Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd in 1968, left to right: Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright
Background information
Origin Cambridge, England
Genre(s) Psychedelic rock
Progressive rock
Art rock
Space rock
Hard rock
Years active 1965—present (on indefinite hiatus since 1995 but not officially disbanded)
Label(s) EMI (UK)
Tower (1967-69 for the US)
Harvest (1969-73 (US) and 1969-84 Europe)
Capitol (1967-74, 2001-present US)
Columbia (1974-2000 US)
Sigma 6
David Gilmour (1968-present)
Nick Mason (1965-present)
Richard Wright (1965-1981; 1987-present)
Former members
Roger Waters (1965-1985)
Syd Barrett (1965-1968) (deceased)
Bob Klose (1965)

Pink Floyd are an English rock band that earned recognition for its psychedelic rock music, and as the band evolved, became widely known as pioneers of progressive rock music. Pink Floyd was known for philosophical lyrics, classic rock songwriting, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most successful and influential acts, the group has sold over 250 million albums worldwide,[1][2][3] and an estimated 73.5 million albums in the United States alone.[4]

Pink Floyd had modest success in the late 1960s as a psychedelic band led by the late Syd Barrett. Barrett's erratic behaviour forced his colleagues to augment and eventually replace him with guitarist and singer David Gilmour. After Barrett's departure, singer and bass player Roger Waters gradually became the band's leader and main songwriter. This incarnation of the band recorded several elaborate concept albums, achieving worldwide success with 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon, 1975's Wish You Were Here, 1977's Animals, and 1979's The Wall. Dark Side of the Moon remains one of the most original, seminal and influential albums of the 20th Century. In 1985, Waters declared Pink Floyd defunct, but the remaining members (now led by Gilmour) continued recording and touring under the name, enjoying great commercial success and eventually reaching a settlement with Waters.

Waters performed with the band for the first time in 24 years, on July 2, 2005 at the London Live 8 concert, playing to Pink Floyd's biggest audience ever. On February 3, 2006, Gilmour gave an interview to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica which indicated the band would no longer tour or produce any new material,[5] 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[6] or Gilmour.[7]



Band history


Syd Barrett-led era: 1965–1968

Pink Floyd evolved from an earlier band, formed in 1965, which was at various times called Sigma 6, The Megga Deaths, The Screaming Abdabs, The Architecture Abdabs, and The Abdabs. When this band split up, some members — guitarists Rado "Bob" Klose and Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and wind instrument player Rick Wright — formed a new band called Tea Set. After a brief stint with a lead vocalist named Chris Dennis,[8] guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett joined the band, with Waters moving to bass.[9]

When Tea Set found themselves on the same bill as another band with the same name, Barrett came up with the alternative name The Pink Floyd Sound, reputedly after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.[10][11] However, in "The A-Z of Names in Rock," Mark Beech argues that these two musicians were unknown in Britain, citing an item in the London Evening Standard, according to which Roger Waters shared a flat in 1967 with Mick Steadman, whose cats were named Pink and Floyd.

For a time after this they oscillated between 'Tea Set' and 'The Pink Floyd Sound', with the latter name eventually winning out. The Sound was dropped fairly quickly, but the definite article was still used occasionally for several years afterward; David Gilmour is known to have referred to the group as "The Pink Floyd" as late as 1984,[12] though they never released any recordings under that name.

In the early days, the band covered rhythm and blues staples such as "Louie, Louie", but by the time the Pink Floyd name was entrenched, they had gained notoriety for their 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 guitar and lead vocals, Waters on bass guitar and backing vocals, Mason on drums and percussion, and Wright switching to keyboards and backing vocals.

Barrett soon 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.

At the end of 1966 the band were invited to contribute music for Peter Whitehead's film Tonite Let's All Make Love in London; they were filmed recording two tracks ("Interstellar Overdrive" and "Nick's Boogie") in January 1967. Although hardly any of this music made it onto the film, the session was eventually released as London 1966/1967 in 2005.

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,[13] issuing the singles "Arnold Layne" (sample) 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,[14] 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,[15] and was generally well-received by critics at the time. It is now viewed as one of the better debut albums by many critics. [16] 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" (sample ) 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" (sample ). 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.[17] During this period, the band toured with Jimi Hendrix, which helped to increase its popularity.


