Founding Pink Floyd member Roger "Syd" Barrett died Friday (July 7) from complications due to diabetes, says a source close to the band. Barrett, 60, suffered from mental health problems and spent most of the past 30 years living a secluded life in Cambridge, England with his mother. The other members of Pink Floyd issued a statement that read: "The band are naturally very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett’s death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire."Pink Floyd formed in 1965 as a blues-rock combo featuring Barrett on guitar and vocals, bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright. They quickly acquired a reputation for trippy live shows featuring extended improvisational jams and elaborate lighting and visual projections. Their first two albums, 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets, established the group as an early pioneer of psychedelic rock, led by Barrett's innovative songwriting, by turns childlike and sinister.But before the group had even finished recording its second album, Barrett's mental health problems were becoming increasingly apparent, and his experimentation with psychedelic drugs was making them worse. A second guitarist, David Gilmour, was brought in to help finish the album and to play Barrett's parts during the group's live shows, when Barrett would frequently become paralyzed mid-song or sometimes just wander off the stage. Eventually, Gilmour replaced Barrett altogether.With help from Gilmour and members of the band Soft Machine, Barrett managed to record two solo albums in the early '70s, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, which are widely regarded as underground classics. But his mental health continued to deteriorate, and by the mid-'70s he was living in virtual seclusion in Cambridge, while his former bandmates entered their most commercially and critically fertile period, releasing Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. But even if Barrett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd, his influence on the group still loomed large; both albums, written primarily by Waters, deal with issues of isolation and madness.At Pink Floyd's last performance, a brief reunion set during last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, the group dedicated "Wish You Were Here" to Barrett.
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