Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd in January 1968
Left to right: Mason, Barrett, Gilmour (seated), Waters and Wright
Background information
Also known as The Tea Set, The Pink Floyd Sound, The Pink Floyd
Origin London, England
Genres Progressive rock, psychedelic rock
Years active 1965 (1965)–1996, 2005
Labels Harvest, Capitol, Columbia, EMI
Past members

Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time. They have sold over 200 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Since then they have continued to enjoy worldwide fame.

The band originally consisted of students Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. Founded in 1965, they first became popular playing in London's underground music scene in the late 1960s. Under Barrett's leadership they released two charting singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", and a successful début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). Guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as its fifth member in December 1967, several months prior to Barrett's departure from the group due to the latter's deteriorating mental health. Following the loss of their principal songwriter, Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters became the band's lyricist and conceptual leader, with Gilmour assuming lead guitar, taking on most of the band's music composition, and sharing lead vocals. With this line-up Pink Floyd achieved worldwide critical and commercial success with their concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.

Wright left the group in 1979, and Waters in 1985, but Gilmour and Mason (subsequently rejoined by Wright) continued to record and tour. Waters resorted to legal means to try to keep them from performing as Pink Floyd, but the dispute was resolved with an out-of-court settlement which allowed Gilmour and Mason to continue, and which also released Waters from his contractual obligations to the band. Two further albums followed, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. Following almost two decades of acrimony the band reunited in 2005 for a single performance, at the charity concert Live 8. Wright died in 2008. Surviving members Waters, Gilmour and Mason reunited for one of Roger Waters' The Wall Tour shows on 12 May 2011 at the O2 Arena in London; Gilmour performed "Comfortably Numb" along with Waters and "Outside the Wall" with Mason and Waters.


Formation and early years (1963–1967)

The beginning

Roger Waters and Nick Mason met while studying architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London.[1] The pair first played together in a group formed by Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe together with Noble's sister Sheilagh. They were later joined by fellow student Richard Wright, becoming a sextet named Sigma 6, the first band to feature Waters on "rudimentary" lead guitar, Wright on rhythm guitar, and Mason on drums.[2] Wright's girlfriend was a regular guest artist. The band initially performed during private functions, rehearsing in a tearoom in the basement of Regent Street Polytechnic. They covered songs by The Searchers and material written by fellow student Ken Chapman, who became their manager and songwriter.[3]

In September 1963 Waters and Mason moved into a flat at 39 Stanhope Gardens, near Crouch End, London, owned by Mike Leonard, a part-time tutor at the Regent Street Polytechnic and Hornsey College of Art. Leonard was a designer of light machines (perforated discs spun by electric motors to cast patterns of lights on the walls)[nb 1] and for a time played keyboard with them using the front room of his flat for rehearsals.[4] Mason later moved out of the flat, while accomplished guitar player Bob Klose moved in. Sigma 6 went through a number of short-lived names, including The Meggadeaths,[nb 2] The (Screaming) Abdabs,[nb 3] Leonard's Lodgers, and The Spectrum Five before settling on The Tea Set.[nb 4][11][12] While Metcalfe and Noble left to form their own band,[13] Klose and Waters were joined at Stanhope Gardens by Syd Barrett in 1964.[13] Then aged 17,[14] Barrett had arrived in London in the autumn of 1963 to study at the Camberwell College of Art.[15] Waters and Barrett were childhood friends; the bassist had often visited Barrett as he played guitar at his mother's house.[16] In his book Mason said this about Barrett, "In a period when everyone was being cool in a very adolescent, self-conscious way, Syd was unfashionably outgoing; my enduring memory of our first encounter is the fact that he bothered to come up and introduce himself to me."[15]

At the launching of the new magazine IT  the other night a pop group called the Pink Floyd played throbbing music while a series of bizarre coloured shapes flashed on a huge screen behind them. Someone had made a mountain of jelly which people ate at midnight and another person had parked his motorbike in the middle of the room. All apparently very psychedelic.

After The Tea Set lost Noble and Metcalfe's vocal abilities, Klose introduced the band to Chris Dennis, a technician with the Royal Air Force.[18] It was during Dennis's tenure that the band was first referred to as "The Pink Floyd Sound", created by Barrett on the spur of the moment when he discovered that another band, also named The Tea Set, were to perform at one of their gigs. (The name is derived from the given names of two blues musicians whose Piedmont blues records Barrett had in his collection, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council).[19] At around the same time Dennis was posted to Bahrain, thrusting Barrett into the spotlight as front-man.[18]

They first performed in a recording studio in December 1964, minus the presence of Wright who was taking a break from his studies. Through one of his friends, who let them use some "down time" for free, they managed to secure recording time at a studio in West Hampstead. This four-song session became The Tea Set's first demo tape and included: the R&B classic "I'm A King Bee"; two Syd Barrett originals, "Butterfly" and "Lucy Leave"; and "Double O Bo", a group-composition which—according to Mason—was "Bo Diddley meets the 007 theme."[20]

The Pink Floyd Sound became the resident band at the Countdown Club, near Kensington High Street in London, where from late night until early morning they played three sets of 90 minutes. According to Mason, this period "... was the beginning of a realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos."[21] An audition for ITV's Ready Steady Go! soon followed (they were invited by the programme's producers to return the following week), as did another club, and two rock contests. After pressure from his father, and advice from his college tutors, Bob Klose quit Pink Floyd in 1966[22] and Barrett took over on lead guitar.[23] Playing mostly rhythm and blues songs they began to receive paid bookings, including one for a performance at the Marquee Club in March 1966 where they were watched by Peter Jenner. A lecturer at the London School of Economics, Jenner was impressed by the acoustic effects Barrett and Wright created[24] and, with his business partner and friend Andrew King, became their manager.[25] The pair had little experience of the music industry and used inherited money to set up Blackhill Enterprises, purchasing new instruments and equipment for the band including a Selmer PA system.[26] Under their guidance the band became part of London's underground music scene, playing at venues including All Saints Hall and The Marquee.[27] While performing at the Countdown Club the band had experimented with long instrumental excursions and they began to expand upon these with rudimentary but visually powerful light shows, projected by coloured slides and domestic lights.[28] To celebrate the launch of the London Free School's magazine International Times, they performed in front of a 2,000-strong crowd at the opening of The Roundhouse, attended by celebrities including Alexander Trocchi, Paul McCartney, and Marianne Faithfull.[29] Jenner and King's diverse array of social connections helped gain the band important coverage in The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.[30]

A Hapshash and the Coloured Coat poster for Pink Floyd at the UFO Club

Their relationship with Blackhill Enterprises was strengthened when they became full partners, each holding an "unprecedented" one-sixth share,[31] and by October 1966 their set included more of their own material.[32] They performed at venues such as the Commonwealth Institute,[33] but were not universally popular; following a performance at a Catholic youth club the owner refused to pay, a stance which the magistrate agreed with, claiming that the band's performance "wasn't music",[34] this was not the only occasion on which they encountered such opinions. They were better received at the UFO Club in London though,[35] Barrett's performances were reportedly exuberant, "... leaping around and the madness, and the kind of improvisation he was doing ... he was inspired. He would constantly manage to get past his limitations and into areas that were very, very interesting. Which none of the others could do."[36] The audience was receptive to the music they played, often high on various drugs although the band remained drug-free — "We were out of it, not on acid, but out of the loop, stuck in the dressing room at UFO."[37]

Signing with EMI

According to Mason, the psychedelic movement had "taken place around us—not within us".[38] Nevertheless, The Pink Floyd Sound were present at the head of a wave of interest in psychedelic music and what would later be called space rock,[39] and began to attract the attention of the music industry.[40] While in negotiations with record companies Joe Boyd and booking agent Bryan Morrison arranged for, and funded, the recording of several songs at Sound Techniques in West Hampstead, including "Arnold Layne" and a version of "Interstellar Overdrive",[40] and for the production of a short music film for "Arnold Layne" in Sussex. Despite early interest from Polydor the band signed with Electric and Musical Industries, with a £5,000 advance. Boyd was not included in the deal.[41]

