Tag: Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s psychedelic revolution will rock the V&A

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Museum to celebrate career of pioneers who transformed live music with their dazzling light shows

Pink Floyd’s psychedelic revolution will rock the V&A
The album cover of The Dark Side of The Moon, released by Harvest Records in 1973, was an all-time classic. Photograph: Jeff Morgan/Alamy

The Victoria & Albert Museum’s David Bowie exhibition in 2013 became the fastest to sell out in the museum’s history. Now curators are planning a celebration of another musical institution, Pink Floyd – in collaboration with surviving members of the band.

One of the defining forces behind 1960s psychedelia, Pink Floyd became one of the most influential and successful groups of all time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cites them “as the architects of two major music movements – psychedelic space-rock and blues-based progressive rock”. The band’s lyrics are described as offering “biting political, social and emotional commentary”.

Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd featured lead vocalist and guitarist Roger “Syd” Barrett, bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player Rick Wright. Guitarist David Gilmour joined shortly before Barrett’s departure in 1968. Barrett and Wright died in 2006 and 2008 respectively. The group sold more than 250 million albums, with The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall acknowledged as classics.

The V&A’s tribute will emphasise the groundbreaking originality of the band’s live concerts. Pioneering psychedelic light shows, spectacular special effects and elaborate stage constructions included a model plane that flew over the audience before crashing into the stage. For the concert production of The Wall, animations were projected on to a wall of cardboard bricks built between the band and audience.

Their album covers are now considered among the most influential ever created. The museum will showcase original artwork by their designers and photographers.

Pink Floyd’s psychedelic revolution will rock the V&A
Pink Floyd in their early days. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Redfern

Hipgnosis, the experimental design company co-founded by Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson in 1968, created the rainbow-through-a-prism graphic for The Dark Side of the Moon, which became one of the most recognisable LP covers, playing a part in sales exceeding 40 million copies.

The exhibition will also pay tribute to the genius of Barrett, who taught himself guitar – mostly by playing along to records – and reached the heights of rock stardom, only to become a casualty of the late-1960s fascination with LSD. The Dark Side of the Moon is said to have been partly inspired by Barrett’s mental-health struggles.

Last month Royal Mail issued 10 stamps to celebrate the band’s worldwide influence, an honour previously granted to the Beatles. In 2014, the group released their final album, The Endless River. In an interview with Classic Rock magazine last year, Gilmour said that, after almost half a century together, there were no plans to reunite. He said that Pink Floyd had “run its course” and it would be “fakery” to reform with his two surviving bandmates.

Some of the ground work for the V&A show has already been done. In 2014, a Pink Floyd retrospective organised by one of Italy’s biggest music promoters was abandoned following a reported dispute over fees and intellectual property rights. A worldwide tour of hundreds of exhibits, including designs and recordings, had been planned. A giant inflatable pig, featured on the cover of Animals, and the stage sculpture of The Wall are among artefacts that are now likely to come to the V&A instead.

The museum will also include Pink Floyd in its major autumn exhibition: You Say You Want A Revolution? Records & Rebels 1966-70, which will explore the wide-reaching social and cultural changes that followed the austerity of the postwar years. London’s Carnaby Street will be portrayed as part of a “1960s streetscape”, along with the UFO nightclub on Tottenham Court Road, where Pink Floyd made their name.

The Revolution exhibition will also highlight figures such as Vidal Sassoon, who revolutionised hairdressing in the 1960s, creating geometric styles that came to define the decade. Stylists at a Sassoon Sunday Salon will offer haircuts to visitors.


1965 Formed by Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright, later to be joined by David Gilmour in 1967.

1968 Barrett leaves due to mental health issues.

1973 The Dark Side of the Moon is released. It has since sold 45m copies.

1979 Double album The Wall is released, with single Another Brick in the Wall reaching number one for five weeks.

1985 Waters leaves, saying the band no longer exists without him. He goes to court to try to prevent his former bandmates from performing as Pink Floyd, but eventually loses his case.

