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SYD BARRETT

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S Y D  B A R R E T T


BIOGRAPHY
1946-2006


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Update: 11th July 2006

Syd Barrett has died at 60. The announcement was released today, but Barrett, actually died on the 7th July (Friday). He died at his Cambridgeshire home.

His brother, Alan, announced his death today. He died from complications arising from diabetes.

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I know what you're thinking. Another f***ing Syd Barrett biography! You've probaly come here after reading three of four Barrett biographies which tell you all the things you already knew about Barrett (and which have probaly been copied from one poor guy who actually does all the writing and research while the rest of the world copies it and pastes it on their website!). Will this be any different? Will there be anything new on the great man here worth reading on for?? Will you learn, for example, whether it's Indian or Chinese takeaway for Barrett?; Coronation St. or Eastenders?; holidaying in Britain or that pleasant Portugese golfing package?; the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, perhaps Robbie Williams v Take That?; his local team Cambridge Utd or perhaps a trip to the metropolis and the team nearest his old stamping ground, Chelsea FC? Well, no, because the fact of the matter is that no-one knows what goes on in the world of Syd except Syd, and he's not saying. Well, not to me!

What we know for sure is that around 2002 he was a Daily Mail reader or knew someone who was as a Daily Mail reader as totally unauthorised, totally intrusive and totally taken to make a bundle of cash by selling it to the newspapers-type-photos were taken of Syd in his hometown of Cambridge, carrying a Daily Mail!

Oh, and we get dumb journalists, from time to time, on the trail of His Sydness and expressing amazement that he no longer looks 25 and isn't that keen to talk to them. Strange that for I would have thought that Syd would welcome cold-calling journalists at his doorstep with open arms, as they only want to write books about him and make enough money so their kids can go to public schools. Not alot to ask unless your Syd who maybe, just maybe, stepped out on the limelight in the early 70s because he didn't want to be in the limelight!! Rocket science, it ain't.

The facts on him are thus: he was born Roger Keith Barrett on January 6, 1946 in Cambridge, England, where he co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965. The original line-up comprised Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason. The band were named after two bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Their first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was released in 1967. Barrett wrote most of the album as well as their first three singles. The first two singles especially, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play did well in the UK charts and the album was commercially and critically successful. Moreover, it was Barrett's distinctive and innovative guitar-playing with its sonic explorations that made the sound of the band unique. The loose label of 'psychedelic' was tagged onto Pink Floyd though I would say their sound during this time defies any kind of tag. Experience it on CD, I say, and think of Pink Floyd alone without the constaints of psychedilia.

By 1968, Barrett's now legendary erratic behaviour and deteriorating "mental health" was becoming unworkable for the other band members. I put the term in inverted commas as from all accounts I have read of Barrett, I'm still not convinced that anyone who has actually commented on this period in his life actually knows what he or she is talking about. I mean, do band members of Pink Floyd know enough about "mental health" to put whatever was going on in Barrett's head at the time as a problem with "mental health"? Apart from Barrett himself, his closest family and his doctor, I would say that no-one is qualified to make such a sweeping diagnosis, and it does get on my bloody nerves when I read yet another lazy biography stating he was mentally ill or on LSD or couldn't cope with the pressures of fame or blah blah blah, and these were the causes of his problems; not stopping for a moment to come to the obvious conclusion that they were manifestations of whatever the problems were. What these problems were or whether they were indeed Barrett's problems, remain unanswered in the public domain to this day.

Whatever the cause, Barrett left the band in 1968. He had a brief solo career with the albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett (both 1970), formed a short-lived band called Stars and then retreated from the public domain.

From the mid-1970s, there has been so little on Barrett that whatever has come out has provoked excitement. In 1975 he appeared unannounced and unrecognisable (he'd put on weight and shaven off all of his hair and eyebrows) actually at the moment when the band were recording Shine On You Crazy Diamond. He didn't stay long.

