A SHORT
SYD BARRETT BIOGRAPHY
by Patrick Gross

[from
http://members.aol.com/pgrsel/barrett/bio.htm ]


Born on January 6, 1946, Roger Keith Barrett was raised in
Cambridge England. He was given the nickname "Syd" as a
youngster, while attending the city's High School, where his
friends included Roger Waters and David Gilmour, and it
stuck with him as he grew up.

In his late teens, after his father died, he started
producing paintings and music. He was an originating member
of The Abdabs, The T-Sets, Sigma 6, and other names such as
The Meggadeaths, in 1965. He worked with people like Bob
Close, Roger Waters, Nick mason, and Richard Wright.

When Bob Close left the band, Syd renamed the group The Pink
Floyd Sound, named after the cover of an album of two
american bluesmen, Pink Anderson, and Floyd Council. Syd
wrote almost everything for The Pink Floyd Sound, then The
Pink Floyd finally renamed just Pink Floyd), he played
guitar, sung, and wrote the music and the lyrics as well.
The other Cambridge native forming The Pink Floyd were Roger
Waters (bass), Rick Wright (keyboards), and Nick Mason
(drums).

Within weeks the new line-up had rehearsed at the Thompson
Private Record Company, a tiny studio sited in the basement
of a house in Hemel, Hampstead. Here they recorded two
songs; an original hinged to the Gloria riff entitled Lucy 
Leave and a version of Slim Harpo's I'm a King Bee already
made famous by the Rolling Stones. At first, The Pink Floyd
were a much more conventional act that the act into which
they would evolve, concentrating on the rock and R&B
material that were so common to the repertoires of mid-'60s
British bands.

Syd's influences were the Stones, Beatles, Byrds and Love,"
the group's first manager, Pete Jenner, told Nick Kent,
adding at Barrett wore out his copy of the last-named
group's debut album. "I was trying to tell him about this
Arthur Lee song I couldn't remember the title of, so I just
hummed the main riff. Syd picked up his guitar, followed
what I was humming, and went on to use the chord pattern he
worked out for 'Interstellar Overdrive'.

Pink Floyd then began to experiment, however, stretching out
songs with wild instrumental freak-out passages
incorporating feedback, electronic screeches, and unusual,
eerie sounds created by loud amplification, reverb, and such
tricks as sliding ball bearings up and down guitar strings.
In 1966, they began to pick up a following in the London
underground; onstage, they began to incorporate light shows
to add to the psychedelic effect. Most importantly, Syd
Barrett began to compose pop-psychedelic gems that combined
unusual psychedelic arrangements (particularly in the
haunting guitar and celestial organ licks) with catchy
melodies and incisive lyrics that viewed the world with a
sense of poetic, child-like wonder, pushung the pop format
to its outer limits.

When Pink Floyd released two sets of singles, Arnold Layne,
Candy and a Currant Bun and See Emily Play, The ScareCrow,
Syd got heavily into drugs, under the pressure of his fame.
Arnold Layne was meanwhile coupled to another original from
the first Sound Techniques' visit, Let's Roll Another One,
late given the less contentious title Candy and a Currant
Bun. The pairing form the Pink Floyd's debut the following
March and the resultant top 30 hit confirmed the group as a
national attraction

After the success of the singles, Syd wrote most of Piper
at the Gates of Dawn, released in 1967, which can be
considered as the greatest British psychedelic album other
than Sgt. Pepper's. Dominated almost wholly by Barrett's
songs, the album was a charming funhouse of driving,
mysterious rockers (Lucifer Sam), odd character sketches
(The Gnome), childhood flashbacks (Bike, Matilda Mother),
and freakier pieces with lengthy instrumental passages
(Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive, Pow R Toc H) 
that mapped out their fascination with space travel. The record
was not only like no other at the time; it was like no other
that Pink Floyd would make, colored as it was by a vision
that was far more humorous, pop-friendly, and light-hearted
than those of their subsequent epics.

Interstellar Overdrive, with it's extended free-form
passage, was the piece which established Pink Floyd's
experimental reputation and it was one of the tracks the
group attempted during their first recording session at
Chelsea's Sound Technique.

Around mid-1967, the prodigy began showing increasingly
alarming signs of mental instability. Syd would go catatonic
onstage, playing music that had little to do with the
material, or not playing at all. An American tour had to be
cut short when he was barely able to function at all, let
alone play the pop star game. Dependent upon Barrett for
most of their vision and material, the rest of the group
were nevertheless finding him impossible to work with, live
or in the studio. One night, on the way to a performance,
the other members decided not to pick up Barrett becauseof
his heavy drug addiction and unpredictability. To cover for
Barrettwas his old friend David Gilmour, who was also from
Cambridge and whith whom Syd toured as a folk singer on the
french cte d'azur in his 16.

Syd had only three tracks on the Saucerful of Secrets, the
second album.and the rest were Waters tracks. Barrett agreed
to the permanent split of him and the group. After he left
Pink Floyd, he recorded separate solo albums, there was
Barrett, The Madcap Lauphs, The Peel Session acoustic live
album with David Gilmour, and Opel and various other
compilation and collection of rare material. Syd only
attenpted once to play with a new band, Star.

After Pink Floyd's great success with Dark Side of the Moon,
Syd went to check up on his friends in the group Pink Floyd.
He showed up at a Recording session of Wish You Were Here.At
first nobody recognized Syd, but after a while they realized
who it was and they welcomed him. Although Syd didn't play
at the session, the album was about him, a thank you
recording for his help in there early career.

Syd is now a schizophrenic, and resides sometimes with his
aunt in Cambridge, sometimes in his London flat. He now
carries a low profile live on, and is rarely seen. The money
he made during the early Floyd days was enough to support
his low key life.

Despite their astral image, Pink Floyd was brought down to
earth in the 1980s by decidedly mundane power struggles over
leadership and, ultimately, ownership of the band's very
name.

Since that time, they've been little more than a dinosaur
act, capable of filling stadiums and topping the charts, but
offering little more than a spectacular recreation of their
most successful formulas. Their latter-day staleness cannot
disguise the fact that, for the first decade or so of their
existence, they were one of the most innovative groups
around, in concert and (especially) in the studio.

It was reported in 1996 that Syd was lying ill in a
Cambridge hospital, unable or unwilling to regulate his
diabetic condition.

SONGS WORDS BARRETT HOP!