Wish You Were Here, with the the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" being a direct homage to his distinctive style and talent.