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Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd was formed in 1964 as an outgrowth of an earlier band called variously The Architectural Abdabs/The Screaming Abdabs/Sigma 6, Pink Floyd is a British rock band famous for their songwriting and psychedelic style, ranking #7 behind The Beatles in number of albums sold worldwide.


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Pink Floyd originally consisted of Bob Klose (lead guitar), Syd Barrett (vocals, rhythm guitar), Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals), Roger Waters (bass, vocals) and Nick Mason (drums) and named in tribute to two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The band initially covered rhythm and blues staples such as "Louie, Louie". As Barrett started writing tunes more influenced by American surf music, psychedelic rock, and British whimsy, humor and literature, the heavily jazz-orientated Klose departed and left a rather stable foursome whose configuration would last for several years.

The sound was hardened somewhat in 1968 when guitarist David Gilmour joined the band. In 1969, Barrett suffered a mental breakdown, attributed to prolonged usage of hallucinogenic drugs (especially LSD). With Barrett's state becoming less and less predictable, the band's live shows became increasingly ramshackle until eventually the other band members simply stopped taking Barrett to the concerts, with Waters and Gilmour taking his place as lead vocalists.

Whilst Barrett had written the bulk of the first record, Piper at the Gates Of Dawn (1967), he contributed little to the second A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), forcing the band in a new direction. With the loss of their main songwriter the band was perceived as losing focus and a distinctive sound: the next record, the double album Ummagumma (1969), was a mix of live recordings and unchecked studio experimentation by the band members, with each recording half a side of vinyl as a solo project (Mason's wife makes an uncredited contribution as a flautist).

1970's Atom Heart Mother, a UK number one album, is sometimes now considered a dated psychedelic period piece and has been described by Gilmour as the sound of a band "blundering about in the dark". The title piece owes much to orchestration by Ron Geesin.

The band's sound was considerably more focused in Meddle (1971), whose 23-minute epic "Echoes" is heard by many critics today as one of their best works ever, and which also included the atmospheric "One of These Days" (now regarded as a concert classic, with a distorted, disembodied one-line vocal) and the pop-jazz stylings of "St. Tropez". Their forays into experimentation and trying new things were expressed on "Seamus" (earlier, "Mademoiselle Nobs") a pure-blues number featuring lead vocals by a Russian wolfhound.

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Despite having never been a hit-single driven group, their massively successful 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon featured a US number one track ("Money"), and more importantly remained in the top 100 for over a decade, breaking many records on the way, and making it one of the top selling albums of all time. Dark Side of the Moon itself was a concept album dealing with themes of insanity, neurosis and fame which, due to the use of Abbey Road studio's new 16-track recording equipment and the investment of an enormous amount of time by the group and engineer Alan Parsons, set new standards for sound fidelity. Dark Side of the Moon has also been the source of a persistent, but false, urban legend that it was conceived as a kind of synchronized soundtrack for the film The Wizard of Oz.

Dark Side of the Moon and the three following albums (Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall) are often held up as the peak of Pink Floyd's career. The first of those, Wish You Were Here, released in 1975, is a tribute to Barrett in which the lyrics deal explicitly with the aftermath of his breakdown, including the critically-acclaimed, mainly instrumental "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and the classic title track.

By 1977, and the release of Animals the band's music came under increasing criticism from some quarters in the new punk rock sphere as being too flabby and pretentious, losing its way from the simplicity of early rock and roll. Animals contained more lengthy songs tied to a theme, taken in part from George Orwell's Animal Farm, which used pigs, dogs and sheep as metaphors for contemporary society.

1979's The Wall gave Pink Floyd renewed and highly enthusiastic critical acclaim and another hit single with the track "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II," and its youth catchphrase "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control," as well as the extraordinary track "Comfortably Numb" which, though never released as a single (and interestingly, hated during sessions by both Waters and Gilmour), became a cornerstone of AOR and classic-rock radio playlists and is today probably their best-known song. It is also the only song on Pink Floyd's four concept albums to not segue at either the beginning or end. The album also became a vastly expensive and money-losing tour/stage show. During this time, Roger Waters increased his artistic influence and leadership of the band, prompting frequent conflicts with the other members and causing Wright to quit the band, though he would return, on a fixed wage, for the album's few live concerts. Paradoxically, he was the only one of Pink Floyd to make any money from the "Wall" shows, the rest having to cover the excessive costs. The album was co-produced by Bob Ezrin, a friend of Waters who shared songwriting credits on "The Trial".

The Wall remained on best-selling-album lists for 14 years. A film starring Boomtown Rats founder Bob Geldof was adapted from it in 1982 written by Waters and directed by Alan Parker, and featuring animation by noted British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

After 1983's The Final Cut, bandmembers went their separate ways till 1987, when Gilmour attempted to revive the band with Nick Mason. A bitter legal dispute with Roger Waters (who left the band in 1985) ensued, but Gilmour and Mason achieved the legal right to release an album as Pink Floyd (Waters, however, gained the rights to some traditional Pink Floyd imagery, including almost all of The Wall). Richard Wright re-joined the duo during the recording sessions of A Momentary Lapse of Reason as a session musician, and was paid a weekly salary. By any account, Wright was a member of the band for the 1994 release of The Division Bell and its subsequent tour.

All of the members of Pink Floyd have released solo albums which have met with varying degrees of commercial and critical success. Waters' Amused To Death was especially praised.

Syd Barrett died Tuesday, July 11, 2006. He was 60.

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Discography: The Piper At The Gates of Dawn (1967) A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) More (1969) Ummaguamma (1969) Zabriskie Point (1970) The Best of Pink Floyd (Masters of Rock Vol. I) (1970) Atom Heart Mother (1970) Relics (1971) Meddle (1971) Obscured By Clouds (1972) The Dark Side of The Moon (1973) A Nice Pair (1974) Wish You Were Here (1975) Animals (1977) The Wall (1979) A Collection of Great Dance Songs (1981) The Final Cut (1983) Works (1983) A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) Knebworth: The Concert (1990) Shine On (1992) The Division Bell (1994) Interview: Picture Disc (1994) Pulse (Ltd. Edition With Blinking Light) (1995) Pulse (Longbox Edition) (1995) Pulse (Slipcase, Non-Blink) (1995) Us And Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd (1995) Tonite Let's All Make Love In London (1996) The First Three Singles (1998) Star Profiles (1998) Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 (Ltd. Edition) (2000) Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (2001)

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