Barrett's decline

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. Barrett's strange behaviour has often been attributed to his drug use.[18] In January 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to carry out Barrett'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 just strum one chord for the duration of a concert, or randomly begin detuning his guitar.[19] 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 Barrett 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.[20] Once Barrett's departure was formalised in April 1968, producers Jenner and King decided to remain with him, and the six-way Blackhill partnership was dissolved.[20] The band adopted Steve O'Rourke as manager, and he remained with Pink Floyd until his death in 2003.[21]

After recording two solo albums (The Madcap Laughs and Barrett) in 1970 (co-produced by and sometimes featuring Gilmour, Waters and Wright) to moderate success, Barrett went into seclusion. Again going by his given name, Roger, he lived a quiet life in his native Cambridge for more than 35 years. Barrett died at his home on July 7 2006.


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. Whilst Barrett was the lead singer during his era, Gilmour, Waters and Wright split both songwriting and lead vocal duties. 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 noises, feedback, percussions, oscillators and tape loops, "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" (sample), which is a series of sped-up voice tape-samples resembling rodents and birds chattering that reaches its climax in a nigh-incomprehensible Scottish dialect monologue, and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" (which went by a number of other names as well), a very Waters-driven song with a bass and keyboard-heavy jam culminating in crashing drums and Waters' 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.[17] 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. Its centrepiece, the 12-minute title track (sample ), hinted at the epic, lengthy songs to come, but the album was poorly received by critics at the time,[16] although critics today tend to be kinder to the album in the context of their body of work.[15] Future Pink 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.[17] Critics tend to find the collection of the film's music patchy and uneven.[15] 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. Two of these songs, "Green Is the Colour" (sample ) and "Cymbaline", became fixtures in the band's live sets for a time and were a part of their live The Man/The Journey suite, as can be heard in the many available bootleg recordings from this period. "Cymbaline" was also the first Pink Floyd song to deal with Roger Waters' cynical attitude toward the music industry explicitly. The rest of the album consisted of avant-garde incidental pieces from the score (some of which were also part of "The Man/The Journey") with a few heavier rock songs thrown in, such as "The Nile Song" (sample ).

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).[22] 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 Cambridge slang for sexual intercourse[23] and reflects the attitude of the band at the time, as frustrations in the studio followed them throughout these sessions. The band was wildly experimental on the studio disc, which featured Waters' pure folk "Grantchester Meadows", an atonal & jarring piano piece ("Sysyphus" (sample )), meandering progressive rock textures ("The Narrow Way") and large percussion solos ("The Grand Vizier's Garden Party"). Large portions of the studio disc were previously played in their live "The Man/The Journey" concept piece. The live disc featured acclaimed performances of some of their most popular psychedelic-era compositions and caused critics to receive the album more positively than the previous two albums.[15] With fans, the album was Pink Floyd's most popular release but yet, hitting UK #5 and making the U.S. charts at #74.[17]

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 (sample ). The second side featured one song from each of the band's then-current vocalists (Roger Waters' folk-rock "If", David Gilmour's bluesy "Fat Old Sun" (sample ) and Rick Wright's nostalgic "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[24] and is still considered one of its most inaccessible albums,[15] it had the best chart performance for the band up to that time, reaching #1 in the UK and #55 in the U.S..[17] It has since been described by Gilmour as "a load of rubbish" and Waters has said he wouldn't mind if it were "thrown in the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again."[25] 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' jazzy "Biding My Time", part of "The Man/The Journey" recorded during the Ummagumma sessions). They also contributed to the soundtrack of Zabriskie Point, though many of their contributions were eventually discarded by director Michelangelo Antonioni.


Breakthrough era: 1971–1975

This is the period in which Pink Floyd shed their association with the "psychedelic" scene (and its association with Barrett) and became a distinctive band who are difficult to classify. The divergent styles of their primary songwriters, Gilmour, Waters and Wright, 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." This period was not only the beginning but the end of the truly collaborative era of the band; after 1973 Waters' 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 ("Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Time" respectively), and Gilmour's writing credits sharply declined in frequency until Waters left the band in 1985, though he continued to perform lead vocals and write songs throughout the whole time. 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" (sample) 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 synthesised whale song produced on guitar, along with samples of crows cawing, described by Waters as a "sonic poem".[26] 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."[27] 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.[28] Meddle also included the atmospheric "One of These Days" (sample ), 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 pedal steel 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' 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[29] 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.[17] According to Nick Mason, this was partly because Capitol Records had not provided the album with enough publicity support in the U.S.[30] Today, Meddle remains one of their most well-regarded efforts.[15]

