Pink Floyd (formed 1965 in Cambridge, United Kingdom) is a British band noted for psychedelic rock music, philosophical lyrics, avant-garde compositions, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most successful and influential acts, the group have sold an estimated 73.5 million albums in the U.S., and over 300 million albums worldwide.
Pink Floyd enjoyed modest success in the late-1960s as a psychedelic band led by Syd Barrett. Barrett's increasingly erratic behaviour eventually caused his colleagues to replace him after The Piper at the Gates Of Dawn with guitarist David Gilmour. (Syd Barrett died on July 7, 2006 of complications arising from diabetes.) The band went on to record several elaborate concept albums; achieving worldwide success with 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon (The second best-selling album of all time), 1975's Wish You Were Here, 1977's Animals, and 1979's The Wall, among the best-selling, most critically acclaimed, and enduringly popular albums in rock music history. In 1985, singer and bassist Roger Waters declared Pink Floyd defunct. The remaining members continued recording and touring under the name, eventually reaching a settlement with Waters giving them rights to the name and most of the songs.
On July 2nd 2005, the band reunited with Waters for a one time only performance at Live 8 in London's Hyde Park. It fueled speculation of the reunion becoming permanent, but the band remained quiet for some time. Rumours ran rampant until early that August, when it was reported that Waters had turned down a 150 million dollar deal for a reunion tour. On February 3rd, 2006, Gilmour gave an interview to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica which indicated the band would no longer tour or produce any new material, although various members still plan on producing solo or collaborative material. The possibility of an appearance similar to Live 8 has not been ruled out by either Mason or Gilmour.
Syd Barrett-led era: 1965–1968
Pink Floyd evolved from an earlier band, formed in 1964, which was at various times called Sigma 6, The Meggadeaths, The Screaming Abdabs, and The Abdabs. When this band split up, some members — guitarists Bob Klose and Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and wind instrument player Rick Wright — formed a new band called Tea Set, and were joined shortly thereafter by guitarist Syd Barrett, who became the band's primary vocalist as well. When Tea Set found themselves on the same bill as another band with the same name, Barrett came up with an alternative name on the spur of the moment, choosing The Pink Floyd Sound (after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). For a time after this they oscillated between 'Tea Set' and 'The Pink Floyd Sound', with the latter name eventually winning out. The word Sound was dropped fairly quickly, but the definite article was still used occasionally for several years afterward, up to about the time of the More soundtrack. In the early days, the band covered rhythm and blues staples such as "Louie, Louie", but gained notoriety for psychedelic interpretations, with extended improvised sections and 'spaced out' solos.
The heavily jazz-oriented Klose left the band to become a photographer shortly before Pink Floyd started recording, leaving an otherwise stable lineup with Barrett on lead guitar, Waters on bass guitar, Mason on drums and Wright switching to keyboards. Barrett started writing his own songs, influenced by American and British psychedelic rock with his own brand of whimsical humour. Pink Floyd became a favourite in the underground movement, playing at such prominent venues as the UFO club, the Marquee Club and the Roundhouse. As their popularity increased, the band members formed Blackhill Enterprises in October 1966, a six-way business partnership with their managers, Peter Jenner and Andrew King, issuing the singles "Arnold Layne" in March 1967 and "See Emily Play" in June 1967. "Arnold Layne" reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and "See Emily Play" reached number 6, granting the band its first TV appearance on Top of the Pops in July 1967.
Released in August 1967, the band's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is today considered to be a prime example of British psychedelic music, and was generally well-received by critics at the time, and it is now viewed as one of the better debut albums by many critics. The album's tracks, predominantly written by Barrett, showcase poetic lyrics and an eclectic mixture of music, from the avant-garde free-form piece "Interstellar Overdrive" to whimsical songs such as "The Scarecrow", inspired by the Fenlands, a rural region north of Cambridge (Barrett, Gilmour and Waters's home town). Lyrics were entirely surreal and often referred to folklore, such as "The Gnome". The music reflected newer technologies in electronics through its prominent use of stereo panning and electric keyboards. The album was a hit in the UK where it peaked at #6, but did not get much attention in North America, reaching #131 in the U.S. During this period, the band toured with Jimi Hendrix, which helped to increase its popularity.
