Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Wikimedia)

Music

Roger Waters on the final time he saw Syd Barrett

@josephtaysom

The Syd Barrett that Roger Waters met while studying at Cambridgeshire High School For Boys was a starkly different soul to the one who he later saw for the final time, a meeting which continues to haunt Waters to this day.

They were just kids when they became friends, and together, the pair made magic with Pink Floyd. Tragically, drugs took a stranglehold on Barrett, who slowly morphed into a shadow of his former self. Eventually, the band had no choice but to fire him because he was no longer in a fit state to perform.

After his exit, the band members initially did all they could to help him and make sure his health didn’t continue to decline. Despite their best efforts on his two solo albums, both released in 1970, Barrett was a lost cause and beyond help, which caused his relationship to collapse.

As a band, they’d have one more meeting with Barrett. Out of the blue, he wandered into the studio, much to their shock, when Floyd were recording Wish You Were Here. It was a scarring experience for the entire group, and he’d become bloated to such an extent that they initially mistook him for a studio hand.

Six Definitive Songs: The ultimate beginner’s guide to Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett

Read More

However, that wasn’t the final time that Waters would see the band’s former leader, and they would have one last encounter before Barrett’s death.

Waters detailed the event during a conversation with The Mirror in 2008. He had begun by talking about once experimenting with acid and went on to talk about Barrett’s health, which he didn’t believe was exclusively down to the 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 b******s, 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.”

The fall of Barrett is epitomised in Waters’ final encounter with him, and the fact they didn’t speak to each other is utterly heartbreaking. At one time, they were inseparable, and then unfathomably, they weren’t even on talking terms. 

Follow Far Out Magazine across our social channels, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.