The Psychedelic Story of Syd Barrett ( 1946 - 2006 )

This is the story of the man who died twice.
Read on along with the pictures which tell a lot of the story.

1965 , three architecture students in London , Nick Mason , Richard Wright and Roger Waters after spending most of their grant money on instruments and musical equipments formed a succession of bands, with various other artists. The line ups changed on a regular basis, as did the names. Some of these were strange sounding, fanciful names like: - Sigma 6; T-Set; the Meggadeaths; The Architectural Abdabs; The Screaming Abdabs. The band brokeup with only the above three and another guitarist named Bob Close remaining. But they lacked direction and success.

And that direction came in the form of Syd Barrett first.

And the whole London underground was stunned by what hit them next.

Suddenly their music relentlessly tinkered with electronics and all manner of special effects to push pop formats to their outer limits.
under the guiding light of Syd barrett, the band embarked upon a phase of experimentation and improvisation 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.

Barrett gave the band their unique name, which always sounded incredibly psychedelic, by simply taking the names of two obscure bluesmen (Floyd Council and Pink Anderson) and putting them together thus forming 'The Pink Floyd Sound' later shortened to 'Pink Floyd'.
In between , the Blues oriented Bob close left the band.

From Left .. Richard Wright , Roger Waters , Syd Barrett , Nick mason

After developing a very experimental style with songs like 'Interstellar Overdrive' and 'Astronomy Domine', which attracted a very underground audience ,they began to pick up a following in the London underground; onstage, they began to incorporate light shows to add to the psychedelic effect , the most famous ones being the use of moving liquid slides projected over the audience and the band.
In essence , Barrett created the ultimate Space rock / cosmic rock / psychedelic rock band .

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.

Syd Barrett was born ' Roger Keith Barrett ' on January 6, 1946 ,
Cambridge, England.

He was an innovative guitarist, exploring the musical and sonic possibilities of dissonance, distortion, feedback, and the echo machine.
One of Barrett's trademarks was playing his Fender Esquire guitar by sliding a Zippo lighter up and down the fret-board through an old echo box to create the mysterious, otherworldly sounds that became associated with the group.

The pink Floyd's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn , released in 1967, may have been the greatest British psychedelic album other than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club by Beatles. 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. The reason Pink Floyd never made a similar album was that Piper was the only one to be recorded under Barrett's leadership.

But along with the musical improvisation , Barrett became involved in another type of experimentation.. those with drugs .

As the band began to attract a large fanbase, the pressures placed on Barrett contributed to his behavior becoming increasingly unpredictable, partly as a consequence of frequent experimentation with psychedelic drugs such as LSD. Many report seeing him on stage with the group, strumming on one chord through the entire concert, or not playing at all.

Before a performance in late 1967, Barrett apparently crushed Mandrax and an entire tube of Brylcreem into his hair, which subsequently melted down his face under the heat of the stage lighting, making him look like "a guttered candle"

Following a disastrous abridged tour of the United States, David Gilmour (a school friend of Barrett's) , a skilled guitarist, was asked to join the band as a second guitarist in order to cover for Barrett as Barrett's erratic behavior prevented him from performing.

David Gilmour

For a handful of shows David played and sang while Barrett wandered around on stage, occasionally deigning to join in playing. The other band members soon tired of Barrett's antics, and in January 1968, on the way to a show at Southampton University, the band elected not to pick Barrett up.

They attempted to retain him in the group as a songwriter, but this proved untenable.
Of the songs he recorded with Pink Floyd after Piper, only one ("Jugband Blues") made it to the band's second album 'A Saucerful of Secrets' released in 1968. A harsh ,relentless juxtaposition of nightmare sounds, of pounding, monotonous,pulsating drones,of fragmented whisperings and half-familiar snatches of melody,the record triggers off psychological fears,too complex for easy assimilation and too full of wonder.
The album cover artwork shown below is redolent of its times. The superimpositional mix of many items was an attempt to represent the swirling dreamlike visions of various altered states of consciousness. such altered states were induced by religious experience, pharmaceutical additives, or Pink Floyd music. Or all three.

The lyrics penned by barrett seemed to be a kind of prelude to his impending disassociation with the band . Jugband Blues was also the last song performed by Syd barrett with Pink Floyd.

And the sea isn't green.. (lyrics)

And I love the queen...

And what exactly is a dream?

And what exactly is a joke?

Jugband Blues Lyrics -

After leaving Pink Floyd, Barrett distanced himself from the public eye. However, at the behest of EMI and Harvest Records, he did have a brief solo career, releasing two mercurial solo albums, 'The Madcap Laughs' and 'Barrett'.

Then Barrett left music altogether and faded from public view,reverting back to his original name Roger ,living in the cellar of his mother's house in Cambridge . And this is where the story gets depressing.

Meanwhile , Pink Floyd ,led by Roger Waters, took the band to an entirely new dimension , releasing one of the largest selling albums of all times , the 'Dark Side of the Moon' in 1973 , which propelled the band to super stardom. But Syd Barrett's sad exit continued to influence the imaginative and philosophical theme based songs Waters wrote which became their trademark.

Syd Barrett had one noted reunion with the members of Pink Floyd, in 1975 during the recording sessions for 'Wish You Were Here'. Barrett attended the Abbey Road session unannounced and watched the band record "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" — coincidentally, a song about him. At that time, Barrett had gained a lot of weight and had shaved off all of his hair, including his eyebrows, and his ex-bandmates did not at first recognize him.

