Are you a Floyd Freak or a casual fan? Own all the albums, or just listened to them during your smoky college years? Whichever camp you fall into, we bet you’ll be blown away by these wild facts about this psychedelic British band. Plus, there’s a great rare video of them at the end!
For example…did you know it’s estimated that 1 in 12 people own the album Dark Side of the Moon? The band also spent three minutes deciding the iconic pyramid album cover.
“The band trooped in, swept their gaze across the designs, looked at each other, nodded, and said ‘That one,’ pointing at the prism. Took all of three minutes,” designer Storm Thorgerson recalled. “No amount of cajoling would get them to consider any other contender, nor endure further explanation of the prism, or how exactly it might look. ‘That’s it,’ they said in unison, ‘we’ve got to get back to real work,’ and returned forthwith to the studio upstairs.”
How many years has Dark Side of the Moon been on the Billboard 200?
Dark Side of the Moon spent a record-breaking 742 weeks on the Billboard 200. That’s the equivalent of about fourteen years! The record still sells copies to this day in impressive numbers (as there are always a new crop of 15 year olds excitedly discovering the glory of Floyd.)
Ever wondered about the spoken vocals on the album?
Dark Side of The Moon was recorded at Abbey Road studios. During the recording, Roger Waters recorded different people speaking. Many of their voices made it onto the album. Waters would hold up cue cards with questions such as “When was the last time you were violent and were you in the right?” and “What does the phrase ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ mean to you?”
Paul McCartney recorded an answer that never made it onto the album, Waters prefering the more unguarded responses from roadies, and their Irish doorman, Gerry O’Driscoll.
Who founded the band?
Syd Barrett founded, and wrote most of the band’s early material, sang lead vocals, and played lead guitar. However, he suffered from mental illnesses (possibly related to his heavy drug use) that eventually led to him having to leave the band. Afterward, he became a recluse until his death in 2006.
Were the rest of the band party animals?
The rest of the band, despite their psychedelic vibe, barely touched drugs. Like many at the time, they experimented lightly with acid, but never really entered into the world of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. The first time they tried whiskey was in 1967, when legendary boozer Janis Joplin passed them the bottle.
How many awards have they won?
The band, shockingly, never won a Grammy. However, Dark Side of the Moon won one – but for the sound engineer, Alan Parsons, who created a technically complex album using, and creating, all the available technologies. He later went on to form The Alan Parsons Project.
He has expressed a desire to have been acknowledged further by the band for his efforts, but also appreciated the opportunity to work with them, as it helped further his career.
What classic movie was made with help from the band?
The band members had two main vices: soccer and Monty Python. The only time they would interrupt studio sessions was to watch soccer, or to watch Monty Python sketches. In fact, they were such fans that they used some of the money they made from their initial success to help fund Monty Python’s The Holy Grail film.
How did they all meet?
They met in university. Roger Waters (frontman), Richard Wright (keyboard) and Nick Mason (drummer) went to London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1963 to study architecture. Waters already knew Syd Barrett and David Gilmour from his childhood in Cambridge.
Waters also hated school, calling it “…a very oppressive one … the same kids who are susceptible to bullying by other kids are also susceptible to bullying by the teachers.” That disdain for English school systems is clearly seen with their best-selling single, “Another Brick in the Wall.”
Ever heard about this band members art?
Syd Barrett, before his breakdown, was always a quiet character. Hugely talented, he helped not only create the underground psychedelic scene in the U.K., but also created his own artwork. Perhaps as a backlash, he took to painting, and when the painting was done, photographing the work and then destroying it.
There are backward vocals on one song…know which?
The band loved using trippy vocals aside from their singing. Before the lyrics begin on “Empty Spaces” (The Wall) you can hear unintelligible mumbling. Actually, if played backward, it is a recording of someone saying, “Congratulations. You have discovered the secret message.”
Clare Torry, the vocalist who performed the wordless vocals at the introduction to “The Great Gig In The Sky” had no sheet music to go by – it was entirely 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.”
What amazing movie from the 70’s almost featured ‘Us and Them’ on its soundtrack?
We have some trippy syncs for you, next!
Speaking of Pink Floyd and movie soundtracks, we’re sure you already know that listening to Dark Side of the Moon while watching 1939’s Wizard of Oz is a fantastical experience. Other syncs that have been suggested include:
- Relics with The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968)
- Obscured by Clouds with A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- The Wall with Alice in Wonderland (1951)
- The Works with Fantasia (1940)
Most of these movies are trippy enough on their own, so it’s no surprise that stoned college kids have put them together with Floyd albums. While they don’t sync up quite as impressively as The Dark Side of Oz does, it’s still a pretty fun way to spend an evening!
Who sang vocals for ‘Have a Cigar’?
On “Have A Cigar” (from Wish You Were Here), the vocals are recorded by folk singer Roy Harper! The band didn’t like their own voices, so they hired him to sing instead.
Where did the band get their name, anyway?
The band took its name from two legendary blues musicians. Syd Barrett fused the names of two Carolina-based blues musicians known for their bass-driven finger-picking style – Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Which member has been in the band the longest?
Nick Mason is the longest-running band member, having stuck with it from the beginning. He also co-wrote most songs, published a few books, and recorded the vocals for “One Of These Days” – the slowed down, scary growling at the beginning of the song is his.
Which director wanted to use the band’s music?
Stanley Kubrick wanted their music to feature in A Clockwork Orange. He asked the band if “Atom Heart Mother Suite” could be on the soundtrack. Originally, the band agreed, but changed their mind when they realized Kubrick wanted to re-master the song and change it for the film.
Which album was played in space?
Fittingly, their 1988 album, Delicate Sound of Thunder, was the first rock album to be played in space! Russian cosmonauts took it with them during mission Soyuz TM-7 in 1989. The album was also the band’s only Russian release at the time.
Who was the song Arnold Layne based on?
Arnold Layne was the band’s first success. They got a record deal after the song got released. Roger Waters said it was based on someone he knew in real life who would steal women’s clothes and knickers from washing lines.
Ever heard of their original band names?
The band had a few working titles before settling on the simple Pink Floyd – they toyed with the idea of calling themselves The Pink Floyd Sound, Tea Set, and The Abdabs. Before Floyd, Syd Barrett and David Gilmour also played together in a band named Jokers Wild.
Still, the band called themselves “The Pink Floyd” for a while, until they dropped the “The” in the late 60’s – dropping Syd Barret around that time as well.
What’s the story behind Shine on You Crazy Diamond?
The band created a nine-part masterpiece, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, dedicated to former band member Syd Barrett, who had to leave the band due to the declining state of his mental health.
He showed up to the studio at one point and his appearance was so shocking that David Gilmour and Roger Waters broke down crying. He’d gained weight, shaved his eyebrows, and was balding. Gilmour later helped him release two albums – ‘The Madcap Laughs’ and ‘Barrett’.
What was supposed to be on The Great Gig In The Sky instead of vocals?
The original concept for The Great Gig In The Sky was not to have vocals, but to simply be an organ solo featuring tape loops of Bible passages and religious speeches that Malcolm Muggeridge, a British writer known for his conservative religious views, had given. The piece evolved, and ended up being a piano piece, with various sound effects, including recordings of NASA astronauts communicating on space missions.
However, the band felt that it was missing something, so they decided to try a vocalist. The singer, Clare Torry, was a worker in the studio, and got paid double her normal rate, which she was quite happy with, not anticipating how massive the song would be. She later sued for a portion of the royalties and won.
Who named The Division Bell?
The band’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, featured some celebrity help! Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy named the album. Stephen Hawking’s voice was also used on the song Keep Talking, taken from a commercial.
Whose laughter is heard on Dark Side of the Moon?
On The Dark Side of the Moon, laughter can be heard on two tracks – ‘Speak to Me’ and ‘Brain Damage.’ They are attributed to Pink Floyd road manager Peter Watts. Watts is also the father of talented actress Naomi Watts. He sadly died in 1976.
How was the Wish You Were Here album cover shot?
On the cover of ‘Wish You Were Here‘, the man is actually on fire. He’s a stunt double wearing a flame-retardant suit underneath the real suit. He’s also wearing a wig to cover up his flame-retardant hood. However, when shooting the photo, the wind blew in the wrong direction, singeing the other man’s moustache.
What funny thing happened with the inflatable pig on the cover of ‘Animals’?
The flying pig on the cover of ‘Animals‘ was a real inflatable pig. It was named Bertha and caused havoc with air-traffic controllers when it broke free of its restraints. It landed on a farm in Kent. The farmer was quite cross with the band for frightening his cows.
What technologies did the band pioneer?
The band also pioneered several live performance techniques that are used today, including the use of a quadraphonic sound system, an early version of surround sound, psychedelic light shows and were the first act to use gold colored lasers in their shows.
Finally, check out this great video of them in their early years.
It’s amazing to see the band playing over 45 years ago. Feast your eyes and ears on this great recording!
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