Rhino Factoids: Wish You Were Here and the serendipity of Syd Barrett
41 years ago today, Pink Floyd began sessions for the album that would ultimately come to be entitled Wish You Were Here. By complete coincidence, it was also the birthday of the band's original frontman, Syd Barrett.
Fast-forward a few months to June 5, 1975, when the band was in the midst of completing the final mix on the album's centerpiece song, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” a tribute to Barrett. An unexpected visitor popped into EMI Studios, an overweight gentleman with a shaved head and eyebrows. Although none of the band members recognized him at first glance, David Gilmour reportedly was the first to identify him as - you guessed it - Syd Barrett.
Wish You Were Here started out as a worrisome album for the band: the guys were struggling with composing new material, and their early live performances of “Raving and Drooling,” “You Gotta Be Crazy,” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” earned less-than-enthusiastic notices from New Musical Express. Once they got into the studio, things started to grow more cohesive, but the band's touring commitments still resulted in the album taking until July to reach completion.
Thankfully, the time that Pink Floyd put into Wish You Were Here paid off: it topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and it remains one of the band's most critically acclaimed albums.