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Pink Floyd

Rock progressif

Syd Barrett

pink floyd by dubside on Grooveshark

Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved international success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, and elaborate live shows. One of the most commercially successful and influential rock groups in the history of popular music, they have sold over 250 million records worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States. They were inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

The band originally consisted of university students Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. Founded in 1965, they gained popularity performing in London's underground music scene during the late 1960s. Under Barrett's creative leadership they released two charting singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", and a successful début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). Guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined as a fifth member in December 1967, several months prior to Barrett's April 1968 departure due to deteriorating mental health. With the loss of Syd, the band moved from psychedelic pop to a more progressive sound, with many tracks written collaboratively while on tour. With this line-up they achieved critical and commercial success with the concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979). With Animals and The Wall, Waters became the primary songwrite.

Wright was forced by Waters to leave the group in 1979. Following The Final Cut (1983), the group was temporarily disbanded by Waters. Gilmour and Mason reformed in 1985, and were subsequently rejoined by Wright. They continued to record and tour through 1994, despite Waters' failed 1986 attempt to legally prevent them continuing as Pink Floyd; two more albums followed, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994). After almost two decades of acrimony the band reunited in 2005 for a single performance, at the global awareness event Live 8. Wright died in 2008. Surviving members Gilmour and Mason joined Waters at one of his The Wall Tour shows on 12 May 2011 at the O2 Arena in London; Gilmour performed "Comfortably Numb" along with Waters and "Outside the Wall" with Mason and Waters.

Formation and early years (1963–1967)
The beginning

Roger Waters and Nick Mason met while studying architecture at the London Polytechnic at Regent Street. The pair first played together in a group formed by Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe with Noble's sister Sheilagh. They were later joined by fellow student Richard Wright, becoming a sextet named Sigma 6, the first band to feature Waters ("rudimentary" lead guitar), Wright (rhythm guitar), and Mason (drums).[4] When Sheilagh later left the group, Wright's girlfriend, Poly student Juliet Gale, became a regular guest singer. The band started performing during private functions, while rehearsing in a tearoom in the basement of Regent Street Polytechnic. They covered songs by The Searchers and material written by their manager and songwriter, fellow student Ken Chapman.

In September 1963 Waters and Mason moved into a flat at 39 Stanhope Gardens near Crouch End London, owned by Mike Leonard, a part-time tutor at the Regent Street Polytechnic and Hornsey College of Art. Leonard was a designer of light machines (perforated discs spun by electric motors to cast patterns of lights on the walls)[nb 1] and for a time played keyboard with them using the front room of his flat for rehearsals. Mason later moved out of the flat, and guitar player Bob Klose moved in. Sigma 6 went through a number of other short-lived names, including The Meggadeaths, The (Screaming) Abdabs,[nb 3] Leonard's Lodgers, and The Spectrum Five before settling on The Tea Set. While Metcalfe and Noble left to form their own band, Klose and Waters were joined at Stanhope Gardens by Syd Barrett in 1964. Then aged 17, Barrett had arrived in London in the autumn of 1963 to study at the Camberwell College of Art. Waters and Barrett were childhood friends; the bassist had often visited Barrett as he played guitar at his mother's house. In his book Mason said this about Barrett, "In a period when everyone was being cool in a very adolescent, self-conscious way, Syd was unfashionably outgoing; my enduring memory of our first encounter is the fact that he bothered to come up and introduce himself to me."

After The Tea Set lost Noble and Metcalfe's vocal abilities, Klose introduced the band to Chris Dennis, a technician with the Royal Air Force. Soon after, Dennis was posted to Bahrain, thrusting Barrett into the spotlight as front-man. They first performed in a recording studio in December 1964, minus the presence of Wright who was taking a break from his studies. Through one of his friends, who let them use some "down time" for free, they managed to secure recording time at a studio in West Hampstead. This four-song session became The Tea Set's first demo tape and included: the R&B classic "I'm A King Bee", and three Syd Barrett originals, "Butterfly", "Lucy Leave", and "Double O Bo", which was, according to Mason, "Bo Diddley meets the 007 theme".

They became the resident band at the Countdown Club, near Kensington High Street in London, where from late night until early morning they played three sets of 90 minutes. According to Mason, this period "... was the beginning of a realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos." An audition for ITV's Ready Steady Go! soon followed (they were invited by the programme's producers to return the following week), as did another club, and two rock contests. After pressure from his father, and advice from his college tutors, Bob Klose quit during the summer of 1965 and Barrett took over on lead guitar. Sometime in autumn the band were first referred to as "The Pink Floyd Sound", a name created by Barrett on the spur of the moment when he discovered that another band, also called The Tea Set, were to perform at one of their gigs. (The name is derived from the given names of two blues musicians whose Piedmont blues records Barrett had in his collection, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council).Playing mostly rhythm and blues songs they began to receive paid bookings, including one for a performance at the Marquee Club in March 1966 where they were watched by Peter Jenner. A lecturer at the London School of Economics, Jenner was impressed by the acoustic effects Barrett and Wright created and, with his business partner and friend Andrew King, became their manager. The pair had little experience of the music industry and used inherited money to set up Blackhill Enterprises, purchasing new instruments and equipment for the band including a Selmer PA system. Under their guidance the band became part of London's underground music scene, playing at venues including All Saints Hall and The Marquee. While performing at the Countdown Club the band had experimented with long instrumental excursions and they began to expand upon these with rudimentary but visually powerful light shows, projected by coloured slides and domestic lights. To celebrate the launch of the London Free School's magazine International Times, they performed in front of a 2,000-strong crowd at the opening of The Roundhouse, attended by celebrities including Alexander Trocchi, Paul McCartney, and Marianne Faithfull. Jenner and King's diverse array of social connections helped gain the band important coverage in The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.
A Hapshash and the Coloured Coat poster for Pink Floyd at the UFO Club

Their financial relationship with Blackhill Enterprises was strengthened when they became equal partners, each holding an "unprecedented" one-sixth share. By October 1966 their set included more of their own material, and they performed at venues such as the Commonwealth Institute, but were not universally popular; following a performance at a Catholic youth club the owner refused to pay, a stance which the magistrate agreed with, claiming that the band's performance "wasn't music".This was not the only occasion on which they encountered such opinions. They were better received at the UFO Club in London. Barrett's performances were reportedly exuberant, "...leaping around and the madness, and the kind of improvisation he was doing... he was inspired. He would constantly manage to get past his limitations and into areas that were very, very interesting. Which none of the others could do." The audiences were receptive to the music they played, often high on various drugs, although the band remained drug-free: "We were out of it, not on acid, but out of the loop, stuck in the dressing room at UFO."

Signing with EMI

According to Mason, the psychedelic movement had "taken place around us—not within us". Nevertheless, The Pink Floyd Sound were present at the head of a wave of interest in psychedelic music and what would later be called space rock, and began to attract the attention of the music industry. While in negotiations with record companies, Joe Boyd and booking agent Bryan Morrison arranged for, and funded, the recording of several songs at Sound Techniques in West Hampstead, including "Arnold Layne" and a version of "Interstellar Overdrive", and for the production of a short music film for "Arnold Layne" in Sussex. Despite early interest from Polydor the band signed with Electric and Musical Industries, with a £5,000 advance. Boyd was not included in the deal.

"Arnold Layne" became Pink Floyd's (the definite article seems to have been dropped from the band's name at some point in 1967) first single, released on 11 March 1967. Its references to cross-dressing saw it banned by several radio stations, but some creative manipulation at the shops which supplied sales figures to the music industry meant that it peaked in the UK charts at number 20.

On 29 April 1967 they headlined a famous all-night event called The 14 Hour Technicolour Dream at the Alexandra Palace, London, to raise funds for the counter-cultural newspaper International Times. Other artists included Yoko Ono. They played "Astronomy Domine", "Arnold Layne", "Interstellar Overdrive", "Nick's Boogie", and other material from what was to become their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Serendipitously, the band appeared just as the sun was beginning to rise at around five o'clock in the morning.

