Pink Floyd

From New World Encyclopedia
Pink Floyd
Origin Cambridge, England
Genre(s) Art rock, experimental rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, space rock [1]
Years active 1964–present[2][3]
(on indefinite hiatus since 1996) (One-off reunion: 2005)[4][5]

Label(s) Harvest, EMI UK

Capitol, Tower, Columbia US

Associated acts Sigma 6
David Gilmour
Rick Wright
Nick Mason
Former members
Roger Waters
Syd Barrett
Bob Klose

Pink Floyd is an English progressive rock band that initially earned recognition for their psychedelic or space rock music, and, as they evolved, for their progressive rock music. They are known for philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative cover art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most successful acts, the group have sold over 200 million albums worldwide[6][7] including 74.5 million albums in the United States alone.[8]

Pink Floyd had moderate mainstream success and was one of the most popular bands in the London underground music scene in the late 1960s as a psychedelic band led by Syd Barrett; however, Barrett's erratic behavior eventually forced his colleagues to replace him with guitarist and singer David Gilmour. After Barrett's departure, singer and bass player Roger Waters gradually became the dominant and driving force in the mid-1970s, until his eventual departure from the group in 1985. The band recorded several albums, achieving worldwide success with The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979). In 1985, Waters declared Pink Floyd "a spent force," but the remaining members, led by Gilmour, continued recording and touring under the name Pink Floyd. Although they were unsuccessfully sued by Waters for rights to the name, they again enjoyed worldwide success with A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), and The Division Bell (1994). Eventually they reached a settlement out of court with Waters allowing them use of the name. Waters performed with the band for the first time in 24 years on July 2, 2005 at the London Live 8 concert.

Its music is a jarring clash of instumentals, synthesized music, vocals and ambient noise. Its lyrics are often ironic, even cynical—a protest against the crassness of modernity.

Band history

Syd Barrett – led era: 1964–1968

Pink Floyd evolved from an earlier rock band, formed in 1964,[9][10] which was at various times called Sigma 6, the Meggadeaths, The Tea Set (or The T-Set), The Architectural Abdabs, The Abdabs and The Screaming Abdabs. When the 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,[11] blues and folk guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett joined the band, with Waters moving to bass.[12]

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, after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.[13] For a time after this they oscillated between The 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 regularly until 1970. The group's UK releases during the Syd Barrett era credited them as The Pink Floyd as did their first two U.S. singles. The 1969 More and Ummagumma albums credit the band as Pink Floyd, produced by The Pink Floyd, while the 1970 Atom Heart Mother credits the band as The Pink Floyd, produced by Pink Floyd! David Gilmour is known to have referred to the group as The Pink Floyd as late as 1984.[14]

The heavily jazz-oriented Klose left after recording only a demo,[15] 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 humor. Pink Floyd became a favorite 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 '66/'67 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,[16] 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,[17] granting the band its first national TV appearance on Top of the Pops in July 1967. (They had earlier appeared, performing "Interstellar Overdrive" at the UFO Club, in a short documentary, "It's So Far Out It's Straight Down." This was broadcast in March 1967 but seen only in the UK's Granada TV region.).

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. It is now viewed as one of the best debut albums by many critics.[18] 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 (Pink Floyd song)," 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, tape editing, echo effects (specifically, a Binson Echorec machine) and electric keyboards. The album was a hit in the UK where it peaked at #6, but did not do well in North America, reaching #131 in the U.S.,[19] and that only after it was reissued in the wake of the band's state side commercial breakthrough in the 1970s. During this period, the band toured with Jimi Hendrix, which helped to increase its popularity.

