Pink Floyd were an English rock band who, in the late 1960s, earned recognition for their psychedelic and space rock music, and in the 1970s, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. Pink Floyd's work is marked by philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album cover art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful acts, the group has sold over 200 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States.
Pink Floyd were formed in 1965, soon after Syd Barrett joined The Tea Set, a group that consisted of architecture students Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Bob Klose. Klose left shortly after, but the group had moderate mainstream success and were a popular fixture on London's underground music scene. The erratic behaviour of Barrett prompted his colleagues to add guitarist and singer David Gilmour to the line-up. Following Barrett's departure, bass player and singer Roger Waters became the lyricist and dominant figure in the band, which thereafter achieved worldwide critical and commercial success with the concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and rock opera The Wall.
Wright left the band in 1979, and Waters in 1985, but Gilmour and Mason (joined by Wright) continued recording and touring under the name Pink Floyd. Waters used legal means to try to keep them from using the name, declaring Pink Floyd a spent force, but the parties reached an out-of-court settlement allowing Gilmour, Mason and Wright to continue as Pink Floyd. The band again enjoyed worldwide success with A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994), and Waters continued as a solo musician, releasing three studio albums. Although for some years relations between Waters and the remaining three members were sour, the band reformed for what would be a final one-off performance at Live 8.
Early years (1963?1967)
Future Pink Floyd members Nick Mason (drummer) and Roger Waters (bass guitarist) met in 1963 at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London, where both were studying architecture, and first played together in Sigma 6, a band formed by Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe. A third future Pink Floyd member Richard Wright (keyboardist), also a student at the Polytechnic, later joined the same band, and his girlfriend Juliette Gale was often a guest artist. Early gigs were for private functions, and the band rehearsed in a tearoom in the basement of the Polytechnic. Sigma 6 played songs by The Searchers as well as material written by fellow student Ken Chapman, who became their manager and songwriter.
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 me.
In September 1963 Mason and Waters moved into the lower flat of Stanhope Gardens, and used the front room for rehearsals. The flat was owned by Mike Leonard, a part-time tutor at the Regent Street Polytechnic, who was a designer of light machines (perforated discs spun by electric motors to cast patterns of lights on the walls; these would be demonstrated in an early edition of Tomorrow's World), and for a time played keyboard with the band. The band's name changed several times, including the Megadeaths and the Abdabs, settling briefly on the Tea Set. When Mason later moved out of the flat, and Metcalfe and Noble left the band to form a duo, Bob Klose, an accomplished guitar player, moved in and joined the band, requiring Waters, who initially played lead guitar, to switch to bass guitar. Syd Barrett (guitarist), a childhood friend of Waters, arrived in London in the autumn of 1963, to study at Camberwell College of Art. Barrett, then aged 18, joined the Tea Set in 1964 and moved into Stanhope Gardens alongside Klose and Waters.
As "The Pink Floyd Sound"
With the Tea Set lacking the vocals of Noble and Metcalfe, Klose introduced them to Chris Dennis, a technician with the Royal Air Force. During Dennis' tenure, the Tea Set acquired an alternative name?the Pink Floyd Sound. Derived from the given names of two blues musicians that Barrett had in his record collection?Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, Barrett created it on the spur of the moment, when he discovered that another band, also named Tea Set, were to perform at one of their gigs.
Barrett was thrust into the spotlight as frontman when Dennis was posted to Bahrain. Minus Wright?who had taken a break from studying?the band acquired studio time between 1964?1965, and recorded promotional material which included a cover version of "I'm a King Bee" as well as several songs written by Barrett. Meanwhile, Wright had recorded and published a song called "You're The Reason Why", for which he was paid an advance fee of ?75. The Pink Floyd Sound later became the resident band at the Countdown Club near Kensington High Street in London, and played three sets of 90 minutes, from late at night until early the following morning. According to Mason, this period "? was the beginning of a realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos." The band auditioned for the ITV programme Ready Steady Go!, and also for another club, and two rock contests. Bob Klose left in 1965, at the behest of his father and college tutors, and Barrett took over on lead guitar.
The Pink Floyd Sound began to receive paid bookings, including one performance at the Marquee Club in March 1966, where they were watched by Peter Jenner. The band played mostly rhythm and blues songs, but Jenner was impressed with the strange acoustic effects that Barrett and Wright created during their performance. Jenner traced Waters and Mason to their flat, and with his business partner and friend Andrew King was subsequently invited to become their manager. Although the pair had little experience of the music industry, they shared an appreciation of music, as well as a childhood history. Using inherited money they set up Blackhill Enterprises and purchased new instruments and equipment for the band, including a Selmer PA system. Under their guidance, the band began performing on London's underground music scene, including at a venue booked by the London Free School in Notting Hill. At the All Saints Hall they were confronted by an audience whose members were often under the influence of drugs, and who arrived with few or no expectations.
At the launching of the new magazine IT the other night a pop group called the Pink Floyd played throbbing music while a series of bizarre coloured shapes flashed on a huge screen behind them. Someone had made a mountain of jelly which people ate at midnight and another person had parked his motorbike in the middle of the room. All apparently very psychedelic.
?The Sunday Times
The band felt encouraged to work on the instrumental excursions they had experimented with at the Countdown Club, and rudimentary light shows projected by coloured slides and domestic lights were used to powerful effect. To celebrate the launch of the Free School's magazine International Times, they performed at the opening of The Roundhouse, attended by a 2,000-strong crowd which included such celebrities as Alexander Trocchi, Paul McCartney, and Marianne Faithfull. Jenner and King's diverse array of social connections were meritorious, gaining the band important coverage in The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.
