Syd Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006), born Roger Keith Barrett, was an English singer, songwriter, guitarist and artist. He is most remembered as a founding member of psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, providing major musical and stylistic direction in their early work, although he left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness exacerbated by heavy drug use.
He was active as a rock musician for about seven years, recording two albums with Pink Floyd and two solo albums before going into self-imposed seclusion lasting more than thirty years. His post-rock band life was as an artist and a keen gardener, ending with his death in 2006. During his withdrawal from public life there were numerous works about him, most notably his former band Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here. A number of biographies have been written about him since the 1980s.
Barrett was born in the English city of Cambridge to a middle-class family. His father, Arthur Max Barrett, was a prominent pathologist, and both he and his wife, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger (as he was known then) in his music. When Barrett was three years old, his family moved to 183 Hills Road. After his brothers and sisters left home, his mother rented out rooms to lodgers, including a future Prime Minister of Japan. Barrett acquired the nickname "Syd" at the age of 14, a reference to an old local Cambridge jazz drummer, Sid Barrett. Syd Barrett changed the spelling in order to differentiate himself from his namesake. His father died of cancer on December 11, 1961, less than a month before Barrett's 16th birthday. He attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys and Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. He then enrolled in Camberwell Art School in South London in 1964 before forming his first band in 1965. During this pre–Pink Floyd time he wrote such tunes as "Effervescing Elephant" to play at local parties.