Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) was an English musician, composer, singer-songwriter, and painter. Best known as a founder member of the band Pink Floyd, Barrett was the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter in its early years and is credited with naming the band. Barrett was excluded from Pink Floyd in April 1968 after David Gilmour took over as their new guitarist, and was briefly hospitalised amid speculation of mental illness.
Barrett was musically active for less than ten years. With Pink Floyd, he recorded four singles, their debut album (and contributed to the second one), and several unreleased songs. Barrett began his solo career in 1969 with the single "Octopus" from his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs (1970). The album was recorded over the course of a year with five different producers (Peter Jenner, Malcolm Jones, David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Barrett himself). Nearly two months after Madcap was released, Barrett began working on his second and final album, Barrett (1970), produced by Gilmour and featuring contributions from Richard Wright. Two years later, he left the music industry, retired from public life and strictly guarded his own privacy until his death in 2006. In 1988, an album of unreleased tracks and outtakes, Opel, was released by EMI with Barrett's approval.
Barrett's innovative guitar work and exploration of experimental techniques such as dissonance, distortion and feedback influenced many musicians. His recordings are also noted for their strongly English-accented vocal delivery. After leaving the music industry, Barrett continued with painting and dedicated himself to gardening. Pink Floyd wrote and recorded several tributes to him, most notably the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, which included "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", as homage to Barrett.
He is also known as Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett and Roger Keith Barrett.
After suffering from diabetes for several years, Barrett died at home in Cambridge on 7 July 2006, aged 60. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. The occupation on his death certificate was "retired musician". He was cremated, with his ashes given to a family member or friend. In 2006, his home in St. Margaret's Square, Cambridge, was put on the market and reportedly attracted considerable interest. After over 100 showings, many to fans, it was sold to a French couple who bought it simply because they liked it; reportedly they knew nothing about Barrett. On 28 November 2006, Barrett's other possessions were sold at an auction at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, raising £120,000 for charity. Items sold included paintings, scrapbooks and everyday items that Barrett had decorated. NME produced a tribute issue to Barrett a week later with a photo of him on the cover. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Barrett's sister revealed that he had written a book: