I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan, so this one hits close to home. Syd’s era isn’t my favorite part of Pink Floyd’s catalog, but he was really the cornerstone of the band. Everything they did after that point was influenced by Syd in some way or another. Pink Floyd’s second masterwork, Wish You Were Here, is considered a concept album directed at Syd Barrett. It’s one of my favorite albums and a fitting tribute to the genius that was Syd.
Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd but spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, a spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday. He was 60.The spokeswoman – who declined to give her name until the band made an official announcement – confirmed media reports that he had died. She said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for many years.
Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright, and wrote many of the band’s early songs. The group’s jazz-infused rock made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and 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 Pink Floyd’s most popular album, “Dark Side of the Moon.” He was replaced by David Gilmour.
I’m actually kind of surprised that Syd lived this long. He had long since fried his brain on LSD. Actually, that might not have been the case. Gilmour has speculated that his mental problems were deep-seated and that he would’ve flipped out either way. In Gilmour’s eyes, the drugs just acted as a trigger, although Pink Floyd’s sudden fame might have been even more disorienting for Barrett.
Either way, it’s sad to see Syd go. I’m not sure that his life was all that great these days, though, so it may be a blessing for him to go peacefully. His stature in the music industry will only continue to rise with his passing. He founded one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever, and his creativity sparked their genius long after he was out of the group.
Let me be the first imagination-deprived blogger to say: Shine on, you crazy diamond.