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Pink Floyd (Early Years)

English Rock Band

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Legends Who Earned Their Reputation

  • Feb 9, 2009
  • by
Theirs is a story that dates back to those sometimes confusing, always exciting post-teenage years when the world feels simultaneously like your oyster and the weight upon your shoulders. After forging an early relationship, Roger Waters and Nick Mason, both colleagues at an architectural university, began toying with the idea of putting together a full-time band. The logistics were troublesome, and both eventually dropped out to focus on the music. It was Syd Barret, the infamous former guitarist and songwriter who initially gave The Pink Floyd their namesake, and their mystique; his poster-boy looks and general charisma on stage turned more than a few local heads. With the inclusion of Richard Wright, the nucleus was formed and the Floyd unveiled "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" to an audience eager for new, out-of-this-world soundscapes, literally escapes from the drab and dreary post-war snobs surrounding their "Mod" culture like schoolyard bullies. They needed a voice that rose higher than those being heard, and Barret's eclectic, spastic and poetic verses and stranger-than-fiction guitar noodling brought that and so much more.

The evolution of the band came at the expense of Mr. Barret's sanity, a fact that Roger Waters would never let the Floyd's fans forget as almost every album post-Barret pays tribute to him with a lyric, a song or an album (The Wall is still considered by some as a dramatization of the rise and fall of Syd Barret). As the scene pushed onto him the idea of drugs inducing creativity, hipness and high fashion, Barret slowly collapsed under the weight of expectation and acid. Being a man of tremendous foresight and ingenuity, Waters was quick to understand that the Floyd could and would continue with Barret in the shadows; one night, with a gig on the agenda, the band simply decided not to pick Barret up along the way. Eventually they would recruit a man who's local work with various acts had impressed them more than enough: David Gilmour. Within the first few shows featuring Gilmour, the rest of the band knew they had everything they needed, even as they slowly lost almost all contact with the man who gave them their name and their initial fame.

During this transition, their music acted as a mirror into their intrapersonal activities and individual mindsets. While nowhere near as noteworthy as Barret's songs were, these pre-Dark Side albums are memorable in that they show an evolution into something quite astronomical. And then it just seemed to happen; the stars aligned, karma was in perfect flux and the spirit of Barret chose not to haunt but to inspire a sound so grand and epic, no one at the time realized just what had happened. "The Dark Side Of The Moon" would go on to be perhaps the most successful album ever created, one in which every song worked in harmony to create an atmosphere thicker than the air around us. People got lost in it.

The success that followed may have broken the band in the end, but they would follow up with very successful outings. "Wish You Were Here" can be seen as the ultimate Barret tribute, especially in the two-part monster "Shine on you Crazy Diamond". When one thinks of Barret as they listen to the title track, you can almost feel Gilmour, in an off-hand way, looking Barret in the eye and questioning his very sanity and connection to the world around him. Even though Gilmour never really had the association with Barret that the rest of the group did, he was constantly aware of who he was replacing and the responsibility he had to create his one presence in the absence of such a bright talent. His contributions to the Floyd have been undoubtedly the most consistent as a result, especially considering after frontman Waters left the band high and dry after the contraversial "The Final Cut", and Gilmour picked up the slack with practiced profressionalism.

"The Wall" would go down as Roger Waters' baby, a slab of a concept that weighed so heavily it absolutely required the most spectacular stage show the world had ever seen. And, as was already their style, they gave it to their fans and them some; playing half of their shows behind a 100+ foot wall and eventually having it collapse in front of them. The film this album spawned is a must-see if only for the light the imagery shines on Waters' idea of a rockstar falling into total insanity due to neglecting his past and abusing his future with present mistakes.

Not too long ago, the whole of Pink Floyd (minus Syd, of course, who Waters still honored before they played "Wish You Were Here") reunited at Live 8. This is where this review actually gets personal for me...as a lifelong, die-hard fan of the Floyd, this is still one of the most memorable events that's happened in my life, and it brought tears to my eyes to finally see what my parents and friends' parents had the opportunity to witness; legends being legends. With the recent passing of Richard Wright, this will never happen again, something that makes it all that more special.

Over the course of 4 decades, Pink Floyd have been one of the most influential, monumental and important rock bands in existance, and they did it from the ground up. They did it despite having to part with their original crazy diamond, eventually replacing him with a more sane, but equally bright one. They did it, and continue to carry an aura of near-invincibility in terms of credibility, despite the nasty breakup and legal battles between Waters and Gilmour. Somehow, their music transcends all other aspects of their existence and will, in my opinion, forever remain ethereal, almost a figment of our imaginations, a part of our childhoods that will simply never die.