Barrett's decline

As the band became more popular, the stresses of life on the road, pressure by the record company to produce hit singles, and a significant intake of psychedelic drugs took their toll on Barrett, whose mental health had been deteriorating for several months.[20] In January 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to carry out Barrett's playing and singing duties, though Jeff Beck was originally considered.[21]

With Barrett's behavior becoming less and less predictable, and his almost constant use of LSD, he became very unstable, occasionally 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.[22] He was also equally erratic in rehearsals; on one occasion he was, according to band members, perfectly on the ball and ready to record while preparing, yet as soon as the recording began he would stare into space. When recording was cut, he became, as Waters describes him, "the usual jack-the-lad, hopping around on the balls of his feet." The absent expression in his eyes inspired Waters' lyrics in 1975's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Now there's that look in your eyes/ Like black holes in the sky.' The band's live shows became increasingly ramshackle until, eventually, the other band members simply stopped taking him to the concerts. The last concert featuring Barrett was on January 20 1968 on Hastings Pier. 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.[23] 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.[23] The band adopted Steve O'Rourke as manager, and he remained with Pink Floyd until his death in 2003.

After recording two solo albums (The Madcap Laughs and Barrett (album)) 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 eventually moved back to his native Cambridge and lived a quiet life there until his death on July 7, 2006.

Finding their feet: 1968–1970

This period was one of musical 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. As Barrett had been the lead singer during his era, Gilmour, Waters and Wright now 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, 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.

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).[24] Though the album was realized 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.

In 1970 Atom Heart Mother, the band's first recording with an orchestra, was a collaboration with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin. The name was a last minute decision by the band when they were inspired by a newspaper article about a woman who had given birth with a pacemaker. The cover was equally as unplanned, with the photographer claiming to have "gone out into the countryside and taking a picture of the first thing he saw." One side of the album consisted of the title piece, a 23-minute long "rock-orchestral" suite. One 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 man was Alan Stiles, one of Pink Floyd's roadies at the time. The use of noises, 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[25] and is still considered one of its most inaccessible albums, it had the best chart performance for the band up to that time, reaching #1 in the UK and #55 in the U.S.[19] The popularity of the album allowed Pink Floyd to embark on its first full U.S. tour.

Breakthrough era: 1971–1975

During this time, Pink Floyd shed their association with the "psychedelic" scene and became a distinctive band who were difficult to classify. The divergent styles of their primary songwriters, Gilmour, Waters and Wright, merged into a unique sound, which quickly became known among fans as "The Pink Floyd 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.

Pink Floyd, Earls Court, 1973

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 haunting keyboard melodies, and harmonic textures. 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 ("Time" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" 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 fashion with Wish You Were Here, whose epic track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written both as a tribute and eulogy to Barrett. The epic, 26-minute piece was described by Gilmour as "Roger's paean to Syd."

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 music produced on guitars, organs, and synths, along with backward wah pedal guitar sounding like samples of sea gulls or albatross and an entire whale song playing over the top, described by Waters as a "sonic poem."[26] The song took a while to construct, and went through many named stages, including "Nothings," "Son Of Nothings" and "Return Of The Son Of Nothings." The latter was performed at their free Hyde Park concert and was well received by the crowd. 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," a concert favorite featuring Nick Mason's menacing one-line vocal ("One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces"), distorted and bluesy lap steel guitar, and a melody that at one point fades 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 folk influence, as does the prominent lap steel guitar on "A Pillow of Winds." Waters' role as lead songwriter began to take form, with his jazzy "San Tropez" brought to the band practically completed and ready to record. 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.[19] 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.

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").[17]. The album became the band's first #1 on U.S. charts[19] and, as of December 2006, is one of the biggest-selling albums in U.S. history, with more than 15 million units sold,[8] and one of the best-selling albums worldwide, with more than 40 million copies sold.[19] The critically-acclaimed album stayed on the Billboard Top 200 for an unprecedented 741 weeks (including 591 consecutive weeks from 1976 to 1988),[31] establishing a world record. 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 (especially that of Rick Wright), and female backing vocals play a key role in helping to diversify the album's texture. For example, songs such as "Money" and "Time" are placed on either side of mellow lap 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. Waters' interviews started out with questions like "What is your favorite color?" 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)[32] 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.[31]

After the success of Dark Side, the band were unsure of their future direction and worried about how they would be able to top that record's huge popularity. In a return to their experimental beginnings, they began work on a project entitled Household Objects, which would consist of songs played literally on household appliances. Instruments consisted of old hand mixers, rubber bands stretched between two tables, wine glasses, etc. However, the planned album was soon shelved after the band decided that it was just easier and better to play the songs on actual musical instruments. No finished recordings of these sessions exist, however some of the recorded effects were put to use on their next album.

