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Pink Floyd

Some bands turn into shorthand for a certain sound or style, and Pink Floyd belongs among that elite group. The very name connotessomethingspecific: an elastic, echoing, mind-bending sound that evokes the chasms of space. Pink Floyd grounded that limitless sound withexactingexplorations of mundane matters of ego, mind, memory, and heart, touching upon madness, alienation, narcissism, and society ontheir conceptalbums of the '70s. Of these concept albums, Dark Side of the Moon resonated strongest, earning new audiences year after year,decade afterdecade, and its longevity makes sense. That more

Some bands turn into shorthand for a certain sound or style, and Pink Floyd belongs among that elite group. The very name connotessomethingspecific: an elastic, echoing, mind-bending sound that evokes the chasms of space. Pink Floyd grounded that limitless sound withexactingexplorations of mundane matters of ego, mind, memory, and heart, touching upon madness, alienation, narcissism, and society ontheir conceptalbums of the '70s. Of these concept albums, Dark Side of the Moon resonated strongest, earning new audiences year after year,decade afterdecade, and its longevity makes sense. That 1973 concept album distilled the wild psychedelia of their early years -- that brief,heady periodwhen they were fronted by Syd Barrett -- into a slow, sculpted, widescreen epic masterminded by Roger Waters, the bassist whowas the band'sde facto leader in the '70s. Waters fueled the band's golden years, conceiving such epics as Wish You Were Here and The Wall,but the bandsurvived his departure in the '80s, with guitarist David Gilmour stepping to the forefront on A Momentary Lapse of Reason andThe Division Bell.Throughout the years, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Rick Wright appeared in some capacity, and the band's sonicsignature was alwaysevident: a wide, expansive sound that was instantly recognizable as their own, yet was adopted by all manner of bands,from guitar-worshippingmetal-heads to freaky, hippie, ambient electronic duos. Unlike almost any of their peers, Pink Floyd played to bothsides of the aisle: they wererooted in the blues but their heart belonged to the future, a dichotomy that made them a quintessentially modern20th century band.

That blues influence, quickly sublimated and only surfacing on the occasional Gilmour guitar solo, was the foundation for the band's veryname,as the group decided to splice the names of two old bluesmen -- Pink Anderson and Floyd Council -- as a tribute to the American musictheyloved so. These members of the early Floyd -- guitarist/singer Syd Barrett, bassist Roger Waters, keyboardist Rick Wright, and drummerNickMason -- were all architecture students at London Polytechnic, with the exception of Barrett, who was an art student and a friend ofWaters sincechildhood. This version of the band started gigging regularly in 1965, with Barrett becoming the group's lead singer quite quickly.During thistime, the group relied on blues and R&B covers, not unlike many of their British peers, but they wound up extending the time oftheir setsthrough extended instrumental jams, planting the seeds of space rock that would come to fruition not much later. During 1966, thegroup'sincreasingly adventurous sets became something of a sensation in the London underground, leading to a contract with EMI early in1967. Theirfirst single, "Arnold Layne," backed with "Candy and a Currant Bun," appeared in March of 1967, and it was banned from someradio stations dueto its gender-bending lyrics, but the single wound up in the U.K. Top 20 and the group's second single, "See Emily Play" -- amenacing, mincingstomp with a profound, lasting influence -- went into the Top 10, paving the way for the release of The Piper at the Gatesof Dawn. On their full-length LP, Pink Floyd veered toward the experimental and avant-garde, particularly on the elastic, largely instrumentalvamps "AstronomyDomine" and "Interstellar Overdrive," resulting in an album that had a significant influence not only upon its release butwell beyond. It was alsoa hit in the U.K., reaching number six on the British charts.

This was a sudden rush to stardom and complications arose nearly as quickly. Not long after the release of Piper, Barrett began showingclearsigns of mental illness, to the point he would often freeze on-stage, not playing a note. At this point, David Gilmour -- a friend andassociate ofthe band -- was brought in as a second guitarist, with the intention that he'd buttress the group's live performances while Barrettcontinued towrite and record new material. This soon proved to be an impossible situation, and Barrett left the group, at which point theband's managementalso jumped ship, leaving the band without any kind of leader.

