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|Pink Floyd rose from the ashes of an otherwise forgotten London band, Sigma 6, in 1965. Syd Barrett, Rick Wright, Roger Waters, and Nick Mason toyed with various names, including The Meggadeaths, before settling on Pink Floyd, inspired by American blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.|
|Pink Floyd were the premier space-rock band. Since the mid-'60s, their music has relentlessly tinkered with electronics and all manner of special effects to push pop formats to their outer limits. At the same time they have wrestled with lyrical themes and concepts of such massive scale that their music has taken on almost classical, operatic quality, in both sound and words.|
While Pink Floyd are mostly known for their grandoise concept albums of the 1970s, they started as
a very different sort of psychedelic band. Soon after they first began playing together in the mid-'60s,
they fell firmly under the leadership of lead guitarist Syd Barrett, the gifted genius who would write
and sing most of their early material. The Cambridge native shared the stage with Roger Waters
(bass), Rick Wright (keyboards), and Nick Mason (drums). The name Pink Floyd, seemingly so
far-out, was actually derived from the first names of two ancient bluesmen (Pink Anderson and
Floyd Council). And at first, Pink Floyd were a much more conventional act that the act into which
they would evolve, concentrating on the rock and R&B material that were so common to the
repertoires of mid-'60s British bands.
Pink Floyd quickly began to experiment, however, stretching out songs with wild instrumental freak-out passages incorporating feedback, electronic screeches, and unusual, eerie sounds created by loud amplification, reverb, and such tricks as sliding ball bearings up and down guitar strings. In 1966, they began to pick up a following in the London underground; onstage, they began to incorporate light shows to add to the psychedelic effect. Most importantly, Syd Barrett began to compose pop-psychedelic gems that combined unusual psychedelic arrangements (particularly in the haunting guitar and celestial organ licks) with catchy melodies and incisive lyrics that viewed the world with a sense of poetic, child-like wonder.
The debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn , released in 1967, may have been the greatest British psychedelic album other than Sgt. Pepper's. Dominated almost wholly by Barrett's songs, the album was a charming funhouse of driving, mysterious rockers ("Lucifer Sam"), odd character sketches ("The Gnome"), childhood flashbacks ("Bike," "Matilda Mother"), and freakier pieces with lengthy instrumental passages ("Astronomy Domine," "Interstellar Overdrive," "Pow R Toch") that mapped out their fascination with space travel. The record was not only like no other at the time; it was like no other that Pink Floyd would make, colored as it was by a vision that was far more humorous, pop-friendly, and light-hearted than those of their subsequent epics. The reason Pink Floyd never made a similar album was that Piper was the only one to be recorded under Barrett's leadership.
Around mid-1967, the prodigy began showing increasingly alarming signs of mental instability. Syd would go catatonic onstage, playing music that had little to do with the material, or not playing at all. An American tour had to be cut short when he was barely able to function at all, let alone play the pop star game. Dependent upon Barrett for most of their vision and material, the rest of the group were nevertheless finding him impossible to work with, live or in the studio.
Around the beginning of 1968, guitarist Dave Gilmour, a friend of the band who was also from Cambridge, was brought in and Syd Barrett left shortly after. It was reported in 1996 that Syd was lying ill in a Cambridge hospital, unable or unwilling to regulate his diabetic condition.
The 1973 release of Dark Side Of The Moon finally broke Pink Floyd as superstars in the United States, where it made #1. More astonishingly, it made them one of the biggest-selling acts of all time. Dark Side of the Moon spent an incomprensible 741 weeks on the Billboard album chart. Additionally, the primarily instrumental textures of the songs helped make Dark Side of the Moon easily translatable on an international level, and the record became (and still is) one of the most popular rock albums worldwide. more
Dave Gilmour 1994 with his trademark red Stratocaster.
|Beginning in 1987, Gilmour has assumed leadership of a reconstituted version of Pink Floyd with Rick Wright and Nick Mason, as well as lending his guitar to a number of other artists' records, notably Kate Bush and Bryan Ferry|
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