2014 The band’s final album, The Endless River, is released, winning a Grammy.

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Pink Floyd to release rarity-packed 27-disc set of their early years

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The Early Years 1965-1972 will include Syd Barrett tracks never officially released, as well as the soundtrack recording called ‘the Floyd holy grail’

Pink Floyd to release rarity-packed 27-disc set of their early years
Vegetable men … Pink Floyd in 1967 Photograph: Dezo Hoffmann/REX FEATURES

Thought that 18-CD set of everything Bob Dylan recorded in 1965 and 1966 was the last word in period-specific artist box sets? Think again. Pink Floyd have announced a new box set, The Early Years 1965-1972, which will comprise 27 discs – both CDs and DVD/Blu-ray discs. It will contain seven hours of previously unreleased live audio, and more than 15 hours of video. The Early Years 1965-1972 is released on 11 November.

It’s a bonanza for Pink Floyd fans, for the amount of unreleased material included. For the first time, the much-bootlegged Syd Barrett-era songs Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream get an official release.

Arguably more exciting for Floyd fans is the release of what has been described on messageboards as “the most obscure Pink Floyd recording of all” and “the Floyd holy grail”. The music in question is eight tracks the Barrett-era band recorded for the film-maker John Latham on 20 October 1967 in London, but which he decided not to use in his short film Speak. These tracks have, so far as can be told, never been bootlegged.

Nearly as exciting is the release of In the Beechwoods, a Barrett song recorded at the same time as Jugband Blues, from the second Floyd album A Saucerful of Secrets, which has previously surfaced in low-quality abridged form.

Pink Floyd to release rarity-packed 27-disc set of their early years
Pink Floyd … Think how long it will take you to work your way through that lot. Photograph: PR

The set is divided into six volumes, each of which will be released separately in 2017. Cambridge St/ation covers Barrett’s time with the band form 1965-1967, and also includes the band’s 1965 recordings. Germin/ation deals with the immediate post-Barrett period in 1968. Dramatis/ation contains music from 1969, including tracks recorded for but not used on the soundtrack to the film More. 1970 is covered by the Devi/ation set, which includes the first performance of the Atom Heart Mother album for the BBC. The 1971 Reverber/ation volume includes demos for Meddle, while the 1972 Obfusc/ation contains a remix of the Obscured by Clouds album. A bonus volume available only with the full deluxe set contains early BBC sessions, live recordings and three feature films scored by Floyd – The Committee, More and La Vallée (Obscured by Clouds).

The box also comes with the inevitable posters, pictures and replica 7in singles.

Those who feel a 27-disc set is too big for their shelves or too pricy for their bank balance can also get a 2CD highlights compilation. Needless to say, that does not feature Vegetable Man or Scream Thy Last Scream, or the John Latham session. So if you’re serious about your Syd, you’re going to have to shell out for the whole lot.

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B

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Museum planned to celebrate the Eelpiland dance club, the 1960s venue in the middle of the Thames

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B
The Rolling Stones at Eel Pie Island. Photograph: Mike Peters

Back when rock music was deemed antisocial, and even traditional jazz bands were frowned upon, it cost just fourpence to gain entry to a place where the young were free to dance, drink and kiss. The Rolling Stones, a teenage David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, the Who and Pink Floyd all first found regular audiences in this hidden haven.

The venue was Eel Pie Island: a tiny enclave in the middle of the river Thames at Twickenham, which is now claiming its place in Britain’s cultural history. A museum dedicated to the island’s past glory as the centre of a British R&B boom is set to have a permanent home. Curator Michele Whitby has been promised £8,000 from the London mayor’s office and now has until next month to raise another £4,000 on a crowdfunding site to see her scheme come to life.

“I want to run a museum just a stone’s throw from the island itself, in Twickenham’s main street,” she said. “People describe Eel Pie Island as like nowhere else and so seven years ago I wrote a book about it. Now I have a fantastic wealth of material to share.”

Whitby, 49, now lives on a boat moored to the island, but first arrived on its shores aged 21, when she rented space for a photographic studio. “The Stones had 15 dates here early in their career and were paid around £45 for a gig; good money then, although you could not get tickets to see them for that now,” said Whitby. “I made a montage of photographs of the band from 1963 and sent it to them. It came back signed by them all ‘to Eel Pie Island’.”