All four members of the band had by then abandoned their studies or jobs. They upgraded their ageing Bedford van to a Ford Transit, using it to travel to over 200 gigs in 1967 (a tenfold increase on the previous year). They were joined by road manager Peter Wynne Willson, with whom Barrett had previously shared a flat. Willson updated the band's lighting rig, with some innovative ideas including the use of polarisers, mirrors, and stretched condoms. "See Emily Play" was the group's second single, released on 16 June. It premièred at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in May that year, where the band also used a device called an Azimuth co-ordinator. They performed on the BBC's Look of the Week, where an erudite and engaging Waters and Barrett faced rigorous questioning from Hans Keller. The single fared slightly better than "Arnold Layne" and after two weeks was at number 17 in the charts. They were invited to appear on the BBC's Top Of The Pops, which was immensely popular but which controversially required artists to simply mime their singing and playing. They returned after the single climbed to number six, but a scheduled third appearance was cancelled when Barrett refused to perform.

It was about this time the rest of the band first noticed changes in Barrett's behaviour. By early 1967 he was regularly using LSD and, at an earlier show in the Netherlands, Mason observed him to be "completely distanced from everything going on, whether simply tripping or suffering from a more organic neural disturbance I still have no idea."

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Main article: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Pink Floyd's contract with EMI had been negotiated by their agent Bryan Morrison and EMI producer Norman Smith. They were obliged to record their first album at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London. There they experimented with musique concrète and were at one point invited to watch The Beatles record "Lovely Rita". In his 2005 autobiography Mason recalled that the sessions were relatively trouble-free. Smith disagreed, stating that Barrett was unresponsive to his suggestions and constructive criticism. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967 and Pink Floyd continued to draw huge crowds at the UFO Club, but Barrett's deterioration was by then giving them serious concern. The rest of the band initially hoped that his erratic behaviour would be a passing phase but some, including Jenner and June Child, were more realistic:

I found him in the dressing room and he was so ... gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage ... and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down.

To their consternation the band were forced to cancel their appearance at the prestigious National Jazz and Blues Festival, informing the music press that Barrett was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Jenner and Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist (he did not attend the appointment); a stay in Formentera, with Sam Hutt, a doctor well-established in the underground music scene, led to no visible improvement. A few dates in September were followed by the band's first tour of the United States. Blackhill's late application for work permits forced the band to cancel several dates[64] and Barrett's condition grew steadily worse.He detuned his guitar during a performance at the Winterland Ballroom, causing the strings to come off; during a recording for The Pat Boone Show he confounded the director by miming the song perfectly during the rehearsal, then standing motionless during the take. King quickly curtailed the band's US visit, sending them home on the next flight.

Shortly after their return from the US the band supported Jimi Hendrix's tour of England, where on one date at Chatham in Kent, Nick Mason played his drums out of view behind the amps rather than use the tour kit.[66] But Barrett's depression worsened the longer the tour continued. His absence on one occasion forced the band to book David O'List as his replacement. Wynne Willson left his role as lighting manager and allied himself with the guitarist. Pink Floyd released the single "Apples and Oranges" in November 1967 in the UK (although not in the US). Barrett's condition had reached a crisis point, and they responded by adding a new member to their line-up.

Classic line-up (1968–1979)
Gilmour replaces Barrett

Barrett had recently suggested adding four new members: in the words of Waters, "two freaks he'd met somewhere. One of them played the banjo, the other the saxophone ... [and] a couple of chick singers". In December 1967 the band asked David Gilmour to become the fifth member of Pink Floyd; Gilmour accepted. He was previously acquainted with Barrett, having studied with him at Cambridge Tech in the early 1960s. The two had performed at lunchtimes together with guitars and harmonicas, and later hitch-hiked and busked their way around the south of France.[72] In 1965, while a member of Joker's Wild, Gilmour had watched The Tea Set. Barrett reluctantly agreed to Gilmour's addition to Pink Floyd. Steve O'Rourke (an assistant to Bryan Morrison) gave Gilmour a room at his house and a salary of £30 per week. Gilmour immediately went out and bought a custom-made yellow Fender Stratocaster from a music shop in Cambridge (the instrument became one of Gilmour's favourite guitars throughout his career with Pink Floyd) and in January 1968 he was announced as the band's newest member. To the general public he was then the second guitarist, the fifth member of Pink Floyd, and the group originally intended to keep Barrett in the group as a non-performing songwriter.[76] According to Jenner, "The idea was that Dave would ... cover for [Barrett's] eccentricities and when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved, but in a way where the others could work and function." One of Gilmour's first duties was to pretend to play a guitar on an "Apples and Oranges" promotional film. In a demonstration of his frustration at being effectively sidelined, Barrett tried to teach the band a new song, "Have You Got It Yet?", but changed the structure on each performance—making it impossible for them to learn.

