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Does Syd Barrett play on a Beatles track?

“Does Syd Barrett play on a Beatles song?”
A Beatles song appears on a number of Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett RoIOs, under the title “What’s The Shame, Mary Jane,” and is claimed (by the RoIO makers) to be a Beatles song on which Syd Barrett performs as well.

The song, often appearing on early Floyd RoIOs, is a Beatles outtake. Its proper title is “What’s the New Mary Jane?” and four versions were recorded by the Beatles. All Beatles- related sources state that “What’s the New” is a Lennon song that is given a Lennon/McCartney song writing credit for contractual reasons.

The song was officially released in 1996 as track #22 on disc on of The Beatles’ “Anthology 3” which gives the following information:

22 What’s The New Mary Jane (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
Recorded: EMI Studios, London, 14 August 1968 Producer: George Martin Engineer: Ken Scott

What’s The New Mary Jane was in the running for a place on The White Album but fell at the final hurdle. […] The *Anthology* version is Take 4, the one marked “best” on the tape box at the end of the evening’s work in number two studio at Abbey Road, featuring double-tracked piano and vocals (John), double-tracked guitar (George), and multitudinous sound effects contributed by Yoko Ono and the Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans.

All other known records agree that the only people who perform on ‘What’s The New Mary Jane’ were Lennon, Harrison, Ono and Evans.

There is some similarity between this track and the early Floyd material — the song sounds like a cross between Revolution 9 and a normal Beatles song, and it contains many ‘swirling’ reverbed and delayed effects typical of 1966-68 Pink Floyd.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, there is no mention of, or evidence for, any involvement by Syd on this track (or any other Beatles track for that matter) in any Beatles-related book or article. The only places that link Syd to this song are RoIOs, fanzines and computer forums. Final proof that Syd is not on this song is given by Chris Fleming, who wrote: I have Mark Lewisohn’s book THE BEATLES RECORDING SESSIONS. It tells that “What’s the New Mary Jane?” was in fact recorded on August 14 1968 during the _White Album_ sessions. In writing the book Lewisohn listened to the original session tapes, and in the book lists in some cases musicians hired for the sessions. I am sure that if Syd had indeed played on this song that Mr. Lewisohn would have found it out through listening to the tapes, studio documentation, or interviews with the engineers.

The “famous” meeting between Pink Floyd and the Beatles took place on March 21, 1967. Syd’s 1968 recording dates were May 6th, 14th, 21st and 28th; June 8th and 20th; and July 20th. In other words, Syd does *NOT* appear on this track.

2 comments on the “Does Syd Barrett play on a Beatles track?” page

  1. November 7th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    David Watling

    Hi, I’ll keep it short. Any chance of a Piper total immersion set?

    There must be some interesting titbits left out there, please. Live recordings, alternate versions, the missing single we would all love to hear in perfect clarity, (Scream/Vege). The odd piece of TV footage.

    Cheers, David

  2. August 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm


    Watch the original “a day in the life” clip of The Fab Four and you find himmmmmmmmmmm.
    Greetz Spike


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