As the band became more and more popular, the stresses of life on the road and a significant intake of psychedelic drugs took their toll on Barrett, whose mental health had been deteriorating for several months. While Barrett's behaviour has often been attributed to his drug use, there are many who think that a pre-existing condition, possibly schizophrenia, was equally to blame, and that the drug use simply aggravated the problem. In January 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to carry out Syd's playing and singing duties. With Barrett's behaviour becoming less and less predictable, and his almost constant use of LSD, he became very unstable, often staring into space while the rest of the band performed. During some performances, he would simply strum one chord for the duration of a concert, or simply begin detuning his guitar. The band's live shows became increasingly ramshackle until, eventually, the other band members simply stopped taking him to the concerts. It was originally hoped that Syd would write for the band with Gilmour performing live, but Barrett's increasingly difficult compositions, such as "Have You Got It Yet?", which changed melodies and chord progression with every take, eventually made the rest of the band give up on this arrangement. Once Barrett's departure was formalized in April 1968, producers Jenner and King decided to remain with him, and the six-way Blackhill partnership was dissolved. The band adopted Steve O'Rourke as manager, and he remained with Pink Floyd until his death in 2003.
Finding their feet: 1968–1970
Musically, this period was one of experimentation for the band. Gilmour, Waters and Wright each contributed material that had its own voice and sound, giving this material less consistency than the Barrett-dominated early years or the more polished, collaborative sound of later years. Waters mostly wrote low-key, jazzy melodies with dominant bass lines and complex, symbolic lyrics, Gilmour focused on guitar-driven blues jams, and Wright preferred melodic psychedelic keyboard-heavy numbers. Unlike Waters, Gilmour and Wright preferred tracks that had simple lyrics or that were purely instrumental. Some of the band's most experimental music is from this period, such as A Saucerful of Secrets, consisting largely of feedback and atonal screeches and loops, "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict", which is a series of sped-up voice samples resembling rodents chattering that reaches its climax in an incomprehensible Scottish dialect monologue, and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" (performed under different names during this period), a very Waters-driven song with a bass and keyboard-heavy jam culminating in crashing drums and Waters's primal screams.
Whilst Barrett had written the bulk of the first album, only one Barrett composition, the Piper outtake "Jugband Blues", appeared on the second Floyd album. A Saucerful of Secrets was released in June 1968, reaching #9 in the UK and becoming the only Pink Floyd album not to chart in the U.S. Somewhat uneven due to Barrett's departure, the album still contained much of his psychedelic sound combined with the more experimental music that would be fully showcased on Ummagumma. Hints of the epic, lengthy songs to come are in its centrepiece, the 12-minute title track, but the album was poorly received by critics at the time, although critics today tend to be kinder to the album in the context of their body of work. Future Floyd albums would expand upon the idea of long, sprawling compositions, offering more focused songwriting with each subsequent release.
Pink Floyd were then recruited by director Barbet Schroeder to produce a soundtrack for his film, More, which premiered in May 1969. The music was released as a Floyd album in its own right, Music From the Film More, in July 1969; the album achieved another #9 finish in the UK, and peaked at #153 in the U.S. The band would use this and future soundtrack recording sessions to produce work that may not have fit into the idea of what would appear on a proper Pink Floyd LP; many of the tracks on More (as fans usually call it) were acoustic folk songs, although critics tend to find the collection of the film's music patchy and uneven. Two of these songs, "Green Is the Colour" and "Cymbaline", became fixtures in the band's live sets for a time, as can be heard in the many available bootleg recordings from this period. The latter was also the first Pink Floyd song to deal with Roger Waters's cynical attitude toward the music industry explicitly. The rest of the album consisted of incidental music with a few heavier rock songs thrown in, such as "The Nile Song".
The next record, the double album Ummagumma, was a mix of live recordings and unchecked studio experimentation by the band members, with each member recording half a side of a vinyl record as a solo project (Mason's first wife makes an uncredited contribution as a flautist). Though the album was realised as solo outings and a live set, it was originally intended as a purely avant-garde mixture of sounds from "found" instruments. The subsequent difficulties in recording and lack of group organization led to the shelving of the project. The title is slang for sexual procreation, and reflects the attitude of the band at the time, as frustrations in the studio followed them throughout these sessions. Wildly experimental on the studio disc (except for Waters's pure folk "Grantchester Meadows"), with atonal and jarring piano pieces ("Sysyphus"), meandering folk guitar ("The Narrow Way") and large percussion solos, the live disc featured excellent performances of some of their most popular psychedelic-era compositions and caused critics to receive the album more positively than the previous two albums. With fans, the album was Pink Floyd's most popular release yet, hitting UK #5 and making the U.S. charts at #74.
