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Pink Floyd's Crazy diamond dies

British rocker Syd Barrett passes away after living the life of a recluse for 30 years.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 16:03 IST

Syd Barrett, the troubled founding member of British rock group Pink Floyd, has died aged 60, after living the life of a recluse for the last 30 years.

"The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death," Pink Floyd said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire."

A source close to the band, who did not want to be named, said Barrett died on Friday. Media reports say complications from diabetes were the cause.

Barrett's bizarre on-stage antics in the late 1960s were linked to his experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and he left the band in 1968.

The singer, songwriter and guitarist, who wrote the bulk of Pink Floyd's earliest music, has been credited with helping shape its progressive sound and influencing artists including David Bowie.

He wrote most of the songs on Pink Floyd's first album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", which was a hit in Britain, and also worked on "A Saucerful of Secrets", released in 1968.

Barrett issued his first solo album, "The Madcap Laughs", in 1970, with backing from members of Pink Floyd and Soft Machine, but his involvement in music had ended by the mid-1970s and he has lived the life of a recluse ever since.

Pink Floyd's 1975 track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", from the album "Wish You Were Here", is widely believed to be a tribute to Barrett.

Tributes

There were words of praise for a man who missed out on Pink Floyd's most successful years in the 1970s, when they made "Dark Side of the Moon", "Wish You Were Here" and "The Wall".

The band went on to tell an estimated 200 million albums worldwide, although internal rifts have kept public performances featuring its main members to a minimum since the 1980s.

"I can't tell you how sad I feel," Bowie said on his Web site davidbowie.

"Syd was a major inspiration for me. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed."

Barrett's biographer Tim Willis said Barrett struggled with mental breakdown during his life.

"I think he had trouble talking to people and was very happy with his own company," Willis told Reuters. "The painful experience of protracted nervous breakdown meant he did not want to know about that bit of his life."

Willis blamed a combination of drugs and stress for Barrett's mental fragility. "In one sense he only lived half a life. His career was over by 1971, if not 1969."

Graham Coxon, formerly of British band Blur, said Barrett was a major influence.

"The music is there ... a door he left unlocked ... spend time there .... it's good," Coxon said.

Barrett was born in Cambridge, England, as Roger Keith Barrett, in 1946. He acquired the nickname "Syd" as a teenager.