This film chronicles the early life of the legendary band Pink Floyd, featuring interviews with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright, David Gilmour, Bob Klose ( former member of Pink Floyd), as well as other friends, colleagues and a former girlfriend of Barrett’s’s. All those interviewed refer to Barrett in his early days using glowing terms- a bright light, ebullient, effervescent, buoyant, and there are videos and photos of a smiling, fun-loving, happy looking Barrett. He was clearly massively influential on the early, psychedelic sound of the band- evident in his eccentric and thought-provoking songwriting on tracks such as See Emily Play, Arnold Layne, and Bike.
The band quickly began their rise to fame, signing to EMI in 1966. However, Barrett’s drug-induced breakdown began to take its toll rather early. Initially experimenting with LSD, this documentary features film clips of one of his earliest drug-taking experiences that were captured by a friend. While initially, the experimentation may have aided in the ability to express his thoughts more freely, by 1967 the band members tell that Barrett had become a totally different person. After him going missing for a weekend, and “taking too much”, we see pictures of Barrett with lifeless eyes. His erratic behavior soon led to the early end of an American tour. After returning home, they attempted to make everything work by bringing in David Gilmour, but working with Barrett soon became too difficult due to his mental disintegration and he was no longer a part of the band.
Barrett continued to make music, releasing two solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. However, friends and colleagues recall his inability to carry out a live performance; for instance, a story regarding a performance where, during the third song, he simply took off his guitar and walked off the stage.
Some of the most touching interviews discuss how influential Barrett was to the rest of the band, even after his departure. Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Wish You Were Here were written about him, and the main character in the film, The Wall, portrayed by Bob Geldof is based on him as well. The band members tell a story that occurred during the recording sessions for Shine On You Crazy Diamond, when a plump man with a shaved head and eyebrows showed up in the studio. It took everyone quite awhile to realize that this was actually Barrett, and all were saddened by the state that he was in at the time.
In Waters’ interview, he discusses his grief and sadness at having lost his childhood friend, who, at the time of the interview was still alive, having lived quietly in Cambridge in 1978, before passing away in 2006 at the age of 60.
The first disc features the film itself, along with an uncut interview with Roger Waters. The second disc includes more unedited interviews with David Gilmour, Rick Wright, Nick Mason, and Robyn Hitchcock, as well as a performance of Love You by Blur’s Graham Coxon.
This is a touching portrayal of an influential, iconic man whose musical life was tragically cut short due to drugs, and whose work during that short time continues to inspire musicians to this day.