Working with Barrett eventually proved too difficult and matters came to a head en route to a performance in Southampton when someone in the van asked if they should collect Barrett, the response was "No, fuck it, let's not bother". Waters later admitted, "He was our friend, but most of the time we now wanted to strangle him". In early March 1968 they met with business partners Peter Jenner and Andrew King of Blackhill Enterprises, to discuss the band's future. Barrett agreed to leave and Pink Floyd "agreed to Blackhill's entitlement in perpetuity" with regard to "past activities". Jenner and King, who believed Barrett to be the creative genius of the band, decided to represent him and end their relationship with Pink Floyd. Bryan Morrison then agreed that Steve O'Rourke should become the group's manager. A formal announcement about Barrett's departure was made on 6 April 1968 though for a short period after, he would turn up at occasional gigs, apparently confused about his standing with the band. Gilmour mimed to his voice on the group's European television appearances but while playing on the university circuit, Waters and Wright created their own new material, such as "It Would Be So Nice" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". They were joined by road manager Peter Watts before touring Europe in 1968. In July 1969, perhaps because of their space-related music and lyrics, they were part of the live BBC television coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing, performing an instrumental piece which they called "Moonhead". An audio copy exists of the track and occasionally appears on bootleg albums.

A Saucerful of Secrets
Main article: A Saucerful of Secrets

For their second studio album the band returned to Smith and Abbey Road Studios. Three songs featuring Barrett were used, including "Jugband Blues" (his final contribution to their discography), and the Waters composition, "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (which includes guitar work by Gilmour and Barrett). Waters also contributed "Let There Be More Light" and "Corporal Clegg", while Wright composed "See-Saw" and "Remember a Day" (Barrett played slide guitar on the latter). Encouraged by Smith, some of the new material was recorded at their homes, continuing the type of experimentation seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Smith remained unconvinced by their musical style, and when Mason struggled to perform on "Remember a Day", he stepped in as his replacement. Wright recalled Smith's attitude about the sessions, "Norman gave up on the second album ... he was forever saying things like, 'You can't do twenty minutes of this ridiculous noise.'" Neither Waters nor Mason could read music so to create the album's title track, "A Saucerful of Secrets", they invented their own system of notation; Gilmour later described this as looking "... like an architectural diagram".[89]

A Saucerful of Secrets was released in June 1968. The album cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. Record Mirror, despite a generally favorable review, urged listeners to "forget it as background music to a party". John Peel described a live performance of the title track as "like a religious experience", while NME, viewed the song as "long and boring" with "little to warrant its monotonous direction". Upon the album's release Pink Floyd performed at the first free Hyde Park concert, organised by Blackhill Enterprises, alongside Roy Harper and Jethro Tull. The band admired Morrison's assistant Steve O'Rourke, a "great deal-maker", whose business acumen overshadowed his lack of interest in aesthetic matters, so when Morrison sold his business to NEMS Enterprises, O'Rourke became the band's personal manager, enabling them to take complete control of their artistic direction. They returned to the US for their first major tour, accompanied by Soft Machine and The Who.


In 1968 the band recorded a film score for The Committee. In December of that year they released "Point Me At The Sky", no more successful than the two singles they had released since "See Emily Play", it would be the band's last for several years. In 1969 they recorded the score for Barbet Schroeder's film More. The soundtrack proved important; not only did it pay well but, along with A Saucerful of Secrets, the material they created became part of their live shows for some time thereafter. A tour of the UK ended at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1969, during which an electric shock caused by poor grounding sent Gilmour flying across the stage.The performances, built around two long pieces called The Man and The Journey, were backed with performance art created by artist Peter Dockley. Some of the sound effects were later used on 1970's "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast".While composing the soundtrack for director Michelangelo Antonioni's film Zabriskie Point, the band stayed at a luxury hotel in Rome. Waters has since claimed that, but for Antonioni's continuous changes to the music, the work could have been completed in less than a week. Eventually he used only three of their recordings, in addition to material from the Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Patti Page, Roscoe Holcomb, and the Rolling Stones. One of the pieces turned down by Antonioni, called "The Violent Sequence", later became "Us and Them", included on 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. The band also worked on the soundtrack for a proposed cartoon series called Rollo but a lack of funds meant that it was never produced. Waters collaborated with Ron Geesin on the soundtrack to the 1970 film The Body.

Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother
Main articles: Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother
Roger Waters performing with Pink Floyd at Leeds University in 1970

Ummagumma presented a departure from their previous work. Released as a double-LP on EMI's Harvest label, the first two sides contained live performances recorded at Manchester College of Commerce and at Mother's Club in Birmingham. The second LP contained a single experimental contribution from each band member. Ummagumma was released to positive reviews in October 1969.

Atom Heart Mother quickly followed Ummagumma in the second half of 1970. The band's previous LPs were recorded using a four-track system, but Atom Heart Mother was their first eight-track album. An early version was premièred in France in January but disagreements over the mix prompted the hiring of Ron Geesin to work out the sound issues. Geesin worked for about a month to improve the score but, with little creative input from the band, production was troublesome; it was eventually completed with the aid of John Aldiss, who was the director of the choir hired to perform on the record. Norman Smith was credited as an executive producer and the album marked his final contribution to the band's discography. Gilmour is generally dismissive of Atom Heart Mother and once described it as "a load of rubbish", although in 2001 he said it "was a good thing to have attempted, but I don't really think the attempt comes off that well".Waters was similarly critical, claiming that he would not mind if it were "thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again." Atom Heart Mother was hugely successful in the UK and was premièred at the Bath Festival on 27 June 1970. The band toured extensively across America and Europe in 1970.

A theft of the band's equipment, worth about $40,000, after a 16 May 1970 show at The Warehouse in New Orleans, nearly crippled their finances but, although the local authorities were unhelpful, hours after the band notified the FBI much of the equipment was returned. In 1971 Pink Floyd took second place in a readers poll in Melody Maker and for the first time were making a profit. Mason and Wright became fathers and bought homes in London while Gilmour, still single, moved to a 19th-century farm in Essex. Waters installed a home recording studio at his house in Islington in a converted tool-shed at the back of his garden.

Main article: Meddle

Returning from touring Atom Heart Mother at the start of 1971 the band began working on new material.[106] Lacking a central theme they attempted several largely unproductive experiments; engineer John Leckie described the sessions as often beginning in the afternoon and ending early the next morning, "during which time nothing would get done. There was no record company contact whatsoever, except when their label manager would show up now and again with a couple of bottles of wine and a couple of joints." The band spent long periods working on simple sounds, or a particular guitar riff. They also spent several days at Air Studios, attempting to create music using a variety of household objects, a project which would be revisited between The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.[109] Meddle's production was spread over a considerable period of time; the band recorded in the first half of April, but in the latter half played at Doncaster and Norwich before returning to record at the end of the month. In May they split their time between sessions at Abbey Road, rehearsals and concerts across Great Britain. June and July were spent mainly performing at venues across Europe whereas August was spent in the far east and Australia, returning to Europe in September.

Meddle was released on 30 October 1971 in the US and 13 November in the UK, while the band were touring in the US.[114] Rolling Stone's Jean-Charles Costa wrote "Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force with the group, it states forcefully and accurately that the group is well into the growth track again", and NME called it "an exceptionally good album". Melody Maker's Michael Watts was underwhelmed, claiming the album was "a soundtrack to a non-existent movie" and shrugged it off as "so much sound and fury, signifying nothing". Meddle is sometimes considered to be a transitional album between the Barrett-influenced band and the modern Pink Floyd.

The group's other releases around this period, More and Zabriskie Point, were soundtracks and Atom Heart Mother was influenced as much by Ron Geesin and the session artists as it was by the band. The band again worked with Barbet Schroeder on the film La Vallée, for which a soundtrack album was released called Obscured by Clouds. The material was composed in about a week at the Château d'Hérouville near Paris and, upon its release, was their first to break into the top 50 on the US Billboard chart. At about the same time the band also produced the compilation album Relics.

