Pink Floyd, the pioneers of space rock, without the recount of whom, the account of the popularity of rock music is incomplete.
The 1960s saw the emergence of rock and its subgenres as the decade is known to have witnessed the birth of bands that continue to add regular listeners, even today. Although the music and taste of the audience and listeners had already revamped immensely, Pink Floyd brought in their otherworldly music to add to the contemporary likings.
Initial constituents of the band were Syd Barrett, the lead guitarist, Nick Mason on drums, the bassist Roger Waters, Rick Wright on keyboard and guitarist David Guilmour. The band’s name was derived from the names of the bluesmen— Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. It suggests that they were greatly influenced by the blues. They settled on this name only in 1965, the year they debuted as they are known today. What led them to become the pioneers of space rock was their instrumental jams, which are said to be quite long.
The first single called ‘Arnold Layne’ was not released until 1967. Although it was quite a success for them in the United Kingdom, it was forbidden at some radio stations that found the lyrics inappropriate.
Penned by Syd Barrett, the first entry into space rock was made by ‘Astronomy Domine’, the opening song of their album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. Some said that the beginning of the track was Morse-coded, but it was later found out to be just tunes, conveying no meaning. There are, however, the names of planets and characters created by Shakespeare and this has been combined with elongated instrumentals and sudden shifting of chords. Later in 2018, Nick Mason said that the song combined psychedelia with the incumbent philosophy of the 1960s.
For a short period, the song ceased to be a part of their live concerts but it was eventually reincorporated. On the British charts, the song ranked sixth. After this, Pink Floyd rose to stardom and was in the league of the most desirable bands of the time.
The presence of their de facto leader, Syd Barrett was the primary cause for this success. However, he could not stay in the band for long, owing to the decadence of his mental health. Although his tenure was for three years, towards the end, he was not able to perform with the band and most wrote songs backstage. After Barrett’s signing off, it took a great deal of time for the band to maintain the same level of popularity.
In the last composition for the band by Barrett called ‘Jugband Blues’, they delved deeper into the instrumental portion. Since Album art plays a significant role in enticing listeners and live audiences, they collaborated with Storm Thorgerson, whose team Hipgnosis created alluring album art designs for Pink Floyd. What brought them to number one in the U.K was their association with Ron Geesin, which resulted in the production of the album ‘Atom Heart Mother’.
However, since Barrett’s departure, the greatest success was achieved by the 1973 album, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. On the United States Billboard Chart, it ranked one and it was continually present on the charts for 741 weeks, which was another feat in itself.
The group seemed very fond of the philosophy of Nihilism as the theme echoed in the two consecutive albums Animals(1977) and The Wall(1979). ‘Animals’ particularly was autobiographical as well since it was inspired by Waters’ experiences.
In 2011, the group, which had over the years undergone certain riffs as well, released a few reissues of very well-known works to expose their uniqueness. It was a very special event for the old fans of the band as well as for the young ones who had the luxury of witnessing it.
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Written By: Ashmita Khandelwal
Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma