20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Pink Floyd
Which Pink Floyd songs did David Gilmour refuse to sing? Who was the only member of the band to make money on ‘The Wall’ tour? What famous rocker’s dog was featured on a Pink Floyd album? Did Roger Waters really buy a guitar to punish his mom? Find out the answers to these and other lesser-known things in our list of 20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd concerts were always a multimedia event. As early as 1966, the group’s live performances incorporated film, projected onto a backdrop and onto the band.
Before David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as their guitarist, Syd Barrett held that position. But there was another guitar player too: Bob Klose played on the group’s first demos, before departing for a career in photography. He later worked with Gilmour on his 2006 solo album ‘On an Island.’
While their music has long been associated with mind-expanding drug use, besides Syd Barrett, the members of Pink Floyd only casually experimented with acid. In fact, they hadn’t even tried whiskey until Janis Joplin passed them some during a tour in 1967.
Roger Waters came into the band as a guitarist too. But with Syd Barrett and then Bob Klose on board, Waters moved from lead to rhythm guitar and then to bass. “There was always this frightful fear that I could land up as the drummer,” he once said.
Nick Mason, who rarely received a songwriting credit despite appearing on every Pink Floyd recording, is the group’s only published author. He’s released a book on classic cars (1998’s ‘Into the Red’) and a personal history of Floyd (2004’s ‘Inside Out’).
Everyone thinks problems between Roger Waters and David Gilmour surfaced around ‘The Wall.’ In truth, friction already existed during the run-up to 1969’s ‘Ummagumma.’ Each member had been tasked with constructing a solo contribution. When Gilmour asked Waters for some lyrical help, his response was a simple “no.”
One of the band’s roadies, Alan Stiles, provided the audio for ‘Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast’ on 1970’s ‘Atom Heart Mother.’ Pink Floyd used actual recordings of Stiles preparing a meal in Nick Mason’s kitchen.
The dog on 1971’s ‘Seamus’ belonged to Steve Marriott. David Gilmour, who was watching the Irish wolfhound while Humble Pie were on tour in the U.S., discovered it would howl when someone played a harmonica.
Stanley Kubrick asked to license the title track from ‘Atom Heart Mother’ for the soundtrack to ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ but Pink Floyd declined when the director indicated that he wanted to dismantle the song for use throughout the film.
Many consider 1971’s ‘Echoes’ to be the group’s ultimate stereophonic experiment. For Pink Floyd, however, there was nothing to it: The track’s original name was ‘Nothing, Parts 1-24.’ After later edits, the song was called ‘Return of the Son of Nothing’ before it received its final title.
Alan Parsons was given a Grammy for his engineering efforts on 1973’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ but almost nothing else. “I earned little or no money from the album,” he has said. “But that’s offset by the fact that it did wonders for my career.”
Adrian Maben, who directed Pink Floyd’s concert film ‘Live at Pompeii,’ said Pink Floyd hired a person specifically to say no over and over again to interview requests during their ‘Dark Side’-era tours. The idea was to “remain unseen, enigmatic,” he said.
Clare Torry’s vocal on ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ was completely improvised. ‘We told her … think about death, think about horror, which she did,” co-writer Richard Wright once said. “And out came this wonderful vocal.”
On the 1975 song ‘Welcome to the Machine,’ Roger Waters sings, “You bought a guitar to punish your ma.” In reality, Waters’ mother bought his first guitar, giving it to him back in 1957.
Roger Waters fired Richard Wright during the sessions for 1979’s ‘The Wall,’ but then brought him back as a contract-labor sideman for the subsequent, money-losing tour. That made Wright the only member of Pink Floyd not to lose money on the tour. He wouldn’t become a full-time member of the group again until 1994’s ‘The Division Bell.’
That bit of gibberish just before the lyrics begin on ‘The Wall”s ‘Empty Spaces’ is backward-masked dialogue that states, “Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message.”
David Gilmour’s absence from a series of writing sessions with Anthony Moore sparked Pink Floyd’s 1987, post-Roger Waters comeback single ‘Learning to Fly.’ The guitarist was tardy because he was indeed taking flying lessons.
Tours in the late ’80s and early ’90s didn’t often delve into the band’s pre-‘Dark Side’ material, because David Gilmour felt the lyrical content hadn’t aged well. “Dave didn’t really feel comfortable singing about albatrosses and sunshine,” Nick Mason said.
The opening night of Pink Floyd’s record-smashing series of 1994 London dates at Earl’s Court on ‘The Division Bell’ tour ended up narrowly avoiding disaster when a 1,200-seat stand collapsed as they took the stage. Miraculously, no one was hurt.
Some people have suggested that Richard Wright’s 2008 death put an end to hopes for another Pink Floyd reunion with Roger Waters. But David Gilmour put an end to that before then, He said there wouldn’t be any more reunions after their Live 8 show in 2005. “It’s in the past for me,” he said. “Done it. I don’t have any desire to go back there.” Pink Floyd’s upcoming album, ‘Endless River,’ does not include Waters.
You Think You Know Pink Floyd?
Learn something new about David Gilmour, Roger Waters and the rest with lesser-known facts from this exclusive video!