The Dark Side of the Moon
Main article: The Dark Side of the Moon
A monochrome image of members of the band. The photograph is taken from a distance, and is bisected horizontally by the forward edge of the stage. Each band member and his equipment is illuminated from above by bright spotlights, also visible. A long-haired man holds a guitar and sings into a microphone on the left of the image. Central, another man is seated behind a large drumkit. Two men on the right of the image hold a saxophone or a bass guitar and appear to be looking in each other's general direction. In the foreground, silhouetted, are the heads of the audience.
A live performance The Dark Side of the Moon at Earls Court, shortly after its release in 1973. (l-r) David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Roger Waters

The band's next album, titled The Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy), was recorded between May 1972 and January 1973 with EMI staff engineer Alan Parsons at Abbey Road. Late in the album's production Parsons was assisted by producer Chris Thomas, who became responsible for significant changes such as the echo used on "Us and Them". The album's packaging was designed by Hipgnosis and bore George Hardie's iconic refracting prism on the cover. Since Barrett's departure the burden of lyrical composition had fallen mostly on Waters and he is therefore credited as the author of the album's lyrics. The band filmed studio footage for Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii before beginning a tour of Europe in 1972.

The Dark Side of the Moon was released in March 1973 and became an instant chart success in Britain and throughout Western Europe. The critical reaction was generally enthusiastic. Melody Maker's Roy Hollingworth described side one as "...so utterly confused with itself it was difficult to follow," but praised side two writing, "The songs, the sounds, the rhythms were solid and sound, Saxophone hit the air, the band rocked and rolled, and then gushed and tripped away into the night."[134] In his 1973 album review for Rolling Stone magazine, Loyd Grossman wrote, "a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement." Throughout March 1973 it featured as part of their US tour, including a midnight performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 17 March.

The success of the album brought previously unknown wealth to all four members of the band. Richard Wright and Roger Waters bought large country houses while Nick Mason became a collector of expensive cars. Much of the album's early state-side success has been attributed to the efforts of Pink Floyd's US record company, Capitol Records. Newly appointed chairman Bhaskar Menon reversed the relatively poor performance of the band's previous US releases but, disenchanted with Capitol, the band and manager O'Rourke negotiated a new contract with Columbia Records. The Dark Side of the Moon was the last album that Pink Floyd were obliged to release before formally signing a new contract. Menon's efforts to secure a contract renewal with Pink Floyd were in vain and the band signed for Columbia, with a reported advance fee of US$1M (approximately $5,000,000 today), while in Britain and Europe they continued to be represented by Harvest Records.[140] With Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd became an art rock band.

Wish You Were Here
Main article: Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd album)

Pink Floyd returned to the studio in January 1975. Alan Parsons had declined the band's offer to continue working with them, instead becoming successful in his own right with The Alan Parsons Project, and so the band turned to Brian Humphries with whom they had already worked on More.The group initially found it difficult to devise any new material, especially as the success of The Dark Side of the Moon had left all four physically and emotionally drained. Richard Wright later described these early sessions as "falling within a difficult period" and Waters found them "torturous". Gilmour was more interested in improving the band's existing material. Mason's marriage was failing leaving him in a general malaise and with a sense of apathy, both of which interfered with his drumming.

It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realised and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all ... everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while ...

Despite the lack of creative direction Waters began to visualise a new concept after several weeks. During 1974 they had sketched out three new compositions and had performed them at a series of concerts in Europe.These new compositions became the starting point for a new album whose opening four-note guitar phrase, composed entirely by accident by Gilmour, reminded Waters of the lingering ghost of former band-member Syd Barrett.The songs provided an apt summary of the rise and fall of their former band mate: "Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt ... that sort of indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd." While the band were working on the album Barrett made an impromptu visit to the studio, during which Thorgerson recalled that he "sat round and talked for a bit but he wasn't really there." He had changed significantly in appearance and the band did not initially recognise him. Waters was reportedly deeply upset by the experience. Immediately after the session Barrett also attended a pre-party held for Gilmour's upcoming first wedding, but eventually left without saying goodbye and none of the band members ever saw him again, apart from a run-in between Waters and Barrett a couple of years later. Some of the material also contained barely veiled attacks on the music business. "Raving and Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy" had no place in the new concept and were set aside. Storm Thorgerson concealed the album cover artwork with a dark-coloured shrink-wrap. The cover image was inspired by the idea that people tend to conceal their true feelings, for fear of "getting burned", and thus two businessmen were pictured shaking hands with one man on fire.