A poster for Pink Floyd at the CIA-UFO club, 28 July 1967, by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat
The band's relationship with Blackhill Enterprises was strengthened when they became full partners, each holding an unprecedented one-sixth share. By October 1966 the band's set included more of their own material, and they were playing more gigs at venues such as the Commonwealth Institute. Their music was not to everyone's taste, however; following a performance at a Catholic youth club, the owner refused to pay. At the magistrates' court, the judge agreed with the owner, who claimed that the band's performance "wasn't music". This was not the only occasion on which they encountered such entrenched opinions, but they were better received at the UFO Club in London, a venue they enjoyed, and where they used the in-house lighting to good effect. Barrett's performances were reportedly exuberant, "? leaping around and the madness, and the kind of improvisation he was doing ? he was inspired. He would constantly manage to get past his limitations and into areas that were very, very interesting. Which none of the others could do." The often drug-addled audience was receptive to the music they played, but the band remained conspicuously drug-free ?"We were out of it, not on acid, but out of the loop, stuck in the dressing room at UFO."
Although in 1967 Mason admitted that the psychedelic movement had "taken place around us?not within us", the Pink Floyd Sound were present at the head of a wave of interest in this new style of music. There was substantial interest from record companies, and steered by Joe Boyd in January 1967 they recorded several songs at Sound Techniques in West Hampstead, including "Arnold Layne", and a version of "Interstellar Overdrive". They also travelled to Sussex and recorded a short music film for "Arnold Layne". Despite early interest from Polydor, the band signed with EMI with a ?5,000 advance, and Boyd was unfortunately left out of the deal.
Signing with EMI
The demands of live performances, academic study, and regular paid work, were incompatible, and prompted Waters to leave his job as an architect; Wright had long-since devoted his time purely to music; Barrett stopped attending the Camberwell College of Art; and Mason took a sabbatical from college. The band's links to psychedelia concerned EMI so much that the band gave several interviews with the press, so as to distance themselves from such associations. "Arnold Layne" became their first single, released on 11 March 1967. It was banned by several radio stations for its vague references to sexual perversions, but due to some creative manipulation at the shops which supplied sales figures to the music industry, it peaked at #20 in the UK charts.
Pink Floyd (the definite article was dropped at some point in 1967) replaced their ageing Bedford van with a Ford Transit, and used it to travel to over two hundred gigs in 1967 (a ten-fold increase on the previous year). They were joined by road manager Peter Wynne Willson, with whom Barrett had previously shared a flat. Willson updated the band's lighting rig with innovative ideas such as the use of polarisers, mirrors, and stretched condoms. On one occasion the group's van was stopped by police, who were surprised to see one of the roadies working his way through a pile of condoms with a pair of scissors. Some venues were hostile to rock bands, and insisted on raised auditorium lighting?a problem the band often solved with the use of an air-rifle. The rigours of touring were not without their own rewards; finances were tight, so much so that on one ferry crossing one of the roadies bet Waters ?20 that he would crawl from one end of the boat to the other, barking like a dog?a bet he subsequently won.
"See Emily Play" was Pink Floyd's second release, recorded at Sound Techniques in London. It was initially called "Games for May", and premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London over a month before its release on 16 June 1967. They premiered a device built for them by an Abbey Road engineer, known as an Azimuth co-ordinator (an early quadraphonic system). Their use of a bubble machine and the scattering of flowers resulted in a ban from the hall. They performed on the BBC's Look of the Week, in which they faced rigorous questioning from Hans Keller. Along with Waters, Barrett appeared erudite and engaging. The single fared slightly better than "Arnold Layne", and after two weeks was at #17 in the charts. The band mimed the single on the BBC's Top Of The Pops, and returned for another performance when the single climbed to #5. A scheduled third appearance was cancelled when Barrett refused to perform. At about this time the other band members began to notice changes in Barrett's behaviour. By early 1967 he was regularly using lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a psychedelic drug, and although initially it seemed to lead to further inspiration and creativity, at an earlier show in Holland, Mason observed Barrett to be "completely distanced from everything going on, whether simply tripping or suffering from a more organic neural disturbance I still have no idea."
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
"Interstellar Overdrive" features a notable bassline and, toward the end of the song as demonstrated here, stereo effects.
The band's agent, Bryan Morrison, had been instrumental in negotiating their contract with EMI through producer Norman Smith, and the band were obliged to record their first album at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London. Although in his 2005 autobiography Mason recalled the sessions as relatively trouble-free, Smith disagreed, and claimed that Barrett was unresponsive to his suggestions and constructive criticism. They experimented with musique concrete, and were at one point invited to watch The Beatles record "Lovely Rita". Jeff Jarrett was a tape operator at the time, and enthused about their live performances. Both Jarrett and Waters have since surmised that the band's psychedelic take on music may not have been entirely compatible with the more conventional arrangements preferred by Smith.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967. Pink Floyd continued to perform at the UFO Club drawing huge crowds, but Barrett's deterioration caused them serious concern. The band initially hoped that his erratic behaviour was a phase that would pass, but others, including Jenner and June Child, were more realistic:
? I found him in the dressing room and he was so ? gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage ? and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down.
To the band's consternation, they cancelled a performance at the Windsor Jazz Festival, and informed the music press that Barrett was suffering from 'nervous exhaustion'. Jenner and Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist?a meeting he did not attend. He was sent to Formentera with Sam Hutt (a doctor well-established in the underground music scene) but later showed no signs of improvement. A few dates in September were followed by the band's first tour of the United States, and in his capacity as tour manager Andrew King travelled to New York to begin preparations. The tour suffered serious problems. Visas had not arrived, prompting a series of "hasty" phone calls and the cancellation of the first six dates. Elektra Records had turned Pink Floyd down, and so the band were by default handled by EMI's sister company, Capitol, which assigned them to their subsidiary, Tower Records. Tower released a truncated version of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (which allowed them to release the missing tracks separately) on the same date as the band's American premiere at The Fillmore in California, on 26 October 1967. Communication between company and band was almost non-existent, and Pink Floyd's relationship with Tower and Capitol was therefore poor. Barrett's mental condition mirrored the problems that King encountered; when the band performed at the Winterland Ballroom, he detuned his guitar during "Interstellar Overdrive" until the strings fell off. His odd behaviour grew worse during further performances, and during a recording for The Pat Boone Show he confounded the director by miming the song perfectly during the rehearsal, and then standing motionless during the take. King quickly curtailed their visit to the US, sending them home on the next flight. At one point, Waters found Barrett asleep in his motel room, a cigarette burning through his fingers (a scene that would later inspire a shot in their 1982 film The Wall). Shortly after their return from the US, beginning 14 November the band supported Jimi Hendrix on a tour of England, but on one occasion when Barrett failed to turn up they were forced to replace him with David O'List. Barrett's depression worsened the longer the tour continued. Wynne Willson left his role as lighting manager at the end of the Hendrix tour, and allied himself with Barrett, whose position as frontman was now becoming insecure. He was replaced by John Marsh. Pink Floyd released "Apples and Oranges", but for the rest of the band Barrett's condition had reached a crisis point, and they responded by adding a new member to their line-up.