In the wake of Barrett's departure, the remaining members of Pink Floyd developed a different musical identity, one that was expansiveandeerie, characterized by the band's spacy, somber explorations and, eventually, Waters' cutting, sardonic lyrics. This transition took sometime. In1968, they released A Saucerful of Secrets, which contained Barrett's final composition for the group "Jugband Blues" and found thegroupmoving forward, particularly on the instrumental sections. A Saucerful of Secrets also saw the group begin a long, fruitful collaborationwithStorm Thorgerson's design team Hipgnosis; they'd wind up designing many iconic album covers for the band, including Dark Side of theMoon andWish You Were Here. Hipgnosis emphasized album art, and albums are where Pink Floyd concentrated from this point forward. Afterthesoundtrack to More, the group moved to EMI's progressive rock imprint Harvest and became the label's flagship artist beginning with the1969double-LP Ummagumma. Divided between live performances and experimental compositions from each member, the record wound up inthe Top10 in Britain and sowed the seeds of a cult following in the United States.

Pink Floyd's next album, Atom Heart Mother, featured extensive contributions from composer Ron Geesin and wound up as the band'sfirstnumber one album in the U.K.. The band embarked on an extensive supporting tour for the album and when they returned they delvedevenfurther into studio experimentation, learning the contours of the studio. Their next studio album, 1971's Meddle, bore the fruit from thislabor, asdid 1972's Obscured by Clouds, which was effectively a soundtrack to Barbet Schroeder's film La Vallee. All the experiments of theearly '70swere consolidated on their 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon, an album for which there simply was no precedent in their catalog.Deepeningtheir music while sharpening their songwriting, Floyd created a complex, luxurious album with infinite space and depth. Partiallyhelped by thesingle "Money," it was an immediate success, reaching number one on the U.S. Billboard charts and peaking at number two inthe U.K., but whatwas striking was its longevity. Dark Side of the Moon found space on the Billboard charts and then it just stayed there,week after week for years-- a total of 741 weeks in all (once it finally dropped off the charts, Billboard began the Catalog charts, where DarkSide was a fixture as well).Dark Side of the Moon was a staple on classic rock radio but it also was a rite of passage, an album passed downto teenagers when they wereturning to serious music, and it was an album that stayed with listeners as they aged.

Now established superstars, Pink Floyd dug deep on Wish You Were Here, their 1975 sequel to Dark Side of the Moon which functioned asanalbum-long tribute to Syd Barrett. Compared to Dark Side, Wish You Were Here wasn't quite a blockbuster but it was certainly a hit,debuting atnumber one in the U.K. and reaching that peak in the U.S., as well. Floyd continued to tour steadily, often working out newmaterial on the road.This is particularly true of 1977's Animals, which had its roots in several songs aired during the 1975 tour. During theAnimals tour, Waters had adifficult experience with a Montreal crowd where he spit on a heckler, and he used this incident as the genesis for1979's rock opera The Wall.Co-produced by Bob Ezrin, The Wall may be Floyd's most ambitious album, telling a semi-autobiographical storyabout a damaged rock star, andit's one of the band's most successful records, topping the charts throughout the '80s and turning into a popmusic perennial along the lines ofDark Side. Part of its success in 1980 was due to "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2," where an instrumentalmotif from the album was given adisco beat and an anti-authoritarian spin, leading to a genuine number one hit single from a band. Certainly,the single had more to do with thealbum's success than the live production of the album, as Pink Floyd only did a handful of dates in majorcities. Nevertheless these shows,consisting of a wall being built across the stage during the first act and the band performing behind it duringthe second, were legendary (Waterswould revive and update the production years later to great success).

Pink Floyd did attempt to film The Wall for a documentary film, but the footage was botched, so they decided to pursue a feature filmdirected byAlan Parker and featuring Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof in the lead role. The Wall arrived in theaters in 1982 and turned into amidnight moviestaple. A year later, The Final Cut -- a further autobiographical work from Waters, its title a sly dig to his battles with Parkeron the film -- arrivedand it didn't come close to matching the chart success of any of its predecessors. Behind the scenes, things were tense.Rick Wright had beenfired during the making of The Wall -- he was hired as a contract player during the recording and tour -- and Waterssplit after the release of TheFinal Cut, assuming that it was the end of the band. Waters released his debut solo album The Pros and Cons ofHitchhiking -- a piece that waspitched to Floyd in 1978, but the band chose The Wall instead -- in 1984 and not long afterward, Gilmour andMason indicated they intended tocarry on as Pink Floyd, so the bassist sued the duo for the rights to the Pink Floyd name. Waters lost andPink Floyd released A Momentary Lapseof Reason in 1987, just months after Waters released his own Radio KAOS. Bad blood was evident --T-shirts on Waters' tour bore the question,"Which One's Pink?," an old lyric that now had greater resonance -- but Pink Floyd emergedvictorious, as A Momentary Lapse of Reason turnedinto an international hit, and along with it racked up some hit singles, including "Learningto Fly," which was supported by the band's first musicvideo. Most importantly, the band racked up significant box office returns on tour,playing to sold-out stadiums across the globe. This tour wasdocumented on the Delicate Sound of Thunder live album.

