Pink Floyd Biography
Pink Floyd are viewed as being one of the biggest Rock bands in music
history, the band are mostly known for their elaborate concept albums
of the '70s, songwriting, the wildly experimental sounds and impressive
live shows, Pink Floyd became perennially popular all over the globe with
more than 200 million albums sold.
The band formed in Cambridge, ENGLAND, in the second half of the '60s and originally comprised lead guitarist+vocalist Syd Barrett, bass player+vocalist Roger Waters, keyboardist+vocalist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason.
Pink Floyd began to attract attention in London spearheading Britain's
psychedelic movement and in early 1967 the group scored a deal with EMI
Their first single, "Arnold Layne", hit the top 20 of the U.K. Pop chart and the follow-up, "See Emily Play", rose to #6.
In August 1967 was released the band's debut album, "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn", which peaked at #6 on the Official British Albums chart. Meanwhile Barrett became increasingly dependent on hallucinogenic drugs, he often proved near-comatose on-stage and incoherent with interviewers.
In the beginning of 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to replace Barrett in live performances; by the spring Syd Barrett left the group because of mental instability.
In June, that same year, Pink Floyd released its second album, "A Saucerful Of Secrets", it featured one Barrett original song "Jugband Blues" and eventually wound its way up into the top 10 of the U.K. Albums chart.
In early 1969 the band was invited to compose a full-length album, "More", for the soundtrack of the film of the same name, it reached the top 10 in Britain upon its release in July.
The double-album "Ummagumma" appeared a few months later, stunning the progressive space-Rock scene; the set consist of a live disc and a studio disc, all for the price of one, it rose to #5 in their native England and cracked the U.S. Pop Albums list peaking at #74.
By this point Pink Floyd established themselves as one of the most prominent live bands, drawing 100,000 to their free concert in London as well as a concert in Pompeii, famous for the catastrophic volcanic eruption in 79 AD.
The group's fifth effort, "Atom Heart Mother", was released in October 1970 and became their first chart-topper in Britain; this album also entered the U.S. Pop chart at #55.
"Meddle" came almost exactly a year later and soared to #3 in the U.K. Albums chart but barely sneaked into the U.S. top 70; it included the 23-minute track "Echoes", it was also the first album on which the band used the revolutionary Peter Zinovieff's VCS3 Synthi.
In mid-1972 the quartet released "Obscured By Clouds", the soundtrack to the Barbet Schroeder film "La Vallée", it reached #6 in the U.K. and #50 on the U.S. Pop Albums charts.
On March 24, 1973 Pink Floyd issued one of the most successful album
ever, "Dark Side Of The Moon", with upwards of 30 million copies
sold worldwide; it never reached the top of the British chart stalling
at #2 but in the United States peaked at #1 on the Official Pop Albums
list, although it stayed at the top spot for only one week, spent 741
weeks on The Billboard 200 chart, "Dark Side Of The Moon" was
on the U.S. Top 200 chart for an amazing 591 consecutive weeks between
1976 and 1988; the record included "Money" which hit #13 on
the Pop Singles chart.
Their next release, 1975's "Wish You Were Here", became the band's first transatlantic #1 album highlighted by the epic nine-part song, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", the Pink Floyd's tribute to their founder member Syd Barrett in which the lyrics deal explicitly with the aftermath of his breakdown.
Two years later, in January 1977, was released "Animals", the most guitar oriented album of the band; it contained more lengthy songs tied to a theme, taken in part from George Orwell's "Animal Farm", using pigs, dogs and sheep as metaphors for members of contemporary society. "Animals" peaked at #2 on the British Albums chart and hit #3 in the States.
The May 1978 release of Rick Wright's first solo album, "Wet Dream" coincided with Gilmour's self-titled release; both Wright and Gilmour went about their solo business, as Roger Waters hunkered down to write the next Pink Floyd album, the epic rock opera, "The Wall". The eleventh Pink Floyd album, released in November 1979, was a phenomenal success, which has now become second only to "Dark Side Of The Moon" in terms of sales, it rose to #1 in the U.K. chart and topped the U.S. Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart for an impressive 15 weeks; the record included the single "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)", which also hit #1 on both the U.K. and U.S. charts.
A semi-animated film followed in 1982, starring Boomtown Rats founder Bob Geldof and featuring ground-breaking animation by Gerald Scarfe; that year Rick Wright left the band.
After the whole 'Wall' period tension between Waters and Gilmour had gotten much bigger, but in spring 1983, to the surprise of many, Waters, Gilmour and Mason released "The Final Cut"; the record rose to the top spot of the British Pop Albums chart but was a moderate hit in the U.S. where it stalled at #6 spawning a couple of Mainstream Rock top 10 hits: "Not Now John" and "Your Possible Pasts".
The following year the remaining members of the band agreed to go their separate ways.
The ensuing disagreement between Waters and Gilmour over the latter's intention to continue to use the name “Pink Floyd” descended into lawsuits. Waters claimed that as the original band consisted of himself, Syd Barrett, Mason and Wright, that this band could not reasonably call itself “Pink Floyd” now that it was without three of its founding members. Another of Waters' arguments was that he had written almost all of the band's lyrics and a great part of the music, after Barrett's departure. However, Gilmour and Mason won the right to use the name and a majority of the band's songs, though Waters did retain the rights to the albums "The Wall" and all of its songs, save for the three Gilmour co-wrote and "The Final Cut" as well as the famous Pink Floyd "Pigs".
In 1987, Mason and Gilmour, reunited with Rick Wright, recorded a new
Pink Floyd album, "A Momentary Lapse Of Reason"; the record
hit #3 on both the American Billboard Top 200 and the Official British
Albums charts; in the United States they scored two straight Mainstream
Rock #1 hits: "Learning To Fly" and "On The Turning Away;
"One Slip" followed, reaching the top 5 in the same chart. The
band supported this album by touring the world and playing to sell-out
crowds; the series of 200 concerts is documented on "The Delicate
Sound Of Thunder", the double-disc set peaked at #11 on The Billboard
After a seven-year absence the band resurfaced in spring 1994 with the second post-Roger Waters album, "The Division Bell"; the 11-song set shot to #1 in the U.K. and also on the U.S. Albums charts; "Keep Talking" hit #1 on the Billboard's Active Rock chart, "Take It Back" peaked at #4, "High Hopes" reached the #7 position and the final single, "What Do You Want From Me", became the fourth album cut to crack the top 20 of The Mainstream Rock list, while "Marooned" picked-up a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Shortly after the release of the album, the band set out on the Division Bell tour, the most spectacular lightshow to date.
June 1995 saw the issue of the double live-album "Pulse", the set went straight to #1 on both The American Billboard Top 200 and U.K. Albums charts.
The best-of compilation "Echoes", released in late 2001, was another huge commercial success as it entered the British and North American charts at #2.
On July 2, 2005, at London's Hyde Park as part of the Live8, Pink Floyd's classic '70s line-up, Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason, performed together for the first time since 1981; their performance was the crown jewel of the Live8 concerts, in one touching moment, during the introductory guitar work of "Wish You Were Here", Roger Waters said: “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, but particularly, of course for Syd”.
One year later, on July 7, 2006, Roger 'Syd' Barrett died at the age
of 60, due to complications from diabetes. “Syd was the guiding light
of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire”,
the surviving members of Pink Floyd said in a statement.
“Do find time today to play some of Syd's songs and to remember him as the madcap genius who made us all smile with his wonderfully eccentric songs about bikes, gnomes and scarecrows”, Gilmour wrote on his Web site. “His career was painfully short, yet he touched more people than he could ever know”.
“Syd was a lovely guy and a unique talent” added Waters. “He leaves behind a body of work that is both very touching and very deep and which will shine on forever”.
“I can't tell you how sad I feel”, wrote David Bowie on his Web site. “Syd was a major inspiration for me. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him”. Bowie covered "See Emily Play" on his 1973 album "Pin-Ups".