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[17] While Mason described the album years later as "sensational,"[31] it is less well-regarded by critics.[15] The lyrics of "Free Four" (sample ), the first Pink Floyd song to achieve significant airplay in the U.S., introduced Waters' ruminations on his father's death in World War II which would figure in subsequent albums. Two other songs on the album, "Wot's... 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.[31] 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..." (sample ) and "Stay" being the best 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").[14] The album became the band's first #1 on U.S. charts[17] and, as of December 2006, is one of the biggest-selling albums in U.S. history, with more than 15 million units sold[4], and one of the best-selling albums worldwide, with more than 40 million copies sold[17]. The critically-acclaimed album stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for an unprecedented 741 weeks (including 591 consecutive weeks from 1976 to 1988),[32] establishing a world record. It also remained 301 weeks on UK charts, despite never rising higher than #2 there,[17] and is highly praised by critics.[33]

Saxophone forms an important part of the album's sound, exposing the band's jazz influences (especially that of Rick Wright), 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" (sample ) 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" (sample ) is performed almost entirely on a single synthesiser. Incidental sound effects and snippets of interviews feature alongside the music, many of them taped in the studio. Waters' interviews started out with questions like "What is your favourite colour?" in an attempt to get the person comfortable. He would then ask, "When was the last time you were violent? Were you in the right?" The latter answer was played on the album. Other interviews would ask, "Are you afraid of dying?" 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)[34] 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 (sample ) 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 recognisable 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.[32]

Seeking to capitalise 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 amphitheatre in Pompeii with no audience present except the film crew and stage staff. Maben also recorded interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the band during recording sessions for The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios; although the timeline of events indicate the recording sessions may have been staged after the recording, they provide a glimpse into the processes involved in producing the album. This footage was incorporated in later video releases 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" (sample ), 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 synthesised horn and ending with a musical quote from their early single "See Emily Play" as a final nod to Barrett's early leadership of the band.[35] The remaining tracks on the album, "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar" (sample ), harshly criticise 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,[36] and critics praise it just as enthusiastically as The Dark Side of the Moon.[15]

In a famous anecdote, a heavyset man, his head and eyebrows completely shaved, wandered into the studio while the band was mixing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." The band could not recognise him for some time, when suddenly one of them realised it was Syd Barrett. On being asked how he had put on so much weight, he retorted "I have a fridge full of pork chops"[37]. He was greeted enthusiastically by the band but subsequently slipped away during the impromptu party for David Gilmour's wedding (which was also on that day).[38] It was the last time any of the other band members saw him.[39] Gilmour recently confirmed this story, although he could not recall which song they were working on when Barrett showed up.[5] 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' 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),[17] 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.[40] Animals was, however, considerably more guitar-driven 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" (sample), "Dogs" (sample ) and "Sheep" as metaphors for members of contemporary society. Despite the prominence of guitar, keyboards and synthesisers 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,"[41] although some celebrated it for almost those very reasons.[15] 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,[42] and in the end it was necessary to matte a photo of the pig balloon onto the album cover. The pig was created by dutch Industrial Designer/Artist Theo Botschuijver. 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.

David Gilmour released a self titled and produced solo album in 1978.

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)."[14] The Wall also included the future concert staples "Comfortably Numb" (sample ) 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 Waters later distanced himself after Ezrin "shot his mouth off to the press."[43] Even more than during the Animals sessions, Waters was asserting his artistic influence and leadership over the band using the band's parlous financial situation to his advantage, 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", "Nobody Home", and "Vera"). Wright's influence was completely minimalized, 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.[44]

Despite never hitting #1 in the UK (it reached #3), The Wall spent 15 weeks atop the U.S. charts in 1980.[17] Critics praised it,[45] and it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It has been certified 23x platinum by the RIAA, for sales of 23 million copies in U.S. alone.[4] The huge commercial success of The Wall made Pink Floyd the only artists since 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 almost all of the music from the album. The film, written by Waters and directed by Alan Parker, starred Boomtown Rats founder Bob Geldof, who re-recorded many of the vocals, and featured animation by noted British artist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. Film critic Leonard Maltin referred to the movie as "the world's longest rock video, and certainly the most depressing", but it grossed over US$14 million at the North American box office.[46] 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 songs from the album not used were "Hey You" and "The Show Must Go On."

Their 1983 studio album, The Final Cut, was dedicated by Waters to his 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' 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" (sample )). 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, whose departure 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),[17] but reasonably well-received by critics[47], the album yielded one minor radio hit (albeit in bowdlerised form ), "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 were rumoured 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).[48] There was no tour for the album, although parts of it have since been performed live by Waters on his subsequent solo tours.