The success of A Momentary Lapse of Reason allowed Pink Floyd to dictate their own schedule and they took their time to return with anewalbum, eventually emerging in 1994 with The Division Bell. Greeted by warmer reviews than its predecessor, The Division Bell wasanotherinternational success, and the accompanying tour -- which featured a performance of the entirety of The Dark Side of the Moon -- wasa smashsuccess. As before, the tour was documented with a live album -- this one was called Pulse, packaged in eye-catching artwork with apulsing LEDlight -- and it performed respectably. After that, Pink Floyd went into effective retirement. The group was inducted into the Rock &Roll Hall ofFame in 1996, while Gilmour released some solo albums, including the acclaimed On an Island, but most of their efforts weredevoted tomanaging their catalog. Long a beloved band of audiophiles, the group saw their catalog boxed and remastered several times,including 5.1mixes on SACD in the early 2000s.

As the new millennium progressed, a détente arose between the Floyd and Waters camps, culminating in an unexpected reunion of theoriginallineup of Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright at the 2005 charity concert Live 8. The reunion was a rousing success, sparking rumorsof a morepermanent arrangement, but Gilmour declined. Instead, Waters ramped up his touring -- he performed Dark Side in its entirety,then turned hisattention to The Wall, touring that for years. Gilmour and Mason wound up appearing at a 2011 show in London, signaling thatthere was no ill willbetween the members. Barrett passed in 2006 from cancer and in 2008, Wright also died from the disease. In 2011, PinkFloyd launched anambitious reissue project called Why Pink Floyd…? spearheaded by multi-disc, rarity-laden box set reissues of Dark Side ofthe Moon, Wish YouWere Here, and The Wall; among the newly released exclusives was the original Alan Parsons mix of Dark Side, heavilybootlegged live trackslike "Raving and Drooling," and demos. Three years later, in 2014, The Division Bell was reissued to celebrate its 20thanniversary, but the biggernews was the announcement of a new album called The Endless River. Constructed using outtakes from therecording sessions for 1994's TheDivision Bell, the primarily instrumental album was co-produced by Gilmour, Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera,Youth and Andy Jackson, and featuredheavy contributions from the late keyboardist Rick Wright, along with new work from Gilmour andMason. The Endless River saw release inNovember of 2014. « hide

Similar Bands: Roger Waters, Richard Wright, David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Nick Mason

The Endless River

503 Votes
The Division Bell

1,771 Votes
A Momentary Lapse of Reason

1,311 Votes
The Final Cut

1,308 Votes
The Wall

4,615 Votes

4,144 Votes
Wish You Were Here

5,401 Votes
The Dark Side of the Moon

6,362 Votes
Obscured by Clouds

1,006 Votes

2,679 Votes
Atom Heart Mother

1,494 Votes

1,111 Votes

721 Votes
A Saucerful of Secrets

1,286 Votes
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

2,095 Votes

15 Votes
1967: The First Three Singles

48 Votes
London '66–'67

65 Votes
Live Albums
Is There Anybody Out There?

239 Votes
Pulse (DVD)

357 Votes

409 Votes
Delicate Sound of Thunder

260 Votes
Live at Pompeii

284 Votes
The Wall (Immersion)

21 Votes
The Wall (Experience)

9 Votes
Wish You Were Here (Immersion)

20 Votes
Wish You Were Here (Experience)

10 Votes
A Foot in the Door

32 Votes
The Dark Side of the Moon (Immersion)

33 Votes
The Dark Side of the Moon (Experience)

12 Votes

8 Votes
The Dark Side Of The Moon- 30th Anniversary

6 Votes

346 Votes
The Early Singles

13 Votes
Shine On

4 Votes

69 Votes
Pink Floyd: The Wall (Soundtrack)

10 Votes
A Collection of Great Dance Songs

108 Votes
A Nice Pair

6 Votes

214 Votes
The Best of the Pink Floyd

20 Votes

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