My 4th inductee is the incredible Pink Floyd. In 1973, a friend of mine had the 45 of “Money/Any Colour You Like” and I was hooked. Soon, I would, like everyone else, buy a copy of the Dark Side of the Moon LP. I later went back to their beginnings, and as a psychedelic fan, was not disappointed.
Roger Waters, guitar, and Nick Mason, drums, met, in 1963, at the London Polytechnic at Regent Street and joined a band with Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe with Noble’s sister Sheilagh, calling themselves the Tea Set. Richard Wright, also attending the architecture school joined later that year.
Bob Klose, guitarist, joined in 1964 prompting Waters to change to bass guitar. when Metcalfe and Noble left, to form their own band, Syd Barrett, guitarist joined the band. Waters and Barrett were childhood friends and Roger had been to Syd’s house and watched him play guitar. When Klose left later in 1964 Syd became the lead guitarist. Barrett came up with Pink Floyd using of two blues musicians whose Piedmont blues records Barrett had in his collection, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
In a period when everyone was being cool in a very adolescent, self-conscious way, Syd was unfashionably outgoing; my enduring memory of our first encounter is the fact that he bothered to come up and introduce himself to meNick Mason
At first they were known at the Pink Floyd Sound but by the end of 1966 they were called the Pink Floyd. They started expanding their songs with long solos and jams to fill more time. They also would project swirling psychedelic images on the wall behind them as they played. In 1967 they signed with EMI and released their first single “Arnold Layne”/”Candy and a Currant Bun” in March, on their Columbia label.
The references to cross dressing in “Arnold Layne” led to a ban at some radio stations but they still peaked in the UK at number 20. In June they released “See Emily Play”/”The Scarecrow” peaking at number 6. Syd Barrett was now using LSD and writing and singing all the songs. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn LP was released in August of 1967.
Barrett’s decline was rapid, causing the band to cancel gigs. He had a substance abuse nervous depression that would soon lead to him being asked to step down from the band, which he did. In December 1967 they added, guitarist, David Gilmour to the group. Waters and Wright took over the song writing and vocals. In 1968, at Abbey Road Studios, they recorded the album A Saucerful of Secrets. Waters wrote “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, “Let There Be More Light” and “Corporal Clegg” and Wright wrote “See-Saw” and “Remember a Day”.
The album featured the psychedelic artwork of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis who would create more of their covers to come. The Album peaked at the UK charts #9. Ummagumma was released in 1969, Atom Heart Mother in 1970 and Meddle in 1971. I love the Meddle LP as it transitioned from the Syd Barrett influences to what Pink Floyd would be. It peaked in the UK at #3 and stayed on the chart for 82 weeks.
Between May 1972 and January 1973, with EMI staff engineer Alan Parsons, they would record Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios. Waters was the sole author of the lyrics and the prism album cover was by Hypgnosis.
The album was #2 in the UK and #1 in the US and remained on the Billboard chart for 14 years. The follow-up in 1975 was Wish You Were Here which would reach #1 in both the UK and US and also had a Hypgnosis cover. Barrett visited the studio during the recording which caused Waters to be depressed during the recording.
He sat round and talked for a bit, but he wasn’t really thereThorgerson (Hypnosis) speaking of Barrett’s visit
In 1977, they would release Animals, probably my favorite overall Pink Floyd LP. The album concept originated with Waters, loosely based on George Orwell’s political fable Animal Farm. Hipgnosis created the pig flying cover of the Battersea Power Station.
After touring for the album, Gilmour, felt that the band achieved the success they had sought, with nothing left for them to accomplish. in 1978 Waters gave a presentation, to the band, of his next album two ideas, either Bricks in the Wall or Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. They chose the Bricks and Bob Ezrin wrote a 40 page script for the new album.
The band fired Richard Wright during the recording because, as Gilmour said, “he hadn’t contributed anything of any value whatsoever to the album—he did very, very little”. They always had cool lasers and things like giant pigs for their concerts,
now they would have a giant wall to bring down during a concert. The Wall LP topped the US chart for 15 weeks and the first single since “Money”, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”/”One of My Turns” topped the US Billboard and the UK chart. A movie was also released called The Wall,
starring Bob Geldof and featuring the entire album. The Final Cut, originally called Spare Bricks was released in 1982 with songs passed over keeping The Wall at 2 LPs. It was essentially a Water solo album. Waters would then leave Pink Floyd.
Waters would carry on solo, releasing LPs and performing his and Pink Floyd’s music with entire Wall shows. Wright would rejoin Gilmour and Mason and release two more albums. In 1986, A Momentary Lapse of Reason was released and in 1994 The Division Bell. I went to both of these concerts, two of the three nights in the Omni, Atlanta, for the first and two of the three nights at Bobby Dodd Stadium (GA Tech), Atlanta, for the latter.
In 2012, Pink Floyd, released songs recorded at the Division Bell sessions. This album is called “The Endless River”. Syd Barrett died, age 60, July 7, 2006 and Richard Wright died, age 65, on September 15, 2008.
The most unassuming gentlemen of prog rock as we know it today, the backbone of one of the most recognized bands Pink Floyd will be sadly missed by all. I had an opportunity of briefly getting to know him and found him very exploratory both in the jazz sense and rock sense, and in every sense he had great karma.Keith Emerson
With Waters’ reckless, amazing, writing style, Wright’s solid keyboards, Mason’s intelligent drumming and Gilmour’s beautiful lead guitar and calming effect, they clashed into making great, incredible music for years. True pioneers of prog rock, constantly developing and breaking boundaries they introduced sounds like voices talking and machines crunching into their music. The ability to tell a story, like the one about the dark side of the moon or animal farm or breaking down a wall is the true sense of progressive rock.
15 studio albums, 4 live albums, 9 compilation albums, 5 box sets and 26 singles. Not bad for this prog rock group from England and deserving to be inducted into Doyle’s Space: Music Hall of Fame.