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With the release of 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd abruptly went from a moderately successful acid-rock band to one of pop music's biggest acts. The recording, in fact, remained on Billboard's Top 200 album chart longer than any other release in history. Along with 1979's The Wall, it established Pink Floyd as purveyors of a distinctively dark vision. Experimenting with concept albums and studio technology and breaking free of conventional pop-song formats, Pink Floyd prefigured the progressive rock of the '70s and ambient music of the ’80s.

As early as 1964, Pink Floyd’s original members, except Syd Barrett, were together studying architecture at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic School. With Barrett, an art student who coined the name the Pink Floyd Sound after a favorite blues record by Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, they began playing R&B-based material for schoolmates. By 1967 they had developed an unmistakably psychedelic sound; long, loud suitelike compositions that touched on hard rock, blues, country, folk, electronic, and quasi-classical music. Adding a slide-and-light show, one of the first in British rock, they became a sensation among London’s underground as a featured attraction at the UFO Club. Barrett, who was responsible for most of the band’s early material, had a knack for composing singles-length bits of psychedelia, and Pink Floyd had British hits with two of them in 1967: “Arnold Layne” (#20 U.K.), the tale of a transvestite, and “See Emily Play” (#60 U.K.). The latter, however, was the last hit single they would have for over a decade; space-epic titles like “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive” were more typical.

In 1968 Barrett , allegedly because of an excess of LSD experimentation, began to exhibit ever more strange and erratic behavior. David Gilmour joined to help with the guitar work. Barrett appeared on only one track of Secrets, “Jugband Music,” which aptly summed up his mental state: “I’m most obliged to you for making it clear/That I’m not really here.” Without Barrett to create concise psychedelic singles, the band concentrated on wider-ranging psychedelic epics.

From 1969 to 1972 Pink Floyd made several film soundtracks - the most dramatic being Zabriskie Point, in which Michelangelo Antonioni’s closing sequence of explosions was complemented by Floyd’s “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” - and began using its “azimuth coordinated sound system” in concert, a sophisticated 360-degree P.A. With Atom Heart Mother, they topped the British chart in 1970; stateside success, however, still eluded them.

Their breakthrough came in 1973 with The Dark Side of the Moon. The themes were unremittingly bleak - alienation, paranoia, schizophrenia - and the music was at once sterile and doomy. Taped voices mumbling ominous asides (something the band had used before) surfaced at key moments. Yielding a surprise American hit in “Money,” (#13, 1973), the album went on to mammoth long-running sales success. Ultimately remaining on the Billboard Top 200 album chart for 741 weeks, Dark Side showcased the talents of Pink Floyd’s chief members: Waters’ lyrics, Gilmour’s guitar. The two would continue to dominate the band but soon furiously contend against each other.

The group’s subsequent albums explored the same territory, with Waters’ songs growing ever more bitter. Wish You Were Here (#1, 1975) was dedicated to Barrett and elegized him with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The Wall, Waters’ finest moment, topped the U.S. chart for 15 weeks, while its nihilistic hit, “Another Brick in the Wall,” was banned by the BBC and in 1980 became the band’s only #1 American single. Meanwhile Pink Floyd’s stage shows had become increasingly elaborate. For the Dark Side and Wish tours, there were slide/light shows and animated films, plus a giant inflated jet that crashed into the stage; for Animals, huge inflated pigs hovered over the stadiums; for The Wall (due to enormous expense, performed 29 times only in New York, L.A., and London) there was that, plus an actual wall built, brick by brick, across the stage, eventually obscuring the band from audience view. Shortly thereafter, Wright left, due to conflict with Waters.

With The Final Cut (#6, 1983), subtitled A Requiem for the Postwar Dream, Waters penned his darkest work yet. It also marked the effective end of the original Pink Floyd, with Waters bitterly departing, and Gilmour and Mason cementing their alliance. (Two films related to the original band - minus Barrett - have been made: the documentary Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii [1971] and The Wall [1982]. The latter featured stunning animation by Gerald Scarfe - Bob Geldof starred in the live-action sequences - and illustrated music from Pink Floyd’s LP of the same name. The first remains a cult movie; the second was a massive commercial success.)

In 1978, withGilmour’s David Gilmour and Wright’s Wet Dream, Pink Floyd’s members had started releasing solo albums. Mason had begun a sideline career as a producer in 1974 with Robert Wyatt; ultimately his very diverse roster included Gong, Carla Bley, the Damned, and Steve Hillage. Solo work continued into the ’80s: In 1984 came Waters’ The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Wright’s Identity, and Gilmour’s About Face (with lyrical contributions by Pete Townshend). A year later Mason released Profiles. Concurrently, Gilmour played sessions with Bryan Ferry, Grace Jones, and Arcadia; in 1986 he formed David Gilmour & Friends with Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs.

In 1986 Waters brought suit against Gilmour and Mason, asking the court to dissolve the trio’s partnership and to block them from using the name Pink Floyd. A year later Waters lost his suit, and the other members, as Pink Floyd, released Momentary Lapse of Reason (#3, 1987). As Waters put out his own Radio K.A.O.S., the others launched a Pink Floyd tour that grossed nearly $30 million. (Though Wright was included on the tour and album, he wasn’t legally considered an official band member but a salaried employee.) With the live Delicate Sound of Thunder, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright again billed themselves as Pink Floyd and went on to more successful touring, including a gig performed in Venice aboard a giant barge, which was televised worldwide.

In 1990 Waters presented an all-star cast, including Sinéad O’Connor, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison, in a version of The Wall performed at the site of the Berlin Wall (chronicled in The Wall - Live in Berlin). Two years later he released the dour Amused to Death.

With Wright rejoining Gilmour and Mason as a full band member, Pink Floyd garnered immediate success with The Division Bell in 1994. Named after the bell in the British House of Commons that summons members to parliamentary debate, the album featured songs written by Gilmour in collaboration with his ex-journalist girlfriend Polly Samson. Two weeks after its release, The Division Bell shot to #1 on the album chart, and in late spring the band embarked on an elaborate American tour. P.U.L.S.E. (#1, 1995) documented the ’94 tour, including a live performance of Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. In 1996 Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Still antagonistic with his former band mates, Waters didn’t attend the ceremonies. After a successful solo tour in 1999, he embarked upon writing a modern opera about the French Revolution, recording with an 80-piece orchestra and 100-member choir.

In the interim, Dark Side of the Moon had taken on yet new life, when certain Pink Floyd fans began playing the album while watching The Wizard of Oz and noting how the 1973 album seemed to provide an uncannily appropriate soundtrack to the 1939 film. The band itself denied that it had intended any sort of parallel between its music and the movie, but rumors persisted of an eerie connection between the two. Pink Floyd also entered the new millennium by releasing a live version, from 1980, of The Wall, in double-CD format, with a lavishly illustrated history.

 

 

After decades of turbulence, Dave Gilmour, Rick Wright, Nick Mason and Roger Waters finally stood on the same stage together to perform at the global Live 8 concert on July 2, 2005. It had been 24 years since all four band members had played together. Although the appearance remained a one-time only affair, the classic line-up embraced at the end of their set. One year later, on July 7, 2006, Syd Barrett died at his home in Cambridge from complications related to diabetes.

Members

Nick Mason

  • Active: 1965–1994, 2005 (Live 8 reunion concert), 2007 (Syd Barrett benefit concert), 2011 (The Wall Tour 2011 (O2 Arena)), 2012–2014
  • Instruments: drums, percussion, tape effects, occasional vocals
  • Release contributions: all Pink Floyd releases

Roger Waters

  • Active: 1965–1985, 2005 (Live 8 reunion concert), 2011 (The Wall Tour 2011 (O2 Arena))
  • Instruments: vocals, bass guitar, tape effects, occasional guitar, percussion, and synthesizers
  • Release contributions: all releases from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn to The Final Cut

Richard Wright

  • Active: 1965–1979, 1993–1994, 2005 (Live 8 reunion concert), 2007 (Syd Barrett benefit concert) (touring/session member from 1979–1981 and 1987–1990)
  • Instruments: vocals, keyboards, synthesizers
  • Release contributions: all releases except for The Final Cut

Syd Barrett

  • Active: 1965–1968
  • Instruments: vocals, guitar
  • Release contributions: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets

David Gilmour

  • Active: 1968–1994, 2005 (Live 8 reunion concert), 2007 (Syd Barrett benefit concert), 2011 (The Wall Tour 2011 (O2 Arena)), 2012–2014
  • Instruments: vocals, guitar, occasional bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, and drums
  • Release contributions: all releases except for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Bob Klose

  • Active: 1965
  • Instruments: guitar
  • Release contributions: 1965: Their First Recordings

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MIRCcome join DJ Essensual, Very Sinister aka The_Cat and the DJs on IRC if you cant get a hold of us in SecondLife or WOW
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