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August 11, 2010
A great review, love reading about the behind the band info. Wow, this brings me back. I was in high school when the "Dark Side of the Moon" came out. I was just talking about its importance to a friend the other day. I constantly played it on 8 track tape in my 67 Mercury Cougar. Boy I wish I still had that ride!!!
March 06, 2009
You're quite welcome! I know this band better than just about any other, I've read dozens of biographies, first-hand accounts, interviews, etc. Their story is quite simply fascinating, the minds involved extremely intelligent and creative, and their legendary status is perhaps the most easy to justify in the history of rock music.
March 06, 2009
I've always loved Pink Floyd after randomly hearing a Radiohead and Sparklehorse cover of "Wish You Were Here" during my first week of college (I was a little late to the game, I admit). Such a wistful song, especially one to pass the Chicago winters to. Thanks for a great review that puts the whole story together.
February 11, 2009
He reunited for the Live 8 show, and quickly dispelled the expected rumors of a full-blown reunion or any sort of tour or new material. He's been doing some stuff on his own though, I think he wrote an opera? I'm not too familiar, although I should be.
February 10, 2009
This is really more of a brief biography of the band than a review. But damn, you've done a great job. Very nicely done. I wasn't aware that Roger Waters had reunited with the band.
February 10, 2009
I understand your position perfectly. I've read so much into this band that I've come to understand that, even in people's loathing of them, they were influential. They were simply a force that couldn't be ignored, whether praise or insults were being dished out. I think that goes a certain distance in showing just how much of an impact they had on music as a whole. I'm still liable to tell you that they weren't as great as some make them out to be; I consider Rush to be the ultimate in progressive rock music. But the most influential characteristic, if I had to opine in that direction, would have to be Gilmour's guitar work. He bridged gaps between genres and brought a passion to Waters' lyrics that I've never heard another guitarist match.
More Pink Floyd reviews
Quick Tip by . November 09, 2012
posted in Music Matters
I don't think Pink Floyd is bad by any stretch, but I think they're really overrated.       Some of their material is magnificent (like songs off the "Animals" album), but some others have been played to death on the radio (like "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Another Brick in the Wall").  A lot of the songs that get the most radio play are okay, but aren't that brilliant to get repeated over and over (with a possible exception …
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
How can you not like Pink Floyd?!
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
I wish they were all still around so that I could see one last concert. When they came together for LIVE 8 a couple years back, I was glued to me TV
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
what can i say about pink floyd. except i salute every single one of them for being such geniuses. the wall, dark side, wish you were here. everyone knows albums like those. but getting into pink floyds actual music is so much better, not just the commercial stuff. go for division bell, or a saucerful of secrets, animals, and just let them blow your mind, youll see what i mean=)
review by . December 17, 2008
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd. Who'd have thought that the same music I grew up hearing my dad listen to would end up being one of my own favorite choices to play at home years later? That is how good these guys are...they bridge the gap between generations with their instruments and their lyrics, and people from all age groups can appreciate their smooth, funky style.    I haven't gotten the opportunity to listen to all of Pink Floyd's albums, but of the ones I have heard, I like …
About the reviewer
Kevin Sellers ()
Ranked #383
Just another hack hacking away. You know my name by now, I hope, having made it this far. Other facts? I stand between 6'7" and 6'8", I smoke (but not for much longer), and I am an avid fan of most entertainment … more
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About this band


Pink Floyd were an English rock band who earned recognition for their psychedelic music in the late 1960s, and as they evolved in the 1970s, for their progressive rock music. Pink Floyd's work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album cover art, and elaborate live shows. One of rock music's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful acts, the group have sold over 200 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Pink Floyd were formed in 1965, and originally consisted of university students Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. The group were a popular fixture on London's underground music scene, and under Barrett's leadership released two charting singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", and a successful debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. In 1968, guitarist and singer David Gilmour joined the line-up, and Barrett was removed due to his increasingly erratic behaviour. Following Barrett's departure, bass player and singer Roger Waters became the lyricist and dominant figure in the band, which went on to achieve worldwide critical and commercial success with the concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and rock opera The Wall.

Wright left the band in 1979, and Waters in 1985, but Gilmour and Mason (joined...

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