Introduction of Gilmour and departure of Barrett (1968)
The idea was that Dave would be Syd's dep. and cover for his eccentricities. And when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved, but in a way where the others could work and function.
David Gilmour was already acquainted with Barrett, having studied modern language in the early 1960s at Cambridge Tech while Barrett studied art. Gilmour had started playing guitar aged thirteen, and the two played together at lunchtimes, with guitars and harmonicas. They later hitch-hiked and busked their way around the south of France. Gilmour had also seen the Tea Set perform while playing in Jokers Wild, at a party in Cambridge in October 1965. At an event near the end of 1967 the band asked Gilmour to become the fifth member of Pink Floyd. By coincidence Barrett had already suggested adding four new members, in the words of Roger Waters, "? two freaks he'd met somewhere. One of them played the banjo, the other the saxophone ? a couple of chick singers". Steve O'Rourke, one of Bryan Morrison's assistants, gave Gilmour a room at his house, and he was promised a salary of ?30 per week. One of Gilmour's first steps as a member of Pink Floyd was to purchase a custom-made yellow Fender Stratocaster from an oft-frequented music shop in Cambridge; the instrument became one of Gilmour's favourite guitars throughout his career with Pink Floyd. Blackhill officially announced Gilmour as the fifth member of Pink Floyd in January 1968. To the general public he was now the second guitarist, but privately the rest of the band saw him as Barrett's replacement, as the latter's performances continued to ebb. One of Gilmour's first duties was to pretend to play a guitar on an "Apples and Oranges" promotional film.
In a demonstration of his frustration at being effectively sidelined, Barrett tried to teach the band a new song "Have You Got It Yet?", but changed the structure on each performance?making it impossible for them to learn. Matters came to a head on the day they were due to perform in Southampton. When somebody in the van asked if they should collect Barrett, the response was "No, fuck it, let's not bother".
Waters later admitted "He was our friend, but most of the time we now wanted to strangle him". For a while Barrett still turned up to the occasional gig, apparently confused as to what was happening in the band. As a result of his de facto removal, Pink Floyd's partnership with Peter Jenner and Andrew King was dissolved in March 1968. Barrett's departure was officially announced on 6 April 1968. Jenner and King, who believed that the creative spirit of Pink Floyd derived almost entirely from Barrett, decided to represent him, and ended their relationship with Pink Floyd. Bryan Morrison then agreed that Steve O'Rourke should become Pink Floyd's manager. Waters was determined not to let Barrett's removal destroy the band, but although the changeover between Barrett and Gilmour was something of a relief, it was also a difficult time for Gilmour, who was forced to mime to Barrett's voice on the group's European television appearances. Although Barrett had been their main songwriter, Waters and Wright created new material, such as "It Would Be So Nice", and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". "It Would Be So Nice" was a commercial failure despite some controversy over the inclusion of the words The Evening Standard in the lyrics. The BBC refused to broadcast the song, and the band had to spend extra money in the studio to change the word 'evening' to 'daily'. They developed their new material while playing on the University circuit, and were joined by road manager Peter Watts before touring across Europe in 1968.
Classic lineup (1968?1979)
A Saucerful of Secrets
In 1968 the band returned to Abbey Road Studios with Smith, to record their second studio album. They already had several songs recorded with Barrett, including "Jugband Blues" (his final contribution to their discography). Waters wrote three songs, "Let There Be More Light", "Corporal Clegg" (which alludes to Waters' obsession with war and the military), and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun". Wright contributed "See-Saw" and "Remember a Day". The band continued the experimentation seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, recording some material at their homes, a process that Smith encouraged. He remained unconvinced by their music, but played drums on "Remember a Day" when Mason struggled with the song.
Norman gave up on the second album ? he was forever saying things like, "You can't do twenty minutes of this ridiculous noise."
Neither Waters nor Mason could read music, and both created the album's title track "A Saucerful of Secrets" by inventing their own system of notation?something which Gilmour later would comment looked "? like an architectural diagram". A Saucerful of Secrets was released in June 1968 to mixed reviews; Record Mirror wrote positively, urging listeners to "forget it as background music to a party", and John Peel claimed that the album was "? like a religious experience ?". However, NME viewed the title track as "? long and boring, and has little to warrant its monotonous direction". The album cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. On the same day the album was released the band performed at the first free Hyde Park concert (organised by Blackhill Enterprises), with Roy Harper and Jethro Tull. Bryan Morrison later sold his business to NEMS Enterprises, and Steve O'Rourke became Pink Floyd's personal manager. O'Rourke was considered by the band as a "great deal-maker", whose business acumen overshadowed his lack of interest in aesthetic matters. Thus the band were able to take complete control of their artistic outlook. The band returned to the US for their first major tour, accompanied by Soft Machine and The Who.
