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Why Pink Floyd members were prohibited to talk with Syd Barrett

Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett


Why Pink Floyd members were prohibited to talk with Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett helped to form Pink Floyd in 1965 alongside Richard Wright, Roger Waters and Nick Mason. He was part of the first two albums of the band and then was “fired” since his behavior became increasingly erratic and unpredictable. The cause was partially a result of the intense use of psychedelic drugs and also the possibility of the musician suffering from Schizophrenia.


In 1970, two years after he was no longer a member of Pink Floyd, his ex-bandmates David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Richard Wright helped him to make the only two solo albums he ever recorded: “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett”, both released in the same year.

The band even tried to stay in touch with Barrett after that but they were prohibited by his mother to talk to him.

The reason why Pink Floyd members were prohibited to talk with Syd Barrett

The next time Barrett would see his bandmates again would be in 1975 when they were coincidentally hearing the track “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, written by David Gilmour and Richard Wright, inspired by Syd.

But their ex-bandmate appeared after the track was already written and recorded and no one had invited him. He simply showed up at Abbey Road studios when the band was listening to that particular song. After that strange meeting, as Richard Wright said in an interview with John Edginton back in 2001 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), they tried to keep in touch with him but his mother said that wouldn’t be a good idea.

The reason was that he was happy with the life he was living and that everything that reminded him of the band could trigger bad feelings. “I think that after ‘Wish You Were Here’, when he came in, all of us wanted to find out how he is. All I know, I think Dave must have got in touch. I don’t know if it was Dave, got in touch with his mother and said: ‘Look, what can we do? Can we see him? Basically what she said was: ‘Don’t come to see him, don’t talk to him even’.”

Wright continued:

“She said: ‘He’s happy’, basically saying he’s quite happy and content in what he’s doing but he still has some recollection of the band. She was worried that if we came it would trigger some bad feelings inside or him or whatever. So she said she appreciated what we were feeling but it was best for him that we didn’t get in touch.”

“I don’t know how I could handle it, quite honestly. It’s always been a dream that one day I would go and see him, obviously. But it would be extremely painful for me and maybe painful to him. I could take the pain but I don’t know if he could, you know.”

He continued:

“Very sad, I mean, the whole story is such a sad story. I just hope wherever he is, in his space, I just hope he is happy. That’s what I’ve been told, that he is. Most of the time happy and that financially he is ok as well, which is important. Obviously if he wasn’t all of us would do something.”

“But for his needs from what I understand, I mean, no one asked us for anything. The royalties come through, this new album will bring in more and he doesn’t need a lot. I just think it’s so sad because he was a great artist too. A potential artist, he paints and then he burns them. Which is a real shame because I’d love to see some of the art that he is doing or was doing. It’s sad because you think his career was really just one and a half albums, basically. Over the space of two years, very brief,” Richard Wright said.

In the same conversation, the keyboardist explained that they hoped that Syd would become their “Brian Wilson“. The American musician couldn’t tour much with The Beach Boys due to his battle with Schizoaffective disorder. But even fighting that mental disease he remained as the main songwriter of the group, eventually performing with them after he got better.

Gilmour, Wright and Mason never saw him again

All the Pink Floyd members respected Barrett’s family wish to leave him isolated and they never tried to reach him out again. So the last time David, Richard and Nick ever saw him was in 1975 during that strange session of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. As Wright also recalled in the interview with John Edginton (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), it was a shocking moment to see the state he was in.

“(Something) I’ll never forget is going into the ‘Shine on Your Crazy Diamond’ session, that’s so clear in my mind. I think Roger was in the studio already when I walked he was actually listening to that track. Roger was there in first and I came in, I don’t think Nick and Dave had arrived. Anyway, I went in the studio and I saw this guy sitting at the back of the studio. I didn’t recognized him. So I sit down next to Roger and he’s doing whatever he is doing. I said: ‘Who’s that guy behind you? Friend of yours?’ Roger said: You don’t know who he is? I said: ‘No’. It took me ages and then Roger said: ‘That’s Syd’. I just cracked up. I couldn’t believe it.”

He continued:

“Because by that time he’d shaved all his hair off. He was about probably 17, 18 in stone. I mean he had (shaved) his eyebrows, everything. He was jumping up and down brushing his teeth, it was awful. Roger was in tears, we were both in tears. It was very shocking and very strange that he came when we were doing that session.”

“It was seven years with no contact and then (he) walked in while we’re actually doing that particular track. I don’t know, coincidence, karma, fate, who knows? But it was very, very, very powerful. Of course, he stood up and said: ‘When should I put the guitar on?’ So that was pretty hard for all of us to take I think. Then he went out of our lives again and we tried to have a conversation with him (that day). But it was very hard, very, very hard,” Richard Wright said.

Roger Waters had an accidental encounter with Syd

Roger Waters was the only member of Pink Floyd who saw Barrett again and it was once again a really strange and coincidental encounter. As he told The Mirror in 2008, he saw him for the last time just a few years afert the “Wish You Were Here” sessions.

“The last time I saw him was a couple of years, after he turned up at the ‘Wish You Were Here’ sessions. I bumped into him in Harrods where he used to go to buy sweets. But we didn’t speak – he sort of scuttled away,” Roger Waters said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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