The history of rock 'n' roll is full of compelling, talented musicians who we are left to wonder what could have been had their potential not been derailed by some degree of self destruction. The enigmatic Roger 'Syd' Barrett, a founding member of iconic psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, certainly fits this category. During the first years of Pink Floyd, Barrett served as the primary creative force behind the band's sound, responsible for the majority of songwriting, vocals, and composition. Barrett was essential in carving out Pink Floyd's distinct sound, influenced by the growing movement of rock musicians towards psychedelic drugs and drawing on everything from jazz to Brit-pop.
After the release of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in 1967, Syd Barrett left and/or was dismissed from Pink Floyd after his erratic behavior, excessive drug use, and debilitating mental state took their toll on both him and the group. Upon leaving the band, Barrett retreated from the public eye, until amongst pressure from his record label, he returned to do some solo recording. Nineteen-seventy saw Barrett release two albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, both of which featured help from his former bandmates (including David Gilmour, who was Barrett's Pink Floyd replacement). Not exactly prepared to develop fresh material, Barrett's solo albums drew heavily from material he had previously written in the 1967-68.
After his two solo releases, Barrett soon removed himself almost completely from the public life. Although his musical output only lasted a short amount of years, Barrett, both as a personality and as an artist, maintained a cult following (much to his dislike). A compilation of his unreleased material was published in 1988 while Barrett continued to seclude himself at his mother's home in Cambridge. Sadly, in 2006, Barrett passed away from what was reported as "complications from diabetes." He was 60 years old.