Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd


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Pink Floyd are one of the most successful and influential rock groups in history. The members of the group to become known as Pink Floyd came together in London, but the band’s roots were in Cambridge, in the East of England, in the early 1960s. Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett, Roger Waters and David Gilmour all grew up in Cambridge, (Roger Waters having moved there from Surrey at the age of 2), and got into music as part of the folk and beat boom of the time. Young Roger Barrett was actively encouraged in his music and art by his parents, and was successful at both while in school. He knew Roger Waters from school and met David Gilmour as a teenager, so their friendships were established long before the formation of Pink Floyd. Roger Barrett acquired the nickname 'Syd' around the ageof 14, in a reference to local bass player Sid Barrett, hence the ‘Syd’ spelling for differentiation. The Barrett family home had hosted musical collaborations from 1962 onwards, the first fruits of which became Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, including Syd on rhythm guitar. In September 1962, Roger Waters left Cambridge for London to study architecture. Syd meanwhile had won a 2-year scholarship to Cambridge School of Art, where he re-established contact with David Gilmour, swapping guitar chords at lunchtime sessions. London’s Regent Street Polytechnic had by now welcomed not only Roger Waters but Richard Wright, a Londoner, and Nick Mason, who was born in Birmingham but relocated to Hampstead at age 2. Roger and Nick responded to a college advert recruiting band members, and duly formed Sigma 6, playing guitar and drums respectively. Richard Wright also joined, playing guitar, various brass instruments and keyboards, depending on whether a piano was available. As well as Polytechnic studies, Richard was taking private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music, and in fact left architectural studies (and the band, now called The Abdabs) at the end of his first year, to go travelling. In Autumn 1964 Syd Barrett moved to London to attend Camberwell Art College, hooking up with Roger Waters and the Abdabs. Two of the band had just left, which left space for two guitarists: Syd, and fellow Cambridge friend Rado (‘Bob’) Klose, Roger Waters having switched to bass guitar. Originally Leonard’s Lodgers, The Spectrum Five, and latterly The Tea Set, the band finally became Pink Floyd when Richard Wright rejoined, having returned to the UK to enroll in the Royal College of Music. The new name was suggested by Syd, and was derived from two US bluesmen: Pink (born Pinkney) Anderson and Floyd Council. The 5-piece played intermittently in early 1965 as both The Tea Set and The Pink Floyd (or The Pink Floyd Sound), with the departure of Rado ‘Bob’ Klose creating the first 4-man (Barrett / Mason / Waters / Wright) lineup at live shows from May onwards, although the band continued to alternate the use of the Tea Set / Pink Floyd designation right up until March 1966. They were still a part-time band, allowing Syd to take off to France in August with David Gilmour, the pair being briefly detained by the St. Tropez police for busking (performing in the street). Pink Floyd / Tea Set’s original style was based on American blues and r’n’b, but the birth of a UK psychedelic music scene allowed them to develop Syd’s performance-based ideas into something unique. Throughout 1966 they honed their live performance skills, often developing songs into long jamming sequences, and by the end of the year Pink Floyd had become the pre-eminent ‘underground’ band. They picked up management too, and their first recordings were songs by Syd, who had established himself as the band’s creative innovator. Pink Floyd signed to EMI Records in 1967, releasing the singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, both written by Syd, and the album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, again mostly composed by Syd and considered to be one of the greatest British psychedelic albums. Arnold Layne reached No. 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and See Emily Play reached No. 6, while The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn also entered the album charts at No. 6, the first of a long line of Pink Floyd album chart successes. However, as the band began to attract a large fanbase, it became clear that Syd's fluid approach to writing, performing and recording - spontaneous, one take only, nothing repeated - was increasingly at odds with the expectations of a musical scene that was still very conservative, especially outside London. Possibly exacerbated by Syd’s frequent experimentation with psychedelic drugs, his behaviour became more erratic, to the point that the band decided to add a second guitarist for live performances. They hoped to call on Syd’s compositional abilities for studio work, similar to Brian Wilson’s role in the Beach Boys, while David Gilmour would bolster the band in live shows. David Gilmour had gigged regularly around Cambridge with various outfits, including The Ramblers, Chris Ian & The Newcomers and Jokers Wild, his first professional outfit. David moved to London in Summer 1966, and the band, now a trio, played extensively around Europe. Renamed Bullitt, they then re-invented themselves as Flowers in 1967. Already known as the best guitarist on the Cambridge scene, David had been very impressed with seeing Jimi Hendrix in a small club, and had been inspired to work even harder on his technique. The new 5-man Floyd experiment didn’t really work, and in January 1968, after a handful of shows, the band elected not to pick Syd up on the way to a Southampton University gig. Syd and Floyd officially parted company in March 1968, with the band’s management Blackhill Enterprises deciding to stick with Syd as a solo artist. The band appointed Steve O'Rourke as manager, and he remained with Pink Floyd until his death in 2003. Whilst Syd Barrett had written the bulk of the first album, only one composition by him, Jugband Blues, appeared on the second Floyd album. A Saucerful Of Secrets was released in June 1968, reaching Number 9 in the UK. Point Me At The Sky, a Waters/Gilmour composition released in December 1968, was to be the band’s last single release until Money from The Dark Side Of The Moon. The soundtrack to the film More, another UK Top 10 album in July 1969, was the band’s first collaboration with film director Barbet Schroeder. The next record, the double album Ummagumma in November 1969, was a mix of live recordings and studio experimentation by the band members, with each member recording half a side of a vinyl record as a solo project. Meanwhile, over the course of a year, Syd Barrett had recorded The Madcap Laughs, released in January 1970, with some production help from David and Roger. Atom Heart Mother, in October 1970, was Pink Floyd's first recording with an orchestra, the title track suite taking up a full vinyl LP side. Their

first UK No. 1 album, staying on the charts for 18 weeks, the title was taken from a London Evening Standard headline. Roger Waters’ first work outside the band appeared in November 1970. A collaboration with Ron Geesin, (with whom Floyd had worked on Atom Heart Mother), The Body formed the soundtrack to the film of the same name. Pink Floyd appear anonymously on the track Give Birth To A Smile. November 1970 also saw the release of Barrett, the second and last album of all-original Syd Barrett songs. It was produced by David Gilmour and included Richard Wright on keyboards. Before the next album of original material, a Pink Floyd compilation album, Relics, was released in May 1971, containing several early singles and B-sides, plus one previously unreleased song Biding My Time. The band also contributed three tracks to the soundtrack of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Zabriskie Point. In October 1971 the band allowed director Adrian Maben to film them performing live in the amphitheatre at Pompeii. After more filming, including interviews and more performances in a Paris studio, the Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii film was finally premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in September 1972. Meddle was Pink Floyd’s longest UK chart performer to date, maintaining 82 weeks on the chart from its No. 3 debut in November 1971. It contained the LP side-long Echoes, to many the perfect encapsulation of all Floyd’s disparate elements. Nick Mason considered it "the first real Pink Floyd album. It introduced the idea of a theme that can be returned to". Developing the idea of thematic pieces, the band began to work on what would become The Dark Side of The Moon, presenting the songs from the album in concert throughout 1972. However, even though they were yet to enter the studio to record Dark Side as an album, the band took a detour to make another soundtrack album in just two weeks for Barbet Schroeder – Obscured By Clouds, to accompany the film La Vallee. 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 Money was released as a single from The Dark Side Of The Moon, going Top 20 in the U.S. The album became the band's first No. 1 on the U.S. Charts and is one of the biggest-selling ever, worldwide. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets were re-presented to the public in December 1973 as a 2-LP set, A Nice Pair, repackaged in a gatefold sleeve. 1975’s Wish You Were Here is well-known for its popular title track, but