Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett (born January 6, 1946, died July 7, 2008) was born in 60 Glisson Road, Cambridge, to Arthur Max Barrett and Winifred Barrett. He was the fourth of five children, had two brothers, Alan and Donald, and two sisters, Ruth and Rosemary. His full name was Roger Keith Barrett, Syd is a high school nickname, which he hated and discouraged others from using it. His mother, who he was very dependent to, never called him anything but Roger.

Syd attended Cambridge High School for Boys, the same school Roger Waters, his two years senior, went to. They did not know each other then, but met later in London. When Syd was 12, his father died which was very hard for him to cope with. However, unlike Waters, Syd got over it quite soon and the event had practically no impact on his later works.

Syd loved fine art, perhaps even more than music, and dreamt of becoming a painter. Although his ideas were quite extravagant, his drawings were acclaimed well by teachers at the art school Syd attended.

At the age of eleven he started experimenting with music, and when he got a mandolin and later a banjo from his parents, there was nothing to hesitate about. Then, at the age of twelve, he bought his first acoustic guitar and an electric guitar followed soon. He built his own amp and soon became part of his first band – a high school “gym act” called Geoff Mott and the Mottoes. He spent the three following years playing in similar bands at the school, but then retired from playing, when he was sixteen. He painted and went further experimenting with music. Often he would practice with his then best friend, David Gilmour, during the school breaks. By that time, David was way better at playing the guitar and was the original author of a number of tricks Syd later became famous for, the glissando guitar style, for example. Syd began playing bass guitar with a band called The Hollering Blues, which soon broke up. Then he moved to London, where he met Waters, Bob Klos, Wright and Mason, who had already known each other for some time then.

They started a band called Sigma 6, which changed names quite a lot of times until it finally became Pink Floyd, or, originally, The Pink Floyd Sound, which referred to Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, Syd’s favourite bluesmen from Georgia, USA. In the following year, 1965, Syd commuted between Cambridge and London, until he finally stayed in the 1960s swinging London for good. He and Waters shared a flat and wrote songs together, but Syd’s melodies were much more swinging and usable than those of Roger, who had then already been writing about dark and cheerless topics, which was not quite it, regarding it was soon to be the summer of love…