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Syd Barrett
Sydbarrettphoto.jpg
Background information
Birth name Roger Keith Barrett
Also known as Syd
Born 6 January 1946
Cambridge, England
Genres Rock; R&B
Occupations Musician; singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals; guitar; bass guitar
Years active 1964-1974; 1977-
Labels Harvest; Columbia
Associated acts Pink Floyd; Stars
Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (born 6 January 1946) is an English musician, singer-songwriter and activist. In 1965, he co-founded the progressive rock band Pink Floyd with drummer Nick Mason, keyboardist Rick Wright and the bassist, Roger Waters.

Barrett's innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as dissonance, distortion and feedback influenced many musicians.

Pink Floyd years (1967-1968)

London Underground

Tonite Lets All Make Love in London

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

1968, Slowly departure, Set the Controls and A Saucerful of Secrets

1968 was a completely different year for the Pink Floyd. Through late 1967 and early 1968, Barrett's behaviour became increasingly erratic and unpredictable, partly as a consequence of his reported heavy use of psychedelic drugs, most prominently LSD.

At the early 1968, David Gilmour signed a contract with the Pink Floyd, being the second guitarist, due to problems with Syd Barrett, and released the "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" with the Five-men Floyd. (POD.: The Pink Floyd pick Syd Barrett when the band was going to a show, and he stays on the Pink Floyd until november. Syd does not play at the day.).

One day, Roger Waters asked Syd: "Instead of release the songs as singles, shall we make an album with these songs?", Syd's answer was a flat "Yes". Apples and Oranges, besides being released as a single, was re-recorded for the album.

During the year of 1968, Syd stopped to take these psychedelic drugs and was becoming less interested in working with the Pink Floyd. In the mid-1968, Syd started to record his "Terrapin" project. Three songs of the project were recorded to the A Saucerful of Secrets (No Man's Land, Vegetable Man, Jugband Blues), by the Pink Floyd, more six were recorded in his collaboration with Kevin Ayers, in Religious Experience, and the rest were mixed with new material and released as "Barrett".

Early Solo career (1968-1974)

After Pink Floyd's departure

During the year of 1968, Syd stopped to take these psychedelic drugs and was becoming less interested in working with the Pink Floyd. In the mid-1968, Syd started to record his "Terrapin" project. Some days after the release of "A Saucerful of Secrets", the Pink Floyd released a press statement that Syd Barrett had left the band.

Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers

At the same time was Syd recording "Terrapin", Kevin Ayers guitarist of The Soft Machine was recording his first solo album, too. Ayers asked to Barrett to make a collaboration together, and talked with Peter Jenner, headed in the production of two albums, which also talked with David Gilmour, that was helping with Syd's album.

Syd and Ayers collaboration was released in 3 January 1970, under the name of "Religious Experience". The album reached the #23 position at the UK official album charts, and #166 at the Billboard 200. The collaboration between the two guitarists would be reestablished during the 80's.

Barrett and Silas Lang

In 1970, Syd started to compose and produce his new project, Barrett. From his old project, Terrapin, lasted six songs. Syd has decided to compose new material and re-record the old songs. With the help of David Gilmour and Richard Wright, the album was released as "Barrett", which was impulsioned by his last album, "Religious Experience", and the Pink Floyd's album, "Atom Heart Mother".

In 1972, Syd Barrett released "Silas Lang", with a progressive-psychedelic sound, influented by the Pink Floyd's "Obscured by Clouds" and "The Son of Nothing". "Silas Lang" and "Scarlet and Crimson" were released as singles. Syd made a European tour, and a show at New York.  

When I was recording Silas Lang, the [Pink] Floyd's new album called "Obscured by Clouds" came out. I've loved the album so much that some songs from Silas Lang, such as the K.A. [Keith Adventurer] adventures and "Scarlet and Crimson", were 'influented' by Obscured [by Clouds].
—Syd Barrett, June 1973

Melody Maker interview

In 1971, Syd Barrett has attended to an interview with Michael Watts, from the Melody Maker, talking about his solo work, future projects and shows.

Syd Barrett and David Bowie

During a show at the Rainbow Theatre in London, Syd Barrett met David Bowie, a huge fan of his work, also a hit on the time with the release of the Ziggy Stardust album. Both decided to start a project together, with their 'heroistic' alter-egos.

During the late 1972 and in 1973, Syd's mental health become unstable. In 1973, he finally released "Ziggy Stardust versus Keith Adventurer" he appeared at the last Bowie's gig of the Ziggy Stardust tour to promote the album. In the late 1973, Syd appeared at the Pink Floyd gigs at the Rainbow Theatre, and went to Cambridge, which stood until 1976.

New Solo career (1976-present)

70's

After his rehabilitation, Syd continued to write songs to your future albums. In 1977, Syd released the song "If You Go, Don't Be Slow" as a single. The single didn't well, and reached the #57 position at the UK charts and the #81 position at the US Billboard singles.

In 1977, he started to write songs for Crazy Diamond, but, after to read the Animal Farm by George Orwell, started to write a hard political-oriented album, also inspired by the last Pink Floyd album, Animals, and the punk domination in London at the time.

Brazil

In January of 1978, Syd went to Brazil with Wright for the first time. He visited the cities of San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for the carnival. Wright went to Greece after the festival, while Syd stayed in the country until the end of February. In April, Syd released an EP called Tropical Travel.

Rick Davies

Syd met Davies during the recording sessions of Farming Revolution and Breakfast in America at The Village Recorder, in Los Angeles. Syd played some guitar tracks in some songs of Breakfast in America (uncredited), and Davies played the drums in Farming Revolution. After the sessions, Syd went back to London.

Syd and Davies started a cordial friendship tie, and Davies played drums and sometimes keyboards at Syd Barrett albums, while Syd helped at some Supertramp sessions.

80's

The 80's was a hit decade to Syd Barrett, avoiding the Pink Floyd shadow and being denominated "the Madcap", or "Lunatic genius", among others; and changed your musical style, being more pop-oriented.

Supertramp offer

After the release of "...Famous Last Words...", the main vocalist of Supertramp, Roger Hodgson, departed from the band to pursue a solo career. One year later, Syd Barrett and the Supertramp would release and EP called "Foolishness". At the same year, Davies invited Syd to join the Supertramp, being denied after a while. The reason to deny the invitation were the sessions of his albums, such as Crazy Diamond and Psychedelic Circus, with the Stars.

Mercury

Initially, the group was founded with the purpose to be Syd's touring band, but, Kevin Ayers gave Syd the idea for a supergroup, instead of the touring band. Their first eponymous album was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios and the Britannia Row Studios. The keyboardist Richard Wright participated on the first album as a session musician. In 1984, he entered in the band as a full-member.

The supergroup produced five albums, the last one released in 2016, being a tribute to Kevin Ayers, who unfortunately three years before.

Pink Floyd rejoin offer

After Roger Waters' departure, David Gilmour invited Syd Barrett to rejoin the Pink Floyd. Gilmour's idea was to put Syd in the band as a provisional member, until he would find another bassist. Syd has agreed with the idea, but with an alternative name.

Syd played the bass guitar in Learning to Fly, but played guitar in the tour. In the original release, Syd was credited with your alternative name "Phillip Travis", but in the next re-issues, he was credited with your name, "Syd Barrett".

Musical style change

After the release of Crazy Diamond, Syd had to adapt his music to the moment. In 1984, "Approaching the Red Clouds" was a notable album that Syd's style was changing, with a few progressive rock influence. In 1987, Syd released "Have You Got It Yet?", a totally different album compared with your predecessors.

"Have You Got It Yet?" was received with mixed reviews, called the "Syd's forgotten album". During an interview in 1995, Syd commented about the album: "Very simple and monotonous. It's not something to be forgotten about, it was a very simple thing to do and record, but since the recording I thought the album wouldn't potential for success.".