After The Final Cut Capitol Records released the compilation Works, which made the 1970 Waters track "Embryo" available for the first time on a Pink Floyd album, although the track had been released on the 1970 VA compilation Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air on the Harvest Records label.[49] The band members then 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 a new band, 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 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. (1987). 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.[50]

After considering and rejecting many other titles, the new album was released as A Momentary Lapse of Reason (UK #3, U.S. #3).[17] Without Waters, who had been the band's dominant songwriter for a decade, 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 renewed his friendship with Gilmour in 1983 (as Ezrin co-produced Gilmour's About Face album), served as co-producer as well as being one of these writers.[51] 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 and Wright 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.[15]

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 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 year also saw the release of Roger Waters' solo album Amused to Death.

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 favourably by critics and fans alike than Lapse had been[52], but was still heavily criticised as tired and formulaic.[53] It was the second Pink Floyd album to reach #1 on both the UK and U.S. charts.[17]

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" (sample), 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 1996 solo album, Broken China.

The band released a live album entitled P*U*L*S*E in 1995. It hit #1 in U.S. and featured songs recorded during the "Division Bell" tour from concerts in London, Rome, Hanover and Modena. The Division Bell concerts featured entire performances of The Dark Side of the Moon [17]. The tour would mark the first time the band performed the Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety in over two decades. VHS and Laserdisc versions of the concert at London's Earl's Court 20 October 1994, was also released. A DVD edition was released on 10 July 2006[54] and quickly topped the charts. The CD case had an LED, timer IC, and battery which caused a red flash to blink once per second, like a heartbeat, as it sat in the owner's CD collection.


Solo work and more: 1995–present

On January 16, 1996, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by Billy Corgan[55], along with other contemporaries such as David Bowie. Still in the huff, Waters did not attend.

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 reached #19 on U.S. charts.[17] 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 another 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 the U.K. and U.S. charts.[17] In 2003, a 30th-Anniversary SACD reissue of The Dark Side of the Moon, featuring high resolution surround sound, was released with new artwork on the front cover. The Dark Side of the Moon was also re-released on vinyl as a 180-gram, virgin vinyl pressing in 2003. The vinyl re-release included all the original posters and stickers from the album's initial release, plus a new 30th anniversary poster. 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 in the works, with no release date announced.[56]

Nick Mason's book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd was published in 2004 in Europe and 2005 in the U.S. 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.

Longtime Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke passed away on October 30, 2003. As a result, the legal incarnation of the band - David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - reunited at his funeral and performed "Fat Old Sun" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" at the Chichester Cathedral in tribute.

Two years later, on 2 July 2005, the trio reunited once again for a one-off performance at the London Live 8 concert, the sequel to Live Aid. This time, however they were joined by their estranged bassist Roger Waters - the first time all 4 band members were on stage together in 24 years. The band performed a four-song set consisting of "Speak to Me/Breathe/Breathe (Reprise)", "Money", "Wish You Were Here", and "Comfortably Numb", with both Gilmour and Waters sharing lead vocal duties. At the end, after the last song had been played, Gilmour said "thank you very much, good night" and started to walk off the stage. Waters called him back, however, and the band shared a group hug that became one of the most famous pictures of Live 8.

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 reported increases in sales of The Wall at 3600%, Wish You Were Here at 2000%, The 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,[57] and urged that all the other performing artists and their record companies should do the same. On 1 July, 2006, Roger Waters performed a set at the Hyde Park Calling weekend which included Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety, accompanied by Nick Mason.

On 26 September 2005, Roger Waters released his French opera, Ça Ira, and on 16 November 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.

David Gilmour released his third solo record, (after 1978's self titled album, and 1984's About Face), called On an Island, on 6 March 2006 (his 60th birthday), and began a tour of small concert venues in Europe, Canada and the U.S. in support of the album a few days later, with Richard Wright as part of the band. On 17 April 2006 Gilmour and Wright treated their Oakland, California audience to an historic performance of Pink Floyd's first single, "Arnold Layne". On 31 May 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, marking the first public performance by the post-Waters Pink Floyd since the 1994 tour. The concert (along with the 29 and 30 May performances) was recorded for a DVD release later this year.[58] Waters was also invited to perform, but final rehearsals for his 2006 Europe/U.S. tour required him to decline.[59]

Mason joined Waters for some dates on his tour, and Waters invited Wright along as well.[60][61] Wright declined the invitation to focus on solo projects.[62]