"Arnold Layne" became Pink Floyd's (the definite article seems to have been dropped from the band's name at some point in 1967)[42] first single, released on 11 March 1967.[43] Its references to cross-dressing saw it banned by several radio stations, but some creative manipulation at the shops which supplied sales figures to the music industry meant that it peaked in the UK charts at number 20.[44]

On 29 April 1967 they headlined a famous all-night event called The 14 Hour Technicolour Dream at the Alexandra Palace, London, to raise funds for the counter-cultural newspaper International Times. Other artists included Yoko Ono and John Lennon. They played "Astronomy Domine", "Arnold Layne", "Interstellar Overdrive", "Nick's Boogie", and other material from what was to become their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Serendipitously, the band appeared just as the sun was beginning to rise at around five o'clock in the morning.[45]

All four members of the band had by then abandoned their studies or jobs, they upgraded their ageing Bedford van to a Ford Transit,[46] using it to travel to over 200 gigs in 1967 (a tenfold increase on the previous year). They were joined by road manager Peter Wynne Willson, with whom Barrett had previously shared a flat.[47] Willson updated the band's lighting rig, with some innovative ideas including the use of polarisers, mirrors, and stretched condoms.[48] "See Emily Play" was the group's second single and it was released on 16 June.[49] It was premièred at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in May that year,[50] where the band also used a device called an Azimuth co-ordinator. They performed on the BBC's Look of the Week, where an erudite and engaging Waters and Barrett faced rigorous questioning from Hans Keller.[51] The single fared slightly better than "Arnold Layne" and after two weeks was at number 17 in the charts. They were invited to appear on the BBC's Top Of The Pops, which was immensely popular but which controversially required artists to simply mime their singing and playing. They returned after the single climbed to number six, but a scheduled third appearance was cancelled when Barrett refused to perform.[49]

It was about this time the rest of the band first noticed changes in Barrett's behaviour.[52] By early 1967 he was regularly using LSD[53] and, at an earlier show in the Netherlands, Mason observed him to be "completely distanced from everything going on, whether simply tripping or suffering from a more organic neural disturbance I still have no idea."[52]

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Pink Floyd's contract with EMI had been negotiated by their agent Bryan Morrison and EMI producer Norman Smith. They were obliged[54] to record their first album at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London.[55] There they experimented with musique concrète and were at one point invited to watch The Beatles record "Lovely Rita".[56] In his 2005 autobiography Mason recalled that the sessions were relatively trouble-free, Smith disagreed stating that Barrett was unresponsive to his suggestions and constructive criticism.[57] The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967 and Pink Floyd continued to draw huge crowds at the UFO Club, but Barrett's deterioration was by then giving them serious concern. The rest of the band initially hoped that his erratic behaviour would be a passing phase but some, including Jenner and June Child,[nb 5] were more realistic:

I found him in the dressing room and he was so ... gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage ... and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down.[59]

To their consternation the band were forced to cancel their appearance at the prestigious National Jazz and Blues Festival, informing the music press that Barrett was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Jenner and Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist, which he did not attend, and a stay in Formentera, with Sam Hutt, a doctor well-established in the underground music scene, led to no visible improvement. A few dates in September were followed by the band's first tour of the United States.[60] Blackhill's late application for work permits forced the band to cancel several dates[61] and Barrett's condition grew steadily worse.[62] He detuned his guitar during a performance at the Winterland Ballroom, causing the strings to come off and during a recording for The Pat Boone Show he confounded the director by miming the song perfectly during the rehearsal, then standing motionless during the take. King quickly curtailed the band's US visit, sending them home on the next flight.[63]

Shortly after their return from the US the band supported Jimi Hendrix's tour of England[63] but Barrett's depression worsened the longer the tour continued,[64] his absence on one occasion forced the band to book David O'List as his replacement.[60] Barrett's position as frontman was becoming less secure. Wynne Willson left his role as lighting manager and allied himself with the guitarist.[65] Pink Floyd released the single "Apples and Oranges" in November 1967 in the UK (although not in the US[66]). Barrett's condition had reached a crisis point and they responded by adding a new member to their line-up.[60]

Classic line-up (1968–1979)

Gilmour replaces Barrett

Barrett had recently suggested adding four new members: in the words of Waters, "two freaks he'd met somewhere. One of them played the banjo, the other the saxophone ... [and] a couple of chick singers".[67] In December 1967 the band asked David Gilmour to become the fifth member of Pink Floyd, which Gilmour accepted.[68] Gilmour was already acquainted with Barrett, having studied together at Cambridge Tech in the early 1960s.[16] The two had performed at lunchtimes together with guitars and harmonicas, and later hitch-hiked and busked their way around the south of France.[69] In 1965, while a member of Joker's Wild, Gilmour had watched The Tea Set.[70] Barrett reluctantly agreed to Gilmour's addition to Pink Floyd. Steve O'Rourke (an assistant to Bryan Morrison) gave Gilmour a room at his house and a salary of £30 per week.[71] Gilmour immediately went out and bought a custom-made yellow Fender Stratocaster from a music shop in Cambridge (the instrument became one of Gilmour's favourite guitars throughout his career with Pink Floyd) and in January 1968 he was announced as the band's newest member.[72] To the general public he was then the second guitarist, the fifth member of Pink Floyd, and the group originally intended to keep Barrett in the group as a non-performing songwriter.[73] According to Jenner, "The idea was that Dave would be Syd's dep. and cover for his eccentricities. And when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved, but in a way where the others could work and function."[74] One of Gilmour's first duties was to pretend to play a guitar on an "Apples and Oranges" promotional film.[72] In a demonstration of his frustration at being effectively sidelined, Barrett tried to teach the band a new song, "Have You Got It Yet?", but changed the structure on each performance—making it impossible for them to learn.[75]

Working with Barrett eventually proved too difficult. Matters came to a head on the way to a performance in Southampton. When somebody in the van asked if they should collect Barrett, the response was "No, fuck it, let's not bother".[76] Waters later admitted "He was our friend, but most of the time we now wanted to strangle him".[77] In early March 1968 Pink Floyd met with Peter Jenner and Andrew King of Blackhill Enterprises, business partners at the time, to discuss the band's future. Barrett agreed to leave Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd "agreed to Blackhill's entitlement in perpetuity" with regard to "past activities".[78] Pink Floyd's partnership with Peter Jenner and Andrew King was dissolved in March 1968;[79] Jenner and King, who believed Barrett to be the creative genius of Pink Floyd, decided to represent him and end their relationship with Pink Floyd. Bryan Morrison then agreed that Steve O'Rourke should become Pink Floyd's manager.[80] The formal announcement about the departure of Barrett was made on 6 April 1968[81] although, for a short period after his de facto removal, Barrett still turned up to the occasional gig, apparently confused as to what was happening.[77] Barrett had been their main songwriter and Gilmour mimed to his voice on the group's European television appearances but, while playing on the university circuit, Waters and Wright created their own new material, such as "It Would Be So Nice" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". They were joined by road manager Peter Watts before touring Europe in 1968.[82]

A Saucerful of Secrets

For their second studio album the band returned with Smith to Abbey Road Studios. Several songs featuring Barrett had already been laid down, including "Jugband Blues" (his final contribution to their discography). Waters contributed three songs, "Let There Be More Light", "Corporal Clegg", and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (which includes guitar work by Gilmour and Barrett). Wright composed "See-Saw" and "Remember a Day". Encouraged by Smith some of the new material was recorded at their homes, continuing the type of experimentation seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Smith remained unconvinced by their musical style, but when Mason struggled to perform on "Remember a Day", he stepped in as his replacement.[83] Wright recalled Smith's attitude about the sessions, "Norman gave up on the second album ... he was forever saying things like, 'You can't do twenty minutes of this ridiculous noise.'"[84] Neither Waters nor Mason could read music so to create the album's title track, "A Saucerful of Secrets", they invented their own system of notation; Gilmour later described this as looking "... like an architectural diagram".[85]

A Saucerful of Secrets was released in June 1968. The album cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. Record Mirror urged listeners to "forget it as background music to a party"[85] and John Peel claimed that the album was " a religious experience...".[85] NME, however, viewed the title track as "...long and boring, and has little to warrant its monotonous direction".[85] [nb 6] Upon the album's release Pink Floyd performed at the first free Hyde Park concert, organised by Blackhill Enterprises, alongside Roy Harper and Jethro Tull. The band considered Morrison's assistant, Steve O'Rourke, as a "great deal-maker" whose business acumen overshadowed his lack of interest in aesthetic matters and, when Morrison sold his business to NEMS Enterprises, O'Rourke became the band's personal manager. This also enabled the band to take complete control of their artistic outlook. They returned to the US for their first major tour, accompanied by Soft Machine and The Who.[87][88]


In 1968 the band recorded the score for the film The Committee. Just before Christmas 1968 they released "Point Me At The Sky", which was no more successful than the two singles they had released since "See Emily Play". "Point Me At The Sky" would be the band's last single for several years.[89] In 1969 they recorded the score for Barbet Schroeder's film More. The soundtrack proved important; not only did it pay well but, along with A Saucerful of Secrets,[90] the material they created became part of their live shows for some time thereafter. A tour of the UK ended at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1969, during which an electric shock caused by poor grounding sent Gilmour flying across the stage.[89] The performances, built around two long pieces called The Man and The Journey,[91] were backed with performance art created by artist Peter Dockley. Some of the sound effects were later used on 1970's "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast".[89] While composing the soundtrack for Zabriskie Point, for director Michelangelo Antonioni, the band stayed at a luxury hotel in Rome. Waters has since claimed that, but for Antonioni's continuous changes to the music, the work could have been completed in less than a week. Eventually he used only three of their recordings, in addition to material from the Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Patti Page, and the Rolling Stones. One of the pieces turned down by Antonioni, called "The Violent Sequence", later became "Us and Them", included on Pink Floyd's 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon. The band also worked on the soundtrack for a proposed cartoon series called Rollo but a lack of funds meant that it was never produced. Waters also collaborated with Ron Geesin when they scored the soundtrack to the 1970 film The Body.[92]

Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother

Roger Waters performing with Pink Floyd at Leeds University in 1970

Ummagumma presented a departure from their previous work and contains live performance and older compositions. Released as a double-LP on EMI's Harvest label, the first two sides contained live performances recorded at Manchester College of Commerce and at Mother's Club in Birmingham. The second LP contained a single experimental contribution from each band member. Ummagumma was released to positive reviews in October 1969.[93]

Atom Heart Mother quickly followed Ummagumma in the second half of 1970. The band's previous LPs were recorded using a four-track system, but Atom Heart Mother was their first eight-track album.[94] An early version was premièred in France in January but disagreements over the mix prompted the hiring of Ron Geesin to work out the sound issues. Geesin worked for about a month to improve the score but, with little creative input from the band, production was troublesome; it was eventually completed with the aid of John Aldiss. Norman Smith was credited as an executive producer and the album marked his final contribution to the band's discography.[95] Gilmour is generally dismissive of Atom Heart Mother and once described it as "a load of rubbish",[96] although in 2001 he said it "was a good thing to have attempted, but I don't really think the attempt comes off that well".[97] Waters was similarly critical, claiming that he would not mind if it were "thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again."[96] Atom Heart Mother was hugely successful in the UK[98] and was premièred at the Bath Festival on 27 June 1970.[99] The band toured extensively across America and Europe in 1970.[100]

In 1971 Pink Floyd took second place in a readers poll in Melody Maker and for the first time were making a profit. In New Orleans the theft of equipment worth about $40,000 almost crippled the band's finances but, although the local police were unhelpful, hours after the band notified the FBI the equipment was returned. Mason and Wright became fathers and bought homes in London while Gilmour, still single, moved to a 19th-century farm in Essex. Waters installed a home recording studio at his house in Islington in a converted tool-shed at the back of his garden.[101]


Returning from touring Atom Heart Mother at the start of 1971 the band began working on new material.[102] Lacking a central theme they attempted several largely unproductive experiments;[103] engineer John Leckie described the sessions as often beginning in the afternoon and ending early the next morning, "during which time nothing would get done. There was no record company contact whatsoever, except when their label manager would show up now and again with a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of joints."[104] The band spent long periods working on simple sounds, or a particular guitar riff. They also spent several days at Air Studios, attempting to create music using a variety of household objects, a project which would be revisited between The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.[105] Meddle's production was spread over a considerable period of time; the band recorded in the first half of April, but in the latter half played at Doncaster and Norwich before returning to record at the end of the month. In May they split their time between sessions at Abbey Road, rehearsals and concerts across Great Britain. June and July were spent mainly performing at venues across Europe whereas August was spent in the far east and Australia, returning to Europe in September.[106]

Meddle was released on 30 October 1971 in the US and 13 November in the UK,[nb 7] while the band were touring in the US.[110] Rolling Stone's Jean-Charles Costa wrote "Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force with the group, it states forcefully and accurately that the group is well into the growth track again",[111] and NME called it "an exceptionally good album". Melody Maker's Michael Watts was underwhelmed, claiming the album was "a soundtrack to a non-existent movie" and shrugged it off as "so much sound and fury, signifying nothing".[112][113] Meddle is sometimes considered to be a transitional album between the Barrett-influenced band and the modern Pink Floyd.[114][115]

The group's other releases around this period, More and Zabriskie Point, were soundtracks and Atom Heart Mother was influenced as much by Ron Geesin and the session artists as it was by the band.[116] The band again worked with Barbet Schroeder on the film La Vallée, for which a soundtrack album was released called Obscured by Clouds. The material was composed in about a week at the Château d'Hérouville near Paris and, upon its release, was their first to break into the top 50 on the US Billboard chart.[117] At about the same time the band also produced the compilation album Relics.[118]

The Dark Side of the Moon

A monochrome image of members of the band. The photograph is taken from a distance, and is bisected horizontally by the forward edge of the stage. Each band member and his equipment is illuminated from above by bright spotlights, also visible. A long-haired man holds a guitar and sings into a microphone on the left of the image. Central, another man is seated behind a large drumkit. Two men on the right of the image hold a saxophone or a bass guitar and appear to be looking in each other's general direction. In the foreground, silhouetted, are the heads of the audience.
A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon at Earls Court, shortly after its release in 1973. (l-r) David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Roger Waters

The band's next album, titled The Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy),[119] was recorded between May 1972 and January 1973 with EMI staff engineer Alan Parsons at Abbey Road.[120][121] Late in the album's production Parsons was assisted by producer Chris Thomas, who became responsible for significant changes such as the echo used on "Us and Them".[122][123] The album's packaging was designed by Hipgnosis and bore George Hardie's iconic refracting prism on the cover.[124] Since Barrett's departure the burden of lyrical composition had fallen mostly on Waters[125] and he is therefore credited as the author of the album's lyrics.[126] The band filmed studio footage for Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii[127] before beginning a tour of Europe in 1972.[128]

The Dark Side of the Moon was released in March 1973 and became an instant chart success in Britain and throughout Western Europe.[129] The critical reaction was generally enthusiastic. Melody Maker's Roy Hollingworth described side one as " utterly confused with itself it was difficult to follow," but praised side two writing, "The songs, the sounds, the rhythms were solid and sound, Saxophone hit the air, the band rocked and rolled, and then gushed and tripped away into the night."[130] In his 1973 album review for Rolling Stone magazine, Lloyd Grossman wrote, "a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement."[131] Throughout March 1973 it featured as part of their US tour, including a midnight performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 17 March.[132][133]

The success of the album brought previously unknown wealth to all four members of the band. Richard Wright and Roger Waters bought large country houses while Nick Mason became a collector of expensive cars.[134] Much of the album's early state-side success has been attributed to the efforts of Pink Floyd's US record company, Capitol Records. Newly appointed chairman Bhaskar Menon reversed the relatively poor performance of the band's previous US releases but, disenchanted with Capitol, the band and manager O'Rourke negotiated a new contract with Columbia Records. The Dark Side of the Moon was the last album that Pink Floyd were obliged to release before formally signing a new contract.[135] Menon's efforts to secure a contract renewal with Pink Floyd were in vain and the band signed for Columbia, with a reported advance fee of US$1M (approximately $5,000,000 today), while in Britain and Europe they continued to be represented by Harvest Records.[136]

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd returned to the studio in January 1975.[137] Alan Parsons had declined the band's offer to continue working with them, instead becoming successful in his own right with The Alan Parsons Project,[122] and so the band turned to Brian Humphries with whom they had already worked on More.[138] The group initially found it difficult to devise any new material, especially as the success of The Dark Side of the Moon had left all four physically and emotionally drained. Richard Wright later described these early sessions as "falling within a difficult period" and Waters found them "torturous".[139] Gilmour was more interested in improving the band's existing material. Mason's marriage was failing leaving him in a general malaise and with a sense of apathy, both of which interfered with his drumming.[139]

It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realised and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all ... everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while ...[140]

Despite the lack of creative direction Waters began to visualise a new concept after several weeks.[139] During 1974 they had sketched out three new compositions[141] and had performed them at a series of concerts in Europe.[137] These new compositions became the starting point for a new album whose opening four-note guitar phrase, composed entirely by accident by Gilmour,[142] reminded Waters of the lingering ghost of former band-member Syd Barrett.[143] The songs provided an apt summary of the rise and fall of their former band mate:[144] "Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt ... that sort of indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd."[143] While the band were working on the album Barrett made an impromptu visit to the studio,[142][145][146] during which Thorgerson recalled that he "sat round and talked for a bit but he wasn't really there."[147] He had changed in appearance and the band did not initially recognise him, Waters was reportedly deeply upset by the experience.[148] Barrett eventually left without saying goodbye and none of the band members ever saw him again, apart from a run-in between Waters and Barrett a couple of years later.[149] Some of the material also contained barely veiled attacks on the music business. "Raving and Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy" had no place in the new concept and were set aside.[150] Storm Thorgerson concealed the album cover artwork with a dark-coloured shrink-wrap. The cover image was inspired by the idea that people tend to conceal their true feelings, for fear of "getting burned", and thus two businessmen were pictured shaking hands with one man on fire.[151][152][153][154]

Much of Wish You Were Here was premièred on 5 July 1975 at an open-air music festival at Knebworth[155] before being released in September that year.[156] It reached number one in Britain and the US,[157][157] along with positive reviews; Robert Christgau wrote: "... the music is not only simple and attractive, with the synthesiser used mostly for texture and the guitar breaks for comment, but it actually achieves some of the symphonic dignity (and cross-referencing) that The Dark Side of the Moon simulated so ponderously."[158]


Battersea Power Station featured in the cover image of Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Animals.

Following the Knebworth concert the band bought a three-storey block of church halls, at 35 Britannia Row in Islington, and set about converting the building into a recording studio and storage facility.[159] The work took up most of 1975 and in 1976 they recorded Animals there, their eighth studio album.[160]

Animals was another Waters concept, loosely based on George Orwell's political fable Animal Farm—its lyrics described various classes of society as dogs, pigs, and sheep.[161] Brian Humphries was again brought in to engineer the album which was completed in December 1976.[160] Apart from its critique of society the album was also in part a response to the punk rock movement,[162] which grew in popularity as a nihilistic statement against the prevailing social and political conditions, and also a reaction to the general complacency and nostalgia that appeared to surround rock music. Pink Floyd were an obvious target for punk musicians, notably Johnny Rotten who wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt on which the words "I hate" had been written. Mason later stated that he welcomed the "Punk Rock insurrection" and viewed it as a welcome return to the underground scene from which Pink Floyd had grown. In 1977 he produced The Damned's second album at Britannia Row.[163]

Hipgnosis were credited for the packaging of Animals but the final concept was designed by Waters, who chose an image of the ageing Battersea Power Station. The band commissioned a 30 feet (9.1 m) pig-shaped balloon and photography began on 2 December. Inclement weather delayed filming and the balloon broke free of its moorings in strong winds, disappearing to eventually land in Kent where it was recovered by a local farmer, reportedly furious that it had "apparently scared his cows".[164] Shooting resumed but a decision was made instead to superimpose the image of the pig onto the photograph of the power station.[164][165]

The division of royalties became a sore topic during production of the album. Royalties were accorded on a per-song basis and, although Gilmour was largely responsible for "Dogs" which took up almost the entire first side of the album, he received less than Waters who also contributed the two-part "Pigs on the Wing", which contains references to Waters' romantic involvement with Carolyne Anne Christie.[nb 8] Gilmour was also distracted by the birth of his first child and contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed much toward Animals (the first Pink Floyd album not to contain a writing credit for Wright); Wright had marital problems, and his relationship with Waters was also suffering.[167] Wright recalled the recording:

Animals was a slog. It wasn't a fun record to make, but this was when Roger really started to believe that he was the sole writer for the band. He believed that it was only because of him that the band was still going, and obviously, when he started to develop his ego trips, the person he would have his conflicts with would be me.[168]

The album was released on 23 January 1977[164] and entered the UK charts at number two and number three in the US.[169] NME called the album "... one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music to have been made available this side of the sun ...",[169] and Melody Maker's Karl Dallas wrote "... [an] uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific ...".[169]

Soldier Field Chicago, one of the largest venues in which Pink Floyd performed during their In the Flesh tour in 1977.

The album became the subject material for the band's "In the Flesh" tour, during which early signs of discord became apparent. This tour was Pink Floyd's first experience with playing in large stadiums and the size of the venues was an issue.[170] Waters began arriving at each venue alone, departing immediately after the performance was complete, and Gilmour's wife Ginger did not get along with Waters' new girlfriend. On one occasion Wright flew back to England threatening to leave the band. At the Montréal Olympic Stadium a small group of noisy and excited fans in the front row of the audience irritated Waters so much that he spat at one of them. Waters was not the only person who felt depressed about playing in such large venues, as that same night Gilmour refused to perform the band's usual twelve-bar blues encore.[171] The end of the tour was a low point for Gilmour who felt that the band had by then achieved the success they sought, and that there was nothing else to look forward to.[172]

Financial problems

Gilmour and Wright released their début solo albums around this time, David Gilmour and Wet Dream respectively. While Gilmour's album sold reasonably well Wright's album sold poorly, a situation only exacerbated by the loss of much of the band's accumulated wealth. In 1976 the band had become involved with financial advisers Norton Warburg Group (NWG). NWG became the band's collecting agents and handled all financial planning, for an annual fee of about £300,000. Between £1.6 million and £3.3 million of the band's money was invested in high-risk venture capital schemes, primarily to reduce the band's exposure to high UK taxes. It soon became obvious that the band was still losing money. Not only did NWG invest in failing businesses, they also left the band liable for tax bills as high as 83 percent of their income. The band eventually terminated their relationship with NWG and demanded the return of any cash not yet invested, which at that time amounted to £860,000 although they received only £740,000.[173][nb 9]

The Wall

In the midst of these problems Waters presented the band with two new ideas, in July 1978. The first was a 90-minute demo given the provisional title Bricks in the Wall and the other would later become Waters' first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. Although both Mason and Gilmour were initially cautious the former (inspired by the recent spitting incident) was chosen to be their next album.[174] Bob Ezrin was brought in as co-producer and he wrote a forty-page script for the new album.[175] The story was based on the central character of Pink—a character inspired by Waters' childhood experiences, the most notable of which was the death of his father in World War II. This first 'brick in the wall' led to more problems, Pink would become so drug-addled and worn down by the music industry that he would transform into a megalomaniac, a development inspired partly by the decline of Syd Barrett. At the end of the album the increasingly fascist audience would watch as Pink 'tore down the wall', once again becoming a normal caring person.[176]

Engineer Brian Humphries, emotionally drained by his five years with the band, was replaced by James Guthrie for the recording of the album.[177] In March 1979 the band's critical financial situation demanded that they leave the UK for a year or more and recording was moved to the Super Bear Studios near Nice.[178] The band were rarely in the studio together and Waters' relationship with Wright broke down completely. Wright was given a trial period as a producer but his working methods, and lack of creative input, caused considerable tension. Wright eventually stopped coming into the studio during the day and worked only at night. Matters came to a head when Columbia offered the band a better deal, in exchange for a Christmas release of the album. Waters increased their workload accordingly but Wright, with a failing marriage and suffering from depression, refused to cut short his family holiday in Rhodes stating, "The rest of the band's children were young enough to stay with them in France but mine were older and had to go to school. I was missing my children terribly."[179] In Inside Out (2005), Mason says that Waters called O'Rourke, who was travelling to the US on the QE2, and told him to have Wright out of the band by the time Waters arrived in LA to mix the album;[180] however, in Comfortably Numb (2008) Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake states that Waters called O'Rourke and asked him to tell Wright about the new recording arrangements and that Wright's response was apparently "Tell Roger to fuck off."[181] Wright disagreed with this recollection, stating that the band had agreed to record only through the spring and early summer and that he had no idea they were so far behind schedule. Waters was stunned and felt that Wright was not doing enough to help complete the album.[182] Gilmour was on holiday in Dublin when he learned what was happening and tried to calm the situation. He later spoke with Wright and gave him his support, but he reminded him about his lack of input on the album. Waters was insisting that Wright leave, or else he would refuse to release The Wall. Several days later, worried about their financial situation and the failing interpersonal relationships within the band, Wright quit.[183] Rumours persisted that Wright had a cocaine addiction, something he always disputed, and although his name did not appear anywhere on the finished album he was employed as a paid musician on the band's subsequent The Wall tour.[184] Production of the album continued and by August 1979 the running order was largely complete. Wright completed his duties, aided by session musicians. Toward the end of The Wall sessions, Mason left the final mix to Waters, Gilmour, Ezrin, and Guthrie, travelling to New York to record his début solo album, Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports.[185]

Although Pink Floyd rarely released singles, and had not done so since 1968, the album was promoted with "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)", which topped the charts in the US and the UK.[186] A National Endowment for the Arts and RIAA poll named "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" one of the 365 Songs of the Century in 2001.[187] The Wall was released on 30 November 1979 and topped the Billboard charts for fifteen weeks.[188] The Wall ranks No.4 of all time on the RIAA's list of the Top 100 albums, with 23 million certified units sold in the US alone,[189] and remains one of the band's best-selling albums.[190] The cover is one of their most minimalist designs, with a simple white brick wall, and no logo or band name.

The band went on tour with an elaborate stage show. Gerald Scarfe was employed to produce a series of animations for the subsequent The Wall Tour, including a series of nightmarish visions of the future such as a dove of peace exploding to reveal an eagle. Large inflatable puppets were also created for the live shows.[191] Relationships within the band were at an all-time low. Their four Winnebagos were parked in a circle, with the doors facing away from the centre. Waters used his own vehicle to arrive at the venue and stayed in separate hotels from the rest of the band. Wright returned as a paid musician and was the only 'member' of the band to profit from the venture, which lost about $600,000.[192]

The Wall concept also spawned an eponymous film, the original plan for which was to be a mixture of live concert footage and animated scenes. The concert footage, however, proved impractical to film. Alan Parker agreed to direct and took a different approach. The animated sequences would remain, but scenes would be acted by professional actors with no dialogue. Waters was screen-tested but quickly discarded and Bob Geldof was asked to take the role of Pink. Geldof was initially disdainful, condemning The Wall's storyline as "bollocks".[193] He was eventually won over by the prospect of being involved in a major film and receiving a large payment for his work. Waters took a six-week holiday during filming and returned to find that Parker had used his creative license to change parts of the film to his liking. Waters was irate, the two fought, and Parker threatened to walk out. Gilmour pleaded with Waters to reconsider his stance, reminding the bassist that he and the other band members were shareholders and directors and could out-vote him on such decisions. A modified soundtrack was also created for some of the film's songs. Pink Floyd—The Wall was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1982, released in the UK in July 1982, and released internationally through the rest of 1982.[194]

Waters-led era (1981–1984)

The Final Cut

A new musical project, with the working title Spare Bricks, was originally conceived as the soundtrack album for Pink Floyd The Wall, but with the onset of the Falklands War Waters changed direction and began writing new material. Waters saw Margaret Thatcher's response to the invasion of the Falklands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and he dedicated the new album—provisionally titled Requiem for a Post-War Dream—to his dead father. Immediately there were arguments between Waters and Gilmour, who felt that the album should contain all new material, rather than songs not considered good enough for The Wall. Waters felt that Gilmour had contributed little to the band's lyrical repertoire.[195] Michael Kamen (a contributor to the orchestral sections of The Wall) mediated between the two, also performing the role traditionally occupied by the then absent Wright. James Guthrie was the studio engineer and Mason was aided by two session drummers. Recording took place in eight studios, including Gilmour's home studio at Hookend Manor and Waters' home studio at East Sheen. The tension within the band grew, Waters and Gilmour worked separately (itself not unusual) but Gilmour began to feel the strain, sometimes barely maintaining his composure. Waters lost his temper and began ranting at Kamen who, out of boredom during one recording session, had started repeatedly writing "I Must Not Fuck Sheep"[196] on a notepad in the studio's control room. After a final confrontation Gilmour's name as producer was removed from the credit list, reflecting what Waters felt was his lack of song writing contributions.[197] Mason's contributions were minimal, as he busied himself recording sound effects for an experimental new Holophonic system to be used on the album. With marital problems of his own, he remained a distant figure.[198] Thorgerson was passed over for the cover design, Waters choosing to instead design it himself and his brother-in-law, Willie Christie, was commissioned to take photographs for the album cover.[198] The Final Cut was released in March 1983, going straight to No.1 in the UK and No.6 in the US. Waters is credited with writing all the lyrics as well as all the music on the album.[199] Gilmour did not have any material ready for the album and asked Waters to delay the recording until he could write some songs, but Waters refused.[200] Gilmour later commented, "I'm certainly guilty at times of being lazy ... but he wasn't right about wanting to put some duff tracks on The Final Cut." According to Mason, Gilmour's name "disappeared" from the production credits, after power struggles within the band and creative arguments about the album, though he retained his pay.[201] "Not Now John" was released as a single, with its chorus of "Fuck all that" bowdlerised to "Stuff all that"; Melody Maker declared it to be "... a milestone in the history of awfulness ...". Rolling Stone magazine gave the album five stars, with Kurt Loder calling it "a superlative achievement on several levels ..." and "art rock's crowning masterpiece".[202] Loder viewed the album as "... essentially a Roger Waters solo album ..."[203]

"A spent force"

Gilmour performing in Brussels in 1984, on his About Face tour

Gilmour recorded his second solo album About Face in 1984 and used it to express his feelings about a range of topics; from the murder of John Lennon to his relationship with Waters. He later stated that he also used the album to distance himself from Pink Floyd. Soon afterwards Waters began touring his new solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.[204] Richard Wright formed Zee with Dave Harris and recorded Identity, which went almost unnoticed upon its release. Wright was also in the midst of a difficult divorce and said later that it was, "... made at a time in my life when I was lost."[205] Mason released his second solo album Profiles in August 1985, which featured a contribution from Gilmour on "Lie for a Lie".[206]

