If you haven’t heard yet, Syd Barrett’s family is confirming today that he died Friday, apparently from either complications due to diabetes or cancer. He was 60.
To be quite honest, I was stunned when I saw the news. I mean, I had no idea he was still alive. And I’m speaking as someone who was fairly aware of the arc of his career as well as that of Pink Floyd’s.
It may be difficult to imagine, but even as a clean-cut pre-teen, I was really into Pink Floyd. Mind you, what I heard when I first experienced Pink Floyd was post-Syd-Barrett, and it wasn’t until much later that I heard the stuff Syd Barrett wrote and recorded with the band.
And maybe I’m dim, but I also didn’t know until today that the “Wish You Were Here” album was a tribute to Syd. (And at this point, you may be questioning just how aware of his arc I have been. I knew that David Gilmour showed a lot of loyalty to Barrett over the years, playing songs in his honor and all that. Somehow I’ve missed that those songs were actually written for Syd.) That title song in particular was extremely influential on me as a young poet and budding songwriter. It meant a lot to me without even understanding the full message of what was being conveyed. Now that I listen to it again, it’s nearly heartbreaking.