Wish You Were Here (album), 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 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.[33] 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,[34] and critics praise it just as enthusiastically as The Dark Side of the Moon.

Roger Waters – led era: 1976–1985

During this era, Waters asserted more and more control over Pink Floyd's output. During the recording, Waters fired Richard Wright after The Wall was finished, arguing that Wright was not contributing much,[35] in part due to a cocaine addiction.[36] Waters claimed that David Gilmour and Nick Mason supported Waters' decision to fire Wright, but in 2000, Gilmour stated that he and Mason were against Wright's dismissal.[37] Author Nick Mason claims that Wright was fired because Columbia Records had offered Waters a substantial bonus to finish the album in time for a 1979 release. Since Wright refused to return early from his summer holiday, Waters wanted to dismiss Wright.[38] Wright was fired from the band but stayed on to finish the album and perform the live concerts as a paid musician.

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 usual 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.[39] 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," "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,"[40] 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. The pig became one of the enduring symbols of Pink Floyd, and inflatable pigs were a staple of Pink Floyd live performances from then on.

In 1978 the band were told that due to legal matters involving tax, they had to leave the United Kingdom for one year, with absolutely no visits in between. It was during this time that the band started to pursue their own interests and focus less on music, and so when they re-met in the UK, they were short of ideas. It came to light that Waters had been working on two projects, "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking" and The Wall.

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. The deciding moment in which to conceive The Wall was during a concert in Montreal, Canada in which Roger Waters spat at an audience member who had been shouting unhelpful comments and requesting songs throughout the show. It was this point where Waters felt the alienation between audience and band.

This album gave Pink Floyd renewed acclaim and their only chart-topping single with "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)".[17] 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 teacher puppet used in the concert

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."[41] Even more than during the Animals sessions, Waters was asserting his artistic influence and leadership over the band, using the band's perilous 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 (song)"). Wright's influence was 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, this fixed salary made Wright the only "member" of Pink Floyd to make any money from the Wall concerts, with the three remaining members stuck covering the extensive cost overruns of their most spectacular concerts yet.[42] The Wall was performed live in only a few cities, contributing to the "tour"'s unprofitability. (It would be performed one more time, after the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, by Roger Waters and others).

Despite never hitting #1 in the UK (it reached #3), The Wall spent 15 weeks atop the U.S. charts in 1980.[19] Critics praised it,[43] and it has been certified 23x platinum by the RIAA, for sales of 11.5 million copies of the double album in the U.S. alone. 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.

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"). 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.

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),[19] but reasonably well-received by critics,[44] 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 rumored to be so bad that they were supposedly never seen in the recording studio simultaneously. Gilmour has said he wanted to continue making good quality rock music, and felt Waters was constructing music sequences together merely as a vehicle for his socially critical lyrics. Waters claims that his bandmates never fully understood the importance of the social commentary he was making. By the end of recording, Gilmour's co-producer credit was dropped from the album sleeve (though he received attendant royalties).[45] 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.[46] The band members then went their separate ways and spent time working on individual projects. Gilmour was the first to release his solo album 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," 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.[47]

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 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 writer along with Jon Carin] who wrote the music for "Learning To Fly" and played much of the Keyboards on the album.[48] 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.

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.

David Gilmour in a break during the "Carrera Panamericana," in San Luis Potosi, Mexico

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.

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 band member. The album was received more favorably by critics and fans alike than Lapse had been,[49] 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, wrote lyrics for Wright's tune "Wearing the Inside Out," also Wright's first lead vocal on a Pink Floyd record since Dark Side of the Moon. This writing collaboration continued 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, primarily from concerts in Londons Earl Court. The Division Bell concerts featured a mix of classic and modern Pink Floyd. The Pulse album has an entire performance of The Dark Side of the Moon. VHS and Laserdisc versions of the concert at London's Earl's Court 20 October 1994, were also released. A P*U*L*S*E (film) DVD edition was released July 2006. and quickly topped the charts. The 1994 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.

In 1995 the band received their first and only Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Marooned."


On January 17, 1996, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[50] by The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. Still antagonistic towards his former bandmates, Roger Waters did not attend. At their acceptance speech, Gilmour said, "I'll have to grab a couple more of these for our two band members that started playing different tunes; Roger and Syd…." Although Mason was present to accept the award, he did not join Gilmour and Wright (and Billy Corgan) for their acoustic performance of 'Wish You Were Here'.

Long-time Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke died on October 30, 2003. Gilmour, Mason and Wright reunited at his funeral and performed "Fat Old Sun" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" in Chichester Cathedral in tribute.[51]

Two years later, on July 2, 2005, the band reunited once again for a one-off performance at the London Live 8 concert. This time, however, they were joined by Waters–the first time all four band members were on stage together in 24 years. The band performed a four-song set consisting of "Speak to Me/Breathe," "Money," "Wish You Were Here," and "Comfortably Numb," with both Gilmour and Waters sharing lead vocals. At the end of their performance 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 images 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 percent, while reported increases in sales of The Wall at 3600 percent, Wish You Were Here at 2000 percent, The Dark Side of the Moon at 1400 percent and Animals at 1000 percent. David Gilmour subsequently declared that he would donate his share of profits from this sales boom to charity,[52] and urged all the other artists and record companies profiting from Live 8 to do the same. On November 16, 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.

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.

Influences on other musicians

Pink Floyd have influenced progressive rock artists of the 1970s such as Genesis and Yes;[53] and various contemporary artists such as Dream Theater, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Anathema and Nine Inch Nails. Their music plays a featured role in the Tom Stoppard play Rock 'n' Roll.[54]



Year Album US UK RIAA certification BPI certification CRIA certification
1967 The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 131 6 - - -
1968 A Saucerful of Secrets - 9 - - -
1969 Music from the Film More 153 9 - - -
1969 Ummagumma (also live) 74 5 Platinum - -
1970 Atom Heart Mother 55 1 Gold - -
1971 Meddle 70 3 2x Platinum - -
1972 Obscured by Clouds 46 6 Gold Silver -
1973 The Dark Side of the Moon 1 2 15x Platinum 9x Platinum 2x Diamond
1975 Wish You Were Here 1 (2 weeks) 1 6x Platinum Gold 3x platinum
1977 Animals 3 2 4x Platinum Gold 2x platinum
1979 The Wall 1 (15 weeks) 3 23x Platinum Platinum 2x Diamond
1983 The Final Cut 6 1 2x Platinum Gold -
1987 A Momentary Lapse of Reason 3 3 4x Platinum Gold 3x platinum
1994 The Division Bell 1 (4 weeks) 1 3x Platinum 2x Platinum 4x platinum

DVD and video

  • Live at Pompeii (1972)
  • The Wall (film) (1982)
  • The Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988)
  • La Carrera Panamericana (1992)
  • P•U•L•S•E (film) (1994)

Band members

Official Pink Floyd members
  • Syd Barrett – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
  • Bob Klose – lead guitar
  • Roger Waters – bass, vocals
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • Syd Barrett – guitar, lead vocals
  • Roger Waters – bass, vocals
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour – lead guitar, lead vocals
  • Syd Barrett – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Roger Waters – bass, lead vocals
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, lead vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour – guitar, lead vocals
  • Roger Waters - bass, lead vocals
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour – guitar, vocals
  • Roger Waters – bass, lead vocals, additional guitar, keyboards
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • David Gilmour – guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
1990 – present
  • David Gilmour – guitar, lead vocals, bass
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, vocals
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion

Notable or frequent contributors


All links Retrieved May 24, 2008.

