Who Was Syd Barrett? Biography Of Pink Floyd's Mad Genius


Roger Waters and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd pose for a portrait in 1967 in London, England (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Once upon a time, Pink Floyd was Syd Barrett's band. It was Barrett who defined the group's sound, preserved on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Over the band's 50 year career, Pink Floyd mutated a few different times; they've been experimenters, prog rock icons and the crafters of concept albums (like Dark Side Of The Moon) and rock operas (The Wall). But it's their early psychedelic period that's their most important, and at that time the band was fronted by Syd Barret, an artist bursting with talent and madness.

With a head full of ideas and LSD, Barrett guided Pink Floyd through their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn before devolving from one of the most creative minds in rock n roll to a casualty of mental illness and psychedelics.

After breaking away from Pink Floyd, Barrett became a mythic figure in the history of rock, a psychedelic hermit who seemed to dissolve with the spirit of the '60s. Absent his influence, Pink Floyd became a different band entirely as the '70s dragged on. It's hard not to wonder what they would have become had Barrett been able to keep it together.