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50 Geeky Facts About Pink Floyd

  • In 2014 Pink Floyd released what they said was definitely their last album. It was made up of tracks started during the ‘Division Bell’ sessions that formed the basis of a Nick Mason side project (it had the working title ‘The Big Spliff’), it was finished off latterly by singer and guitarist David Gilmour. Refresh yourself of Pink Floyd's majestic career in 50 fascinating facts.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 20 May 2014

  • Pink Floyd founder members Roger Waters and Nick Mason met while studying architecture at the London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1963.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Guitarist and early driving force Syd Barrett joined Mason, Richard Wright and childhood friend Waters around mid-’65 when he moved from Cambridge to London. By the end of the year they’d started calling themselves The Pink Floyd Sound.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The names Pink and Floyd came from two of Syd Barrett’s favourite Carolina bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, which he merged together and voila!

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • People often assumed Pink Floyd was the name of a person in the band, especially stupid record industry people. The band sent this up with the line “which one’s Pink?” on the ‘Wish You Were Here’ song ‘Have A Cigar’ in 1975.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Pink Floyd recorded their first album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in Abbey Road studios while a band of Moptops toiled next door making ‘Sgt Pepper...’ The latter Beatles record blew minds on its release, though it could be said that the former was even further out there...

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • ‘Arnold Layne’ - their first single and a minor hit at the time (it has subsequently achieved classic status) was based on a real life person Roger Waters knew who would steal women’s clothes and knickers from washing lines.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The b-side to ‘Arnold Lane’ - the psychedelic ‘Candy and a Currant Bun’ - was faithfully covered by Mars Volta and given away free with ‘The Bedlam in Goliath’ album via the mildly pointless VinylDisc format (vinyl on one side, CD on the other).

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The b-side to ‘Arnold Lane’ - the psychedelic ‘Candy and a Currant Bun’ - was faithfully covered by Mars Volta and given away free with ‘The Bedlam in Goliath’ album via the mildly pointless VinylDisc format (vinyl on one side, CD on the other).

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • David Gilmour later released his own live version of ‘Arnold Layne’ recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 2006 with David Bowie on vocals. It made no.19 in the charts.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • ‘See Emily Play’ was their first song to crack the top 10 in 1967, and they didn’t manage another until ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ topped the charts in 1979. As a “serious” albums band in the 70s, singles were considered low priority to a group like Pink Floyd (Led Zeppelin, for instance, never released a single).

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • During the second part of the 60’s, The Pink Floyd (as they were known then) became regulars at the Roundhouse in Camden as well as the legendary UFO Club.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The name The Pink Floyd was used right up to the late 60’s - the ‘The’ disappeared not long after the departure of Syd Barrett. Syd’s acid-induced schizophrenia got so bad that the band had no option to go on without him, and they parted company on the way to a show in 1968.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Syd moved back in with his parents in Cambridge and became a recluse. He recorded two solo albums with the help of his replacement, David Gilmour: ‘The Madcap Laughs’ and ‘Barrett’.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Barrett famously turned up at Abbey Road when Roger Waters was recording the vocal for ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ about him. He’d put on excessive weight and had shaved his eyebrows and lost most of his hair. His appearance was so disturbing that Waters and Gilmour reportedly cried.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Pink Floyd also played as The Tea Set in their earlier incarnation. This moniker was settled upon for a while at least after a plethora of name changes, which included: Sigma 6, Meggadeaths, the Abdabs and the Screaming Abdabs, Leonard's Lodgers, and the Spectrum Five.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • A film of their 1967 Alexandra Palace show - part of the legendary ‘14 Hour Technicolor Dream’ - still survives and is available on DVD. Yoko Ono is there performing an art installation, and John Lennon is captured among the crowd, although at the time the pair had not met.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • In 1968, Pink Floyd headlined the first ever free gig in Hyde Park with Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in support. Not a bad bill... and nada as well!

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The 1970 album name ‘Atom Heart Mother’ was apparently inspired by a newspaper headline about a woman being fitted with the first ever atomic pacemaker.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The cow on Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ album had a name too, which was Lulubelle III. Sadly Lulubelle is no longer with us.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Nick Mason is certainly the silent but violent one in Pink Floyd; ie. he hits things for a living and doesn’t open his mouth much. Despite the drummer being the only band member to play on everything the group have ever made, he only ever contributed one vocal - on ‘One of These Days’ from 1971’s ‘Meddle’ - and it was just one line, slowed down to scare the pants off the listener.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Hipgnosis, the team behind most of Pink Floyd’s album covers, actually presented the band with the inverted swimmer that would eventually become the cover of Def Leppard’s iconic ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ album, for ‘Atom Heart Mother’. The band rejected it and opted for the cow instead.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Recorded in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon stayed on the Billboard Chart (top 200) for more than 800 weeks straight, a record that will take some beating.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ was the best selling album in the world for a while (it is still third best seller ever), shifting so many units that one in 12 people is said to own a copy.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’ - the bellwether of concept albums - has sold around 33 million albums to date, someway behind Dark Side of the Moon’s 50 million, but no slouch nonetheless.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The laughter heard on ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ tracks ‘Speak to Me’ and ‘Brain Damage’ came from Peter Watts, a Pink Floyd road manager at the time. Watts died of a heroin overdose in 1976.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Dark Side of the Moon is said to sync perfectly with The Wizard of Oz and led to conspiracy theories that the band had written it with that purpose in mind. To quell the rumours, Nick Mason said they’d intended to soundtrack The Sound of Music instead.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • On the cover of ‘Wish You Were Here’, two businessmen shake hands, one of whom is on fire. He was actually on fire, if only briefly. Played by a stuntman in a fire retardant suit under his actual suit (a wig covered a hood too) the shot was done for real (and the wind blowing the wrong way apparently singed the stuntman’s moustache).