  1. allmusic (Pink Floyd - Biography
  2. Saberingles Reading Comprehension
  3. Pink Floyd History from 1964 to 1969, February 05 2008
  4. Dec 3, 1996 Wright reveals that he expects the Floyd to record a new album soon
  5. January 16, 1996: Pink Floyd is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  6. Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett dies at home. The Times(UK), July 11, 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  7. Floyd 'true to Barrett's legacy' BBC News, July 11, 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 [1], retrieved 3 July 2006
  9. Pink Floyd online
  10. Infoplease
  11. Nick Mason. Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004), 21
  12. Nicholas Schaffner. Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey. (Harmony, 1991. ISBN 0517576082), 25
  13. Mason, 30
  14. Schaffner, 276
  15. Andy Mabbett. The Complete guide to the music of Pink Floyd. (London: Omnibus, 1995. ISBN 071194301x)
  16. Schaffner, 30
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Schaffner, 320–321
  18. Rolling Stone, 26 October 1968
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Pink Floyd & Co. discography, retrieved 15 February 2006
  20. Tim Willis, You shone like the sun. The Observer, 6 October 2002
  21. B. Pinnell, 1980, Australian Radio Interview, David Gilmour. accessdate 2007-08-24
  22. Schaffner, 105
  23. 23.0 23.1 Schaffner, 107–108
  24. Schaffner, 146
  25. Rolling Stone, December 2, 1970
  26. Schaffner, 164
  27. BBC..Later with Jools Holland, transcript retrieved here April 16, 2006
  28. Schaffner, 163
  29. Rolling Stone, January 6, 1972
  30. Mason, 182
  31. 31.0 31.1 Schaffner, 183
  32. Schaffner, 171
  33. Mason, 213
  34. Schaffner, 323
  35. Wright confirmed this on the US rock radio album premiere of Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 in 2000.
  36. Publius FAQ When and why did Richard Wright leave the band?
  37. Gilmour confirmed that he was against Wright's dismissal on the U.S. rock radio album premiere of Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 in 2000
  38. Nick Mason. Inside Out : A Personal History of Pink Floyd. (London: Orion Books, 2004), 245 ISBN 0753819066.
  39. Schaffner, 209
  40. Rolling Stone, March 24, 1977
  41. Schaffner, 243
  42. Schaffner, 236
  43. Rolling Stone, February 7, 1980
  44. Rolling Stone, 14 April 1983
  45. Schaffner, 257
  46. Prog discography, retrieved 12 July 2006
  47. Schaffner, 297
  48. Schaffner, 289
  49. AMG Review The Division Bell., retrieved February 15 2006
  50. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996 Official Article
  51., 13 November 2003, retrieved 5 July 2007
  52. Donate Live 8 profit says Gilmour BBC News, 5 July 2005. Accessed 2007-04-07.
  53. ClassicRock Pink Floyd by Dave White
  54. www.Broadway.TV article, "Stoppard's Rock-N-Roll Connection"

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Beech, Mark. The A-Z of Names in Rock: And the Amazing Stories Behind Them. London: Robson Books, 1998. ISBN 1861050593
  • Blake, Mark. Pigs Might Fly - The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Aurum Press Ltd, 2007. ISBN 1845132610.
  • Fitch, Vernon. The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. London: Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc, 2005. ISBN 1894959248
  • Jones, Cliff. Another Brick in the Wall: The Stories Behind Every Pink Floyd Song. 1996. ISBN 0553067338
  • Mabbett, Andy. The complete guide to the music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus, 1995. ISBN 071194301x
  • Mabbett, Andy, Bruno MacDonald, Ivor Trueman, and Dave Walker, Eds. The Amazing Pudding 1982–1992. ISSN 0951-8304 (a fanzine)
  • Mason, Nick. Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004. ISBN 0297843877
  • Mabbett, Miles, and Andy Mabbett. Pink Floyd : the visual documentary. London: Omnibus Press, 1994. ISBN 0711941092
  • Palacios, Julian. Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Lost in the Woods, rev. ed. (1998) Plexus Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0859654311
  • Schaffner, Nicholas. Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey. Harmony, 1991. ISBN 0517576082

External links

All links retrieved November 24, 2022.


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