Why Pink Floyd members were prohibited to talk with Syd Barrett

In 1965, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright helped establish Pink Floyd. He appeared on the band’s first two albums before being “fired” because of his increasingly unstable and unpredictable conduct. The heavy usage of psychedelic substances and the potential for schizophrenia in musicians were contributing factors.

Two years after leaving Pink Floyd in 1970, he recorded just two solo albums, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barrett,” with assistance from his former colleagues David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. Both albums were released in the same year.

Barrett’s mother forbade the band from contacting him after that, despite their best efforts.

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

Barrett wouldn’t see his bandmates again until 1975, when they happened to be listening to the David Gilmour and Richard Wright song “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” which was inspired by Syd.

However, no one had invited their ex-bandmate, who turned up after the song had already been composed and recorded. He just happened to come up at Abbey Road Studios as the band was playing that specific song. Richard Wright stated in a 2001 interview with John Edginton that they attempted to stay in touch with him after that bizarre meeting, but his mother advised against it.

He gave this explanation: he was content with his life and anything that brought up memories of the band may make him feel horrible. “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.”

Wright said, “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.”

In the same chat, the keyboardist indicated that they hoped that Syd would become their “Brian Wilson“. The American musician’s struggle with Schizoaffective Disorder prevented him from doing much touring with The Beach Boys. Despite battling that mental illness, he continued to be the group’s primary songwriter and finally joined them on stage after he recovered.

Gilmour, Wright and Mason never saw him again

Barrett’s family’s request to be left alone was honored by all Pink Floyd members, and they never again attempted to get in touch with him. So the last time David, Richard and Nick ever saw him was in 1975 during that bizarre session of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. It was startling to witness Wright’s condition, as he also recounted in the John Edginton interview.

“(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.”

“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.”

Roger Waters had an accidental encounter with Syd

The only other Pink Floyd member to see Barrett again was Roger Waters, and that too was an extremely odd and fortuitous meeting. He last saw him a few years after the “Wish You Were Here” recordings, he said to The Mirror in 2008.

Roger Waters said, “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.”




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