What else? In the early-70s, he went back to live in his mother's modest semi-detached house in Cambridge and has lived in the suburbs of that town to this day. Since his mother died, he has reported to have lived alone and the only known visitor has been his sister and family. That's not to say he's a recluse; just that's all that we know.

He has painted and has a yearly income exceeding 100,000 from Pink Floyd and solo royalities, so has never had to look for work.

There is a great Syd Barrett site, http://www.sydbarrett.net/, where you can view up-to-date photos of Syd plus his paintings. I say 'great' but cannot help feel voyeuristic when I go there. I mean, nothing against the site, but if Syd hasn't been in the public domain since the 1970s then I wonder if what is featured there is invading his privacy? It's human nature I guess, but why do we need to see photos of Syd now when he is retired?; why do we need to see his paintings when he has never expressed, to my knowledge, a willingness to exhibit them on the internet; why do we want to read about journalists trying to find him when we all know he doesn't want to be found?

Don't get me wrong: I preach the moral high ground and yet there I am, a regular visitor to the site, sniffing out the newest photos and reading every last word of every last journalist's Syd-doorstep experience! But why can't he be left in the late-1960s/early 1970s when he was beautiful and when he was part of something he wanted the world to know and see? Just because he's committed the 'crime' of getting older, does that give us the right to creep up to his window without any invite and gaze at him as we would a freak in a show?

Of course not. It is wrong. I know that. But still I look.



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M A I L I N G  A D D R E S S

Syd Barrett
Pink Floyd Music Publishers Limited
27 Noel Street
London
W1V 3RD
United Kingdom

Please note: firstly, if writing for autographs, it is always good manners to send a SAE or a IRC. Secondly, and more importantly, are you really writing to Syd for an autograph? 99.9 % of you, I know, would know it's not worth the price of the stamp. But for the rest of you: what are you expecting? A photo from Syd saying: 'Best wishes, mate. Syd xx PS. Course it's alright to come round with your photographer matey. Just remin dhim to stick some film in his camera'. You're having a laugh!

The chances of getting his autograph are about as much as going to the dark side of the moon and finding Waters and Gilmour, circa 1985, having afternoon tea, with Waters saying: 'No, you use the Pink Floyd name', and Gilmour arguing: 'No, you use it, old chum. Sugar with that tea?.'

It ain't going to happen. But do remember to send that SAE for your 'Sorry, but Syd doesn't sign' reply.



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P R I C E  G U I D E

You can expect the prices for the items listed below if you are selling privately. If you sell to a dealer or shop expect less than half of the prices listed below.

All prices are on the basis that the item is in mint condition.

All items 7" unless stated.

All items UK releases unless stated.

List also includes CDs, & 12"s.

Prices are in UK sterling and US dollars.


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SYD BARRETT


  • 1969 - Octopus/Golden Hair
    (Harvest HAR 5009)...85.00 / $145.00

  • 1988 - THE PEEL SESSIONS
    (12", EP) (Strange Fruit SFPS 043)...12.00 / $20.00

  • 1988 - THE PEEL SESSIONS
    (CD, EP) (Strange Fruit SFPSCD 043)...10.00 / $16.00

  • 1970 - THE MADCAP LAUGHS
    (LP, laminated or matt gatefold sleeve) (Harvest SHVL 765)...35/22 / $55/$40

  • 1970 - BARRETT
    (LP, laminated or textured flipback sleeve) (Harvest SHSP 4007)...40/20 / $70/$35

  • 1970s - BARRETT
    (LP, textured non-flipback sleeve) (Harvest SHSP 4007)...15.00 / $25.00

  • 1974 - SYD BARRETT
    (2-LP, reissue of "Madcp" & "Barrett", gatefold sleeve) (Harvest SHDW 404)...18.00 / $30.00

  • 1988 - OPEL
    (LP, gatefold sleeve) (Harvest SHSP 4126)...12.00 / $20.00

  • PINK FLOYD PRICE GUIDE
  • ROGER WATERS PRICE GUIDE


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