Future directions

Many fans expressed hope that the band's Live 8 appearance would lead to a reunion tour, and a record-breaking US$250 million deal for a world tour was offered,[5] but the band have made it clear that there are no such plans. In the weeks after the show, the rifts that separated the members during the breakup seem to have mostly healed. Gilmour confirmed that he and Waters are on "pretty amicable terms" and that they communicated via e-mail after the concert.[63] Waters has offered conflicting comments on the issue, with statements as varied as "I couldn't roll over for a whole fucking tour"[64] and "I hope we do it again,"[65] although most recent comments seem to indicate his desire to play together again, but not for a whole tour, but an event similar to Live 8.[66][67]

On 31 January 2006, David Gilmour issued a joint statement on behalf of the group stating that they have no plans to reunite, putting to rest rumours from several media outlets.[68] On 3 February 2006, Gilmour stated in an interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he is finished with Pink Floyd and wishes to focus on solo projects and his family. He mentions that he agreed to play Live 8 with Waters to support the cause, to make peace with Waters, and knowing he would regret not taking part.[5] He contradicts the "finished with Pink Floyd" sentiment somewhat in interviews with Billboard[7] and USA Today,[69] which along with Mason's statement that the band would be willing to perform for a concert "that would support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts"[6] and his optimism that Gilmour and Waters will put their differences aside and reunite one day,[70] as well as Wright's desire to play with the band again,[71] makes it possible the band could make appearances similar to Live 8 in the future, although large-scale touring or new studio material is unlikely. After the death of Syd Barrett in July 2006 fans also raised hope that the band would reunite once again to honour their late founder. This rumour has been reported on many websites but so far nothing has been confirmed or denied by any of the band members.

Waters and Wright are both reported to be working on solo albums, and there has been talk of Roger Waters doing a Broadway musical version of The Wall, with extra music to be written by Waters.[72] Waters is also embarking on his US/European tour The Dark Side Of The Moon Live Tour; the setlist consists of The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety along with a selection of other Pink Floyd favourites and a small number of songs from Waters' solo career.

2007 will see the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd's signing to EMI and the 40th anniversary of the release of their first three singles "Arnold Layne", "See Emily Play" and "Apples and Oranges" and their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Pink Floyd's longtime album cover designer Storm Thorgerson states that he hopes "the band will do something for its 40th anniversary".


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, most 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 an ear underwater.

Thorgerson was involved in the artwork for every album except the compilation album "Relics", which was illustrated by Mason, "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, although concert photos and images of the band members sometimes appeared on inner gatefolds and inserts. David Gilmour 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".


Live performances

Pink Floyd are renowned for their lavish stage shows, combining over-the-top visual experiences with music to create a show in which the performers themselves are almost secondary. They have always resisted the temptation of a large screen portraying band members because they "don't really do very much", preferring instead to show music videos to run alongside the songs.




Studio albums


Top 20 singles[14]


Additional song samples


Band members

Official Pink Floyd members

  • Syd Barrett - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Bob Klose - guitars
  • Roger Waters - bass guitar, vocals
  • Rick Wright - keyboards, piano, vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion
  • Syd Barrett - guitars, rhythm guitar, lead vocals
  • Roger Waters - Bass, vocals
  • Rick Wright - keyboards, piano, vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour - guitars, vocals
  • Syd Barrett - rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Roger Waters - bass guitars, lead vocals
  • Rick Wright - keyboards, piano, lead vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, vocals
  • David Gilmour - guitars, bass guitar, lead vocals
  • Roger Waters - bass guitars, rhythm guitar, lead vocals
  • Rick Wright - keyboards, piano, vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion, some vocals
  • David Gilmour - guitars, vocals
  • Roger Waters - rhythm guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, lead vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour - guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, lead vocals
  • Nick Mason - Drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour - guitars, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, lead vocals
  • Rick Wright - keyboards, piano, vocals
  • Nick Mason - drums, percussion

Notable or frequent contributors

Note that these are not official members of Pink Floyd, but people who have made significant contributions. Many of these have continued their work with both Roger Waters and David Gilmour after the split.






Post-Waters Floyd

Note that those without works next to their name have participated in Floyd recordings since A Momentary Lapse of Reason.