In 1968 the group worked on the score for The Committee, and just before Christmas that year released "Point Me At The Sky". It was no more successful than the two singles they had released since "See Emily Play", and it was to become the band's only single for several more years ("Apples and Oranges" was not released in the US). In 1969 the band composed the soundtrack for More, directed by Barbet Schroeder. The work proved important; not only did it pay well, but along with A Saucerful of Secrets the material they created would become part of their live shows for some time thereafter. A tour of the UK followed through the spring 1969, ending at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1969. It was memorable for the band, but more so for Gilmour who was thrown across the stage by an electric shock caused by poor earthing. The performances, built around two long pieces called The Man and The Journey, were enhanced with performance art created by artist Peter Dockley, and some of the sound effects were later used on 1970's "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast".
While composing the soundtrack for Zabriskie Point (directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni) the band spent almost a month in a luxury hotel in Rome. Waters has since claimed that the work could have been completed in less than a week, but for Antonioni's continuous changes to the music. Eventually he used recordings by the Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Patti Page, and the Rolling Stones, but three of Pink Floyd's contributions remained. One of the pieces turned down by Antonioni would eventually become "Us and Them" on Pink Floyd's 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon. The band also did some work on the soundtrack for a proposed cartoon series called Rollo, but a lack of funds meant that the series was never produced, and away from Pink Floyd, Waters scored the soundtrack to the 1970 film The Body (directed by Ron Geesin).
Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd's next album was something of a departure from their previous work. Ummagumma, a double-LP released on EMI's Harvest label, contained barely any new compositions. The first two sides of the album were live acts, recorded at Manchester College of Commerce and at Mother's Club in Birmingham. For the second LP, each member was given one half of each side on which to experiment. The album was released to positive reviews in October 1969.
Roger Waters performing with Pink Floyd, at Leeds University in 1970
Ummagumma was quickly followed by 1970's Atom Heart Mother. The album apes the work produced at the time by groups such as Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The band's previous LPs had been recorded using a four-track system, but Atom Heart Mother was their first to use eight tracks of audio. An early version was premiered in France in January 1970, but disagreements over its direction prompted the arrival of Ron Geesin, who worked for about a month to improve the score. Production was troublesome, with little creative input from the band, but with the aid of John Aldiss the album was eventually completed. Gilmour has since dismissed Atom Heart Mother as "a load of rubbish", and Waters was similarly dismissive, claiming that he wouldn't mind if it were "thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again." Norman Smith was given only an executive producer credit, his final contribution to the band's discography. With Thorgerson's distinctive image of a cow on the front cover, Atom Heart Mother was nevertheless massively successful in the UK, and was premiered at the Bath Festival on 27 June 1970.
In 1971 they took second place in a poll of readers by Melody Maker (behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and for the first time in their history were making a profit. However, the theft in New Orleans of equipment worth about $40,000 almost crippled the band's finances. The local police were unhelpful, but within hours of notifying the FBI the equipment was returned. Both Mason and Wright were now fathers, and both bought homes in London. Gilmour, still unmarried, moved to a 19th-century farm in Essex. At his house in Islington, Waters installed a home recording studio in a converted tool-shed at the bottom of his garden, shared with his wife, a potter.
"Echoes" may best demonstrate the band's change in style from psychedelic to progressive rock
Meddle is sometimes considered to be a transitional album between the Barrett-influenced band and the modern Pink Floyd. The groups's other releases during this period, More and Zabriski Point, were soundtracks, and Atom Heart Mother was influenced as much by Ron Geesin and the session artists as it was by the band.
Returning from touring Atom Heart Mother, at the start of 1971 the band started work on new material at Abbey Road, and several other studios in London. While they lacked a central theme for the project, the band carried out several experiments in a divergent attempt to spur the creative process, but the process was largely unproductive; after several weeks no complete songs had been created. Engineer John Leckie described Pink Floyd's sessions as often beginning in the afternoon, and ending early the next morning, "during which time nothing would get done. There was no record company contact whatsoever, except when their label manager would show up now and again with a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of joints." The band would apparently spend long periods of time working on simple sounds, or a particular guitar riff. They also spent several days at Air Studios, attempting to create music using a variety of household objects, a project which would be revisited between The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.
Meddle was recorded between the band's various concert commitments, and therefore its production was spread over a considerable period of time. The band recorded in the first half of April, but in the latter half played at Doncaster and Norwich before returning to record at the end of the month. In May they split their time between sessions at Abbey Road, and rehearsals and concerts in London, Lancaster, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Nottingham. June and July were spent mainly performing at venues across Europe. August was spent in the far east and Australia, September in Europe, and October to November in the US. In the same period the band also produced Relics, a compilation album of some of Pink Floyd's earlier works. A quadraphonic mix of the album was prepared at Command Studios on 21 and 26 September, but remains unreleased.
The band again worked with Barbet Schroeder on La Vallee, although the soundtrack album was called Obscured by Clouds. The material was composed in about a week, at the Chateau d'Herouville near Paris. The album was their first to break into the top 50 on the US Billboard chart.
The Dark Side of the Moon
Following the release of Meddle, in December 1971 the band assembled for an upcoming tour of Britain, Japan, and the United States. Rehearsing in London, there was the looming prospect of a new album, and Waters proposed that it should deal with things that "make people mad", and that it could also form part of the tour. All four participated in the writing and production of the new material. Parts of the new album were taken from previously unused material on The Body, and Zabriskie Point. The material was given the provisional title of The Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy), but on discovering that that title had already been used by the blues rock group Medicine Head, it was temporarily changed to Eclipse. Medicine Head's album was a commercial failure, and so the title changed back to the band's original preference.
Abbey Road Studios main entrance
"The Great Gig in the Sky"
"The Great Gig in the Sky" features Richard Wright's piano composition accompanied by improvised vocal work from Clare Torry.
The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, in two sessions, between May 1972 and January 1973. The band were assigned staff engineer Alan Parsons. They spent much of 1972 touring the new material, and returned in January 1973 to complete recording. Female vocalists were assembled to sing on various tracks, and saxophonist Dick Parry was also booked. The band also filmed studio footage for Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. Once the recording sessions were complete, the band began a tour of Europe.
