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Syd Barrett

Biography

Mention the name Syd Barrett and the word "crazy" often follows. It's a darn shame, considering myth shrouds most of his life. Here is what we do know: Barrett's influence on pop music is beyond significant. Mod, psychedelia, prog rock, glam, new wave, shoegaze, Brit pop, indie rock -- they've all been touched by his genius. As the original leader and primary songwriter of Pink Floyd, Barrett was a central component to the London underground of the 1960s. On the band's first four singles, as well as its debut LP The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he forged a mix of distortion-soaked mod and free improv that positioned the band as the Velvet Underground of the U.K., only far more whimsical. In 1968, Barrett and the band parted ways; apparently, the pressures of fame, as well as too much LSD, had made him a fairly unpredictable fellow. That said, Barrett released two now-classic albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, on which he further explored his love for avant-pop. Several false starts aside, our hero retreated from the music industry in the mid '70s. Living in his mother's basement in Cambridge for a good chunk of his post-Floyd years, Barrett died of pancreatic cancer in 2006.
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