1970's Atom Heart Mother, the band's first recording with an orchestra, was a collaboration with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin. One side of the album consisted of the title piece, a 23-minute long rock-orchestral suite. The second side featured one song from each of the band's then-current vocalists (Roger Waters's folk-rock "If", David Gilmour's bluesy "Fat Old Sun" and Rick Wright's psychedelic "Summer '68"). Another lengthy piece, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", was a sound collage of a man cooking and eating breakfast and his thoughts on the matter, linked with instrumentals. The use of incidental sound effects and voice samples would thereafter be an important part of the band's sound. While Atom Heart Mother was considered a huge step back for the band at the time and is still considered one of its most inaccessible albums, it had the best chart performance for the band so far, reaching #1 in the UK and #55 in the U.S., although it has since been described by Gilmour as "a load of rubbish" and Waters as suitable for "throwing in the dustbin and never [being] listened to by anyone ever again." The album was another transitional piece for the group, hinting at future musical territory such as "Echoes" in its ambitious title track. The popularity of the album allowed Pink Floyd to embark on its first full U.S. tour. Before releasing its next original album, the band released a compilation album, Relics, which contained several early singles and B-sides, along with one original song (Waters's jazzy "Biding My Time").
Breakthrough era: 1971–1975
This is the period in which the Floyd shed their association with the "psychedelic" scene (and its association with Barrett) and became a distinctive band that are difficult to classify. The divergent styles of Gilmour, Waters and Wright (Mason's writing contributions to the group were minimal) were merged into a unique sound. This era contains what many consider to be two of the band's masterpiece albums, The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. The sound became polished and collaborative, with the philosophic lyrics and distinctive bass lines of Waters combining with the unique blues guitar style of Gilmour and Wright's light keyboard melodies. Gilmour was the dominant vocalist throughout this period, and female choirs and Dick Parry's saxophone contributions became a notable part of the band's style. The sometimes atonal and harsh sound exhibited in the band's earlier years gave way to a very smooth, mellow and soothing sound, and the band's epic, lengthy compositions reached their zenith with "Echoes" from Meddle (although "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" exceeded it in total length, it was split in two pieces as the opening and closing of Wish You Were Here). This period was not only the beginning but the end of the truly collaborative era of the band; after 1975 Waters's influence became more dominant musically as well as lyrically. Wright's last credited composition and last lead vocal on a studio album until 1994's The Division Bell were in this period, and Gilmour's writing credits sharply declined in frequency until Waters left the band in 1985. The last ties with Barrett were severed in musical, as well as literal, fashion with Wish You Were Here, whose epic track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written both as a tribute and elegy to their friend.
The band's sound was considerably more focused on Meddle (1971), with the 23-minute epic "Echoes" taking up the second side of the LP. "Echoes" is a smooth progressive rock song with extended guitar and keyboard solos and a long segue in the middle consisting largely of synthesized whalesong produced on guitar, along with samples of seagull cries, described by Waters as a "sonic poem". Meddle was considered by Nick Mason to be "the first real Pink Floyd album. It introduced the idea of a theme that can be returned to." The album had the sound and style of the succeeding breakthrough-era Pink Floyd albums but stripped away the orchestra that was prominent in Atom Heart Mother. Meddle also included the atmospheric "One of These Days", a concert favourite featuring Nick Mason's menacing one-line vocal ("One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces"), distorted and bluesy slide guitar, and a melody that at one point segues into a throbbing synthetic pulse quoting the theme tune of the cult classic science fiction television show Doctor Who. The mellow feeling of the next three albums is very present on "Fearless", and this track displays a country influence, as does the prominent pedal steel guitar on "A Pillow of Winds". The latter track is one of the Floyd's very few acoustic love songs. Waters's role as lead songwriter began to take form, with his jazzy "San Tropez" brought to the band practically completed. Meddle was greeted both by critics and fans enthusiastically, and Pink Floyd were rewarded with a #3 album chart peak in the UK; it only reached #70 in U.S. charts, partly because Capitol Records had not provided it with enough publicity support. Today, Meddle remains one of their most well-regarded efforts.
Obscured by Clouds was released in 1972 as the soundtrack to the film La Vallee, another art house film by Barbet Schroeder. This was the band's first U.S. Top 50 album (where it hit #46), hitting at #6 in the UK. While Mason described the album years later as "sensational", it is less well-regarded by critics. The lyrics of "Free Four", the first Pink Floyd song to achieve significant airplay in the U.S., introduced Waters's ruminations on his father's death in World War II which would figure in subsequent albums. Two other songs on the album, "Wots...uh, the Deal" and "Childhood's End", also hint at themes used in later albums, the former focusing on loneliness and desperation which would come to full fruit in the Roger Waters-led era, and the latter hinting much at the next album, fixated on life, death and the passage of time. "Childhood's End", inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke book of the same name, was also Gilmour's last lyrical contribution for 15 years. The album was, to an extent, stylistically different from the preceding Meddle, with the songs generally being shorter, often taking a somewhat pastoral approach compared to the atmospheric use of sound effects and keyboard on sections of Meddle, and sometimes even running into folk-rock, blues-rock and piano-driven soft rock ("Burning Bridges", "The Gold It's in the..." and "Stay" being the best respective examples for each).