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B
The Jazz Club at Eel Pie Island in January 1967. Photograph: ANL/Rex/Shutterstock

Once known as Twickenham Ait, the island takes its current name from the snacks once sold to passing traders from its banks. It was a leisure destination as early as the beginning of the 17th century and a map of 1635 marks a plot of land with “hath bin A Boulding Alley”.

Henry VIII is said to have used it for discreet courting. With the construction of the grand, three-storey Eel Pie Island hotel in 1830 it became a popular holiday destination for the rest of London.

But its modern influence dates from the launch of the Eelpiland dance club in 1956. When an arched footbridge to the mainland was built a year later, clubbers paid fourpence admission and were wrist-stamped as they queued to join dancers in the ballroom adjoining the neglected hotel. They were given a passport instead of a ticket, underlining the notion that different social rules prevailed.

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B
A beatnik jazz party on Eel Pie Island in August 1960. Photograph: Peter Hall/Getty Images

The passport read: “We request and require, in the name of His Excellency Prince Pan, all those whom it may concern to give the bearer of this passport any assistance he/she may require in his/her lawful business of jiving and generally cutting a rug. Given under our hand this first day of November 1963 PAN Prince of Trads.”

For Whitby, and for older fans who saw the Stones or Eric Clapton play, Eelpiland is the birthplace of a youth movement, comparable to the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Wigan Casino, the pubs of Canvey Island or the Hacienda in Manchester. “Fans used to have to get there by ferry before they built the bridge and even then there was very little residential accommodation here,” said Whitby. “It was all boatyards. They thought the police would find it more difficult to come over and so they were free to make more noise.”

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B
The stage at Eel Pie Island. Photograph: Mike Peters

Last year Whitby put together artefacts and memorabilia for a pop-up museum, housed in two rooms in Twickenham library. It also told the story of the remarkable Arthur Chisnall, the antiques dealer and philanthropist who set up the club. He started by booking trad jazz stars, such as Acker Bilk and George Melly, at the weekends, but the bar and large, sprung dance floor also made it suitable for rock’n’roll gigs. Chisnall, a pipe-smoking guru in tweed, booked visiting American blues stars such as Buddy Guy and Howlin’ Wolf.

“Arthur really was the centre of it,” said Whitby. “He was not a massive music fan, but was fascinated by young people and their problems in a genuine way. A lot of people have told me that he changed their lives for the better.”

The pop-up museum contained a recreation of Arthur’s living room in nearby Strawberry Hill, with his original desk. In June 1961, on the club’s fifth birthday, he was interviewed by the News of the World. “This place started as a jazz club. Now it is one of the biggest political discussion centres in this part of greater London. There are 8,386 members. The bands only play at weekends. During the week the members jam the bar … while discussing all sorts of serious topics. We are not tied down to any one line of political thought,” he said.

Island that rocked to Bowie and the Stones stakes claim as true home of British R&B
Watching the Stones at Eel Pie Island. Photograph: Mike Peters

By the end of Chisnall’s reign the club had also welcomed the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Tridents with Jeff Beck, and Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men, featuring Rod Stewart. In his 1998 autobiography, All the Rage, Ian McLagan, keyboard-player with the Small Faces and the Faces, recalled supporting the Stones at Eelpiland and first meeting Rod “The Mod” Stewart, dressed up and “on the pull”. “It was one of the best places to hear blues bands at the weekends,” McLagan wrote.

Chisnall lived on until 2006, but lack of funds closed down his club in the late 1960s. Threatened with demolition, it briefly reopened as Colonel Barefoot’s Rock Garden, when Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd performed. But eventually squatters and anarchists took over and the hotel was home to 100 hippies.

“One particularly cold winter, squatters started cannibalising the building for firewood and in 1970 it was pretty much destroyed by fire,” said Whitby. The coveted homes of the 1970s residential block Aquarius now stand on the site, surrounded by a small community of artists living and working in former boathouses. The maverick inventor of the wind-up radio, Trevor Bayliss, is a proud local and would surely approve of Chisnall’s vision for the island: “You must realise that what goes on here is the expression of the latent desire among the young to get away from mass media and regimentation,” he said during Eelpiland’s heyday.