- ORIGIN: Cambridge, London, UK
- CORE MEMBERS: Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, Nick Mason, David Gilmour
- GENRES: Psych, prog
- YEARS ACTIVE: 1965-1995, 2005
Drummer Nick Mason once described Pink Floyd as “the last of the gifted amateurs”. To a generation that went pop with The Beatles, they’re archetypal muso pioneers who elevated rock into a refined late 20th century art form. Today, they're more likely regarded as the mature listener’s Radiohead. There’s merit in all three perspectives.
But first impressions stick hard, and for some, Floyd remain the first and last of the great European psychedelic acts - house band at UFO in ’67, and the inspiration for numerous Krautrockers and space-rockers. And for a band that prided itself in anti-star anonymity, the original Floyd’s frontman Syd Barrett was a poster-boy for acid-rock and, later, a textbook freak-scene casualty. Barrett's traumatic breakdown was both the breaking and the making of Pink Floyd, his subsequent alienated state the inspiration for so much of the band's later and greatest works...(continues below)
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Barrett's departure, after just one album, robbed the Floyd of its star and songwriter. With replacement Cambridge pal David Gilmour joining fellow Cantabrigian Roger Waters (bass), Rick Wright (keyboards) and Mason, the group won a reputation as a technologically advanced concert attraction, though it wasn't until 1971’s Meddle that they hit on the sophisticated, melodic style that became their trademark.
“We were a tough, cruel bunch led by Captain Roger, toughest and cruellest of the bunch.”
David Gilmour, MOJO, 2011
1973's The Dark Side Of The Moon captured this and the group’s abiding themes perfectly. It launched Pink Floyd into superstar territory, and that’s where they stayed, even seeing off punk rock with 1979’s antagonistic The Wall. By now, Waters was running the show, prompting tensions that saw the Floyd concentrate on solo projects after 1983’s The Final Cut. Regrouping as a trio without Waters for 1987's The Delicate Sound Of Thunder and 1994’s The Division Bell, the classic quartet reunited for the Live 8 concert in 2005, though Wright's death in 2008 means there'll be no full scale repeat. Remember them this way.