Much of Wish You Were Here was premièred on 5 July 1975 at an open-air music festival at Knebworth before being released in September that year. It reached number one in Britain and the US, along with positive reviews; Robert Christgau wrote: "... the music is not only simple and attractive, with the synthesiser used mostly for texture and the guitar breaks for comment, but it actually achieves some of the symphonic dignity (and cross-referencing) that The Dark Side of the Moon simulated so ponderously."

Main article: Animals (Pink Floyd album)
Battersea Power Station featured in the cover image of Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Animals.

Following the Knebworth concert the band bought a three-storey block of church halls, at 35 Britannia Row in Islington, and set about converting the building into a recording studio and storage facility. The work took up most of 1975 and in 1976 they recorded Animals there, their eighth studio album.

Animals was another Waters concept, loosely based on George Orwell's political fable Animal Farm. Its lyrics described various classes of society as dogs, pigs, and sheep. Brian Humphries was again brought in to engineer the album which was completed in December 1976. Apart from its critique of society the album was also in part a response to the punk rock movement, which grew in popularity as a nihilistic statement against the prevailing social and political conditions, and also a reaction to the general complacency and nostalgia that appeared to surround rock music. Pink Floyd were an obvious target for punk musicians, notably John Lydon (at the time "Johnny Rotten") who wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt on which he had hand-written the words "I hate". Later, Lydon explained the shirt was a general statement against the "pretentiousness" of stadium rock in general rather than against Pink Floyd in particular and that he liked Pink Floyd. Mason later stated that he welcomed the "Punk Rock insurrection" and viewed it as a welcome return to the underground scene from which Pink Floyd had grown. In 1977 he produced The Damned's second album at Britannia Row.

Hipgnosis were credited for the packaging of Animals but the final concept was designed by Waters, who chose an image of the ageing Battersea Power Station. The band commissioned a 30 feet (9.1 m) pig-shaped balloon and photography began on 2 December. Inclement weather delayed filming and the balloon broke free of its moorings in strong winds, disappearing to eventually land in Kent where it was recovered by a local farmer, reportedly furious that it had "apparently scared his cows". Shooting resumed but a decision was made instead to superimpose the image of the pig onto the photograph of the power station.

The division of royalties became a sore topic during production of the album. Royalties were accorded on a per-song basis and, although Gilmour was largely responsible for "Dogs" which took up almost the entire first side of the album, he received less than Waters who also contributed the two-part "Pigs on the Wing", which contains references to Waters' romantic involvement with Carolyne Anne Christie. Gilmour was also distracted by the birth of his first child and contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed much toward Animals (the first Pink Floyd album not to contain a writing credit for Wright); Wright had marital problems, and his relationship with Waters was also suffering. Wright recalled the recording:

Animals was a slog. It wasn't a fun record to make, but this was when Roger really started to believe that he was the sole writer for the band. He believed that it was only because of him that the band were still going, and obviously, when he started to develop his ego trips, the person he would have his conflicts with would be me.

The album was released on 23 January 1977 and entered the UK charts at number two and number three in the US. NME called the album "... one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music to have been made available this side of the sun ...", and Melody Maker's Karl Dallas wrote "... [an] uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific ...".
Soldier Field Chicago, one of the largest venues in which Pink Floyd performed during their In the Flesh tour in 1977.

The album became the subject material for the band's "In the Flesh" tour, during which early signs of discord became apparent. This tour was Pink Floyd's first experience with playing in large stadiums and the size of the venues was an issue. Waters began arriving at each venue alone, departing immediately after the performance was complete, and Gilmour's wife Ginger did not get along with Waters' new girlfriend. On one occasion Wright flew back to England threatening to leave the band. At the Montréal Olympic Stadium a small group of noisy and excited fans in the front row of the audience irritated Waters so much that he spat at one of them. Waters was not the only person who felt depressed about playing in such large venues, as that same night Gilmour refused to perform the band's usual twelve-bar blu

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