After Waters declared Pink Floyd "a spent force", he contacted O'Rourke to discuss settling future royalty payments. O'Rourke felt obliged to inform Mason and Gilmour, as a result Waters was angered and wanted to dismiss him as the band's manager. Waters then went to the High Court to prevent the Pink Floyd name from ever being used again.[206] His lawyers discovered that the partnership had never been formally confirmed and Waters returned to the High Court in an attempt to gain a veto over further use of the band's name. Gilmour's team responded by issuing a carefully worded press release affirming that Pink Floyd would continue to exist. Gilmour later told a Sunday Times reporter that "Roger is a dog in the manger and I'm going to fight him ...".[207]

Waters wrote to EMI and Columbia, declared his intention to leave the group, and asked them to release him from his contractual obligations. Gilmour believed that Waters left to hasten the demise of Pink Floyd. Waters later stated that by not making new albums Pink Floyd would be in breach of contract—which would mean that royalty payments would be suspended—and that he was effectively forced from the band as the other members threatened to sue him. With the case still pending Waters dismissed O'Rourke and employed Peter Rudge to manage his affairs.[206] He went on to record the soundtrack for When the Wind Blows,[208] as well as his second solo album, Radio K.A.O.S..[209]

Gilmour-led era (1986–1995)

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

As Radio K.A.O.S. was released in June 1987,[209] Gilmour was recruiting musicians for what would become Pink Floyd's first album without Waters—A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Artists such as Jon Carin and Phil Manzanera worked on the album, joined by Bob Ezrin.[210] Gilmour was also contacted by Wright's new wife. She had heard that he was working on new material and asked if Wright could contribute. Gilmour considered the request; there were several legal obstacles to Wright's re-admittance to the band but, after a meeting in Hampstead, he was brought back in.[211] Gilmour later stated in an interview with author Karl Dallas that Wright's presence, "would make us stronger legally and musically" and he was employed as a paid musician on a weekly wage of $11,000.[212][213] The album was recorded on Gilmour's houseboat, the Astoria, moored along the River Thames with Andy Jackson (a colleague of Guthrie) brought in as an engineer. Gilmour experimented with various songwriters, such as Eric Stewart and Roger McGough, but eventually settled on Anthony Moore as the lyricist.[214] Gilmour would later admit that the new project was difficult without Waters's presence.[215] Nick Mason was concerned that he was too out of practice to perform on the album and was replaced on occasion by session musicians. He instead busied himself with the album's sound effects. In a change from previous Floyd albums A Momentary Lapse of Reason was recorded onto a 32-channel Mitsubishi digital recorder using MIDI synchronisation with the aid of an Apple Macintosh computer.[216][217] Waters on one occasion visited Astoria to see Ezrin, along with Christie who was by then his wife. As he was still a shareholder and director of Pink Floyd music, he was able to block any decisions made by his former band mates. Recording moved first to Mayfair Studios and then to Los Angeles—"It was fantastic because ... the lawyers couldn't call in the middle of recording unless they were calling in the middle of the night."[218]

The album was released in September 1987. Storm Thorgerson, whose creative input was absent from The Wall and The Final Cut, was employed to design the cover.[219] In order to drive home the message that Waters had left the band, a group photograph was—for the first time since Meddle—included on the inside of the cover.[nb 10] The album went straight to number three in the United Kingdom and United States—held from the top spot by Michael Jackson's Bad and Whitesnake's eponymous album Whitesnake. Although Gilmour initially viewed the album as a return to the band's best form, Wright would later disagree stating, "Roger's criticisms are fair. It's not a band album at all."[220] Q Magazine's view was that the album was primarily a Gilmour solo effort.[221] Waters said, "I think it's very facile, but a quite clever forgery ... The songs are poor in general; the lyrics I can't quite believe. Gilmour's lyrics are very third-rate."[222]

The associated tour had a rocky start. Waters tried to block a proposed Pink Floyd tour by contacting every promoter in the US and threatening to sue them if they used the Pink Floyd name. Gilmour and Mason funded the start-up costs with Mason, separated from his wife, using his Ferrari 250 GTO as collateral. Some promoters were offended by Waters's threat and, several months later, tickets went on sale in Toronto and were sold out within hours.[223] Early rehearsals for the upcoming tour were chaotic, with Mason and Wright completely out of practice; realising he'd taken on too much work, Gilmour asked Bob Ezrin to take charge. As the new band toured throughout North America, Waters' Radio K.A.O.S. tour was, on occasion, close by. The bassist had banned any members of Pink Floyd from attending his concerts,[nb 11] which were generally in smaller venues than those housing his former band's performances. Waters issued a writ for copyright fees for the band's use of the flying pig and Pink Floyd responded by attaching a huge set of male genitalia to its underside to distinguish it from his design.[225]

By November 1987 Waters appeared to admit defeat and on 23 December a legal settlement was finally reached. Mason and Gilmour were allowed use of the Pink Floyd name in perpetuity and Waters would be granted, amongst other things, The Wall. The bickering continued however, with Waters issuing the occasional slight against his former friends and Gilmour and Mason responding by making light of Waters's claims that they would fail without him.[226] The Sun printed a story about Waters, whom it claimed had paid an artist to create 150 toilet rolls with Gilmour's face on every sheet; Waters denied the story, but joked that he thought it was a good idea.[227]

The Division Bell

For several years the three members of Pink Floyd busied themselves with personal pursuits, such as filming and competing in the Carrera Panamericana (where Gilmour and O'Rourke crashed) and later recording a soundtrack for the film.[228] Gilmour divorced Ginger and Mason married actress Annette Lynton.[229] In January 1993 the band began working on a new album. They returned to a then remodelled Britannia Row Studios, where for several days Gilmour, Mason, and Wright worked collaboratively, ad-libbing new material. After about two weeks the band had enough ideas to start creating new songs.[nb 12] Bob Ezrin returned to work on the album and production moved to Astoria, where from February to May 1993 the band worked on about twenty-five ideas.[231] Contractually, Wright was still not a full member of the band: "It came very close to a point where I wasn't going to do the album",[232] a situation which clearly upset the keyboardist; however, he was given his first songwriting credit on a Pink Floyd album since 1975's Wish You Were Here. Another songwriter credited on the album was Gilmour's new girlfriend, Polly Samson. She helped write "High Hopes" with Gilmour—along with several other tracks—a situation which, though initially tense, Ezrin said, "pulled the whole album together".[233] She also helped Gilmour who had developed a cocaine habit following his divorce.[234] Michael Kamen was brought in to work on the album's various string arrangements[231] and Dick Parry and Chris Thomas also returned.[235] Keen to avoid competing against other album releases (as had happened with A Momentary Lapse) the band set a deadline of April 1994, at which point they would begin touring again. The album title was chosen by writer Douglas Adams and Storm Thorgerson once again provided the cover artwork.[236] Thorgerson also provided six new pieces of film for the upcoming tour.[237]

The band spent three weeks rehearsing in a hangar at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California,[238] before opening on 29 March 1994 in Miami with an almost identical crew to that used for their Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. They played a mixture of Pink Floyd favourites, but later changed their setlist to include The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.[239] The band also renewed their acquaintance with Peter Wynne Willson.[240] Waters declined the band's invitation to join them as the tour reached Europe, later expressing his annoyance that some Pink Floyd songs were again being performed in large venues.[241] A 1,200 capacity stand collapsed at Earls Court during the European leg of the tour, but with no serious injuries, and the performance was rescheduled.[241]

The tour ended on 29 October and was the group's final tour. A live album Pulse and a concert video, also called Pulse, were released in 1995.[242] This would also be the last appearance of the band before the one-off reunion in 2005 during Live 8 and their performances of "Fat Old Sun" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" at the funeral of their manager Steve O'Rourke.[243][241]

Live 8 and beyond (2005–present)

