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The Last Time Pink Floyd Met Syd Barrett

The Syd Barrett whom Roger Waters encountered during their time at Cambridgeshire High School For Boys was markedly distinct from the one he last saw, a meeting that still troubles Waters to this day.

They were young when they became friends and together, they created magic with Pink Floyd. Sadly, Barrett fell into the grip of drugs, leading to a gradual transformation into a mere shadow of his former self. Eventually, the band had to let him go as he was no longer capable of performing.

Following his departure, the band initially made every effort to support him and prevent further deterioration of his health. Despite their best intentions during the release of his two solo albums in 1970, Barrett was beyond assistance and deemed a lost cause, resulting in the breakdown of their relationship.

Barrett visiting Abbey Road Studios on 5 June 1975

As a group, they would hold another meeting with Barrett. At some point during the recording session, Barrett, who had gained weight and shaved his head and eyebrows, unexpectedly entered the studio. Mason later mentioned that he couldn't be sure if "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was the song being recorded at that moment.

Due to his significantly altered appearance, the band took a while to recognise him. When they eventually realised that the quiet man in the corner was Barrett, Roger Waters was deeply upset by Barrett's changed look, leading him to tears. Despite being asked to replay the suite for Barrett, he declined, stating that it was unnecessary since they had just heard it. When asked for his opinion on the song, Barrett described it as sounding "a bit old." He then quietly left during the festivities for Gilmour's wedding to Ginger Hasenbein, which occurred later that day. Gilmour confirmed this account, although he couldn't recall which piece they were working on when Barrett appeared.

The episode is taken up by Wright as follows:

Roger was there, and he was sitting at the desk, and I came in and I saw this guy sitting behind him – huge, bald, fat guy. I thought, "He looks a bit... strange..." Anyway, so I sat down with Roger at the desk and we worked for about ten minutes, and this guy kept on getting up and brushing his teeth and then sitting – doing really weird things, but keeping quiet. And I said to Roger, "Who is he?" and Roger said "I don't know." And I said "Well, I assumed he was a friend of yours," and he said "No, I don't know who he is." Anyway, it took me a long time, and then suddenly I realised it was Syd, after maybe 45 minutes. He came in as we were doing the vocals for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", which was basically about Syd. He just, for some incredible reason picked the very day that we were doing a song which was about him. And we hadn't seen him, I don't think, for two years before. That's what's so incredibly... weird about this guy. And a bit disturbing, as well, I mean, particularly when you see a guy, that you don't, you couldn't recognize him. And then, for him to pick the very day we want to start putting vocals on, which is a song about him. Very strange

During a discussion with The Mirror in 2008, Waters recounted the event. He initially mentioned experimenting with acid before shifting the conversation to Barrett's health, suggesting it was not solely attributed to drugs.

He said: “It’s quite amazing to have your aural and visual perceptions overturned like that – but so what? The only art that lasts is art that comes from people who experience their connections with their fellow man and woman in ways that are more deeply felt. To think drugs have a part in that is bollocks, frankly.”

“Who knows what he might have done without it, but I don’t think Syd was driven crazy by too much acid,” Waters continued. “The symptoms of the mental illness he had were exacerbated by acid, but I don’t think it made him ill.”

Waters concluded:

“When he died, he had been gone for so many years. When I heard he was ill, I tried and failed to contact his sister to ask if I could help. But there was nothing that could be done. It wasn’t like he needed any money. Everything that could be done for him was done. 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.”

Barrett's downfall is symbolised by Waters' last meeting with him, which is truly heartbreaking because they didn't exchange a single word. They used to be very close, but inexplicably, they ended up not even speaking to each other.



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