The release of Pink Floyd's massively successful 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon, was a watershed moment in the band's popularity. Pink Floyd had stopped issuing singles after 1968's "Point Me At The Sky" and was never a hit-single-driven group, but The Dark Side of the Moon featured a U.S. Top 20 single ("Money"). The album became the band's first #1 on U.S. charts, a huge improvement over its previous recordings. The critically-acclaimed album stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for an unprecedented 741 weeks (including 591 consecutive weeks from 1976 to 1988), establishing a world record and making it one of the top-selling albums of all time. It also remained 301 weeks on UK charts, despite never rising higher than #2 there, and is highly praised by critics. Saxophone forms an important part of the album's sound, exposing the band's jazz influences, and female backing vocals play a key role in helping to diversify the album's texture. For example, straight rock songs such as "Money" and "Time" are placed on either side of mellow pedal steel guitar sounds (reminiscent of Meddle) in "Breathe (Reprise)" and female vocal-laden song "The Great Gig in the Sky" (with Clare Torry on lead vocal), while minimalist instrumental "On the Run" is performed almost entirely on a single synthesizer. Incidental sound effects and snippets of interviews feature alongside the music, many of them taped in the studio. The album's lyrics and sound attempt to describe the different pressures that everyday life places upon human beings. This concept (conceived by Waters in a band meeting around Mason's kitchen table) proved a powerful catalyst for the band and together they drew up a list of themes, several of which would be revisited by Waters on later albums, such as "Us and Them"'s musings on violence and the futility of war, and the themes of insanity and neurosis discussed in "Brain Damage". The album's complicated and precise sound engineering by Alan Parsons set new standards for sound fidelity; this trait became a recognizable aspect of the band's sound and played a part in the lasting chart success of the album, as audiophiles constantly replaced their worn-out copies.
Seeking to capitalize on its newfound fame, the band also released a compilation album, A Nice Pair, which was a gatefold repackaging of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets. It was also during this period that director Adrian Maben released the first Pink Floyd concert film, Live at Pompeii. The original theatrical cut featured footage of the band performing in 1971 at an amphitheater in Pompeii with no audience present (only the film crew and stage staff). Fortuitously, Maben also happened to capture some interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the band during recording sessions for The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios, some of which were incorporated alongside other new footage between songs in later versions of Live at Pompeii.
Wish You Were Here, released in 1975, carries an abstract theme of absence: absence of any humanity within the music industry and, most poignantly, the absence of Syd Barrett. Well-known for its popular title track, the album includes the largely instrumental, nine-part song suite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", a tribute to Barrett in which the lyrics deal explicitly with the aftermath of his breakdown. Many of the musical influences in the band's past were brought together — atmospheric keyboards, blues guitar pieces, extended saxophone solos (by Dick Parry), jazz fusion workouts and aggressive slide guitar — in the suite's different linked parts, culminating in a funeral dirge played with synthesized horn. The remaining tracks on the album, "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar", harshly criticize the music industry; the latter is sung by British folk singer Roy Harper. It was the first Pink Floyd album to reach #1 on both the UK and the U.S. charts, and critics praise it just as enthusiastically as The Dark Side of the Moon. In a famous anecdote, a heavyset man with a completely shaved head and eyebrows wandered into the studio while the band was recording "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". The band could not recognize him for some time, when suddenly one of them realized it was Syd Barrett. He was greeted enthusiastically by the band but subsequently slipped away during the impromptu party for David Gilmour's wedding (which was, coincidentally, also on that day). It was the last time any of the other band members saw him. Gilmour recently confirmed this story, although he could not recall which song they were working on when Syd showed up. Barrett's eyebrow-shaving tendencies would later be revisited in the movie Pink Floyd: The Wall.
Roger Waters-led era: 1976–1985
During this era, Waters asserted more and more control over Pink Floyd's output. Wright's influence became largely inconsequential, and he was fired from the band during the recording of The Wall. Much of the music from this period is considered secondary to the lyrics, which explore Waters's feelings about his father's death in World War II and his increasingly cynical attitude towards political figures such as Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse. Although still finely nuanced, the music grew more guitar-based at the expense of keyboards and saxophone, both of which became (at best) part of the music's background texture along with the obligatory sound effects. A full orchestra (even larger than the brass ensemble from Atom Heart Mother) plays a significant role on The Wall and especially The Final Cut.
By January 1977, and the release of Animals (UK #2, U.S. #3), the band's music came under increasing criticism from some quarters in the new punk rock sphere as being too flabby and pretentious, having lost its way from the simplicity of early rock and roll. Animals was, however, considerably more basic-sounding than the previous albums, due to either the influence of the burgeoning punk-rock movement or the fact that the album was recorded at Pink Floyd's new (and somewhat incomplete) Britannia Row Studios. The album was also the first to not have a single songwriting credit for Rick Wright. Animals again contained lengthy songs tied to a theme, this time taken in part from George Orwell's Animal Farm, which used "Pigs", "Dogs" and "Sheep" as metaphors for members of contemporary society. Despite the prominence of guitar, keyboards and synthesizers still play an important role on Animals, but the saxophone and female vocal work that defined much of the previous two albums' sound is absent. The result is a more hard-rock effort overall, bookended by two parts of a quiet acoustic piece. Many critics did not respond well to the album, finding it "tedious" and "bleak", although some celebrated it for almost those very reasons. For the cover artwork, a giant inflatable pig was commissioned to float between the chimney towers of London's Battersea Power Station. However, the wind made the pig balloon difficult to control, and in the end it was necessary to matte a photo of the pig balloon onto the album cover. The pig nevertheless became one of the enduring symbols of Pink Floyd, and inflatable pigs were a staple of the band's live shows from then on.
1979's epic rock opera The Wall, conceived by Waters, dealt with the themes of loneliness and failed communication, which were expressed by the metaphor of a wall built between a rock artist and his audience. This album gave Pink Floyd renewed acclaim and another chart-topping single with "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)". The Wall also included the future concert staples "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell", with the former in particular becoming a cornerstone of album-oriented rock and classic-rock radio playlists as well as one of the group's best-known songs. The album was co-produced by Bob Ezrin, a friend of Waters who shared songwriting credits on "The Trial" and from whom the band later temporarily distanced themselves after quarrelling with him over several contentious issues. Even more than during the Animals sessions, Waters was asserting his artistic influence and leadership over the band, which prompted increased conflicts with the other members. The music had become distinctly more hard-rock, although the large orchestrations on some tracks recalled an earlier period, and there are a few quieter songs interspersed throughout (such as "Goodbye Blue Sky" and "Nobody Home"). Wright's influence was completely minimized, and he was fired from the band during recording, only returning on a fixed wage for the live shows in support of the album. Ironically, Wright was the only member of Pink Floyd to make any money from The Wall concerts, the rest covering the extensive cost overruns of their most spectacular concerts yet.
Despite never hitting #1 in the UK (it reached #3), The Wall spent 15 weeks atop the U.S. charts during 1980. Critics praised it, and it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It is the third-best selling album of all time in the U.S and the best selling album by a single artist to be released during the 1970s. It has been certified 23x platinum by the RIAA, for sales of 11.5 million copies in U.S. alone. The huge commercial success of The Wall made Pink Floyd the only artists since the The Beatles to have the best selling albums of two years (1973 and 1980) in less than a decade.
A film entitled Pink Floyd: The Wall was released in 1982, incorporating essentially all of the music from the album. The film, written by Waters and directed by Alan Parker, starred The Boomtown Rats founder Bob Geldof and featured striking animation by noted British artist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. It grossed over $14 million at the North American box office. A song which first appeared in the movie, "When the Tigers Broke Free", was released as a single on a limited basis. This song was finally made widely available on the compilation album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd and the re-release of The Final Cut. Also in the film is the song "What Shall We Do Now?", which was cut out of the original album due to the time constraints of vinyl records. The only song from the album not used was "Hey You", but a sequence was filmed using the song and it only exists as raw footage with poor visual quality but very good audio quality. It was released for the first time as a bonus with the extras section of the 1999 DVD release as a deleted scene.
