Pink Floyd

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Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd is a British band famous for their songwriting and psychedelic style. Pink Floyd originally consisted of Syd Barrett (vocals, guitar), Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals), Roger Waters (bass, vocals) and Nick Mason (drums) and named in tribute to two blues musicians, Floyd Council and Pink Anderson. Initially part of the underground rock scene, their material, mostly written by Barrett, was a mixture of US influenced psychedelic rock and British whimsy. The sound was hardened somewhat in 1968 when guitarist David Gilmour joined the band. In 1969, Barrett suffered a mental breakdown, attributed to prolonged usage of psychedelic drugs (especially LSD). With Barrett's state becoming less and less predictable, the band's live shows became increasingly ramshackle until eventually the other bandmembers simply stopped taking Syd to the concerts, with Waters and Gilmour taking his place as lead vocalists

Whilst Barrett had written the bulk of the first record, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967), he contributed little to the second A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968), forcing the band into a new direction. With the loss of their main songwriter the band seemed to lose direction: the next record, the double album Ummagumma (1969), was a mix of live recordings and studio unchecked studio experimentation by the band members. This continued on 1970's Atom Heart Mother, a UK number one now usually considered a dated psycehedelic period piece and described by Gilmour as the sound of a band "blundering about in the dark."

The band's sound was considerably more focussed on Meddle (1971), whose "Echoes" is their first really successful lengthy piece of music, and which also included the atmospheric "One Of These Days" and the pop-jazz stylings of "St. Tropez". Despite having never been a hit-single driven group, their massively succesful 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon featured a US number one track ("Money"), and more importantly remained in the top 100 for over a decade, breaking many records on the way, and making it one of the top selling albums of all time. Dark Side Of The Moon itself was a concept album dealing with themes of sanity which, due to the use of Abbey Road studio's new 16-track recording equipment and the investment of an enormous amount of time by the group and engineer Glyn Johns, set new standards for sound fidelity. Dark Side.. and the three following albums (Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall) are often held up as the peak of Pink Floyd's career. The first of those, released in 1975, has lyrics which deal explicitly with the aftermath of Syd's breakdown, including the classic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and the lengthy, and mainly instrumental, title track. By 1977, and the release of Animals the band's music was starting to sound incongruous next to the more direct punk rock and they were often singled out (by The Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, amongst others) as symbolising how popular music had become flabby and pretentious, losing its way from the simplicity of early rock and roll. Animals certainly bore this out, containing more lengthy songs tied to a theme, taken in part from George Orwell's "Animal Farm", relating all human relationships to those of pigs, dogs and sheep.

The Wall gave Pink Floyd another hit single, with the track "Another Brick in the Wall Part II" with it's catchphrase "We don't need no education" catching the spirit of 1977 rather better than its predecessor. The Wall remains a landmark concept album, becoming a movie, and an incredibly expensive (and money losing) tour/stage-show. During this time, Roger Waters increased his artistic influence and leadership of the band, and Richard Wright was fired (though he performed on The Wall tour as a session musician).

The Wall remained during 14 years in best-selling-album lists.

After The Final Cut, bandmembers went their separate ways till 1987, when Gilmour attempted to revive the band with Nick Mason. A bitter legal dispute with Roger Waters ensued, but Gilmour and Mason achieved the legal right to release an album as Pink Floyd (Waters, however, gained the rights to some traditional Pink Floyd imagery, including almost all of The Wall). Richard Wright re-joined the duo near the end of the recording sessions of A Momentary Lapse of Reason as a session musician (though the newer remastered anniversary CD has revised this history and he is credited as a band member). By any account, Wright was a member of the band for the 1994 release of The Division Bell, and it's subsequent tour.

Albums

  • Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
  • A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
  • Soundtrack to More (1969)
  • Ummagumma (1969)
  • Atom Heart Mother (1970)
  • Meddle (1971)
  • Obscured By Clouds (1972)
  • Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
  • Wish You Were Here (1975)
  • Animals (1977)
  • The Wall (1977)
  • The Final Cut (1983)
  • Works (compilation)
  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987?)
  • Delicate Sounds of Thunder (live)
  • The Division Bell (1994)
  • P.U.L.S.E (Live)
  • Echoes (2001) (best-of compilation)

Pink Floyd are renowned for their lavish stage shows, combining over-the-top visual experiences with their music to create a show in which the artists themselves are almost secondary. (and indeed, this was a major theme in the tour of The Wall, in which a band of session musicians played the first song, wearing rubber face masks - proving successfully that the band were not known for their individual personalities.

The lavish stage shows were also the basis for Douglas Adams fictional rock group "Disaster Area" (creators of the loudest noise in the universe, and making use of solar-flares in their stage show!) in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Douglas Adams was a personal friend of David Gilmour, and performed with Pink Floyd on the P.U.L.S.E tour.

Pink Floyd have not released any material since 1994's The Division Bell, and while they have not officially broken up, neither are there any rumours of any new album