5. He played in a short-lived band after Pink Floyd.
After parting with Pink Floyd, Barrett recorded two albums – The Madcap Laughs and Barrett – and made several brief attempts at returning to the concert stage. His first solo performance took place on June 6th, 1970 at London’s Olympia Exhibition Hall as part of the four-day Extravaganza ’70 Music and Fashion Festival. Backed by his Pink Floyd replacement David Gilmour on bass and Jerry Shirley on drums (both of whom assisted in recording his solo albums), the gig was marred by PA problems that rendered his vocals inaudible. Barrett performed just four songs before laying down his guitar and abruptly exiting the stage.
He would not perform in public again until January 26th, 1972, when he was pulled from the audience while attending a concert by American blues musician Eddie “Guitar” Burns. A 30-minute jam session with Burns’ backing group, the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band, proved pleasant enough, and he joined them onstage the next day as a special guest for three songs.
Boogie Band drummer Twink Adler and bassist Jack Monck called on Barrett to form a group, and the Pink Floyd co-founder agreed. Calling themselves Stars, the band made their debut on February 5th, 1972 with an impromptu performance at the Dandelion Coffee Bar in Cambridge. They would perform there a handful of times over the coming weeks, in addition to an open-air performance in a local market square. The quality of these shows has been debated, but they were good enough to earn Stars two bookings at the cavernous Cambridge Corn Exchange. The first, on February 24th, saw the band sharing a bill with proto punks MC5 and the prog-rock combo Skin Alley. It was the nadir of the band’s short life.
The set was plagued by sound problems and Barrett struggled to be heard. He sliced his finger on a guitar string, and Monck’s broken down bass amp brought the set to a premature close. According to Twink, it was a merciful end. “I remember looking across at Syd, and just thinking, ‘You don’t want to be here, do you?’” he said in a 2001 BBC documentary. “He was kind of, like, going through the motions … and everybody just knew that the wheels had come off. You were just witnessing the breakdown of someone in performance. Some gigs are good and some are bad. Some are really bad, and that was probably the worst.”
A repeat performance two days later with the band Nektar reportedly went better, but Barrett’s spirit was crushed when he read a scathing review by Roy Hollingworth of Melody Maker. “Syd was really hung up about it,” Twink told author Mark Blake. “He said he didn’t want to play anymore.” Stars were over after barely a month together.
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