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

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(Cue heartbeat sound effect)

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.

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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.

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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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17 comments
Denny Angelle
Denny Angelle

I went to that show in 1977 in the old Jeppesen (now Robertson) Stadium at UH ... Pink Floyd played most of the set in a decent rainstorm, they unfurled inflatable pigs and supposedly had surround sound. I remember it cracked me up that the recorded wind noises were drowned out by real wind and rain! Anyhow, when the show was over people apparently wanted more and when the band didn't return after a couple encores they started throwing bottles and shit onto the stage, scattering the roadies.The only thing that stopped the melee was a huge dump of rain that washed everybody out of that toilet into the parking lot. Big fun.

Mel Sharkskin
Mel Sharkskin

I was at the Sept. 9, 1972 Houston date (in the intimate Music Hall, with its sublime acoustics, not the godawful concrete pile that was the Colisseum). I was a dumb 17-year-old on acid, but I do remember it rather well. They played much of the not-yet-released DSOTM, and I recall Nick Mason playing the intro to "Time" on two banks of bongos (with sticks). I was a wannabe drummer, and marveled at the very first all-acrylic kit I'd ever seen. The kit was clear, and I can even remember his platform shoes, festooned with enormous silver buckles, on the pedals.Quadrophonic sound was a huge (and doomed) fad at the time. And thus the concert was wired on the front AND back walls of the Music Hall, something unheard of at the time. As they let ticketholders into the hall, the four banks of house speakers, one at a time, played the sound of a cash register ringing up money: Ching-ching, ching-ching....Less than a year earlier I had seen The Who on the Who's Next tour in the Colisseum, and was convinced after that I'd never be so blown away by a live show if I lived to be, well, as old as I am now. I was wrong.

Nexpatriot1776
Nexpatriot1776

David Gilmour(Mason ,Wright) actually toured more than Waters.Where do you get your info from?

Guest
Guest

Rumor has it that Roger Waters is bringing "The Wall" tour back to the U.S. and touring in cities he missed the 1st time like Austin, so I'll be looking forward to that since I missed out on the Houston show. Luckily I got to see him in the DSOTM tour back in '08.

csoakley
csoakley

The Australian Pink Floyd Show (aussiefloyd.com) just started their US tour but they are not coming to Houston, it seems. Looks like Dallas on Oct 17th is the closest they'll get to us. That's too bad because I've seen them here 3 times and it is an absolutely incredible show. They usually do an entire album, an intermission and then a mixed PF set. If you brought your buddy to the show and he was stoned out of his mind he would swear it was the real thing....except when they bring out the giant inflatable kangaroo with red laser beam eyes..that might freak him out a bit.

GlenW
GlenW

Saw them twice on the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. First time was Oct 1987 at the Capitol Center, then June 1, 1988 at RFK Stadium. Both shows were awesome, and from what I remember, the sets were the same. Lots of lasers, crashing and burning beds, flying pigs, and marijuana, but no songs from Animals.Never liked any songs from Division Bell.

Katy
Katy

Oh man.... Storm Thorgerson overdose on those covers!

Colleen Daus
Colleen Daus

I was at the Dome and Rice Stadium shows having only arrived in Houston in 1978. They were both great but the Rice Stadium show was cut short by a couple of songs. We were up in the stands and watched the storm as it approached the stadium. Once it arrived and the rain was coming down in sheets and even sideways and the lightning was crashing right behind us. My husband said "come on let's go" and I ignored him as he ran for cover. I didn't leave my seat until they stopped playing. What a light show we had that night!!

jason tinder
jason tinder

Echoes was released in 1971 on the meddle LP.  Obscured by Clouds is like More and was a soundtrack rather than a proper record.  

Saw them at The Orange Bowl, November 1st 1987 and it completely blew my mind.  There was a thunderstorm threatening the entire show, the sky ripped open during comfortably numb and it is one of those moments you will never forget.  Still in my top 5 and on December 3rd U2 played the OB for the Joshua Tree - it was a good month.  

The 94 show at joe robbie sucked but every show I saw there did except for Guns and Roses on New years eve in 1991.

anthony
anthony

Echoes was the final track on Meddle, not Obscured by Clouds.

Hyena
Hyena

Was at the 94 concert.  Thunderstorm cut the set in half and the inflatables were having issues.  I stole a couple of Division Bell seat cushions from the front row on the way out. Still have them around someplace.

DAC
DAC

The PF drummer is Nick Mason, right? Not Rick...

Briokid
Briokid

Hey genius, Pink Floyd's drummer is Nick Mason, not Rick.

Katy
Katy

Are you talking about the Gilmour-led Floyd (which toured behind two albums - once in the Eighties and once in the Nineties) or David Gilmour solo (who did have Wright playing on his last tour for a time?

Because if you are talking about Gilmour/Wright/Mason's Floyd, then the article is correct.

Waters has toured five times since leaving Pink Floyd (short jaunts, but a couple included Houston) while the Gilmour-led Floyd toured twice and only long ago...

Katy
Katy

"Never liked any songs from Division Bell."

Not even "High Hopes"? The rest of the album is almost laughingly awful, but "High Hopes" is Floyd-worthy...

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