This week’s artist of the week, Pink Floyd, is one of the names most synonymous with rock music. Their career defined it and their influence can be seen and heard in subgenres like hard rock, progressive rock, alternative rock, and even grunge. Throw in the gold that is their lyrics and you easily have a band that is rightfully mentioned as one of the greatest to ever play. One of the world’s most popular tribute acts to cover the band; Brit Floyd, will be playing at The LC Pavilion in Columbus on Thursday.
The original band was founded in 1965 with guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett, drummer Nick Mason, key-based instrument player Richard Wright and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. Their first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was released in 1967. The psychedelic sound of the album fit in with the times but was edgier than a lot of the American psychedelic music out during the same period. A lot of the American music sounded like music to trip to, while Floyd packed a punch of sound that literally verged on psychosis and paranoia and could strike legitimate fear in the listener. If you could make a sound that represented what “madness” would sound like; this was it. While Barrett was the only known LSD user at the time, the group was stigmatized with being an acid band.
During the subsequent tour, Barrett’s behavior became unpredictable and a liability for the band. They would bring in guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour to offset the erratic Syd Barrett. The band released A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968. Not able to count on Barrett to contribute meaningfully to the project, the band had to rely more heavily on Waters and Wright during the process. While it was still a psychedelic record; their influence would foreshadow the darker themes to come on later Floyd albums.
Their next effort, 1969’s Soundtrack from the Film More, was their first without Barrett and would also mark the first collaboration of the four members that would later take the band to the highest highs of rock music. Those highs seemingly almost didn’t happen, though, as the band meddled in obscurity for quite some time. After More the band also contributed to the soundtrack for the film Zabriskie Point in 1970 and their 1969 experiment Ummagumma was met with mixed reviews. It contained live recordings of early era music and then the band members each went solo on the second half of the double album, creating an uneasy psychedelic sound. 1970’s Atom Heart Mother didn’t fare much better and found the band caught in the middle between making maddening music for the maniacal and progressive sounds for the intellectual. The title track, however, did offer a glimpse into Gilmour’s iconic, wailing guitar sound and things did begin to look up with 1971’s album Meddle.
Meddle was only a six song record, but, it was a marked improvement over anything they had done to that point because of three masterpieces; Fearless; One of These Days, and Echoes. In 1972 they once again constructed a soundtrack for a movie and released Obscured by Clouds, which was a step backwards from its predecessor. However, rock music would never be the same again after their next album; 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Dark Side kicked off the bands run of supremacy in the world of rock music. All of the sounds and themes that they had been trying to capture were finally brought together on the album. The album has sold over 15 million copies to date and kicked off a run of classic albums that would be hard for any band to compete with. 1975’s Wish You Were Here and 1977’s Animals were both five track masterpieces that followed before culminating in 1979’s The Wall. The Wall was the bands’ double album concept record that capped the band at their highest and contained hit single after hit single.
From there, the tensions in the band began to become more apparent to the outside world. Waters had virtually excluded the other from The Wall and 1983’s The Final Cut proved to be the last straw for the remaining members and Waters left the group. Subsequently, he then tried to sue and prevent the remaining three members from forging on under the name Pink Floyd. The other members ultimately won, though, and would release two more albums as Pink Floyd without Roger Waters. 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994’s stellar The Division Bell would cap off the studio recording career for the band.
Since the tour in support of The Division Bell, the four members of the classic lineup reunited for a one night show during 2005’s Live 8 concert. While there have been rumblings, seemingly every few months, that the band may get back together; these claims have had no real merit to them. Gilmour and Waters still tour as highly successful solo acts. The edgy original singer Syd Barrett would die in 2006 due to pancreatic cancer. Keys player Simon Wright, unfortunately, also passed away due to cancer; in 2008. Drummer Nick Mason is probably the most underrated member from the band. He contributed on many “non-hit” songs but also co-wrote epic pieces like Time and One of These Days.
While Wright’s death would effectively lay rest to a full blown reunion, Gilmour has joined Waters on a few select songs on a few occasions of his tours of The Wall in recent years, leading some to speculate that there is a small chance at one final hurrah. While it is highly unlikely, the surviving band members have stated the only reason to consider it would to be for charity. The money that could be raised for charity in that case would be an extravagant amount. Especially when one considers that the last time that Rogers and Gilmour toured together was after The Wall. The last Pink Floyd show to visit Columbus was during the tour supporting The Division Bell on May 29, 1994. That show was played at Ohio Stadium, home of The Ohio State Buckeyes, to well over 50,000 people. In fact, the tour was played in stadiums across the world; it was witnessed by over 5.5 million people. That was without Roger Waters being involved at all. With that said, how ‘bout it guys? The dollars earned to donate from that theoretical tour would be monumental.For charity, of course, money; it’s a hit.
The following is a list of the 25 Most Essential Pink Floyd songs according to me. Agree? Disagree? Sound off below and let me know what you think, and as always, if you haven't subscribed for free, please do!
5. Time (1973)
7. Dogs (1977)
12. Sheep (1977)
16. Echoes (1971)