1983 saw the release of The Final Cut, dedicated to Roger Waters's father, Eric Fletcher Waters. Even darker in tone than The Wall, this album re-examined many previous themes, while also addressing then-current events, including Waters's anger at Britain's participation in the Falklands War, the blame for which he laid squarely at the feet of political leaders ("The Fletcher Memorial Home"). It concludes with a cynical and frightening glimpse at the possibility of nuclear war ("Two Suns in the Sunset"). Michael Kamen and Andy Bown contributed keyboard work in lieu of Richard Wright's departure, which had not been formally announced before the album's release. Though technically a Pink Floyd album, the LP's front cover displayed no words, only the back cover reading: "The Final Cut - A requiem for the post war dream by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason". Roger Waters received the sole songwriting credit for the entire record, which became a prototype in sound and form for later Waters solo projects. Waters has since said that he offered to release the record as a solo album, but the rest of the band rejected this idea. However, in his book 'Inside Out', drummer Nick Mason says that no such discussions ever took place. Gilmour reportedly asked Waters to hold back the release of the album so that he could write enough material to contribute, but this request was refused. The music's tone is largely similar to The Wall's but somewhat quieter and softer, resembling songs like "Nobody Home" more than "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)". It is also more repetitive, with certain leitmotifs cropping up continually. Only moderately successful with fans by Floyd's standards (UK #1, U.S. #6), but reasonably well-received by critics, the album yielded one minor radio hit, "Not Now John", the only hard-rock song on the album (and the only one partially sung by Gilmour). The arguments between Waters and Gilmour at this stage are rumored to be so bad that they were supposedly never seen in the recording studio simultaneously, and Gilmour's co-producer credit was dropped from the album sleeve (though he received attendant royalties). There was no tour for the album, although parts of it were performed live by Waters on his subsequent solo jaunts.
After The Final Cut was released, the band members went their separate ways and spent time working on individual projects. Gilmour was the first to complete his solo album, releasing About Face in March 1984. Wright joined forces with Dave Harris of Fashion to form Zee, which released the experimental album Identity a month after Gilmour's project. In May 1984, Waters released The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, a concept album once proposed as a Pink Floyd project. A year after his bandmates' projects, Mason released the album Profiles, a collaboration with Rick Fenn of 10cc which featured guest appearances by Gilmour and UFO keyboardist Danny Peyronel.
David Gilmour-led era: 1987–1995
Waters announced in December of 1985 that he was departing Pink Floyd, describing the band as "a spent force creatively", but in 1986 Gilmour and Mason began recording a new Pink Floyd album. At the same time, Roger Waters was working on his second solo album, entitled Radio K.A.O.S.. A bitter legal dispute ensued with Waters claiming that the name "Pink Floyd" should have been put to rest, but Gilmour and Mason upheld their conviction that they had the legal right to continue as "Pink Floyd." The suit was eventually settled out of court.
After considering and rejecting many other titles, the new album was released as A Momentary Lapse of Reason (UK #3, U.S. #3). Without Waters, who had been the band's dominant songwriter for over a decade and a half, the band sought the help of outside writers. As Pink Floyd had never done this before (except for the orchestral contributions of Geesin and Ezrin), this move received much criticism. Ezrin, who had by now renewed his friendship with Gilmour, served as co-producer as well as being one of these writers. Richard Wright also returned, at first as a salaried employee during the final recording sessions, and then officially rejoining the band after the subsequent tour.
Gilmour later admitted that Mason had hardly played on the album. Because of Mason and Wright's limited contributions, some critics say that A Momentary Lapse of Reason should really be regarded as a Gilmour solo effort, in much the same way that The Final Cut might be regarded as a Waters album.
A year later, the band released a double live album and a concert video taken from its 1988 Long Island shows, entitled Delicate Sound of Thunder, and later recorded some instrumentals for a classic-car racing film La Carrera Panamericana, set in Mexico and featuring Gilmour and Mason as participating drivers. During the race Gilmour and manager Steve O'Rourke (acting as his map-reader) crashed. O'Rourke suffered a broken leg, but Gilmour walked away with just some bruises. The instrumentals are notable for including the first Floyd material co-written by Wright since 1975, as well as the only Floyd material co-written by Mason since Dark Side of the Moon.
1992 saw the box set release of Shine On. The 9 disc set included re-releases of the studio albums A Saucerful of Secrets, Meddle, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason. A bonus disc entitled The Pink Floyd Early Singles was also included. The set's packaging featured a case allowing the albums to stand vertically together, with the side-by-side spines displaying an image of the Dark Side of the Moon cover. The circular text of each CD includes the almost illegible words "The Big Bong Theory".
