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Pink Floyd’s Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

Video clip of Pink Floyd being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins does the honors.

From the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame:

Inductees: Syd Barrett (guitar, vocals; born January 6, 1946), David Gilmour (guitar, vocals; born March 6, 1944), Nick Mason (drums; born January 27, 1945), Roger Waters (bass, synthesizer, vocals; born September 9, 1944), Rick Wright (keyboards, synthesizers; born July 28, 1945).

Pink Floyd’s hallucinatory presentation of lights and music at London’s Roundhouse in 1966 brought psychedelia to the U.K. scene. The group carried rock and roll into a dimension that was more cerebral and conceptual than what preceded it. What George Orwell and Ray Bradbury were to literature, Pink Floyd is to popular music, forging an unsettling but provocative combination of science fiction and social commentary. In their early years, with vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Syd Barrett at the helm, Pink Floyd were the psychedelic Pied Pipers of the ‘London underground’ scene. In the Seventies, with bassist Roger Waters providing more of the songwriting and direction, Pink Floyd became one of the most influential rock bands of all time.

Before they settled on Pink Floyd, the group went by the names Sigma 6 and the Architectural Abdabs, and they mainly performed rhythm and blues covers. Singer-guitarist Syd Barrett provided Pink Floyd with most of its original early material, including the British hits See Emily Play and Arnold Layne. Barrett’s elfin, tuneful psychedelia made him the Lewis Carroll of the pop scene. Pink Floyd’s debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is a classic of psychedelic whimsy that epitomized the remarkable year of 1967 at its most playful and creative. As the British music magazine Q opined in 1995, Piper at the Gates of Dawn is, even counting Sgt. Pepper, possibly the defining moment of English psychedelia and Syd Barrett’s magnum opus. Among its highlights was a nine-minute instrumental, ‘Interstellar Overdrive, that represented one of rock’s first forays into deep space. It was a preoccupation of Pink Floyd’s that would later surface in songs like ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ (from A Saucerful of Secrets) and the group’s masterwork, Dark Side of the Moon.

Intense experimentation with LSD unfortunately transported Barrett from enlightenment to mental instability, and increasingly unpredictable behavior necessitated his departure from Pink Floyd in 1968. Among the prime acid casualties of the Sixties, Barrett subsequently released two magnificent, if eccentric, solo albums – The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, both from 1970 with considerable input from his erstwhile bandmates in Pink Floyd. Thereafter, however, Barrett became one of rock’s most legendary hermits and the subject of Roger Waters’ tributary opus ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond. It was the side-long centerpiece of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (1975) and a sterling example of what the group has referred to as its recurring ‘theme of absence.

With guitarist David Gilmour on-board as Barrett’s replacement, Pink Floyd’s lineup remained constant for the next 15 years. In the wake of Piper, they recorded psychedelic soundscapes such as A Saucerful of Secrets and the double album Ummagumma, which comprised one disc of live performances and one of individual works by each band member. Laid-back but experimental, Pink Floyd kicked off the Seventies with the pastoral, atmospheric albums Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Meddle (1971). Each featured a side-long epic, Atom Heart Mother Suite and Echoes, respectively. Fittingly for a band with who took a cinematic approach to music, Pink Floyd provided music for three films. Their work as film scorers can be heard on the soundtrack albums More (1969), Zabriskie Point (1970) and Obscured by Clouds: Music from La Vallee (1972).

Their 1973 release Dark Side of the Moon hit Number One on the Billboard charts and ultimately broke all records by remaining on the Top 200 album charts for 741 weeks. Dark Side of the Moon did not drop off Billboard’s Top 200 album chart until 1988. The album signaled rock’s willingness to move from adolescence into adulthood, conceptually addressing such subjects as aging, madness, money and time. From its prismatic cover artwork to the music therein, Dark Side of the Moon is a classic-rock milestone. The subject of alienation was further explored in Wish You Were Here (1975), an album whose central preoccupation was the band members’ distance from each other (‘Wish You Were Here’) and erstwhile leader Syd Barrett’s distance from reality (‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’). They turned their gaze outward yet again on the Orwellian Animals (1977), whose songs bore the titles ‘Pigs,’ ‘Sheep’ and ‘Dogs.’

Success continued into the Eighties with The Wall, a four-sided epic about a rock star named Pink who suffers a nervous breakdown while on tour. Much of it reflected chief architect Roger Waters’ dim view of the concert experience as rock expanded into arenas and stadiums. ‘I wanted to make comparisons between rock and roll concerts and war,’ Roger Waters told Rolling Stone in 1982. He elaborated on this central tenet in the liner notes for The Wall Live: 1980-81: ‘The idea that we, as individuals, generally find it necessary to avoid or deny the painful aspects of our experience, and in fact often use them as bricks in a wall behind which we may sometimes find shelter, but behind which we may just as easily become emotionally immured, relatively simply stated and easy to grasp.’ That, in a nutshell, is the theme pursued by Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon forward.

Possibly the most pessimistic album ever to reach #1, The Wall also addressed childhood, education and marriage, finding all of these passages to be dehumanizing. The Wall, the most theatrical and complex stage show that rock had ever seen, was performed 24 times in multi-night stands at four places – London, Los Angeles, Long Island and Dortmund, Germany. During the performance, an actual ‘wall’ was constructed in front of the band, and its collapse at the end provided a fitting denouement. The Wall was subsequently revived by Roger Waters for a star-studded staging in Berlin in 1990, to commemorate the unification of East and West Germany. Performances from the Pink Floyd’s original staging of the epic saw release in 2000 as The Wall Live: 1980-81.

