A Brief History Of Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd over the 30 years of its existence has had five members in the group, with its 'founder' being Syd Barrett. The four original members of Pink Floyd all meet in London whilst studding for their degrees. Syd Barrett, the original lead guitarist, met up with three men who were studying at the London Technical College for Architecture. These three were Roger Waters, the bass player, Rick Wright a budding keyboardist and finally a drummer by the name of Nick Mason. All of the members of the band were originally from Cambridge apart from Rick Wright, who was a Londoner. In fact Waters and Mason were friends at school and had spent most of their teenage life together.
Pink Floyd spent most of their early life as a group either under the name of the 'Meggadeaths' or the Abdabs. It was Syd Barretts idea to call the band Pink Floyd - apparently a merge of two American blues bands - Pink Anderson and the Floyd council. It was Syd who became the main influence on Pink Floyd's music with him being the song writer, lead singer and played guitar on everything, and the start of the Psychedelic music movement of the late 60's is attributed to him. The Floyd first became popular in 1967 in the 'Summer of Love' in England, but success in America was unsuccessful. Their first album Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which follow several successful singles, was a great success with the Floyd being seen as a cult underground group. It was at this time that the members of PF became heavily involved in drugs, especially acid. It was once said that the amount of acid PF took in this period could wipe out the population of a small country. It was because of this that the founder Syd Barrett had a metal break down due the amount of drugs he was taking and he was replaced by his friend from Cambridge, who had a major influence on his style of guitar playing, Dave Gilmour. PF's next album A Saucer Full of Secrets was a mix of both Barretts and Gilmours work, but was not as successfully as their first album. People viewed this as the demise of the Pink Floyd light and sound extravaganza. Or was it?
In the period between 1968 and 1970, the early years after the departure of Barrett, it seemed people were right and the Floyd struggled to find popularity with out their main player. It is at this time that the bass player Roger Waters started to become the songwriter although the newcomer Gilmour started to compose also. The group continues its psychedelic roots but the new element of Gilmours steady distinct guitar playing begins to emerge with the new work, which was apparent on their new album Ummagumma, which is slang in the West country for sex. This album showed the unableness of PF to compose the short pop gems Barrett could, but instead it contained long instrumentals such as Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. This theme was continued in Atom Heart Mother which contained a 27 minute piece of the same name as the album as well as Phil's Psychedelic Breakfast, which was another 15 minute instrumental. At this point people were beginning to realize how good PF were, and in this transitional period they became popular across both sides of the Atlantic, and their next releases Relics, which contained a lot of Barrett xt release Meddle which contained another 23 minute instrumental got acclaim from both America and England. But the best was still to come.
To many people the next 5 years after 1970 are the glory years of Pink Floyd, and without a question the peak years of the Floyd as a cohesive band unit. As I have already said Meddle in 1971 reached #1 in the album chart, with PF choosing not to play to the singles market. In mid 1972 PF released Obscured by Clouds, but this was only a lead up to the greatest ever success of PF, and probably any band with the release of the album Dark Side of the Moon.
At the last count over 20 million albums have been sold, and this was 6 years ago, and now it is selling at one million a year - making it, I believe, one of the most successful group albums of all time. This album was their break through album in the states and put them with the likes of the Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin. Dark side was their first concept album, with waters writing lyrics and all four composing. In 1975 came a successful follow-up album Wish You Were Here, which contained Shine on You Crazy Diamond, which was a 25 minute tribute masterpiece for Syd Barrett.
After Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd again changes their style of music, with Roger Waters becoming the main composer of PF. The next album following this period of success was Animals which reach #3 in the British album charts, this album is significant because it is the first album without the keyboardist Rick Wright credited for any composition. The ensuing stadium tour, which environment Water does not like, becomes very popular; but it is this tour, which is 'credited' with Floyds next big hit album - The Wall. In 1978 both Wright and Gilmour release solo material due to the lack of work Waters allows them to do. So now we have come from the Dark Side of the Moon album where the Floyd are working together, under the directorship of all of the members in the band, to members of the band releasing solo work because of their lack of work because Waters has become 'the leader'. This period starts the downfall of Waters to which he eventually leaves the band for what he believes dead.
In 1979 the Floyd reconvene to produce 'The Wall' which is Waters brainchild. Bob Erzin is hired to stop the fights between Gilmour and Waters and Waters tries to sack their long time manager Steve O'Rouke as Waters becomes a dictator character in the band. As this feeling builds up inside of Waters, he decides that if the keyboardist Rick Wright does not leave the band, he will scrap the project; and as a result Wright misses the final studio sessions of the album. But in a twist Wright is hired for the following stadium tour to give the look that the band is intact. In 1982 a film is made of the album, with Bob Geldof starring as Pink, but the project becomes disliked by Waters after directorial decisions with its director Alan Parker. At this point due to the attitude of Waters that without him, Pink Floyd are nothing, but in fact with Roger Waters, Pink Floyd are nothing.
In 1983 the band releases The Final Cut, which is lyrically an amazing album, it receives the tag by many Floyd fans as the worst album. This is shown when sales of album fail to reach even the prior efforts of the band. Mason and Gilmour are used on the album only sparingly and Wright in none existent; the album is a Pink Floyd creation only by name. This is the end of Waters and he formally leaves the band in 1985 saying that Pink Floyd are dead because he is not there.
In 1986 Mason and Gilmour re-contravene Pink Floyd after a bitter Waters unsuccessfully tries to stop the comeback in court. The duo, which is now Pink Floyd comeback with a massively successful A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which has a crack team of studio artists for the album, and towards the end Wright is hired to continue with the band, but as a paid member, not as a member of the band. The tour following the album is more successful than PF's highest hopes taking three years to complete with its climax playing to 200,000 in Venice on a floating stage. But Waters is still not finished when after the Berlin Wall comes down, in 1990 he performed ''The Wall' in the no-mans land between East and West, but with big-stars, not Pink Floyd members.
After a long break, the Floyd return with The Division Bell, with Wright now a full time member of the band with Gilmour and Mason. The three work together as a cohesive unit for the first time since Wish You Were Here. Division Bell reaches #1 in the US and UK and the following tour, which is, as always a masterpiece of modern lighting, pyrotechnics and stage presence gross over one billion dollars in the US alone.
Following this they release Pulse in 1995, which reaches #1 again in the US and UK featuring Division Bell tracks and the first live performance of Dark Side of the Moon since Waters left. But now the fans of Pink Floyd are left wondering what will come next, but in the mean time a enigma has been put on the Division Bell Album, mainly contrived by PF's friend, the author Douglas Adams would regularly posts on to the Pink Floyd newsgroups informing us of the present details of Pink Floyds activities.
So what have Pink Floyd achieved over the last 30 years? Nick Mason has got his dream collection of 20 Ferraris, worth over 25 million, Dave Gilmour has the Stracacaster guitar number 001. But on a wider note Pink Floyd have started the trend to computerized music which they stride to produce in the 60's; they have set the example for what stadium based concerts should consist of with their amazing lighting and sound shows.