The album is notable for the use of short sections of interviews that Waters recorded with some of the studio's occupants. Roadie Chris Adamson recorded the explicit diatribe that opens the album?"I've been mad for fucking years?absolutely years". The closing words "there is no dark side of the Moon really ? as a matter of fact it's all dark" came from the studios' Irish doorman, Gerry O'Driscoll. Producer Chris Thomas was also hired, to provide 'a fresh pair of ears'. Thomas was responsible for significant changes to the album, including the perfect timing of the echo used on "Us and Them". He was also present for the recording of "The Great Gig in the Sky". Packaging was designed by Hipgnosis, and bore George Hardie's iconic refracting prism on the cover. Since Barrett's departure the burden of lyrical composition had fallen mostly on Waters' shoulders. He is therefore credited as the author of the album's lyrics.
A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon at Earls Court, shortly after its release in 1973. (l-r) David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Dick Parry, Roger Waters
Generally, the press were enthusiastic; Melody Maker's Roy Hollingworth described side one as: "? so utterly confused with itself it was difficult to follow", but went on to praise side two, writing "The songs, the sounds, the rhythms were solid and sound, Saxophone hit the air, the band rocked and rolled, and then gushed and tripped away into the night." In his 1973 album review for Rolling Stone magazine, Lloyd Grossman wrote: "a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement".
The Dark Side of the Moon was released in March 1973. It became an instant chart success in Britain and throughout Western Europe. The album became the band's first #1 on US charts and is one of the biggest-selling albums in US history. Throughout March 1973 it featured as part of their US tour, including a midnight performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 17 March. The success of the album brought previously unknown wealth to all four members of the band; Richard Wright and Roger Waters bought large country houses, and Nick Mason became a collector of upmarket cars. Much of the album's early stateside success has been attributed to the efforts of Pink Floyd's US record company, Capitol Records. Newly appointed chairman Bhaskar Menon reversed the relatively poor performance of the band's previous US releases, but, disenchanted with Capitol, the band and manager O'Rourke negotiated a new contract with Columbia Records. The Dark Side of the Moon was the last album that Pink Floyd were obliged to release before formally signing a new contract. Menon's efforts to secure a contract renewal with Pink Floyd were in vain, and the band signed for Columbia with a reported advance fee of $1M ($4,794,891 today), while in Britain and Europe they continued to be represented by Harvest Records.
Wish You Were Here
They returned to the studio in the first week of 1975. Alan Parsons had declined the band's offer to continue working with them (instead becoming successful in his own right with The Alan Parsons Project). The group had worked with Brian Humphries on More?recorded at Pye Studios?and again in 1974. He was therefore the natural choice to work on the band's new material. The group initially found it difficult to devise any new material, especially as the success of Dark Side of the Moon had left all four physically and emotionally drained. Rick Wright has since described these early sessions as "falling within a difficult period", and Waters found them "torturous". Mason found the process of multi-track recording drawn out and tedious, and Gilmour was more interested in improving the band's existing material. Mason's marriage was failing, bringing on in him a general malaise and sense of apathy, which interfered with his drumming.
It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realized and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all ... everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while ...
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond"
The four note phrase composed by David Gilmour
After several weeks, however, Waters began to visualise another concept. During 1974, they had sketched out three new compositions, "Raving and Drooling", "Gotta Be Crazy", and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", and had performed them at a series of concerts in France and England. These new compositions were a starting point for a new album, and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" seemed a reasonable choice as a centrepiece for the new work. The opening four note guitar phrase, composed entirely by accident by Gilmour, reminded Waters of the lingering ghost of former band-member Syd Barrett. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" would be split into two, and two new songs would be sandwiched between its two halves. "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar" were barely-veiled attacks on the music business, their lyrics working neatly with "Shine On" to provide an apt summary of the rise and fall of Barrett; "Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt ... that sort of indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd." "Raving and Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy" had no place in the new concept, and were set aside.
Syd Barrett, visiting Abbey Road Studios in July 1975
On 5 June 1975, Gilmour married his first wife, Ginger, and it was also the eve of Pink Floyd's second tour of the US that year. The band were in the process of completing a final mix of "Shine On", when an overweight man entered the room. Initially, none of the band recognised the visitor, but it soon became apparent that it was Barrett. In Inside Out (2005), Mason recalled Barrett's conversation as "desultory and not entirely sensible". Storm Thorgerson later reflected on Barrett's presence: "Two or three people cried. He sat round and talked for a bit but he wasn't really there." Waters was reportedly deeply upset by the sight of his former band-mate, who was asked by fellow visitor Andrew King how he had managed to gain so much weight. Barrett said he had a large refrigerator in his kitchen and that he had been eating lots of pork chops. He also mentioned that he was ready to avail the band of his services, but on listening to the mix of "Shine On", showed no sign of understanding its relevance to his plight. He joined the guests at Gilmour's wedding reception in the EMI canteen, but later left without saying goodbye. None of the band members ever saw him again.
Storm Thorgerson thought that the songs were, in general, concerned with "unfulfilled presence", rather than Barrett's illness. He concealed the artwork with a dark-coloured shrink-wrap (making the album art "absent"). The cover image was inspired by the idea that people tend to conceal their true feelings, for fear of "getting burned", and thus two businessmen were pictured shaking hands, one man on fire.
Much of Wish You Were Here was premiered on 5 July 1975 at an open-air music festival at Knebworth, but the performance was savaged by critics. The album was released in September 1975 In Britain it went straight to #1, and it reached #1 on the Billboard chart in its second week. Robert Christgau was positive in his review, writing "... the music is not only simple and attractive, with the synthesizer used mostly for texture and the guitar breaks for comment, but it actually achieves some of the symphonic dignity (and cross-referencing) that The Dark Side of the Moon simulated so ponderously."