In the wake of The Wall, Pink Floyd itself gradually seemed to collapse, at least temporarily. The Wall turned out to be the last album the foursome of Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason recorded together. The Final Cut, which was recorded under extreme duress, found Wright absent from the group. Almost wholly Waters’ vision, it was an antiwar album triggered by Britain’s 1982 conflict in the Falkland Islands. The group unofficially disbanded after its release, and that seemed to mark the end of Pink Floyd, as the members involved themselves in endeavors, including solo projects, outside the band.

Throughout their history, the members of Pink Floyd have projected a rather static personal image, allowing music, lyrics, lighting and theatrical settings to communicate for them. Consequently, they’ve largely avoided the sort of public scrutiny that typifies the lives of rock stars. Little was known or reported about their personal lives. Only when a bitter war of words and a court battle erupted between Roger Waters and the others after Gilmour, Mason and Wright reconvened Pink Floyd was the silence broken.

Pink Floyd released Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987 and followed it up a year later with Delicate Sound of Thunder, a live album drawn from an extensive tour. The group reconvened in the Nineties with Gilmour again at the helm, releasing The Division Bell in 1994 and another tour souvenir, Pulse, a year later. Both albums went to the top of the charts, proving that the public’s fascination with this most unconventional supergroup had not dimmed in the least.

Image Gallery

Mini-Timeline: (See full Timeline here)

  • September 6, 1944: Roger Waters of Pink Floyd is born.
  • January 27, 1945: Nick Mason of Pink Floyd is born.
  • July 28, 1945: Rick Wright of Pink Floyd is born.
  • January 6, 1946: Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd is born.
  • March 6, 1946: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is born.
  • October 12, 1965: Pink Floyd plays their first gig at the Countdown Club in London.
  • February 12, 1966: Pink Floyd performs at a series of Sunday afternoon multimedia happenings at London’s Marquee Club, dubbed the ‘Spontaneous Underground.’
  • October 11, 1966: The launch party for Britain’s first underground paper, the International Times, features performances by psychedelic groups Pink Floyd and Soft Machine.
  • October 15, 1966: Pink Floyd plays the ‘All Night Rave Pop Op Costume Masque Drag Ball Et All’ on the opening night of the Roundhouse.
  • December 23, 1966: Pink Floyd perform for the first time at London’s UFO Club, home the the burgeoning ‘London Underground’ scene.
  • February 27, 1967: Pink Floyd record their first single, ‘Arnold Layne,’ at Sound Techniques Studio in London. It reaches #20 on the British singles chart.
  • April 5, 1967: ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn,’ the debut album by Pink Floyd – and the only one to feature Syd Barrett as bandleader – is released.
  • May 23, 1967: ‘See Emily Play,’ Pink Floyd’s enchanting second single, is recorded. It reaches #6 on the British charts.
  • January 7, 1968: David Gilmour is asked to join Pink Floyd, briefly making them a five-piece band.
  • April 6, 1968: Syd Barrett’s departure from Pink Floyd is announced via press release.
  • October 24, 1970: Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ tops the UK chart. It reaches #55 in America and sets the stage for the breakthrough album ‘Meddle, Obscured by Clouds’ and, of course, ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’
  • November 12, 1971: Pink Floyd hits #3 in the UK with ‘Meddle.’
  • February 17, 1972: Pink Floyd premiere a new piece of music entitled ‘Eclipse’ at London’s Rainbow Theater. It will evolve into the album ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’
  • March 13, 1973: ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ by Pink Floyd, is released. It will reach #1 on April 28, log a record-breaking 741 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart, and sell more than 15 million copies in the US alone.
  • April 28, 1973: Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ hits #1 in the US during a record-breaking 741-week US chart stretch.
  • June 23, 1973: The decidedly non-single-oriented Pink Floyd makes their US Top Forty debut with ‘Money,’ from ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ It reaches #13.
  • September 12, 1975: ‘Wish You Were Here,’ Pink Floyd’s long-awaited followup to ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ is released. ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond,’ a side-long epic about their troubled ex-leader Syd Barrett, is its centerpiece.
  • January 23, 1977: Pink Floyd releases ‘Animals,’ a bleak concept album that appears to have drawn on author George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ for inspiration.
  • December 15, 1979: Pink Floyd releases their double-album epic, ‘The Wall.’ It stays at #1 for 15 weeks and has to date been certified 23 times platinum (signifying one million copies) in the US, making it the third best-selling album of all time.
  • March 22, 1980: ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ by Pink Floyd, tops the singles charts for the first of four weeks. It is their second and final Top Forty single in the US.
  • June 17, 1981: Pink Floyd gives its 24th and final performance of ‘The Wall,’ in Dortmund, Germany.
  • July 14, 1982: With the program special ‘MTV Takes You to ‘The Wall’, MTV covers the London Premiere of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’

  • December 12, 1985: Roger Waters formally notifies Columbia and EMI Records that he is no longer a member of Pink Floyd.
  • October 31, 1986: Roger Waters files suit to formally dissolve Pink Floyd, a legal battle that will drag on for years without deterring David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright from recording as Pink Floyd.
  • September 19, 1987: A reunited Pink Floyd, minus Roger Waters, releases ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason,’ their first studio album since 1984’s ‘The Final Cut.’
  • April 23, 1994: Pink Floyd release ‘The Division Bell,’ the fourth #1 album of their career. The ensuing live album ‘Pulse,’ which appears a year later, will become the fifth.
  • January 16, 1996: Pink Floyd is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the eleventh annual induction dinner. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins is their presenter.
  • April 18, 2000: ‘The Wall Live: 1980-81,’ culled from Pink Floyd’s London performances of their all-time favorite work, is released.
  • July 7, 2006: Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd passes away.

The Pink Floyd Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of FameThe Pink Floyd Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Pink Floyd Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of FameThe Pink Floyd Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Pink Floyd Exhibit at the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Video clip of Pink Floyd’s Induction into
The UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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