Syd Barrett “left” Pink Floyd in 1968 because of mental illness as a consequence of heavy drug use. But basically, in January 1968, the band just stopped picking him up for rehearsal and David Gilmour began learning all of Barrett’s parts. In 1967, Barrett’s use of LSD had done so much serious damage that his erratic behavior caused the band to cancel their U.S. tour and the group officially announced that he was no longer in the band on April 6, 1968.
A few years after they parted ways, the members of Pink Floyd only saw Syd Barrett one more time. The pseudo reunion took place on June 5, 1975 at Abbey Road Studios during the recording sessions for “Wish You Were Here”. The band was in the process of completing a final mix of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” a song that is coincidentally is about him, when Barrett showed up unannounced. He was overweight, had shaven his head and eyebrows, and was clutching a plastic bag as he entered the room at Abbey Road.
Roger Waters, who was working in the studio, initially did not recognize him and Richard Wright was also mystified by the identity of the visitor. He presumed that the man was a friend of Waters’ and asked him, but soon realized that it was Syd. David Gilmour presumed he was an EMI staff member, Nick Mason also failed to recognize him. Eventually, they realised who he was and Waters was so distressed that he was reduced to tears.
Barrett held a toothbrush and attempted to brush his teeth by holding the brush still and jumping up and down. When asked by a fellow visitor how he had managed to gain so much weight. Barrett said he had a large refrigerator in his kitchen, and that he had been eating lots of pork chops. He also mentioned that he his services were available to the band, but on listening to the mix of “Shine On” he showed no sign of understanding its relevance to his plight. Waters finally managed to ask him what he thought of the song, and he simply said he did not like it, and walked out of the studio. This would be the last time any member of Pink Floyd would ever see him. Barrett passed away on July 7, 2006.
In an interview for VH1, Rick Wright spoke about the session, saying:
“One thing that really stands out in my mind, that I’ll never forget; I was going in to the the Shine On sessions. I went in the studio and I saw this guy sitting at the back of the studio, he was only as far away as you are from me. And I didn’t recognise him. I said, ‘Who’s that guy behind you?’ ‘That’s Syd.’ And I just cracked up, I couldn’t believe it… he had shaven all his hair off… I mean, his eyebrows, everything… he was jumping up and down brushing his teeth, it was awful. And, uh, I was in, I mean Roger was in tears, I think I was; we were both in tears. It was very shocking… seven years of no contact and then to walk 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.”
In another interview, Nick Mason has said:
“When I think about it, I can still see his eyes, but… it was everything else that was different.”
In yet another interview, Roger Waters has said:
“I had no idea who he was for a very long time.”