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Syd Barrett

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.

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Syd Barrett (PF005MR)

Syd Barrett

Syd Barret photographed by Mick Rock at his flat in Earls Court, London in 1969.

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Syd Barrett (PF006MR)

Syd Barrett

Taken by Mick Rock during the album cover shoot for Syd Barrett's debut solo album 'The Madcap Laughs'.

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Syd Barrett (PF007MR)

Syd Barrett

Taken in Syd Barrett's flat in Earls Court, London during the photo shoot for his debut album 'The Madcap Laughs'

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Syd Barrett (PF008MR)

Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett 'in decision' captured by Mick Rock in London in 1969 , a year after he left Pink Floyd

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Syd Barrett (PF009MR)

Syd Barrett

Iconic Mick photograph of Syd Barrett posing outside his London flat on a Pontiac Parisienne in 1969

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Syd Barrett (PF011MR)

Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett and 'Iggy the Eskimo' sitting on the pavement outside Syd's flat in Earls Court in 1969

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Pink Floyd (PF001ANWH)

Pink Floyd

One of Pink Floyd's earliest photo shoots taken in June 1967 using the lighting they used in their gigs

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Pink Floyd (PF005CP)

Pink Floyd

The original Pink Floyd line-up on their first ever photo shoot in Ruskin Park, London

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Pink Floyd (PFLO001MPUT)

Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett with Pink Floyd at the International ‘Love In’ Festival at Alexandra Palace in Summer 1967

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Pink Floyd (PF008ANWH)

Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett on an early photo shoot in London, not long before recording Pink Floyd's debut album

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Pink Floyd (PF003ANWH)

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd at the mixing desk whilst recording their debut album 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' in Abbey Road Studios

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Pink Floyd (PF010ANWH)

Pink Floyd

1967 Syd Barrett performs during an early photo session prior to the release of Pink Floyd's debut album

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Pink Floyd (PF002ANWH)

Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett captured on one of Pink Floyd's earliest photoshoots in June 1967

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Pink Floyd (PF007ANWH)

Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett captured in a candid moment at Abbey Road Studios whilst rehearsing for the recording of 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn'

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Pink Floyd (PF001CP)

Pink Floyd

For their first photo shoot, Colin Prime took the band down to Ruskin park. All the guys were in high spirits at the time

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Pink Floyd (PF001CPUR)

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd onstage at the Roundhouse, London in July 1967 less than a year after they performed at its opening party.

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Pink Floyd (PF002CP)

Pink Floyd

This was Pink Floyd’s first official photo shoot. Although a photographer by trade, Colin Prime’s other love was music

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Pink Floyd (PF003CP)

Pink Floyd

Taken on the band's first photo shoot in Ruskin Park, London in April 1967

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Pink Floyd (PF004CP)

Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters & Richard Wright on their first ever photo shoot in Ruskin Park, London

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Björk captured in 1995 by Jill Furmaovsky

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