Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett (1946–2006) was an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist who co-founded Pink Floyd. He fronted the band on their first three singles and 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Midway through the sessions for their second album, Floyd terminated Barrett due to his drug addiction and mental illness. With the help of his ex-bandmates, he recorded two 1970 solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, then retired from public life.

He was born Roger Keith Barrett on January 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England. He was the fourth of five children of Dr. Arthur Max Barrett (1909–1961), a pathologist, anatomist, and histologist at the University of Cambridge.

As a child, Barrett wrote, drew, and played piano. In his tweens and early teens, he took up multiple string instruments (ukulele, banjo, acoustic guitar). As a pupil at Morley Memorial Junior School, one of his teachers was Mary Waters, the mother of his childhood friend and future bandmate Roger Waters.

At age 15, Barrett bought an electric guitar and self-customized an amplifier. He took the name Syd from a local jazz bassist with the same surname. His first band, Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, broke up when Mott joined Cambridge beatsters The Boston Crabs, who later cut three singles on Columbia.

In late 1962, Barrett befriended David Gilmour, a classmate at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. Inspired by the The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the surrounding beat boom, Barrett made his initial forays into songwriting with titles like “Effervescing Elephant” and “Bob Dylan Blues,” both later recorded during sessions for his second album. He played in a sequence of bands circa 1963–64 (Those Without, The Hollerin’ Blues) and took a summer ’64 painting course at Camberwell College of Arts.

In late 1964, Barrett joined Waters in The Abdabs, which played under several names (The Screaming Abdabs, Sigma 6, The T-Set) until Syd recommended The Pink Floyd Sound, named after bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. They soon shortened the name to Pink Floyd. In the summer of 1965, Barrett had his first LSD trip in the company of Gilmore’s friend, Storm Thorgerson, who later co-founded the design firm Hipgnosis.


  • The Madcap Laughs (1970)
  • Barrett (1970)
  • Opel (archival, 1988)


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