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Syd Barrett-led era: 1965–1968Edit
Pink Floyd evolved from an earlier band, formed in 1964, which was at various times called Sigma 6, The Meggadeaths, The Screaming Abdabs, and The Abdabs. When this band split up, some members — guitarists Bob Klose and Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and wind instrument player Richard Wright — formed a new band called Tea Set, and were joined shortly thereafter by guitarist Syd Barrett, who became the band's primary vocalist as well. When Tea Set found themselves on the same bill as another band with the same name, Barrett came up with an alternative name on the spur of the moment, choosing The Pink Floyd Sound (after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). For a time after this they oscillated between 'Tea Set' and 'The Pink Floyd Sound', with the latter name winning out. The word Sound was dropped quickly, but the definite article was still used occasionally for years afterward, up to about the time of More. In the early days, they gained notoriety for psychedelic interpretations, extended improvised sections, and 'spaced out' solos.
The heavily jazz-oriented Klose left the band to become a photographer shortly before Pink Floyd started recording, leaving an otherwise stable lineup with Barrett on lead guitar, Waters on bass, Mason on drums and Wright switching to keyboards. Barrett started writing his own songs, influenced by American and British psychedelic rock with his own brand of whimsical humour. Pink Floyd became a favorite in the underground movement, playing at such prominent venues as the UFO club, the Marquee Club and the Roundhouse. As their popularity increased, the band members formed Blackhill Enterprises in October 1966, a six-way business partnership with their managers, Peter Jenner and Andrew King, issuing the singles "Arnold Layne" in March 1967 and "See Emily Play" in June 1967. "Arnold Layne" reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and "See Emily Play" reached number 6, granting the band its first TV appearance on Top Of The Pops in July 1967.
Released in August 1967, the band's debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, is today considered to be a prime example of British psychedelic music, and was generally well received by critics at the time. It is now viewed as one of the better debut albums by many critics. The album's tracks, predominantly written by Barrett, showcase poetic lyrics and an eclectic mixture of music, from the avant-garde free-form piece "Interstellar Overdrive" to whimsical songs such as "The Scarecrow," inspired by the Fenlands, a rural region north of Cambridge (Barrett, Gilmour and Waters's home town). Lyrics were entirely surreal and often referred to folklore, such as "The Gnome". The music reflected newer technologies in electronics through its prominent use of stereo panning and electric keyboards. The album was a hit in the UK where it peaked at #6, but did not get much attention in North America, reaching #131 in the U.S. During this period, the band toured with Jimi Hendrix, which helped to increase its popularity.
As the band became more and more popular, the stresses of life on the road and a significant intake of psychedelic drugs took their toll on Barrett, whose mental health had been deteriorating for several months. While Barrett's behavior has often been attributed to his drug use, there are many who think that a pre-existing condition, possibly schizophrenia, was equally to blame, and that the drug use simply aggravated the problem. In January 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to carry out Barrett's playing and singing duties.
With Barrett's behaviour becoming less and less predictable, and his almost constant use of LSD, he became very unstable, often staring into space while the rest of the band performed. During some performances, he would simply strum one chord for the duration of a concert, or simply begin detuning his guitar. The concerts became increasingly ramshackle until, eventually, the other band members simply stopped taking him. 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. Once Barrett's departure was formalised in April 1968, producers Jenner and King decided to remain with him, and the six-way Blackhill partnership was dissolved. The band adopted Steve O'Rourke as manager, and he remained with Pink Floyd until his death in 2003.
After recording two solo albums in 1970 (co-produced by and sometimes featuring Gilmour, Waters and Wright) to moderate success, Barrett slipped into seclusion. Going by his given name, Roger, he lived a quiet life in Cambridge with his family for the rest of his life until he passed away on July 7 2006, from diabetes complications.
Finding their feet: 1968–1970Edit
Musically, this period was one of experimentation for the band. Gilmour, Waters and Wright each contributed material that had its own voice and sound, giving this material less consistency than the Barrett-dominated early years or the more polished, collaborative sound of later years. Waters mostly wrote low-key, jazzy melodies with dominant bass lines and complex, symbolic lyrics, Gilmour focused on guitar-driven blues jams, and Wright preferred melodic psychedelic keyboard-heavy numbers. Unlike Waters, Gilmour and Wright preferred tracks that had simple lyrics or that were purely instrumental. Some of the band's most experimental music is from this period, such as "A Saucerful Of Secrets", consisting largely of noises, feedback, percussions, oscillators and tape loops, "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict", which is a series of sped-up voice tape-samples resembling rodents and birds chattering that reaches its climax in a Scottish dialect monologue (largely difficult to understand apart from its final words: "And the wind cried, 'Mary.' Thank you."), and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" (performed under different names during this period), a very Waters-driven song with a bass and keyboard-heavy jam culminating in crashing drums and Waters' primal screams.
