Goodbye you Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett, the eccentric guitarist who, with Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright founded Pink Floyd, died earlier this week at his home in Cambridge.

Setting a standards early on as one of Rock fame’s greatest casualties, he left the band towards the end of an early US tour, after one album and only 3 years after they had begun.

Unable to cope with drink, drugs and fame he became almost catatonic on stage and increasingly reclusive, quitting to live a quite life in anonymity with his mother.

Syd was replaced by David Gilmour who ensured he continued to receive royalties, reputed to amount to over four million pounds a year.   The last time the band saw him was when he turned up unannouced at a studio while they were recording the album, Wish You Were Here.   Track 1, Shine On You Crazy Diamond was a tribute to Syd.

When Pink Floyd reformed last year for Live8, Dave Gilmour dedicated Wish You Were Here to people no longer with us and, in particular to Syd.

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

A statement from Pink Floyd said: “The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd’s death. He was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire.”

Pink Floyd are one of the most recognisable names in modern music and for the last 32 years have had at least one album in the US charts.

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