On August 5, 1967, Pink Floyd released their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

It was not the only album to feature Syd Barrett, but it was the only one that was led by Barrett.

Barrett was the original leader of Pink Floyd.  He wrote most of the songs on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  But, his behavior was becoming erratic.

Very erratic.

Early in 1967, Pink Floyd signed a record contract with EMI and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn ended up peaking at No 6 in the UK.  They were drawing crowds in the underground scene in London and were transitioning into the mainstream.

But, something was wrong with their leader.

For a young band, this was the worst possible time to lose a leader.  But, while the band was touring and appearing on television in support of their debut album, Barrett kept getting worse.

During the band's first American tour, Barrett was awkward on television.  On stage, he would literally detune his guitar.

The rest of the band members did not want to drop Barrett.  They considered keeping him on as a non-touring member, like The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson.  But, he was eventually replaced by David Gilmour.

Barrett was gone by the time the band released their second album, Saucer full of Secrets, he did contribute to three of those tracks.

With Gilmour, Pink Floyd would eventually become one of the greatest bands in history.

But, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn remains a classic on its own.  It is considered one of the seminal psychedelic rock albums of the 1960s.

Barrett released two solo albums after leaving Pink Floyd.  But, he eventually disappeared into seclusion.  He spent the last three decades of his life out of the public eye and he died on July 7, 2006.

Pink Floyd wrote their 1975 album, Wish You Were Here, about Syd Barrett.  During a recording session for the album, Barrett appeared in the studio, he was unrecognizable to his former bandmates.

 

Album cover via EMI