Pink Floyd is a British progressive band famous for its songwriting, harmonic classical rock compositions, bombastic style and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd is one of rock's most successful acts, ranking seventh in number of albums sold worldwide.
Pink Floyd formed in 1964 from an earlier band whose names included Sigma 6, T-Set, Megadeaths, The Screaming Abdabs, The Architectural Abdabs, and The Abdabs. The band was again renamed The Pink Floyd Sound and then simply The Pink Floyd (after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council). The definite article was dropped by the time their debut album was released.
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). They 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, humour and literature, the heavily jazz-oriented Klose departed and left a rather stable foursome. The band formed Blackhill Enterprises, a six-way business partnership with their managers, Peter Jenner and Andrew King.
In 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band to carry out the playing and singing duties of Barrett, whose mental health was deteriorating, but nevertheless was intended to remain as the band's figurehead and songwriter. With Barrett's behaviour becoming less and less predictable, the band's live shows became increasingly ramshackle until, eventually, the other band members simply stopped taking him to the concerts.
Once Barrett's departure was formalised, Jenner and King decided to remain with him, and the six-way Blackhill partnership was dissolved. Whilst Barrett had written the bulk of the first record, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), he contributed little to the second A Saucerful of Secrets (1968).
After the film soundtrack More, the next record, the double album Ummagumma (part recorded at Mothers Rock Club, Birmingham, and in Manchester in 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).
Despite their never having been a hit-single-driven group, their massively successful 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon, featured a US number Top 20 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 was a concept album dealing with themes of insanity, neurosis and fame. Thanks to the use of new 16-track recording equipment at Abbey Road Studios and the investment of an enormous amount of time by engineer Alan Parsons, the album set new standards for sound fidelity.
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, having lost 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, using pigs, dogs and sheep as metaphors for members of contemporary society. Animals was a lot more guitar-driven than the previous albums and marked the start of tensions between Waters and Wright.
1979's epic rock opera, The Wall, conceived mainly by Waters, gave Pink Floyd renewed acclaim and another hit single with their foray into critical pedagogy - "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II." It also included "Comfortably Numb," which, though never released as a single, became a cornerstone of AOR and classic-rock radio playlists and is today one of the group's best-known songs. It is also one of a very small number of songs on Pink Floyd's first four concept albums not to segue at either the beginning or end.
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 striking animation by noted British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. The creation of the film saw a further deterioration of the Waters/Gilmour relationship, as Waters came to completely dominate the band.
1983 saw the release of The Final Cut. Even darker in tone than The Wall, this album re-examined many of the themes of that album while also addressing then-current events, including Waters' anger at Britain's participation in the Falklands War ("The Fletcher Memorial Home") and his cynicism toward, and fear of, nuclear war ("Two Suns in the Sunset"). Wright's absence meant this album lacked the keyboard effects seen in previous Floyd works, although guests Michael Kamen and Andy Bown both contributed keyboard work. Though released as a Pink Floyd album, the project was clearly dominated by Waters and became a prototype in sound and form for later Waters solo projects. Only moderately successful by Floyd standards, the album yielded only one rock radio hit, "Not Now John". The arguing between Waters and Gilmour by this stage was rumoured to be so bad that they were never seen in the recording studio simultaneously. There was no tour, and the band unofficially disbanded in 1983.
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 the most praised of these albums, though it was met with mixed reviews.
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