Roger Waters (seen on the right) rejoined his former bandmates at Live 8
David Gilmour at Live 8, 2005

On Saturday 2 July 2005 the classic line-up of Pink Floyd performed together on stage for the first time in over 24 years at the Live 8 concert.[244]

The reunion had been arranged by Live 8 organiser Bob Geldof who had called Mason earlier in the year to discuss the band reuniting for the event. Geldof asked Gilmour, who turned down the offer, and then asked Mason to intercede on his behalf. Mason declined, but contacted Waters who was immediately enthusiastic. Waters then called Geldof to discuss the event, which was at that time only a month away. About two weeks later Waters called Gilmour, their first conversation for about two years, and the next day the latter agreed. Wright was contacted and immediately agreed. Statements were issued to the press which stressed the unimportance of the band's problems, compared to the context of the Live 8 event. The set-list was planned at the Connaught Hotel in London, followed by three days of rehearsals at Black Island Studios. The sessions were troublesome, with minor disagreements over the style and pace of the songs they were practising. Waters wanted to use the occasion to expand the concepts he had designed, whereas Gilmour wanted to perform the songs in exactly the way the audience would expect. The final set-list and running order was decided on the eve of the concert.[245] Gilmour and Waters shared lead vocals. At the start of their performance, during "Wish You Were Here", Waters told the audience: "It's actually quite emotional, standing up here with these three guys after all these years, standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we're doing this for everyone who's not here, and particularly of course for Syd." At the end of their performance Gilmour thanked the audience and started to walk off the stage but Waters called him back and the band shared a group hug. Images of that hug were a favourite amongst Sunday newspapers after Live 8.[246][247] Two years after their one-off reunion Waters remarked, "I don't think any of us came out of the years from 1985 with any credit ... It was a bad, negative time. And I regret my part in that negativity."[248] In the week following their performance there was a revival of interest in Pink Floyd. According to HMV, in the week following sales of Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd rose by 1,343 per cent, while reported a significant increase in sales of The Wall. Gilmour subsequently declared that he would donate his share of profits from this sales boom to charity and urged other artists and record companies profiting from Live 8 to do the same.[249]

After the show Gilmour confirmed that he and Waters were on "pretty amicable terms".[250] The band turned down a £136 million (then about $250 million) deal for a final tour. Waters did not rule out further performances, but only for a special occasion.[251][252][253] In a 2006 interview with La Repubblica Gilmour stated that he wished to focus on solo projects and his family, and that his appearance at Live 8 was to help reconcile his differences with Waters.[254] In a 2006 interview Mason stated that Pink Floyd would be willing to perform for a concert that would support peace between Israel and Palestine.[255] Speaking of Pink Floyd's future Gilmour stated in 2006 "who knows".[256] David Gilmour released his third solo record, On an Island, on 6 March 2006—his 60th birthday. He began a tour of small concert venues in Europe, Canada and the US, with contributions from Wright and other musicians from the post-Waters Pink Floyd tours. Mason joined Gilmour and Wright for the final night of the tour and played on selected dates on Waters' 2006 Europe and U.S. tour "The Dark Side of the Moon Live". Gilmour, Wright, and Mason's encore performances of "Wish You Were Here" and "Comfortably Numb" marked the first performance by Pink Floyd since Live 8.[257]

Syd Barrett died on 7 July 2006 at his home in Cambridgeshire aged 60.[258] He was interred at Cambridge Crematorium on 18 July 2006. No Pink Floyd members attended. After Barrett's death Wright said, "The band are very naturally upset and sad to hear of Syd Barrett's death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire."[258] Although Barrett had faded into obscurity over the previous 35 years, he was lauded in the national press for his contributions to music.[259] He left over £1.25M in his will, to be divided among his immediate family, and some of his possessions and artwork were auctioned.[260]

In September 2005 Waters released Ça Ira, an opera in three acts to a French libretto, based on the historical subject of the French Revolution. Reviews were complimentary;[261] Rolling Stone wrote, "the opera does reflect some of the man's long-term obsessions with war and peace, love and loss".[262] 2007 saw the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd's signing to EMI and the 40th anniversary of the release of their début album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. 2007 saw the release of Oh, by the Way, a limited edition box set containing all of their studio albums.[263]

On 10 May 2007 Waters and Pink Floyd performed separately at the Syd Barrett tribute concert at the Barbican Centre in London. The band performed some of Barrett's hits, such as "Bike" and "Arnold Layne", at the event which was organised by Joe Boyd and Nick Laird-Clowes.[264] In a January 2007 interview Waters suggested he had become more open to a Pink Floyd reunion: "I would have no problem if the rest of them wanted to get together. It wouldn’t even have to be to save the world. It could be just because it would be fun. And people would love it."[265] Later that year Gilmour stated: "I can’t see why I would want to be going back to that old thing. It’s very retrogressive. I want to look forward, and looking back isn’t my joy."[266] In a May 2008 interview for BBC 6Music, David Gilmour hinted that he would be in favour of another one-off show, but ruled out a full tour.[267] Speaking to Associated Press to promote the release of his new live album, David Gilmour stated that a reunion would not happen. Gilmour said: "The rehearsals were less enjoyable. The rehearsals convinced me it wasn't something I wanted to be doing a lot of ... There have been all sorts of farewell moments in people's lives and careers which they have then rescinded, but I think I can fairly categorically say that there won't be a tour or an album again that I take part in. It isn't to do with animosity or anything like that. It's just that I've done that. I've been there, I've done it."[268]

Richard Wright died of cancer on 15 September 2008 aged 65.[269] He was praised by his surviving band mates for his influence on the overall sound of Pink Floyd.[270]

On 10 July 2010 Roger Waters and David Gilmour performed together at a charity event for the Hoping Foundation. The event took place at Kiddington Hall in Oxfordshire, England. The pair played to an audience of approximately 200. The event raised money for Palestinian children in order to give them a better life. Gilmour played this event in 2009 when he performed alongside Kate Moss.[271] In return for Waters' appearance at the event, Gilmour agreed to perform "Comfortably Numb" at one of Waters' upcoming performances of The Wall.[272]

On 4 January 2011 Pink Floyd signed a five year record deal with EMI, ending the legal dispute regarding how their material is distributed in the era of individual track downloads. They defended their vision to keep their albums as a cohesive unit and not just individual tracks.[273]

On 12 May 2011 at the O2 Arena in London, David Gilmour made good on his promise to play "Comfortably Numb" at one of Roger Waters' performances of The Wall. Gilmour sang the first and second chorus, accidentally juxtaposing the last few lines in the second, and played the two guitar solos. After the wall fell down near the end of the show Waters said to the crowd, "We've done it today. So please welcome David Gilmour! By a strange and happy extraordinary coincidence, there is another remnant of our old band here tonight. Please welcome, Mr. Nick Mason!" Gilmour and Mason, with respectively a mandolin and a tambourine, joined Waters and the rest of his band for "Outside The Wall", effectively representing a full reunion of all living Pink Floyd members.[274] It was the first time since Live 8 that the three members shared the same stage and the first time that the line-up from the album The Final Cut appeared in concert.[275]

On 26 September 2011, Pink Floyd and EMI launched an exhaustive re-release campaign under the title Why Pink Floyd...? which reissues the band's back catalogue in newly remastered versions, including special "Immersion" multi-disc multi-format editions. All albums are being remastered by James Guthrie, the co-producer of The Wall.[276]


Influence and awards

Pink Floyd's classic line-up. Clockwise (from top left): Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason

Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time.[277] They have sold over 200 million albums worldwide,[278][279] including 74.5 million certified units in the United States[280] of which 36.4 million albums have been sold since 1991.[281]

Pink Floyd ranked number 51 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time",[282] with David Gilmour ranking 82nd in the greatest guitarists list.[283]

The Sunday Times Rich List Music Millionaires 2011 ranked Waters at No.22 with an estimated wealth of £105m, Gilmour at No.27 with £85m and Mason at No.41 with £50m.[284]

Numerous artists have been influenced by Pink Floyd's work: David Bowie has called Syd Barrett a major inspiration;[285] A teenage The Edge (of U2 fame) bought his first delay pedal after hearing the opening to Animals;[286] and the Pet Shop Boys paid homage to The Wall during a performance in Boston;[287] Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has cited Wish You Were Here as a major inspiration;[288] and many other bands, such as the Foo Fighters, Dream Theater, My Chemical Romance, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, Tool, Queensryche, Scissor Sisters, Rush, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Mudvayne, Nine Inch Nails, Primus and the Smashing Pumpkins, some of whom have recorded Pink Floyd covers, have been influenced by them.