    Photo: Press

    Added: 19 Apr 2013

  • One of Pink Floyd’s most iconic covers is ‘Animals’ - Pink Floyd’s 10th studio album - featuring Battersea Power Station and in the distance a flying pig. The porcine balloon and the title were both in reference to George Orwell’s Animal Farm which informed much of the lyrical content.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 19 Apr 2013

  • Oddly enough the epic ‘Echoes’ from ‘Meddle’ seems to fit the final sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey rather well, no doubt spotted by another person with too much weed and time on their hands.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Kubrick asked Floyd to collaborate on more than one occasion, but word has it Roger Waters was trying to distance the band from Space-rock and reluctantly declined. Waters said later that it was a decision he regretted.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • If the Beatles had Peter Blake and Factory Records had Peter Saville, then Pink Floyd had Gerald Scarfe, an artist whose iconoclastic work has become as synonymous with the Floyd as it has scything satire.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • That’s not forgetting art director Storm Thorgerson of course, who collaborated almost as an auxiliary member of the band and came up with the iconic album cover for ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 15 Apr 2014

  • As well as writing ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, bringing the world Live Aid and taking a song about classroom shootings to no.1 (the Boomtown Rats’ ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’), Bob Geldof also starred in the lead role for Pink Floyd’s filmed version of ‘The Wall’.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 07 Apr 2014

  • In 1977, the inflatable pig caused havoc with air traffic control when it became free of its tethers, veering into the Heathrow flight path. It was later found in a field in Kent.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The last Pink Floyd album Roger Waters appeared on was ‘The Final Cut’ - a work he conceived and wrote with no help from the others (David Gilmour expressed misgivings about the record later).

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Waters took the other members of Pink Floyd to court in the mid-80s in the hope of barring them from continuing with the name. He recently admitted regretting the litigation.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 18 Jun 2014

  • Russian astronauts took ‘Delicate Sound of Thunder’ with them when they boarded the MIR space station in 1989, making it the first album to be played in space (that we know of).

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • The album ‘The Division Bell’ was named by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Richard Wright was sacked from the band during ‘The Wall’ sessions for not pulling his weight. He returned to Pink Floyd for their 1987 Gilmour-led ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ album, but for legal reasons was not reinstated as a full member again until the group toured ‘The Division Bell’ in 1994.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Novelist and journalist Polly Samson described the new album as keyboard player ‘Rick Wright’s swansong’ when she announced it on Twitter. She also said it was ‘very beautiful’. Richard Wright died from cancer in 2008. Samson is married to Dave Gilmour.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Polly Samson began said tweet with “Btw”, and 7.1k retweets and 3.7k favourites later it must surely be the hottest so-incidental-she-used-an-acronym announcement of the year.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Sampson co-wrote seven of the eleven songs on ‘The Division Bell’. She has also contributed lyrics to the forthcoming ‘The Endless River’.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Pink Floyd made their music available on Spotify last year, and in anticipation of the big event they streamed one song, ‘Wish You Were Here’. Once fans streamed the song one million times, access to the whole back catalogue was granted.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Charlie Gilmour is the son of Sampson and novelist Heathcote Williams, and is David Gilmour’s adopted son. Charlie was jailed in 2011 for violent disorder during student fees demonstrations, after famously swinging from a union flag on the Cenotaph whilst under the influence of whisky and acid.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 06 Mar 2014

  • Pink Floyd sued label EMI in 2010 when it sold tracks separately on iTunes (the band stipulated in their contract that tracks had to be sold as a whole album or nothing at all). The judge agreed that separate songs could not be sold without the group’s consent.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • While Pink Floyd don’t perform anymore, there’s a whole industry of lucrative covers bands who will take their songs around the world. The Australian Pink Floyd have sold more than 3 million tickets playing in 35 different countries, and they even made an appearance at David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Roger Waters caused an international furore in December last year and was accused of antisemitism when he compared modern day Israelis to the nazis. Speaking about “oppression” of the Palestinians in a magazine interview he said: “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.”

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • Roger Waters caused an international furore in December last year and was accused of antisemitism when he compared modern day Israelis to the nazis. Speaking about “oppression” of the Palestinians in a magazine interview he said: “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.”

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 09 Jul 2014

  • In 2005 Waters joined Mason, Gilmour and Wright for the first (and last) show the four would do together since Earl’s Court in 1981. The special occasion was Live8, an event to put pressure on G8 leaders and to Make Poverty History, organised by - who else - Bob Geldof.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 17 Apr 2014