Whilst Barrett had written the bulk of the first album, only one Barrett composition, the Piper outtake "Jugband Blues", appeared on the second Floyd album A Saucerful Of Secrets. It was released in June 1968, reaching #9 in the UK and becoming their only album not to chart in the U.S. Somewhat uneven due to Barrett's departure, the album scontained much of his psychedelic sound combined with the more experimental music that'd be fully showcased on Ummagumma. Hints of the epic, lengthy songs to come are in its centerpiece, the 12-minute title track, but the album was poorly received by critics at the time, although critics today tend to be kinder to the album in the context of their body of work. Future Pink Floyd albums would expand upon the idea of long, sprawling compositions, offering more focused songwriting with each subsequent release.
Pink Floyd were then recruited by director Barbet Schroeder to produce a soundtrack for his film, More, which premiered in May 1969. The music was released as a Floyd album in its own right, More, in July 1969; the album achieved another #9 finish in the UK, and peaked at #153 in the U.S. The band would use this and future soundtrack recording sessions to produce work that may not have fit into the idea of what would appear on a proper Pink Floyd LP; many of the tracks on More were acoustic folk songs, although most critics find the collection of the film's music patchy and uneven. Two of these songs, "Green Is The Color" and "Cymbaline", became fixtures in the band's live sets for a time and were a part of their live The Man And The Journey suite, as can be heard in the many available bootleg recordings from this period. "Cymbaline" was also the first Pink Floyd song to deal with Roger Waters' cynical attitude toward the music industry explicitly. The rest of the album consisted of avant-garde incidental pieces from the score (some of which were also part of "The Man And The Journey") with a few hard rock songs thrown in, such as "The Nile Song".
The next record, the double album Ummagumma, was a mix of live recordings and unchecked studio experimentation by the band members, with each member recording half a side of a vinyl record as a solo project (Mason's first wife makes an uncredited contribution as a flutist). Though the album was realised as solo outings and a live set, it was originally intended as a purely avant-garde mixture of sounds from "found" instruments. The subsequent difficulties in recording and lack of group organization led to the shelving of the project. The title is Cambridge slang for sexual intercourse and reflects the attitude of the band at the time, as frustrations in the studio followed them throughout these sessions. The band was wildly experimental on the studio disc, which featured Waters' pure folk "Grantchester Meadows", an atonal and jarring piano piece ("Sysyphus"), meandering progressive rock textures ("The Narrow Way") and large percussion solos ("The Grand Vizier's Garden Party"). Large portions of the studio disc were previously played in their live "The Man And The Journey" concept piece. The live disc featured acclaimed performances of some of their most popular psychedelic-era compositions and caused critics to receive the album more positively than the previous two. With fans, the album was their most popular yet, hitting UK #5 and the U.S. charts at #74.
1970's Atom Heart Mother, the band's first recording with an orchestra, was a collaboration with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin. The first side of the album consisted of the "Atom Heart Mother Suite", a 23-minute-and-a-half long symphonic/orchestral rock suite. The second side featured one song from each of the band's then-current vocalists (Roger Waters' folk-rock "If", Richard Wright's nostalgic, brass-heavy "Summer '68", David Gilmour's bluesy "Fat Old Sun"). Another lengthy piece, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", was a sound collage of a man cooking and eating breakfast and his thoughts on the matter, linked with instrumentals. The use of sound effects and voice samples would be an important part of the band's sound on later albums. While Atom Heart Mother was considered a huge step back for the band at the time and is still considered one of its most inaccessible albums, it had the best chart performance for the band so far, reaching #1 in the UK and #55 in the U.S., although it has since been described by Gilmour as "a load of rubbish" and Waters as suitable for "throwing in the dustbin and never being listened to by anyone ever again." The album was another transitional piece for the group, hinting at future musical territory such as "Echoes" in its title track. The popularity of the album allowed them to embark on their first full U.S. tour. Before releasing their next original album, the band released a compilation album, Relics, which contained several early singles and B-sides, along with one original song (Waters' jazzy "Biding My Time", part of "The Man And The Journey" recorded during the Ummagumma sessions). They also contributed to the soundtrack of Zabriskie Point, though many of their contributions were discarded by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Breakthrough era: 1971–1975Edit
This is the period in which Pink Floyd shed their association with the "psychedelic" scene (and its association with Barrett) and became a distinctive band who are difficult to classify. The divergent styles of their primary songwriters, Gilmour, Waters, and Wright, merged into a unique sound, which fans called "The Pink Floyd Sound". This era contains what many consider to be the band's masterpieces, The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. The sound became polished and collaborative, with the philosophic lyrics and distinctive bass lines of Waters combining with the unique blues guitar style of Gilmour and Wright's light keyboard melodies. Gilmour was the dominant vocalist throughout this period, and female choirs and Dick Parry's saxophone contributions became a notable part of the band's style. The sometimes atonal and harsh sound exhibited in the band's earlier years gave way to a very smooth, mellow and soothing sound, and the band's epic, lengthy compositions reached their zenith with "Echoes". This period was not only the beginning but the end of the truly collaborative era of the band; after 1975 Waters' influence became more dominant musically as well as lyrically. Wright's last credit and lead vocal on a studio album until 1994's The Division Bell were in this period, and Gilmour's writing credits sharply declined until Waters left in 1985. The last ties with Barrett were severed with Wish You Were Here, whose epic track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was written both as a tribute and eulogy to their friend.
The band's sound was more focused on Meddle (1971), with the 23-and-a-half-minute long epic "Echoes" taking up the album's second side. "Echoes" is a smooth progressive rock song with extended guitar and keyboard solos and a long segue in the middle consisting largely of synthesized whalesong produced on guitar, along with samples of seagull cries, described by Waters as a "sonic poem". Meddle was considered by Nick Mason to be "the first real Pink Floyd album. It introduced the idea of a theme that can be returned to." The album had the sound and style of the succeeding breakthrough-era Pink Floyd albums but stripped away the orchestra that was prominent in Atom Heart Mother. Meddle also included the atmospheric "One Of These Days", a concert staple featuring Nick Mason's menacing one-line vocal, distorted, bluesy slide guitar, and a melody that at one point segues into a throbbing synthetic pulse quoting the theme tune of the cult classic science fiction television show Doctor Who. The mellow feeling of the next three albums is very present on "Fearless," and this track displays a country influence, as does the prominent pedal steel guitar on "A Pillow Of Winds". The latter track is one of the Floyd's very few acoustic love songs. Waters' role as lead songwriter began to take form, with his jazzy "San Tropez" brought to the band practically completed. Meddle was greeted both by critics and fans enthusiastically, and was rewarded with a #3 peak in the UK; it reached only #70 in the US. According to Mason, this was due to underpromotion by Capitol Records. Meddle remains one of their most well-regarded efforts.
Obscured By Clouds was released in 1972 as the soundtrack to the film La Vallee, another art house film by Barbet Schroeder. This was the band's first U.S. Top 50 album (it hit #46), hitting at #6 in the UK. While Mason described the album years later as "sensational," it is less well-regarded by critics. The lyrics of "Free Four", the first Pink Floyd song to achieve significant airplay in the U.S., introduced Waters' ruminations on his father's death in World War II which would figure in subsequent albums. Two other songs on the album, "Wot's...Uh The Deal" and "Childhood's End", hint at themes used in later albums, the former focusing on loneliness and desperation which would come to full fruit in the Roger Waters-led era, and the latter hinting much at the next album, fixated on life, death and the passage of time. "Childhood's End," inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke book of the same name, was also Gilmour's last lyrical contribution for 15 years. The album was, to an extent, stylistically different from the preceding Meddle, with the songs generally being shorter, often taking a somewhat pastoral approach compared to the atmospheric use of sound effects and keyboard on sections of Meddle, and sometimes even running into folk-rock, blues-rock and piano-driven soft rock ("Burning Bridges," "The Gold It's In The..." and "Stay" being the best examples for each).
The release of Pink Floyd's massively successful 1973 album, The Dark Side Of The Moon (UK #2, US #1) 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", which reached #13). The album was their first #1 on the U.S. charts, a huge improvement over its previous recordings. The critically-acclaimed album stayed on the Billboard 200 for an unprecedented 741 weeks (including 591 consecutive weeks from 1976 to 1988), establishing a world record and making it one of the top-selling albums of all time. It also remained for 301 weeks on UK charts, despite never rising higher than #2 there, and is highly acclaimed by critics.
Saxophone forms an important part of the album's sound, exposing the band's jazz influences, and female backing vocals play a key role in helping to diversify the album's texture. For example, straight rock songs such as "Money" and "Time" are placed on either side of mellow pedal steel guitar sounds (reminiscent of Meddle) in "Breathe (Reprise)" and female vocal-laden song "The Great Gig In The Sky" (with Clare Torry on lead), while minimalist instrumental "On The Run" is performed almost entirely on a single synthesizer. Incidental sound effects and snippets of interviews feature alongside the music, many of them taped in the studio. The album's lyrics and sound attempt to describe the pressures that everyday life places upon human beings. This concept (conceived by Waters in a band meeting around Mason's kitchen table) proved a powerful catalyst for the band and together they drew up a list of themes, several of which would be revisited by Waters on later albums, such as "Us And Them" musing on violence and the futility of war, and the themes of insanity and neurosis discussed in "Brain Damage". The album's complicated and precise sound engineering by Alan Parsons set new standards for sound fidelity; this trait became a recognisable aspect of the band's sound and played a part in the lasting chart success of the album, as audiophiles constantly replaced their worn-out copies.
Seeking to capitalise on its newfound fame, the band also released a compilation album, A Nice Pair, which was a repackaging of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets. It was also during this period that director Adrian Maben released Live At Pompeii. The original theatrical cut featured footage of the band performing in 1971 at an amphitheater in Pompeii with no audience present except the film crew and stage staff. Maben also recorded interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the band during recording sessions for The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios; although the timeline of events indicate the recording sessions may have been staged after the recording, they provide a glimpse into the processes involved in producing the album. This footage was incorporated in later video releases of Live at Pompeii.
Wish You Were Here (UK #1, US #1), 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 "Wish You Were Here (The Song)", 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 musical influences in the band's past were brought together — atmospheric keyboards, bluesy guitar pieces, extended sax solos by Dick Parry, jazz fusion workouts and aggressive slide guitar — in the suite's different linked parts, culminating in a funeral dirge played with synthesised horn and ending with a musical quote from their early single "See Emily Play" as a final nod to Barrett's early leadership. The remaining tracks, "Welcome To The Machine" and "Have A Cigar", harshly criticize the music industry; the latter is sung by Roy Harper. It was their first album to reach #1 on both the UK and the U.S. charts, and critics praise it just as much as The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Roger Waters-led era: 1976–1985Edit
During this era, Waters asserted more and more control over output. Wright's influence became largely inconsequential, and he was fired from the band during recording of The Wall. Much of the music from this period is considered secondary to the lyrics, which explore Waters' feelings about his father's death in World War II and his increasingly cynical attitude towards political figures such as Margaret Thatcher and Mary Whitehouse. Although still finely nuanced, the music grew more guitar-based at the expense of keyboards and saxophone, both of which became (at best) part of the music's background texture along with the obligatory sound effects. A full orchestra (even larger than the brass ensemble from Atom Heart Mother) plays a significant role on The Wall and especially The Final Cut.
By January 1977, and the release of Animals (UK #2, U.S. #3), the band's music came under increasing criticism from some quarters in the new punk rock sphere as being too flabby and pretentious, having lost its way from the simplicity of early rock and roll. Animals was, however, considerably more basic-sounding than the previous albums, due to either the influence of the burgeoning punk-rock movement or the fact that the album was recorded at Britannia Row Studios. The album was the first to not have a single credit for Richard Wright. Animals again contained lengthy songs tied to a theme, this time taken in part from George Orwell's Animal Farm, which used "Dogs", "Pigs (3 Different Ones)", and "Sheep" as metaphors for members of contemporary society. Despite the prominence of guitar, keyboards and synthesizers still play an important role, but the saxophones and female vocal work that defined the previous two albums is absent. The result's a more hard-rock effort, bookended by "Pigs On The Wing 1" and "Pigs On The Wing 2". Many critics didn't respond well to the album, finding it "tedious", "bleak," although some celebrated it for almost those very reasons. For the cover artwork, a giant inflatable pig was commissioned to float between the chimney towers of London's Battersea Power Station. However, the wind made the balloon difficult to control, and in the end it was necessary to matte a photo of the pig onto the album cover. The pig became an iconic symbol of Pink Floyd, and a staple of the band's live shows from then on.
1979's epic rock opera The Wall (UK #3, US #1), conceived by Waters, dealt with the themes of loneliness and failed communication, which were expressed by the metaphor of a wall built between a rock artist and his audience. This album gave Pink Floyd renewed acclaim and their only #1 hit with "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)" being released as a rare single. The Wall also included 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 and one of the group's best-known songs.
The album was co-produced by Bob Ezrin, a friend of Waters who shared songwriting credits on "The Trial" and from whom the band later distanced themselves after Ezrin "shot his mouth off to the press." Even more than during the Animals sessions, Waters was asserting his artistic influence and leadership over the band, which prompted increased conflicts with the other members. The music had become more hard-rock, although the large orchestrations on some tracks recalled an earlier period, and there are a few quieter songs interspersed throughout (such as "Goodbye Blue Sky" and "Nobody Home"). Wright's influence was completely minimalised, and he was fired from the band during recording, only returning on a fixed wage for the live shows in support of the album. Ironically, Wright was the only member of Pink Floyd to make any money from the Wall concerts, the rest covering the extensive cost overruns of their most spectacular concerts yet.
Despite never hitting #1 in the UK, The Wall spent 15 weeks atop the Billboard 200. Critics praised it, and it sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It's tied with Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV as both the third-best selling album of all time in the U.S. and the best selling album released in the 1970s. It's been certified 23x platinum. The Wall is the best-selling double album of all time. It's second only to The Dark Side Of The Moon as Pink Floyd's best-selling album. The huge 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 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 and featured striking animation by noted British artist and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. It grossed over US$14 million at the North American box office. A song which first appeared in the movie, "When The Tigers Broke Free", was released as a single on a limited basis. This song was finally made widely available on the compilation album Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd and the re-release of The Final Cut. Also in the film is the song "What Shall We Do Now?", which was cut out of the original album due to vinyl's time limits. The only songs not used were "Hey You" and "The Show Must Go On".
Their 1983 studio album, The Final Cut, was dedicated by Waters to his father, Eric Fletcher Waters. 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.
Though technically a Pink Floyd album, the LP's front cover displayed no words, only the back cover reading: "The Final Cut - A requiem for the post-war dream by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason". Roger Waters received the sole credit for the record, which became a prototype in sound and form for later Waters solo projects. Waters has since said that he offered to release the record as a solo album, but the rest of the band rejected this idea. However, in his book 'Inside Out,' drummer Nick Mason says that such discussions never took place. Gilmour reportedly asked Waters to hold back the release so that he could write enough material to contribute, but this was refused. The tone is largely similar to The Wall's but quieter and softer, resembling songs like "Nobody Home" more than "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)". It's more repetitive, with certain leitmotifs cropping up continually. Only moderately successful with fans by Floyd's standards (UK #1, U.S. #6), but reasonably well received by critics, the album yielded one minor radio hit, "Not Now John", the only hard-rock song on the album (and the only one partially sung by Gilmour). The arguments between Waters and Gilmour at this stage were rumoured to be so bad that they were supposedly never seen in the recording studio simultaneously, and Gilmour's co-producer credit was dropped from the album sleeve (though he received attendant royalties). 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. The band members then went their separate ways and spent time working on individual projects. Gilmour was the first to complete his solo album, releasing About Face in March 1984. Wright joined forces with Dave Harris of Fashion to form a new band, Zee, which released the experimental album Identity a month after Gilmour's project. In May 1984, Waters released The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, a concept album once proposed as a Pink Floyd project. A year after his bandmates' projects, Mason released the album Profiles, a collaboration with Rick Fenn of 10cc which featured guest appearances by Gilmour and UFO keyboardist Danny Peyronel.
David Gilmour-led era: 1987–1995Edit
Waters announced in December 1985 that he was leaving Pink Floyd, saying the band was "a spent force creatively," but in 1986 Gilmour and Mason began recording a new Pink Floyd album. At the same time, Roger Waters was working on his second solo album, entitled Radio K.A.O.S. (1987). A bitter legal dispute ensued with Waters claiming that the name "Pink Floyd" should have been put to rest, but Gilmour and Mason upheld their conviction that they had the legal right to continue as "Pink Floyd". The lawsuit was settled out of court.
After considering and rejecting many other titles, the new album was released as A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (UK #3, U.S. #3). Without Waters, who had been the band's dominant songwriter for over a decade and a half, the band sought the help of outside writers. As Pink Floyd had never done this before (except for the orchestral contributions of Geesin and Ezrin), this received criticism. Ezrin, who had by now renewed his friendship with Gilmour, served as co-producer as well as being one of these writers. Richard Wright also returned, at first as a salaried employee during the final recording sessions, and then officially rejoining the band after the subsequent tour.
Gilmour later admitted that Mason hardly played on the album. Because of Mason and Wright's limited contributions, some critics say that A Momentary Lapse Of Reason should be called a Gilmour solo album, in the same way that The Final Cut as a Waters solo 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 bruises. The instrumentals are notable for including the first Floyd material co-written by Wright since 1975, as well as the only material co-written by Mason since The Dark Side Of The Moon.
1992 saw the release of Shine On. It had A Saucerful Of Secrets, Meddle, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, and A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. A bonus disc entitled The Early Singles was also included. The set's packaging featured a case allowing the albums to stand vertically together, with the side-by-side spines displaying the prism from The Dark Side Of The Moon. The circular text of each CD includes the almost illegible words "The Big Bong Theory". The year also saw the release of Roger Waters' solo album Amused To Death.
The band's next album was the 1994 release, The Division Bell, which was much more of a group effort than A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, with Wright reinstated as a full band member and figuring prominently in the credits. The album was received more favourably by critics and fans alike than Lapse had been, but was still heavily criticised 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-70's Pink Floyd albums. Anthony Moore, who had co-written the lyrics for several songs on the previous album, penned the lyrics for a tune by Wright, "Wearing The Inside Out", Wright's first lead vocal since The Dark Side Of The Moon. Wright and Moore's writing collaboration continued on nearly every song on Wright's 1996 solo album, Broken China.
Solo work and more: 1995–presentEdit
Pink Floyd have not released any new studio material or toured since 1994's The Division Bell. The band released a live album entitled P*U*L*S*E in 1995. It hit #1 in U.S. and featured songs recorded in London, Rome, Hanover and Modena on The Division Bell tour in 1994. VHS and Laserdisc versions of the concert at Earl's Court in London 20 October 1994, one of a record-breaking 14 consecutive shows, were also released, and a DVD edition was released on 10 July 2006. A live recording of The Wall was released in 2000, compiled from the 1980–1981 London concerts, titled Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81. It hit #1 on Billboard Internet Album Sales chart, and reached #19 on U.S. charts. A newly remastered two-disc set of the Floyd's best-known tracks entitled Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd was released in 2001. Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Wright all collaborated on the editing, sequencing, and song selection of the included tracks. Minor controversy was caused due to the songs segueing into one another non-chronologically, presenting the material out of the context of the original albums. Some tracks, such as "Echoes", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", "Marooned", "Sheep", and "High Hopes" have big sections edited out. The album reached #2 on U.S. charts. In 2003, a 30th-Anniversary SACD reissue of The Dark Side Of The Moon, featuring high resolution surround sound, was released with new artwork on the front cover. The Dark Side Of The Moon was also re-released on vinyl as a 180-gram, virgin vinyl pressing in 2003. The vinyl re-release included all the original posters and stickers from the album's initial release, plus a new 30th anniversary poster. In 2004 a re-release of The Final Cut was released with the single "When The Tigers Broke Free" added. The 30th-Anniversary SACD reissue of Wish You Were Here is in the works, with no release date announced.
Nick Mason's book, Inside Out: A Personal History Of Pink Floyd was published in 2004 in Europe and 2005 in the U.S. Mason made public promotional appearances in a few European and American cities, giving interviews and meeting fans at book signings. Some fans claimed that he said he wished he were on a tour with the band rather than on a book tour.
On 2 July 2005, Roger Waters rejoined David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright for a one-off performance at the London Live 8 concert, the first time all 4 band members were on stage together in 24 years. In the week after Live 8, there was a revival of interest in Pink Floyd. According to record store chain HMV, sales of Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd went up, in the following week, by 1343%, while Amazon.co.uk reported increases in sales of The Wall at 3600%, Wish You Were Here at 2000%, The Dark Side Of The Moon at 1400% and Animals at 1000%. David Gilmour subsequently declared that he would donate all profits from this post-Live 8 boom in sales to charity, and urged that all the other performing artists and their record companies do the same.
On 26 September 2005, Roger Waters released his French opera, Ça Ira, and on 16 November 2005 Pink Floyd were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame by Pete Townshend. Gilmour and Mason attended in person, explaining that Wright was in hospital following eye surgery, and Waters appeared on a video screen, from Rome.
2007 saw the release of Oh, By The Way, a box set of Pink Floyd's entire career on December 10. It has all 14 Studio Albums, unlike Shine On and Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd, packaged together as mini-vinyl replicas.
David Gilmour released his first solo record since 1984's About Face, called On An Island, on 6 March 2006 (his 60th birthday), and began a tour of small concert venues in Europe, Canada and the U.S. in support of the album a few days later, with Richard Wright as part of the band. On 17 April 2006 Gilmour and Wright treated their Oakland, California audience to an historic performance of Pink Floyd's first single, "Arnold Layne". On 31 May 2006, Mason joined Gilmour and Wright to perform "Wish You Were Here" and "Comfortably Numb" during Gilmour's final concert at Royal Albert Hall. This marked the first time the legal incarnation of Pink Floyd had performed without Waters publicly since their 1994 World Tour. The concert (along with the 29 and 30 May performances) was recorded for a DVD release Remember That Night which was released in September 2007. Waters was invited, but final rehearsals for his 2006 Europe/U.S. tour forced him to decline.
Nick Mason joined Waters for some dates on his tour, and Waters invited Wright along as well. He declined to focus on solo projects. High Hopes of another reunion were dashed when Richard Wright passed away from cancer at his home on September 15, 2008. The keyboardist and a founding member of Pink Floyd, he was 65.
A week after Wright's death, David Gilmour released his live album Live in Gdansk which was a live recording of the last show of his On an Island Tour and was also his last full performance with Richard Wright.
The Images Of Pink FloydEdit
Nearly as famous as Pink Floyd's music is the artwork that comes with it. Throughout their career, this was mainly provided by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis ("hip" gnosis or hypnosis). These images acquired fame in their own right; notably a man shaking the hand of his burning alter-ego from Wish You Were Here and the prism from The Dark Side Of The Moon. The cover of Meddle underlined the band's ideas about the visualization of sound with its close-up of a human ear accompanied by visible sound waves.
Thorgerson was involved in the artwork for every album except The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, the front cover of which was a photograph by Vic Singh and the back cover a drawing by Barrett; The Wall, for which the band employed Gerald Scarfe; and The Final Cut, which was designed by Waters himself, using photography made by his then brother-in-law, Willie Christie. Only the covers for The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, A Saucerful Of Secrets, and Ummagumma include images of the band members themselves, although concert photos and images of the band members sometimes appeared on inner gatefolds and inserts. David Gilmour explained this on a DVD on the making of The Dark Side Of The Moon: "We always wanted to kind of...not be on our covers ourselves; not have pictures".
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 owing to the fact that they "don't really do very much," preferring instead to show music videos to run alongside the songs.
They have done:
- Delicate Sound of Thunder
- Live 8
Official Band MembersEdit
- Syd Barrett (1964–1968)
- David Gilmour (1968–1996)
- Bob Klose (1964)
- Nick Mason (1964–1996)
- Roger Waters (1964–1985)
- Richard Wright (1964–1979, 1990–1996)
Notable or frequent contributorsEdit
These aren't official members, but musicians who made significant studio or live contributions:
- Sam Brown - backing vocals
- Jon Carin - keyboards, vocals, composition
- Bob Ezrin - production, keyboards, composition
- Ron Geesin - orchestration, composition
- Roy Harper - guest lead vocal on Have A Cigar
- Michael Kamen - orchestration, keyboards
- Carol Kenyon - backing vocals
- Dick Parry - baritone, tenor saxophones
- Guy Pratt - bass, vocals
- Tim Renwick - guitars
- Clare Torry - guest lead vocal on The Great Gig In The Sky, backing vocals
- Gary Wallis - percussion
- Snowy White - guitars
- Phil Manzanera - guitars and vocals