Following the Knebworth concert, the band bought a three-storey block of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington. Their deal with EMI for unlimited studio time in return for a reduced percentage of sales had expired, and they set about converting the building into a recording studio, and storage facility. The studio would be on the ground floor, with the storage facility above, necessitating the installation of a hoist to move the band's equipment in and out of the building. The top floor became an office, equipped with a pool table. The band also envisaged hiring their equipment out, but the hire business was unsuccessful and would later be taken over by Brian Grant and Robbie Williams. The studio, however, was more successful. Its construction took up most of 1975, and in 1976 the band recorded their eighth studio album, Animals at the new facility.
Battersea Power Station was the subject for the cover image for the band's 1977 album, Animals.
Animals was born from another Waters concept, where the human race was reduced to dogs, pigs, and sheep. The idea was borrowed from George Orwell's Animal Farm, but in Waters' version the sheep eventually rise up to overpower their oppressors. Brian Humphries was again called upon to engineer the album. Two tracks previously considered for Wish You Were Here?"Raving and Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy"?reappeared as "Sheep" and "Dogs" respectively. Snowy White was asked to record a guitar solo on "Pigs on the Wing", which although cut from the vinyl release was included on the eight-track cartridge version of the album. The album was completed in December 1976, and work began on its cover. Hipgnosis took responsibility and offered three ideas, but unusually the final concept was designed by Waters. At the time he lived near Clapham Common, and regularly drove past Battersea Power Station, by then approaching the end of its useful life. The building was chosen as the subject of the cover image, and the band commissioned a 30 feet (9.1 m) porcine balloon (known as Algie). The balloon was inflated with helium and manoeuvred into position on 2 December, with a trained marksman ready to fire if it escaped. Unfortunately inclement weather delayed shooting, and O'Rourke had neglected to book the marksman for a second day. The balloon broke free of its moorings and ascended into the sky. It eventually landed in Kent, and was recovered by a local farmer, reportedly furious that it had "apparently scared his cows." Shooting continued for a third day, but the image of the pig was later superimposed onto the cover photograph as the early photographs of the power station were considered to be better.
The "Pigs" on Animals represent the people whom Waters' viewed as being at the top of the social ladder
The division of royalties had been the cause of some consternation during production of the album. Royalties were accorded on a per-song basis, and although Gilmour was largely responsible for "Dogs", which took up almost the entire first side of the album, he received far less than Waters, who also contributed the two-part "Pigs on the Wing". The song contains references to Waters' private life?his new romantic interest was Carolyne Anne Christie (married to Rock Scully, manager of the Grateful Dead). Waters' marriage to Judy had produced no children, but he became a father with Carolyne in November 1976. Gilmour was also distracted by the birth of his first child, and contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed much toward Animals (the first Pink Floyd album not to contain a writing credit for Wright); Wright had marital problems, but his relationship with Waters was also suffering:
Animals was a slog. It wasn't a fun record to make, but this was when Roger really started to believe that he was the sole writer for the band. He believed that it was only because of him that the band was still going, and obviously, when he started to develop his ego trips, the person he would have his conflicts with would be me.
The Soldier Field stadium in Chicago. The band played here during their 1977 In the Flesh tour.
Animals was released on 23 January 1977, and entered the UK charts at #2, and #3 in the US. NME called the album "? one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music to have been made available this side of the sun ?", and Melody Maker's Karl Dallas wrote "? uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific ?"
The album became the subject material for the band's In the Flesh tour, during which early signs of discord became apparent. Waters began arriving at each venue alone, and departing immediately after the performance was complete, and Gilmour's wife Ginger did not get along with Waters' new girlfriend. On one occasion, Wright flew back to England threatening to leave the band. The size of the venues was also an issue, and the end of the tour was a low point for Gilmour, who felt that the band had by now achieved the success they sought, and that there was nothing else to look forward to.
The In the Flesh tour was Pink Floyd's first playing in large stadiums, and at one venue a small group of noisy and excited fans in the front row of the audience irritated Waters to such an extent that he spat at one of them. Waters was not the only person who felt depressed about playing in such large venues, as Gilmour refused to perform the band's usual twelve-bar blues encore. Waters used the spitting incident as the basis for a new concept, based around the audience's separation from the performers on stage.
Meanwhile, Gilmour and Wright released their debut solo albums, David Gilmour, and Wet Dream. Both albums sold poorly, a situation only exacerbated by the loss much of the band's accumulated wealth. In 1976 the band had become involved with financial advisers Norton Warburg Group (NWG). NWG became the band's collecting agents and handled all financial planning, for an annual fee of about ?300,000. Between ?1.6M and ?3.3M of the band's money was invested in high-risk venture capital schemes, primarily to reduce the band's exposure to high UK taxes. It soon became obvious that the band were still losing money. Not only did NWG invest in failing businesses, they also left the band liable for tax bills as high as 83% of their income. They eventually terminated their relationship with NWG, demanding the return of any cash not yet invested, which at that time amounted to ?860,000 (they received ?740,000).
In the midst of this, in July 1977 Waters presented the band with two new ideas. The first was a ninety-minute demo given the provisional title Bricks in the Wall, and the other what would later become his first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. Although both Mason and Gilmour were initially cautious, the former was chosen to be their next album. Bob Ezrin was brought in as co-producer. He wrote a forty-page script, and presented it to the rest of the band: "The next day at the studio, we had a table read, like you would with a play, but with the whole of the band, and their eyes all twinkled, because then they could see the album." The story was based on the central character of Pink?a character inspired by Waters' childhood experiences?the most notable of which was the death of his father in World War II. This first 'brick in the wall' led to more problems, each serving to isolate Pink further. Pink would later become so drug-addled and worn down by the music industry that he would transform into a megalomaniac, a development inspired partly by the decline of Syd Barrett. At the end of the album, the increasingly fascist audience would watch as Pink 'tore down the wall', once again becoming a normal caring person.
Comfortably Numb contains two guitar solos which Planet Rock listeners voted the greatest of all time.