See also





  1., retrieved 7 October 2006
  2., retrieved 7 October 2006
  3. Pink Floyd American Royal Arts Corp.; accessed December 2006; claims 250 million
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 RIAA, retrieved 22 April 2006
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 La Repubblica, 3 February 2006, translation here
  6. 6.0 6.1 Die Welt, 6 February 2006
  7. 7.0 7.1 Billboard, 20 February 2006
  8. Mason, p. 21
  9. Schaffner, p. 25
  10. Mason, p. 30
  11. Uncut, September 2006, p. 54]
  12. Schaffner, p. 276
  13. Schaffner, p. 30
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Schaffner, p. 320-321
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 15.8 15.9 allmusic (((Pink Floyd > Discography > Main Albums))). Retrieved on 2006-02-16.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Rolling Stone, 26 October 1968
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 17.12 17.13 17.14 17.15 17.16 17.17 Pink Floyd & Co. discography, retrieved 15 February 2006
  18. The Observer, 6 October 2002
  19. Schaffner, p. 105
  20. 20.0 20.1 Schaffner, p. 107–108
  21. [1], 11 April 2003
  22. Schaffner, p. 146
  23. BBC Music profile, retrieved 25 November 2006
  24. Rolling Stone, 2 December 1970
  25. Schaffner, p. 154
  26. Schaffner, p. 164
  27. BBC..Later with Jools Holland, transcript retrieved here 16 April 2006
  28. Schaffner, p. 163
  29. Rolling Stone, 6 January 1972
  30. Mason, p. 182
  31. 31.0 31.1 Schaffner, p. 167
  32. 32.0 32.1 Schaffner, p. 183
  33. Rolling Stone, 21 January 1997
  34. Schaffner, p. 171
  35. Mason, p. 213
  36. Schaffner, p. 323
  37. Miles, Pink Floyd unofficial biography
  38. "Shine On!", Total Guitar, September 1996
  39. David Gilmour interview, ";Q Magazine", June 1999
  40. Schaffner, p. 209
  41. Rolling Stone, 24 March 1977
  42., retrieved 11 February 2006
  43. Schaffner, p. 243
  44. Schaffner, p. 236
  45. Rolling Stone, Feb. 7 1980
  46. The Numbers, retrieved 13 February 2006
  47. Rolling Stone, 14 April 1983
  48. Schaffner, p. 257
  49. Prog discography, retrieved 12 July 2006
  50. Schaffner, p. 297
  51. Schaffner, p. 289
  52. AMG, retrieved Feb. 15 2006
  53. Rolling Stone, June 16 1994
  54., retrieved 4 July 2006
  55. Official Article
  56., 20 July 2005, retrieved 10 July 2006
  57. BBC News, 5 July 2005
  58. Gilmour blog archives
  59. Video Interview with Nick Mason
  60. Nouvel Obs, 27 February 2006, translation here
  61., retrieved 4 July 2006
  62. Report of Meeting with Pink Floyd's Management, retrieved 12 April 2006
  63. Music Week, 16 July 2005, retrieved here on 9 July 2006
  64. Rolling Stone, 28 July 2005, retrieved 9 July 2006
  65. Word Magazine, October 2005
  66. Guitar World, April 2006
  67., 25 November 2005
  68. Pink Floyd's official site, retrieved 9 February 2006
  69. USA Today, 6 March 2006
  70., retrieved 14 June 2006
  71. The Independent, 7 July 2006, retrieved here 10 July 2006
  72. BBC News, 5 August 2004

External links


Official sites


Other links

Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett | David Gilmour | Nick Mason | Roger Waters | Richard Wright
Studio albums: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) | A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) | Ummagumma (1969) | Atom Heart Mother (1970) | Meddle (1971) | The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) | Wish You Were Here (1975) | Animals (1977) | The Wall (1979) | The Final Cut (1983) | A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) | The Division Bell (1994)
Soundtracks: Tonite Let's All Make Love in London (1968) | More (1969) | Zabriskie Point (1970) | Obscured by Clouds (1972)
Live: Ummagumma (1969) | Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) | P*U*L*S*E (1995) | The Wall Live (2000)
Compilations: Relics (1971) | A Nice Pair (1973) | Masters of Rock (1974) | A Collection of Great Dance Songs (1981) | Works (1983) | Shine On (The Early Singles) (1992) | Echoes (2001)
Live at Pompeii | The Wall | Delicate Sound of Thunder | La Carrera Panamericana | London '66-'67 | P*U*L*S*E
Related articles
Bob Klose | Steve O'Rourke | Alan Parsons | Storm Thorgerson/Hipgnosis | Live performances | Trivia | Pigs | Publius Enigma | A Tree Full of Secrets | Dark Side of the Rainbow | The Man and the Journey

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