90's

In the 90's, Syd departed again from the Pink Floyd, and Rick Wills entered as a full-time member on his place. Besides for release four albums in the decade, Syd toured again as a solo artist, with Mercury, and with the Pink Floyd, appearing in their live album, PULSE.

In 1996, was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Pink Floyd. Syd attended the ceremony. In 1999, Syd released "Events of a Post-War Dream", an album with Anti-war songs, plus two new songs. In 1999, Syd worked again with the Pink Floyd, composing two songs to they new album, "Crossbridges".

Mercury

Things weren't going well at the 90's to Mercury. Besides the band was enjoying the success from your last album, Shiny and Bright Sky, there was happening internal conflicts for the next album. For the next album, Syd wanted a pop-oriented album, while the rest of the band wanted to maintain the Progressive influence in the band. Take It Off (and Put It Again) was released worldwide in 29 November 1992, with the progressive rock domination, but with the pop influence at Syd Barrett's songs. The album was the only one that had a tour by the band.

Opel

In 1990, Syd Barrett released Opel, a double album with the live footage recorded in the Royal Albert Hall in 1988, and new material. Opel is marked as Syd's return to the progressive sounding, besides the pop influences from their two predecessors albums.

Opel had a tour in 1991/92, and Syd went back to start to compose songs for the last album of the Mercury.

2000's

Moving to Brazil (2003/05)

2010's

Last albums (2012/16)

ABRW (Anderson, Barrett, Rabin, Wakeman) (2016-)

Relations with other artists

Pink Floyd

Syd maintained his relations with the Pink Floyd stable until 1985, when Roger Waters departed from the band. In 1992, Roger and Syd re-established their relations, with Roger respecting Syd's friendship with the other Pink Floyd members.

Syd and David Gilmour were friends since they were young. Gilmour occasionally participated in some Barrett's albums and songs, in the last album of Mercury, and Syd contribued in Learning to Fly, and  participated on some Pink Floyd tours, such as Learning to Fly tour and The Division Bell tour, appearing in the PULSE album.

Syd relations with Richard Wright were mostly close, thanks to his contributions on various albums of Syd and participating in the supergroup, Mercury. Wright stopped to play in Syd's albums after the dissolvement of Mercury, but played at the Syd's final album.

Syd led the vocals in some Nick Mason albums, such as "Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports", "Profiles", a contribution with Rick Fenn. Nick and Syd both are closely personal friends.

David Bowie

David Bowie and Syd met on a Pink Floyd show. Bowie, watching near the stage, noted that Syd was on your side and started to talk with him. Even before the release of Space Oddity, Bowie was a huge fan of Syd Barrett and the early Pink Floyd. Both released an album together with their alter-egos, called Ziggy Stardust versus Keith Adventurer. Bowie also featured two songs in Shiny and Bright Sky, a Mercury album.

The Beatles

The first contact of Syd Barrett and The Beatles were in the sessions of the Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Beatles' Sgt. Peppers.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Barrett and Lennon became close friends when John invited Syd to record "What's The New Mary Jane?", a song that would be released in The Beatles (White Album), but eventually wasn't. The song was released in Anthology. Lennon and Syd Barrett composed a song that was a track in Crazy Diamond. The demo of "Deep Breath" was remixed and re-recorded for the album. 

Syd and Yoko didn't had the same relation as with John Lennon. One day, Syd said: "Besides from being friend of John [Lennon], I'm not friend of Yoko, I don't even talk with her, just with John".

Syd was in New York when John was assassinated. He was recording the sessions for Crazy Diamond, and was informed just few moments after the crime. 

George Harrison

Syd was also friend of George Harrison, with their friendship being well-known. Harrison played and sang in Shiny and Bright Sky, with rumours of George being another member of the band, but was denied some days after the release of the album.

Differences with OTL

  • In this timeline, Syd Barrett continued with his musical career after a short rehabilitation from drugs (1974-76).
  • He was part of the tour of Pink Floyd, can see it in albums "Delicate Sound of Thunder" and "PULSE".
  • He also reunited with members of the Pink Floyd in 2005, at the Live 8.

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