At Britannia Row, Brian Humphries was emotionally drained by his five years with the band, and was replaced by James Guthrie. Early sessions were difficult, as Ezrin, Guthrie and Waters each had strong ideas about the direction the album would take; however, Ezrin's role expanded to that of an intermediary between Waters and the rest of the band. Work continued up to March 1979, at which point the band's critical financial situation demanded that they leave the UK for a year or more, to continue recording at the Super Bear Studios near Nice.
Waters planned the recording sessions on a tight schedule. His relationship with Ezrin had soured, but his relationship with Wright had broken down completely. The band were rarely in the studio together, and Wright, worried about the effect that the introduction of Ezrin would have on the band's internal relationships, was keen to have a producer's credit on the album (their albums up to that point had always stated "Produced by Pink Floyd"). Waters had agreed to a trial period, after which Wright was to be given a producer's credit, but after a few weeks Waters and Ezrin expressed dissatisfaction with his methods. The keyboardist eventually stopped coming into the studio during the day, and worked only at nights. Gilmour also expressed his annoyance, complaining that Wright's lack of input was "driving us all mad". Wright had his own problems, with a failing marriage, and depression. Columbia offered the band a better deal in exchange for a Christmas release of the album, and Waters increased their workload accordingly; however, Wright refused to cut short his family holiday in Rhodes.
The rest of the band's children were young enough to stay with them in France but mine were older and had to go to school. I was missing my children terribly.
What exactly happened next remains unclear. In Inside Out (2005) Mason says that Waters called O'Rourke, who was travelling to the US on the QE2, and told him to have Wright out of the band by the time Waters arrived in LA to mix the album. In Comfortably Numb (2008), however, the author states that Waters called O'Rourke and asked him to tell Wright about the new recording arrangements and that Wright's response was apparently "Tell Roger to fuck off ?". Wright disagreed with this recollection, stating that the band had agreed to record only through the spring and early summer and that he had no idea they were so far behind schedule. Waters was stunned and felt that Wright was not doing enough to help complete the album. Gilmour was on holiday in Dublin when he learned what was happening, and tried to calm the situation. He later spoke with Wright and gave him his support, but he reminded him about his lack of input on the album. Waters was insisting that Wright leave, else he would refuse to release The Wall. Several days later, worried about their financial situation and the failing interpersonal relationships within the band, Wright quit.
Rumours persisted that Wright had a cocaine addiction (something he always disputed), and although his name did not appear anywhere on the finished album, he was employed as a paid musician on the band's subsequent The Wall tour. Production of the album continued and by August 1979 the running order was largely complete. Wright completed his duties, aided by session musicians Peter Wood and Freddie Mandel. Jeff Porcaro replaced Mason on "Mother". Ezrin and Waters oversaw the capture of various sound effects required for the album. Toward the end of The Wall sessions, Mason left the final mix to Waters, Gilmour, Ezrin and Guthrie, and travelled to New York to record his debut solo album, Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports.
The album was promoted by the single "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)", which peaked at #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and the UK Singles Chart.
The Wall was released on 30 November 1979, and topped the Billboard charts for fifteen weeks. As of 2009 it is certified 23x platinum, (but as a double album this signifies sales of 11.5 million). According to The New York Times, between 1979 and 1990, the album sold over 19 million copies worldwide. The cover is one of their most minimal designs, with a simple white brick wall, and no logo or band name. It was also their first album cover since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn not designed by Hipgnosis.
Gerald Scarfe was employed to produce a series of animations for the subsequent The Wall Tour, including a series of nightmarish visions of the future such as a dove of peace exploding to reveal an eagle. Large inflatable puppets were also created for the live shows. Meanwhile relationships within the band were now at an all-time low. On tour, their four Winnebagos were parked in a circle, with the doors facing away from the centre. Waters remained isolated, using his own vehicle to arrive at the venue, and staying in separate hotels from the rest of the band. Wright, who had returned as a paid musician, and was the only 'member' of the band to profit from the venture, which lost about $600,000. They were asked to play at Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium, but Waters refused. The band returned to the UK following their year as tax exiles.
The album also spawned a film. The original plan was for the film to be a mixture of live concert footage and animated scenes. However, the concert footage proved impractical to film. Alan Parker agreed to direct, and took a different approach. The animated sequences would remain, but scenes would be acted by professional actors, with no dialogue. Waters was screen tested but quickly discarded, and Bob Geldof was asked to take the role of Pink. Geldof was initially disdainful, condemning The Wall's storyline as "bollocks". He was eventually won over by the prospect of being involved in a major film and receiving a large payment for his work. Waters took a six-week holiday during filming and returned to find that Parker had used his creative licence to change parts of the film to his liking. Waters was irate, the two fought, and Parker threatened to walk out. Gilmour pleaded with Waters to reconsider his stance, reminding the bassist that he and the other band members were shareholders and directors and could out-vote him on such decisions. A modified soundtrack was also created for some of the film's songs. The Wall was released in July 1982.
Waters-led era (1982?85)
The Final Cut
Spare Bricks was to have been the soundtrack album for The Wall film, but with the onset of the Falklands Conflict Waters changed direction, and began writing new material. A socialist at heart, Waters saw Margaret Thatcher's response to the invasion of the islands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and he dedicated the new album?then provisionally titled Requiem for a Post-War Dream?to his dead father. Immediately, there were arguments between Waters and Gilmour, who felt that the album should contain new material, rather than songs not considered good enough for The Wall. Waters opposed, as Gilmour had contributed little to the band's lyrical repertoire over the previous few years.
