Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

Shut the door and turn on the black light lamp, it’s time to groove to Pink Floyd. A band that started out strange and esoteric and became even more strange and esoteric shouldn’t have known such success, but Pink Floyd were masters at bucking conventions. They had few hits, if the Billboard charts are anything to judge by, yet they still have an enormous following around the world.

Pink Floyd came to life in England when a group of school friends decided to start a band. When Syd Barrett joined the group, he steered their music toward psychedelic waters with songs like “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play.” Their first album was Piper at the Gates of Dawn but the band’s true virtuosity came out in their frequent live gigs where they jammed like they were trying to reach nirvana.

The band continued in the same spacey, ethereal vein even after Barrett’s departure in 1968, releasing A Saucerful of Secrets. The album featured conventional rock songs as well as long, meandering pieces that were akin to painting with music (this is where that black light would come in handy). After a few albums in the early 70s, Pink Floyd released the soon-to-be historic Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. And the world tilted on its axis a little.

Filled with their trademark soundscapes, the album also utilized poignant lyrics to describe the thin line between reality and fantasy, sanity and insanity. The critics fell over themselves praising and interpreting the album while fans reached new heights of awareness playing the record over and over again. Dark Side of the Moon included the singles “Time” and “Money,” two of Pink Floyd’s best known songs and permanent radio staples. The album itself spent a record 566 weeks in the Top 200 album list. The band embarked on a tour to support their #1 album and put on elaborate, mesmerizing, avant-garde concerts that used the latest technological innovations to showcase their music. With Pink Floyd, audiences didn’t get a show — they got an experience.

The next studio album, Wish You Were Here, generated more hit singles like “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Have a Cigar” and the much-loved title track. The album nearly replicated the success of Dark Side of the Moon and Pink Floyd became legends in their own time. They toured heavily, always putting on dazzling shows and went back to the studio in 1977 for Animals, an album taking its cues from George Orwell’s political satire, Animal Farm. The band hit the road again, this time bringing along a giant, inflatable pig to blow the minds of concert audiences around the world.

If their previous albums, musical experiments and performances weren’t epic enough (they really were), Pink Floyd came back in 1979 with their double LP rock opera The Wall. Exploring the isolation of the artist and audiences’ fickle nature, The Wall included songs spanning several music genres. Some of the most popular singles were “In the Flesh,” “Comfortably Numb” and the oppressed-student anthem, “Another Brick in the Wall.” It wasn’t long before the rock opera was adapted into a film that became a cult sensation. The Wall world tour was equally grandiose, lasting almost two years straight.

Pink Floyd took a break from touring, staying in the recording studio for The Final Cut and pursuing various solo projects. In 1985, the band bid adieu to pivotal member Roger Waters, which might have signaled the end, though 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason proved otherwise. Not only did the album top the charts, but the subsequent world tour still sold out arenas and stadiums around the globe.

Roger Waters organized a star-studded performance of “The Wall” in 1990 to mark the demolition of the Berlin Wall, infusing that song with even deeper meaning. Back in the studio, the band released The Division Bell in 1994, a much awaited album that did not disappoint fans. After the tour that accompanied The Division Bell, Pink Floyd went their separate ways, reuniting at times over the years but still pursuing solo careers.

And, just when it seemed like there might not be any new music from the iconic band, 2014 saw the release of The Endless River. Consisting of tracks recorded in 1994, and without Roger Waters, it would appear that fading into obscurity is simply not an option for these guys. The legend continues.

Did you grow up listening to Pink Floyd, perhaps under the dim warmth of your own black light? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this legendary band in our comments section below.

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  1. “Dark Side Of The Moon” actually spent 741 weeks on the Billboard 200…sales figures may have been different according to some sources…

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