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CRAZY DIAMOND REMEMBERED

by Paul Butler

movie The Queen
Syd Barrett (third from left) with Pink Floyd circa 1967

One of the most poignant elements of a new year in the arts is acknowledging those who passed away over the previous twelve months. Some eulogies celebrate long and illustrious careers. Some mourn a bright talent cut off before its prime. For many lovers of popular music, the passing of 2006 had no such category to fall into.

     Syd Barrett’s brief but extraordinarily influential career spanned from 1966 to 1970 at which time he withdrew completely from public life until his death on July 7, 2006, of complications arising from diabetes. Throughout Barrett’s silent last 35 years –years in which he tended the garden of his mother’s semi-detached home in Cambridge, England, and indulged in his hobby of painting– the legend of the reclusive genius continued to grow. Artists and bands such as David Bowie, REM, Pearl Jam, and Blur have cited him as a major influence.

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