"The Post War Dream"
Waters' lyrics demonstrate his despair of war, in particular the Falklands Conflict
Michael Kamen (a contributor to the orchestral sections of The Wall) mediated between the two, and also performed the role traditionally occupied by the now absent Richard Wright. James Guthrie was the studio engineer, and surprisingly, Mason was helped by Ray Cooper and Andy Newmark, and Baker Street's Raphael Ravenscroft was hired to play the saxophone (most previous Floyd albums tend to make repeated use of particular musicians). Recording took place in an unprecedented eight studios, including Gilmour's home studio at Hookend Manor and Waters' home studio at East Sheen. Still, the tension within the band grew worse. Waters and Gilmour worked separately, itself not unusual, but Gilmour began to feel the strain, sometimes barely maintaining his composure. Waters lost his temper, ranting at Kamen, who in boredom during one recording session, had started writing "I Must Not Fuck Sheep" repeatedly on a notepad in the studio's control room. Mason's contributions were minimal, as he busied himself recording sound effects for an experimental new Holophonic system to be used on the album. After a final confrontation, Gilmour's name as producer was removed from the credit list, reflecting what Waters felt was his lack of song writing contributions. Mason kept himself distant, by now having marital problems of his own with wife Lindy (he would later remarry).
I'm certainly guilty at times of being lazy ? but he wasn't right about wanting to put some duff tracks on The Final Cut.
Hipgnosis had by this time disbanded, but again Thorgerson was passed over for the cover design, Waters choosing to design it himself. His brother-in-law, Willie Christie, was commissioned to take pictures for the album. The Final Cut was released in March 1983, going straight to #1 in the UK, and #6 in the US. "Not Now John" was released as a single, with its chorus of "Fuck all that" bowdlerised to "Stuff all that". Despite its success, the album again received mixed reviews. Melody Maker declared it to be "? a milestone in the history of awfulness ?", but Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder viewed it as "? essentially a Roger Waters solo album ? a superlative achievement on several levels ?"
Gilmour performing in Brussels in 1984, on his About Face tour
Gilmour recorded his second solo album About Face in 1984, and used it to express his feelings about a range of topics, from the murder of John Lennon, to his relationship with Waters. He has since admitted that he also used the album to distance himself from Pink Floyd. Soon after, Waters began touring his new solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. Richard Wright meanwhile formed Zee with Dave Harris. They recorded Identity, an album which makes heavy use of the Fairlight CMI (a musical synthesizer popularised in the 1980s). The album went almost unnoticed upon its release. Wright was also in the midst of a difficult divorce, and has since admitted that it was "? made at a time in my life when I was lost." Mason released his second solo album Profiles in August 1985, which featured a contribution from Gilmour on "Lie for a Lie".
Waters now believed that Pink Floyd was a spent force, and contacted O'Rourke with a view to settling future royalty payments. O'Rourke felt obliged to inform Mason and Gilmour, and as a result Waters tried to dismiss him. Waters then went to the High Court to prevent the Pink Floyd name from ever being used again. His lawyers discovered that the partnership had never been formally confirmed, and Waters returned to the High Court in an attempt to gain a veto over further use of the band's name. Gilmour's team responded by issuing a courteous press release affirming that Pink Floyd would continue to exist. However, he later told a Sunday Times reporter that "Roger is a dog in the manger and I'm going to fight him ?".
Waters wrote to EMI and Columbia and declared his intention to leave the group, asking them to release him from his contractual obligations. Gilmour believed that Waters left to hasten the demise of Pink Floyd. However, Waters later stated that by not making new albums, Pink Floyd would be in breach of contract?which would mean that royalty payments would be suspended?and that he was effectively forced from the band as the other members threatened to sue him. With the case still pending, Waters dispensed with O'Rourke and employed Peter Rudge to manage his affairs. He went on to record for the soundtrack for When the Wind Blows, as well as a second solo album, Radio K.A.O.S..
Gilmour-led era (1985?1994)
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Radio K.A.O.S. was released in June 1987, just as Gilmour was recruiting musicians for what would become Pink Floyd's first album without Waters at the helm?A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Artists such as Jon Carin and Phil Manzanera worked on the album, but they were also joined by Bob Ezrin, who had recently been invited to produce Radio K.A.O.S.. Ezrin had been unable to work on Waters' solo album, and instead chose to work with Gilmour: "? far easier for Dave and I to do our version of a Floyd record." Gilmour was also contacted by Wright's new wife, Franka. She had heard that he was working on new material and asked if Wright could contribute. Gilmour considered the request; there were several legal obstacles to Wright's re-admittance to the band, but after a meeting in Hampstead he was brought back in, although his contributions were minimal. Gilmour later admitted in an interview with Karl Dallas that Wright's presence "? would make us stronger legally and musically".
The album was recorded along the River Thames, on Gilmour's houseboat Astoria. Andy Jackson (a colleague of Guthrie) was brought in as engineer. Gilmour experimented with various songwriters such as Eric Stewart and Roger McGough, but eventually settled on Anthony Moore as a lyricist. An early version proved disappointing for Ezrin and CBS representative Stephen Ralbosky, who claimed that what they'd heard had sounded nothing like Pink Floyd. Gilmour would later admit that Waters' absence was a problem, and that the new project was difficult without his presence. Nevertheless, he agreed to rework the material, and employed extra session musicians including Carmine Appice and Jim Keltner. Both drummers, they would later replace Nick Mason on most tracks, who was concerned that he was too out of practice to perform on the album. He instead busied himself with the album's sound effects. In a marked change from previous Floyd albums, A Momentary Lapse was recorded onto a 32-channel Mitsubishi digital recorder, and used MIDI synchronisation with the aid of an Apple Macintosh computer.
You can't go back ? You have to find a new way of working, of operating and getting on with it. We didn't make this remotely like we've made any other Floyd record. It was different systems, everything.
Waters on one occasion visited Astoria to see Ezrin, along with Christie, by then his wife. As he was still a shareholder and director of Pink Floyd music, he was able to block any decisions made by his former bandmates. Recording moved to Mayfair and Audio International Studios, and then to Los Angeles?"It was fantastic because ? the lawyers couldn't call in the middle of recording unless they were calling in the middle of the night." Waters tried to block a proposed Pink Floyd tour, by contacting every promoter in the US, threatening to sue if they used the Pink Floyd name. Gilmour and Mason funded the startup costs (Mason, separated from his wife, used his Ferrari 250 GTO as collateral). Some promoters were offended by Waters' threat, and several months later, tickets went on sale in Toronto (and were sold out within hours