The band's next recording was the 1994 release The Division Bell, which was much more of a group effort than Momentary Lapse had been, with Wright now reinstated as a full and contributing band member and figuring prominently in the writing credits. The album was received more favorably by critics and fans alike than Lapse had been, but was still heavily criticized as tired and formulaic. It was the second Pink Floyd album to reach #1 on both the UK and U.S. charts. The Division Bell was another concept album, in some ways representing Gilmour's take on the same themes Waters had tackled with The Wall. The title was suggested to Gilmour by his friend Douglas Adams. Many of the lyrics were co-written by Polly Samson, Gilmour's girlfriend at the time, whom he married shortly after the album's release. Besides Samson, the album featured most of the musicians who had joined the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, as well as saxophonist Dick Parry, a contributor to the mid-70s Floyd albums. Anthony Moore, who had co-written the lyrics for several songs on the previous album, penned the lyrics for a tune by Wright, "Wearing the Inside Out", Wright's first lead vocal on a Pink Floyd record since Dark Side of The Moon. Wright and Moore's writing collaboration continued on nearly every song on Wright's subsequent solo album, Broken China.
Solo work and more: 1995–Present
Pink Floyd have not released any new studio material or toured since 1994's The Division Bell. The band released a live album entitled P*U*L*S*E in 1995. P*U*L*S*E hit #1 in U.S. and featured songs recorded in London, Rome, Hanover and Modena on The Division Bell tour in 1994. VHS and Laserdisc versions of the concert at Earl's Court in London 20 October 1994 were also released, and a DVD edition has been released on July 7th, 2006. A live recording of The Wall was released in 2000, compiled from the 1980–1981 London concerts, entitled Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81. It hit #1 on Billboard Internet Album Sales chart, and hit #19 on U.S. charts. A newly-remastered two-disc set of the Floyd's best-known tracks entitled Echoes was released in 2001. Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Wright all collaborated on the editing, sequencing, and song selection of the included tracks. Minor controversy was caused due to the songs segueing into one other non-chronologically, presenting the material out of the context of the original albums. Some of the tracks, such as "Echoes", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", "Marooned", and "High Hopes" have had substantial sections removed from them. The album reached #2 on U.S. charts. In 2003, a 30th-Anniversary SACD reissue of Dark Side of the Moon, featuring high resolution surround sound, was released with new artwork on the front cover. In 2004 a remastered re-release of The Final Cut was released with the single "When the Tigers Broke Free" added. The 30th-Anniversary SACD reissue of Wish You Were Here is due later in 2006. Waters and Wright are reported to be working on solo albums; David Gilmour released his first solo record since 1984's About Face, called On an Island, on March 6th, 2006, and began a tour of small concert venues in Europe and the U.S. in support of the album a few days later, with Richard Wright as part of the band.
Nick Mason's book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd was published in 2004 in Europe and 2005 in the US. Mason made public promotional appearances in a few European and American cities, giving interviews and meeting fans at book signings. Some fans claimed that he said he wished he were on a tour with the band rather than on a book tour. There has been talk of Roger Waters doing a Broadway musical version of The Wall, with extra music to be written by Waters. The Broadway version will feature all of the music written by Waters but it is not known whether the songs co-written by Gilmour ("Young Lust", "Comfortably Numb", and "Run Like Hell") will feature.
On July 2nd, 2005, Roger Waters rejoined David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Rick Wright for a one-off performance at the London Live 8 concert. Many fans expressed hope that the band's Live 8 appearance would lead to a reunion tour, and a record-breaking $250 million deal for a world tour is said to have been offered to the band. However, the band have made it very clear that there are no such plans. In the weeks after the show, the rifts that separated the members during the breakup seemed to have healed for the most part. Gilmour confirmed that he and Waters were on "pretty amicable terms" and that they communicated via e-mail after the concert. Mason said that the band would be willing to perform for a concert "that would support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts." Waters has offered what some see as conflicting comments on the issue, first saying, "Never say never… I mean, under sort of similar circumstances, or in some way, we might do things again" when questioned on the prospects of another performance. However in an interview in Rolling Stone, Waters appeared less optimistic: "I decided that if anything came up in rehearsals [for Live 8] ― any difference of opinion ― I would just roll over. And I did… I didn't mind rolling over for one day, but I couldn't roll over for a whole fucking tour". However, in an October 2005 interview with Word Magazine, Waters stated he "really loved" playing with the band again and he held out some possibility of the band re-forming again. "I hope we do it again. If some other opportunity arose, I could even imagine us doing Dark Side of the Moon again ― you know, if there was a special occasion. It would be good to hear it again". Also, Waters mentioned in a BBC Radio 2 interview in September 2005 the possibility of a reunion album with Gilmour, Mason and Wright. There is also a page displayed before entering Roger Waters' official site of a picture of them at the Live 8 concert with a banner beneath reading "Anything is possible."
