One of the greatest bands in the history of modern music is Pink Floyd. Their unique sound and approach to music making has made them a living legend and has permanently marked their members as some of the most ingenious instrumentalists of all time.
Many bands have emulated the unique sound of Pink Floyd but few have actually attempted to cover any of their songs. Their sound is so distinctive that it is impossible to satisfactorily reproduce.
Originally called Tea Set, Sid Barrett initiated Pink Floyd’s climb to fame. The band initially consisted of Sid Barrett on vocals and guitar, Roger Waters on bass, Bob Klose on guitar, Nick Mason on drums and wind instrument player Rick Wright.
The band’s name was a spontaneous decision. They were playing an event at which there was another band named Tea Set. They quickly thought to combine the names of two successful blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, calling them The Pink Floyd Sound. It was not long until they shortened their name to its now unforgettable version.
Their rise to fame was a pretty standard one for most 1960’s rock bands. With songs being written primarily by the band’s vocalist, Sid Barrett, the band easily scored gigs at some of London’s more prominent nightclubs.
In 1966 they were asked to contribute music to the soundtrack for the movie, “Tonite Let’s Make Love in London”. Their popularity as an underground band was steadily growing and by the time they released their debut album in 1967 they already had a substantial fan base in England.
Most critics consider “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” one of the greatest debut albums in history. Their popularity grew tremendously as they released their album in the United States and toured with Jimi Hendrix in the late 60’s.
The stress of fame and his almost obsessive use of psychedelic drugs, quickly overwhelmed Sid Barrett. By January of 1968, the band added David Gilmour to the band to help with the responsibilities that Barrett’s progressive breakdown was making it difficult for him to do.
The band made every attempt to maintain this arrangement but by April of the same year it was obvious that Barrett had deteriorated to the point that the rest of the band decided that it was not working.
Barrett went on to produce two moderately successful albums before he went into seclusion for the last 35 years of his life. At the age of 60, Sid Barrett passed away in 2006.
With the loss of Sid Barrett, Pink Floyd was facing an internal crisis. He had always been the primary songwriter and vocalist. In the absence of clear leadership, the band began writing communal pieces, with each member contributing something.
This writing style was segmented and not well received especially well by critics, but it still allowed the group to perform well in sales. Their successive album was a collection of experimental works of the individuals compiled into a single album. “Meddle” is the first glimpse Pink Floyd gives the public of their trademark style and thematic records.
As the bands writing and recording progressed, Roger Waters gradually became the primary writer of the group. By the time they release “Dark Side of the Moon” in 1973, Waters had become the driving force behind Pink Floyd, despite the collaborative efforts of the band on most projects.
“Dark Side of the Moon” marked the beginning of three epic albums whose success is still unrivaled.
In 1975, the band released their musical farewell to Sid Barrett in what is arguably the greatest album ever made. “Wish You Were Here” centers around the theme of absence and loneliness.
“The Wall” was released in 1979 and was dominated by Water’s writings. His fascination with WWII and the themes of loneliness and isolation that provide this album made it an instant success, catapulting them back to the top of the charts.
This period marked the greatest success for Pink Floyd. Their epically themed albums are amongst the highest earning records in history.
In December of 1985, Roger Waters announced that he was leaving Pink Floyd, stating that the band had used up its creativity. He expected that to be the end of the band. When it wasn’t, a bitter legal battle developed over the use of the name.
The suit was eventually settled out of court, and Gilmour and Mason retained the right to use the name “Pink Floyd” as a result.
David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and ultimately Richard Wright continued to write and record albums under the name Pink Floyd. Together they released “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”.
While it was not their most successful album, “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” was their greatest. Many critics consider Momentary Lapse to be more of a solo project by Gilmour than a group effort.
The bands next two albums, “Delicate Sound of Thunder” and “The Division Bell”, contained significantly more group contributions than their first. They also helped to reestablish Pink Floyd’s reputation in the absence of Roger Waters.
While the members of Pink Floyd have sporadically reunited to perform, they are commonly considered to be a thing of the past. However, their legion of followers is still a very real, ever-present entity.
A true Pink Floyd fan can argue with endless intensity about the superiority of Pink Floyd to all other bands in music history. The less devoted can at least acknowledge the intense impact that Pink Floyd had on the development of music, specifically Rock and Roll.