Shocking as the news of Syd Barrett's death may be, in truth his light went out 35 years ago.
He released his last album in November 1970 and disappeared to live the life of a recluse in Cambridge.
Occasionally there would be tales of sightings of him: an overweight, shuffling bald character; nervous, shy and uncommunicative.
Yet the cult of Syd refused to subside as each new generation discovered the visionary three albums he made: one as leader with Pink Floyd and two solo albums made under the weight of mental illness.
The bald facts of the story are often repeated. Visionary dandy spearheads Swinging London's psychedelic music scene, takes too much acid and goes insane. His band dump him and go on to conquer the planet without ever matching the genius of that first flowering in 1967. To all intents and purposes, his obituaries were written three decades ago.
Still Syd's death remains awfully sad news. Not because anyone expected him to return to the music scene. The death of Syd Barrett is sad because it finally allows us to close the book on one of the sixties' most cautionary tales. His is the same story as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison or Brian Jones, except he lived. It's going to be hard to listen to Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, The Madcap Laughs or Barrett for a long while. Pink Floyd's valedictory Shine On You Crazy Diamond will seem overwhelmingly poignant.
What remains of Syd Barrett and what will shine for a long time to come, is his visionary spirit. His influence over subsequent generations of musicians is massive. He was respected and loved. He was an original. He was simply Syd.