Classic Rock Corner

In The Flesh: 10 Semi-Obscure Facts About Pink Floyd

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This week we turn our fact-finding spotlight on of the most successful cosmic rock bands of all time, Pink Floyd. The band is going through another period of rediscovery by fans young and old with a new set of remastered reissues, along with last year's extremely popular Roger Waters concert tour, wherein he performed the band's 1979 album The Wall in its entirety, complete with a wall being built onstage.

This week's Rolling Stone cover story is on the band's monolithic 1973 LP, The Dark Side of the Moon, which was among the batch of Floyd reissues out this past month. Brian Hiatt's piece delves into the theory that the album in a sense splintered the working structure of the group for the rest of their days together. After Dark Side, they would only release four more strife-baked albums before Waters left for a solo career.

We all know the stories about original lead singer Syd Barrett, that drugged, handsome madman who was initially the beating heart of the group, but was done in by the ravages of hallucinogenics on his capabilities to function in a band that was quickly gaining steam. David Gilmour was brought on board as Barrett began slipping away mentally, and ended up outlasting even Waters.

Barrett's two solo albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, are cult favorites, in league with that other great, damaged '60s artist, Roky Erickson, though Erickson obviously overcame the odds and thrived in later years. Barrett passed away in 2006, but was always a looming, if absent figure, in the Floyd universe.

The band's one constant member on each album was drummer Nick Mason. Keyboardist Richard Wright passed away in 2008. Wright, Mason, and Gilmour continued to tour as Pink Floyd after Waters' exit, to chagrin of the bassist, and released two albums, 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994's The Division Bell, and were a major concert drawl into the '90s before parting.

There exists a few different, distinct periods in the Floyd narrative. There's the early bluesy, garage work up until Barrett's exit. The middle period before Dark Side was characterized by albums like the pastoral Meddle and Atom Heart Mother, and the sprawling Ummagumma. The last track on 1971's Meddle, "Echoes" is the perfect prequel to the vast and enthralling expanse of what would be 1973's Dark Side.

After touring Dark Side, the band went into the studio to record 1975's Wish You Were Here, and this when Hiatt's article points to the exact moment when the band's daily routine became very much a case of Waters versus the rest of the group. Many fans also echo that sentiment, articulating that Waters began a tyrannical hold on the proceedings.

Animals and The Wall were very much Waters' babies, creating the concepts and structures of both. 1983's The Final Cut, the final Floyd disc with Waters in the fold, gets dismissed by fans as a Waters solo album that happens to have Floyd playing behind him. Gilmour only sings lead on "Not Now John," with Waters handling the rest.

As for this guy here, our favorite album has to be a toss up between Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. Our first taste of Floyd would have been seeing those freaky videos from The Wall on television, and of course the hourly classic-rock radio doses. It would take us a few years to delve into that early middle era involving Atom Heart Mother and Ummagumma to full recognize the band's freaky power.

We've seen Waters twice in our career here at Rocks Off; first time back in 2008 on his tour performing Dark Side at the Woodlands where we ate two corn dogs - no comment - and almost a year ago when he hit the Toyota Center while performing The Wall. Never seen Gilmour and the rest in the flesh, and they aren't the touring kind.

We compiled our usual set of ten obscure - hopefully - facts for you this week in the confidence that a few of you Floyd fanatics will come out of the woodwork with even more.

Careful with that comment button, Eugene.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty