Barrett’s downward spiral became clear to more than just the band in late 1967, when his heavy use of LSD and his off-beat antics were being displayed in front of the media and their audience. During a performance in San Francisco at the Fillmore, Barrett stopped playing and started slowly de-tuning his guitar during the song ‘Interstellar Overdrive’. Occasionally, he would play just one chord continuously throughout an entire concert, while other times he would stand there and not play at all.
During interviews with such hosts as Dick Clark and Pat Boone, he would display himself with a childlike maturity, being extremely impolite leaving them both puzzled and irritated.
In November 1967, while on tour in the U.K. with Jimi Hendrix, Barrett was either not showing up to his shows or so inebriated that he was unable to perform. As a result, Pink Floyd had to ask David O’List from The Nice to stand in as Barrett’s substitute on several occasions.
Christmas of 1967 would become a changing day in the future of Pink Floyd when Barrett’s old schoolmate David Gilmour was asked to join the band as a second guitarist to cover for Barrett. By January 1968, the group joined in the decision that they were not going to pick Barrett up on the way to a show at Southampton University, realizing that he could add nothing to the live performance and that they no longer needed his him in the studio nor for his songwriting skills. A Saucerful of Secrets would be the last Pink Floyd album that Barrett would contribute material to, released in 1968.
It is said that Barrett was waiting in the reception area of the recording studio on numerous occasions hoping to be asked in by his old bandmates. He also started showing up at Pink Floyd shows where he would just stand and stare at Gilmour. After Barrett’s departure from Pink Floyd, he would venture into a short-lived solo career, releasing two solo albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, both in 1970.
Sid Barrett and Pink Floyd would have one last “reunion” in 1975, when Barrett showed up during the Wish You Were Here recording sessions at Abbey Road. He was not invited and no one noticed him while he sat and watched the group record ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, a song that just happened to be written about Barrett. Barrett was 29 years old by this time and when his ex-band members finally realized who it was, they were saddened and shocked. Barrett had gained a good sum of weight and shaved the hair off of his head, as well as his eye brows. The band would use this experience for the character Pink (played by Bob Geldof) in the film The Wall.
His behaviour during most of the session was insane; he spent a good amount of the time brushing his teeth while standing. When asked by Waters what he thought of the song, he said simply, “Sounds a bit old.”
He attended the reception for Gilmour’s wedding, which took place immediately after recording was finished. Nevertheless, Barrett would leave early and without saying good-bye.
Sid Barrett would go on to be known in music history as a legend, as well as an outcast. He has inspired many of today’s top musicians and I’m sure will continue to do so.
Sadly, he passed away on July 7, 2006 from pancreatic cancer. The occupation on his death certificate reads “retired musician”.