Roger Waters Talks Drug Use & Syd Barrett’s Exit from Pink Floyd: “How could we possibly survive?” – 2022 – INTERVIEW
The Joe Rogan Experience: Roger Waters Tells the Tragic Story of Syd Barrett.
You can listen to the entire interview @ this location. An excerpt from the interview has been transcribed below.
INTERVIEW EXCERPT (transcribed by full in bloom):
On drug use:
It wasn’t really relevant. I mean, the time when I was smoking hash every day was 1970, ’71. So, it’s pre-‘Dark Side.’ It’s when we were making ‘Meddle,’ so it’s “Echoes,” but I don’t think it impinged on my burgeoning writing career. I was starting to write songs because Syd (Barrett) went crazy in 1967, and so, by ’69 we weren’t seeing him anymore. He had disappeared completely.
Was that because of LSD?
I don’t think so, but, yeah, it’s the narrative or one of the narratives. It may be because he was mixing with people who were doing acid on a regular basis, I think, in ’67. And I’m sure he did too much of it. Was he teetering on the edge of what might be called schizophrenia at the time? I think so, probably.
A lot of the things he was saying, and it was right when “See Emily Play” came out and we were beginning to do tv shows in England, and he went very odd. I remember him at Top of the Pops in the dressing room one day. He had hair about like that painting on the wall. (Starts messing with his hair) looking worried and a bit frightened, and then going, “John Lennon doesn’t have to do this,” which was kind of whacky. This is three quarters of the way through The Beatles career because they only had that one decade, really. So, he had misgivings about being on a miming pop show.
“Syd, this is what we worked for the last four or five years is to be on Top of the Pops and make a few quid. Buck up, boy. Let’s get on with it.”
But he never did buck up from that moment on, really. He wrote a few more songs but nothing of any real note. He just got more and more detached until he was completely whacky and not making any sense. We made an attempt to find out what was wrong and involve his family. He had older brothers, “Hey, there’s something really wrong with Roger,” as they called him because his name was Roger Barrett not Syd. I said, “He’s not well.” One of the brothers actually came to London and went and saw him and called me up and went: “He’s fine. He’s had some troubling times, but he’s fine.” I went, “Alan, he’s not. Trust me, I live with him.” We tried to get him to a shrink on a number of occasions, but he would never go in, and then it just got weirder and weirder.
Like in what way weird?
Incommunicative, not making any sense at all. It’s like, I actually mention one of the moments. It’s in the show. It’s when we play “Wish You Were Here.” And I do wish he was here. He’s partly what that song is about. “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” is just completely about Syd. I tell the story in text, and it goes, we had been to a meeting at the Capitol (Records) tower in Los Angeles. Syd and I were walking down the street after it. We stopped at the traffic light at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Los Angeles. He looked at me and smiled and said, “It’s nice here in Las Vegas, isn’t it?” Well, we were in L.A., so he already had no idea where he was. Then his face darkened, and he looked down at the ground and spat out one word, “People.” That sort of encapsulates what it was like.
Nothing made any sense, blank, disjointed. And there we were, all very young, trying to make our way. By that time, David (Gilmour) had joined the band to play guitar because Syd didn’t play. I’m not saying he couldn’t…well, he couldn’t, really, because both of us made his solo records with him…helped him produce his solo records after that point. It was pretty difficult and disjointed to get him to do anything.
Did he continue to deteriorate?
Yeah, and then he went home to live in Cambridge, and he lived a very solitary life. I spoke to his sister, Rosemary, after that. I said, “Does it make any sense to go and visit?” She told me, “No, don’t do that.” He gets very agitated and upset if he’s reminded of what happened before whatever this is. He doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want to see people from his past. He wants to be left alone. He used to paint a little bit and lived just on his own in Cambridge until he died, when he was sixty.
I don’t know what else to say about it. It was tragic, really. But those of us who were in Pink Floyd at the time experienced it as an existential threat as well.
“Fuck me, what are we going to do? He writes the bloody songs.”
Well, I wrote about twenty percent of them before, but they were nothing. Syd’s songs were the things that were different. They had that weird English romanticism about them. They were beautiful.
“I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like
It’s got a basket, a bell that rings and
Things to make it look good
I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it”
That’s so quirky in terms of its meter, the way the lyric attaches both to the melody and the time signature. It’s remarkable. And there were lots of little quirky songs like that all in a very English romantic tradition. So, how could we possibly survive? If the guy who writes the songs in the band goes crazy, you’re fucked, basically. Unless somebody else starts to write. Luckily, I did start to write. (laughs) I don’t mean to laugh because it was a huge loss, and I did love him.