Pink Floyd have been nominated for and won multiple awards.[289] Technical awards include a "Best Engineered Non-Classical Album" Grammy in 1980 for The Wall[290] and BAFTAs award for 'Best Original Song' (awarded to Waters) and 'Best Sound' (awarded to James Guthrie, Eddy Joseph, Clive Winter, Graham Hartstone and Nicholas Le Messurier) in 1982 for the The Wall film.[291] A Grammy came to them in 1995 for "Rock Instrumental Performance" on "Marooned".[292] In 2008 Pink Floyd were awarded the Polar Music Prize for their contribution to contemporary music; Waters and Mason accepted the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.[293] They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 17 January 1996,[294] the UK Music Hall of Fame on 16 November 2005[295] and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010.[296]

A new genus of spider, Pinkfloydia, was named by Dimitrov, D. & Hormiga, G. (2011): An extraordinary new genus of spiders from Western Australia with an expanded hypothesis on the phylogeny of Tetragnathidae (Araneae). Zoological journal of the Linnean Society, 161(4): 735–768. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00662.x

Live performances

Pink Floyd are regarded as pioneers in the live music experience and were renowned for their lavish stage shows, in which the performers themselves were almost secondary. Pink Floyd also set high standards in sound quality, making use of innovative sound effects and quadraphonic speaker systems.[297] From their earliest days they were well known for their use of visual effects, which accompanied the psychedelic rock pieces performed at venues such as the UFO Club in London.[35] The quality of their live performances, even when pre-recorded, was considered by the band to be extremely important; they boycotted the press release of The Dark Side of the Moon as they felt presenting the album through a poor-quality PA system was not good enough.[129][298] The album had been composed and refined mostly while the band toured the UK, Japan, North America, and Europe.[299] An inflatable floating pig named "Algie" became the inspiration for a number of pig themes used throughout the "In the Flesh Tour",[300] which began in Dortmund and continued through Europe to the UK, and then the US.

Although Pink Floyd were experienced live performers the behaviour of the audience on their "In the Flesh" tour, and the sizes of the venues they played, were a powerful influence on their concept album The Wall. The subsequent "The Wall Tour" featured a 40 feet (12 m) high wall, built from cardboard bricks, constructed between the band and the audience. Animations were projected onto the wall, and gaps allowed the audience to view various scenes in the story. Several characters from the story were realised as giant inflatables.[301] One of the more notable elements of the tour was the performance of "Comfortably Numb". While Waters sang his opening verse, Gilmour waited for his cue on top of the wall in darkness. When it came, bright blue and white lights would suddenly illuminate him. Gilmour stood on a flight case on castors, a dangerous set-up supported from behind by a technician, both supported by a tall hydraulic platform.[302]

In 1987 Pink Floyd embarked on their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour. Starting in Ottawa on 9 September they spent about two years touring the US, Japan, Europe, and Central Asia. In Venice, Italy, the band played to an audience of 200,000 fans at the Piazza San Marco. The resulting storm of protest over the city's lack of toilet provision, first aid, and accommodation resulted in the resignation of Mayor Antonio Casellati and his government. At the end of the tour Pink Floyd released Delicate Sound of Thunder,[303] and in 1989 released the Delicate Sound of Thunder concert video.[304]

During the band's "Division Bell" tour, an unidentified person using the name Publius posted a message on an internet newsgroup, inviting fans to solve a riddle supposedly concealed in the new album. The veracity of the user was demonstrated when white lights in front of the stage at the Pink Floyd concert in East Rutherford spelled out the words Enigma Publius. During a televised concert at Earls Court in October 1994 the word enigma was projected in large letters on to the backdrop of the stage. Mason later acknowledged that the Publius Enigma did exist, and that it had been instigated by the record company rather than the band. As of 2011 the puzzle remains unsolved.[239]


Studio albums

Band members

Former members
  • Syd Barrett – lead vocals, lead guitar (1965–1968)
  • David Gilmour – lead vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, special effects (December 1967–1996, 2005)
  • Bob Klose – guitars (1965)
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion, programming (1965–1996, 2005)
  • Roger Waters – lead vocals, bass guitar, guitars, percussion, programming (1965–1985, 2005)
  • Richard Wright – keyboards, vocals (occasionally lead), organ, piano, synthesisers, mellotron (1965–1979, 1987–1996, 2005)


  1. ^ These would be demonstrated in an early edition of Tomorrow's World.
  2. ^ Some sources have "Meggadeaths;"[5][6] others spell it "Megadeaths."[7][8]
  3. ^ "Architectural Abdabs" is often touted as another variation; Povey (2007) dismisses it as a misreading of a headline about The Abdabs in the Polytechnic's student newspaper.[9]
  4. ^ "The Tea Set" is the spelling used in all known contemporary documents,[10] whereas the frequently cited alternative "The T-Set" remains unsubstantiated.
  5. ^ Child was employed by Peter Jenner as a secretary and general production assistant.[58]
  6. ^ Storm Thorgerson attended the same school, about the same time as Waters and Barrett.[86]
  7. ^ Povey (2007) suggests that the UK release date was 5 November,[107] but Mabbett (1995) and Pink Floyd's official website both state 13 November. All sources agree on the US release date.[108][109]
  8. ^ Carolyne Anne Christie was married to Rock Scully, manager of the Grateful Dead. Waters' marriage to Judy had produced no children, but he became a father with Carolyne in November 1976.[166]
  9. ^ Pink Floyd eventually sued NWG for £1M, accusing them of fraud and negligence. NWG collapsed in 1981: Andrew Warburg fled to Spain; Norton Warburg Investments (a part of NWG) was renamed to Waterbrook; and many of its holdings were sold at a huge loss. Andrew Warburg was jailed for three years upon his return to the UK in 1987.[173]
  10. ^ Wright's name appears only on the credit list.
  11. ^ Mason (2005) goes some way toward backing this statement up, by stating that "rumour had it we would not be allowed in."[224]
  12. ^ Mason (2005) also writes that they had enough left-over material to create a separate release.[230]


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Further reading

External links

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  • Pink Floyd — [Pink Floyd] one of the most popular British ↑rock music groups, formed in 1965. The group’s most successful ↑albums include The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and The Wall (1979). The group is particularly well known for its exciting live… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pink Floyd — Pink Floyd, grupo Británico de música rock que ha trabajado los subgéneros de rock progresivo y rock psicodélico. Fueron de los primeros en producir videos y películas musicales a partir de sus trabajos. En los años 1970 fueron el grupo que más… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pink Floyd — Arriba: Roger Waters y David Gilmour Abajo: Nick Mason y …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pink Floyd — one of the most popular British rock music groups, formed in 1965. The group’s most successful albums include The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and The Wall (1979). The group is particularly well known for its exciting live performances involving… …   Universalium

  • Pink Floyd (groupe) — Pink Floyd Pink Floyd Pink Floyd lors d’un concert à Earls Court en 1973. De gauche à droite : David Gilmour à la guitare, Nick Mason à la batterie, Roger Waters à la …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pink Floyd live performances — Pink Floyd are pioneers in the live music experience, renowned for their lavish stage shows that combine over the top visual experiences with music to create a show in which the performers themselves are almost secondary. Pink Floyd s combination …   Wikipedia

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