In the week after Live 8, there was a revival of interest in Pink Floyd. According to record store chain HMV, sales of Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd went up, in the following week, by 1343%, while Amazon.co.uk reported increases in sales of The Wall at 3600%, Wish You Were Here at 2000%, Dark Side of the Moon at 1400% and Animals at 1000%. David Gilmour subsequently declared that he would donate all profits from this post Live 8 boom in sales to charity, and urged that all the other performing artists and their record companies should do the same.
On November 16th, 2005 Pink Floyd were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, by Pete Townshend. Gilmour and Mason attended in person, explaining that Wright was in hospital following eye surgery, and Waters appeared on a video screen, from Rome. It was stated that the chance of a reunion album is practically nil, and that any future concerts would be in the same vein as Live 8. This was contradicted on November 25th, 2005, when Waters stated that he was willing to play with Pink Floyd again as long as other members agreed.
On January 31st, 2006, David Gilmour issued a joint statement on behalf of the group stating that they have no plans to reunite. This put to rest rumours from several media outlets that stated a reunion tour may be in the works. On February 3rd, 2006, Gilmour stated in an interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he is finished with Pink Floyd, as he wishes to focus on his solo projects and personal life.
He said: "I think I've had enough. I am 60. I don’t want to work much anymore. It’s an important part of my life, I have had enormous satisfactions, but now it’s enough. It’s much more comfortable to work on my own."
He mentions that he agreed to play Live 8 with Waters for three reasons: to support the cause, to make peace with Waters, and knowing he would regret not taking part. There is no mention of the La Repubblica interview on either David Gilmour's or Pink Floyd's official websites, nor have Pink Floyd's management made any statement indicating that Pink Floyd have been permanently disbanded.
Shortly afterwards, on February 20th, 2006, Gilmour responded to Billboard's question about reuniting with "Who knows? I have no plans at all to do that. My plans are to do my concerts and put my [solo] record out," and he is very clear that his future concerns revolve around raising his children. On March 6th, Gilmour clarified the statement, saying that he is open to the idea of appearances such as Live 8, but made it clear that he is now a solo artist as far as albums and tours are concerned. He feels the Live 8 reunion was more a closure than a new beginning for Pink Floyd, but Waters is interested in further work with the band and wishes to take them on tour and perform Dark Side of the Moon.
On February 27th, 2006 Roger Waters told the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur that Mason would be joining him for his planned July 14th, 2006 performance of The Dark Side of the Moon on his 2006 Europe/U.S. tour, and that he invited Wright along as well. Wright declined the invitation to focus on solo projects.
David Gilmour and Rick Wright made an historic performance of Arnold Layne on Later with Jools Holland (broadcast May 26th, 2006). Rick took the lead vocal in place of Syd Barrett.
On May 31st, 2006, Nick Mason joined David Gilmour and Rick Wright to perform "Wish You Were Here" and "Comfortably Numb" during Gilmour's final concert at Royal Albert Hall. The concert (along with the May 29th and 30th performances) was recorded for a DVD release later this year. Waters was also invited to perform, but final rehearsals for his upcoming tour required him to decline.
The images of Pink Floyd
Nearly as famous as Floyd's music is the artwork that comes with it. Throughout the band's career, this aspect was mainly provided by photographer and graphic artist Storm Thorgerson and his graphic studio Hipgnosis ("hip" gnosis or hypnosis). Many of these images have acquired fame in their own right; notably the cover depicting a man shaking the hand of his burning alter-ego for Wish You Were Here and the refracting prism for Dark Side of the Moon. The cover of Meddle underlined the band's ideas about the visualization of sound with its close-up of a human ear accompanied by visible sound waves.
Thorgerson was involved in the artwork for every album except The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the front cover of which was a photograph by Vic Singh and the back cover a drawing by Barrett; The Wall, for which the band employed Gerald Scarfe; and The Final Cut, which was designed by Waters himself, using photography made by his then brother-in-law, Willie Christie. Only the covers for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, and Ummagumma include images of the band members themselves. Roger Waters explained this on a video/DVD on the making of Dark Side of the Moon: "We always wanted to kind of... not be on our covers ourselves; not have pictures".
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Pink Floyd (formed 1965 in Cambridge, United Kingdom) is a British band noted for psychedelic rock music, philosophical lyrics, avant-garde compositions, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most successful and influential acts, the group have sold an estimated 73.5 million albums in the U.S., and over 300 million albums worldwide.