7. Leaving London for good, he traveled 50 miles to his mother’s house – on foot.
Syd Barrett’s personal history can be hazy at the best of times, but the second half of the Seventies is a particularly dark period about which little is known. He bounced around several posh London hotels before ultimately establishing primarily residence at the upscale Chelsea Cloisters apartment complex. While there, he filled his days purchasing and discarding an enormous number of expensive items from Harrods.
“The stuff he used to throw away was unbelievable,” Ronnie Salmon, a caretaker at the Chelsea Cloisters, revealed to Rob Chapman. “One day from Harrods they delivered a Dynatron TV. It was worth about 800 pounds. He had it for two days and then called me up and said, ‘Ronnie, can you take this away?’ I said, ‘What do you want me to do with it, Syd?’ He said, ‘Take it, keep it.’ I had a guitar off him. Two Marshall amplifiers. The other porters got a bit jealous because he was giving me so much stuff.”
Eventually Barrett’s money ran out and he retreated to his mother’s home in Cambridge. A brief return to London for several weeks in 1982 allowed him to tie up loose ends before making his final exodus. He gave away furniture, televisions, guitars and even session tapes before packing a select few belongings into a small carrier bag. Leaving behind only a hamper of dirty laundry, the onetime pop star once again set out for his mother’s house in Cambridge.
This time, he made the 50-mile trek on foot. “I was not surprised at the time about him walking, he was capable of anything,” his sister Rosemary Breen told Chapman. “I do remember he had some huge blisters on his feet that took a while to heal!” He reverted to using his birth name, Roger Barrett, effectively killing his rocker alter-ego for good.
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