In an interview for the BBC documentary The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, Rick Wright spoke about the session, saying: "One thing that really stands out in my mind, that I'll never forget; I was going in to the Shine On sessions. I went in the studio and I saw this guy sitting at the back of the studio, he was only as far away as you are from me. And I didn't recognise him. I said, 'Who's that guy behind you?' 'That's Syd.' And I just cracked up, I couldn't believe it... he had shaven all his hair off... I mean, his eyebrows, everything... he was jumping up and down brushing his teeth, it was awful. And, uh, I was in, I mean Roger was in tears, I think I was; we were both in tears. It was very shocking... seven years of no contact and then to walk in while we're actually doing that particular track. I don't know – coincidence, karma, fate, who knows? But it was very, very, very powerful"

Many artists have acknowledged Barrett's influence on their work. Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend were early fans; Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Brian Eno, and The Damned all expressed interest in working with him at some point during the 1970s.

Although Barrett had not appeared or spoken in public since the mid-1970s, time did little to diminish interest in his life and work; reporters and fans still traveled to Cambridge to seek him out, despite his attempts to live a quiet life, and many photos from the 1980s to his passing in 2006 of Barrett being annoyed by paparazzi when walking or biking to the store had been published in various places.

In 2001 , newspapers reported the sighting of Syd Barrett with the headline.. 'Return of the lost Pink floyd Legend'.

Apparently, Barrett was not happy being reminded about his past as a musician and the other members of Pink Floyd had no direct contact with him. However, he did go to his sister's house in 2002 to watch the BBC Omnibus documentary made about him – reportedly he found some of it "too noisy", though he's said to have enjoyed hearing "See Emily Play" again.

SYD Barrett, founder of pop super-group Pink Floyd, was laid to rest at a family funeral in Cambridge on Monday, 17 July , 2006 , with around a dozen members of his family joining his closest friends.

Although Syd came to be known as a recluse , mad genius , his siser rosemary vehemently opposes these tags placed on him.
she said "when people called him a recluse they were really only projecting their own disappointment. He knew what they wanted but he wasn’t willing to give it to them.
Roger (Syd's original name) was unique; they didn’t have the vocabulary to describe him and so they pigeonholed him.
He did have leisure interests. He took up photography, and sometimes we went to the seaside together. Quite often he took the train on his own to London to look at the major art collections — and he loved flowers. He made regular trips to the Botanic Gardens and to the dahlias at Anglesey Abbey, near Lode. But of course, his passion was his painting.

Roger worked in a variety of styles — though he admired no one after the impressionists — and you could say he came up with his own type of conceptual art. He would photograph a particular flower and paint a large canvas from the photograph. Then he would make a photographic record of the picture before destroying the canvas. In a way, that was very typical of his approach to life. Once something was over, it was over. He felt no need to revisit it. "


Even though the Pink Floyd diversified into an entirely different dimension after the exit of Syd Barrett , the band has always been synonymous with the initial barrett era mystique and the psychedelic connections.
If Syd had been present , the band might have taken a different dimension , but a nonetheless stunning and bizarre one.
As Gilmour once said .. " There has always been an element of mystique around us.. in that we have never been able to diassociate ourself, not that we tried, from the Syd Barrett era psychedelic hippie era startout".

From the cradle..

To youth..

to isolation...

to the grave..

Its been both a happy and sad journey for Syd Barrett..
The Crazy Diamond , the Astral Piper now truly shines on... leaving a still deeper void in space.


  1. great tribute!

  2. great tribute! syd barrett RIP!!

  3. a tribute worthy of the god. thank you.

  4. Amazing work!!!

    Words won't do justice... I never knew who Syd Barrett was... (Apologies to all his fans)... Now I know who he was.... Thanks to his greatest fan... Sanju Baba...

  5. koodoos to you !
    wow! i just chanced upon your blog...and that has been my favourite mistake...way to go!

  6. Thats an awesome post man.RIP Sid

  7. Wow man!
    somebody just sent a link to your blog through the Pink Floyd Web Ring list.
    I must say I'm very impressed with what the professionalism of the blog seems to be. It's 0:25 AM, though, and I'll be checking back again earlier tomorrow.

    Chilean Floydian Community.

    I'll be posting back on you, got something to ask for ;)

  8. So, I'm back.
    Just finished reading the story in the way youtold it, and it's really great.
    As you could notice on my previous post, I'm member of the Chilean Floydian Community, and I'm sort of a Webmaster of the website too. So, I'm planning to add a Syd Barrett Biography Special (erasing the previous one and hopefully adding this one).
    So... would you give me permission to translate this text to spanish and adding it to our website?
    Of course, credits to you would appear ;).

    Our website is on my yesterday's post, on my "username". My mail is on this post, in the same part.

    Chilean Floydian Community.

  9. Well, it didn't work very good..

  10. A fitting tribute to my favourite mad genius of all times!! Great post :)

  11. its not that im bored of seeing pink floyd every time i come to ur page...but i await new posts from Sir San Jyn so that i get to see varied writings from u...
    so wens a new post gonna be put up sire?
    *joins hands in anticipation like an eager kid*

  12. ahhhh!!!
    i loved this post!
    loved the pics...

  13. Thank you, Syd.