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    The Pink Floyd Story Part 1

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    In 1964, three architectural students in London set aside a band they had been playing in called Sigma 6 to form the Screaming Abdabs. Actually, the Screaming Abdabs was one name they were using for their band that played primarily American R&B covers. Other names they were using were the Tea Set, the Architectural Abdabs and the Megadeaths. Sigma 6 rhythm guitar player Roger Waters moved over to the bass, and the band recruited guitar player Bob Klose to play lead guitar. Roger "Syd" Barrett, a close friend of Waters', had been in London for 2 years studying art and he was asked to play guitar and sing for the group. With Rick Wright on keyboards and Nick Mason on drums, the Tea Set was ready to go.

    The band started out by learning a handful of R&B songs, and found that they needed more material to fill out their set. Syd wrote "King Bee" which was a direct rip-off of the cover songs the band was playing, and the band recorded a rough demo of the song with Bob Klose on lead guitar. Soon after the recording was done, Klose decided that the band was going nowhere, and he set out to complete his university studies. Syd Barrett promptly changed the name of the band to contain the names of two rather obscure American blues artists he had been recently listening to; Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The name of the band became the Pink Floyd Sound.

    In 1965, the Pink Floyd Sound started to play the clubs in and around London. Mason and Waters were desperate to avoid what they considered a dreary career in architecture, and Wright was still not sold on whether the music the band was playing appealed to his jazz background.  None of this solved the main problem pressing the band; which was that they still did not know enough music to play an entire night. Syd decided that instead of playing the standard blues solos during solo breaks in songs, he would take out his cigarette lighter and make strange sounds on his guitar accompanied by his delay effect. American R&B hits that were normally 3 minutes long started to become 10 minute epics. This appealed to Rick Wright because he finally had a chance to experiment with his keyboard gear and take the song chord progressions to places they had never gone before. The three architectural students and the brilliant young artist were creating a whole new kind of music.

    Night after night, the Pink Floyd Sound would play these strange versions of the very same songs other London bands were playing, but there was a buzz starting to form about the band. In 1966 the Floyd started to experiment with pulsating lights to accompany their unique sound, and they eventually managed to incorporate projectors that would heat up glass slides of acid and create colorful lighting effects on stage. It was this presentation that Peter Jenner and Andrew King saw that convinced them to manage the Pink Floyd Sound. They bought the band all new equipment, signed them to a management deal, and began creating an underground musical experience like no one had ever seen or heard.

    The Pink Floyd Sound's set was starting to incorporate songs Syd Barrett had been writing including a song called "Interstellar Overdrive." It featured the band's improvisational talents circling around a single hypnotic riff that was continually repeated until it disappeared into a sea of strange sounds. When performed live on stage, the light show coupled with this new sound started to attract a larger and larger audience.

    One of the songs Syd had written was the catchy pop song "Arnold Layne." It was originally recorded in early 1967 and produced by Joe Boyd. With their pop song in hand and their reputation as musical pioneers preceding them, they shortened their name to Pink Floyd and signed a record deal with EMI in 1967.

    Floyd recorded their first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in 1967 under producer Norman Smith. The sessions became a drain on the band and the producer. Smith did not know what to make of Barrett's music. Some songs were just jams that rambled on for 15 or 20 minutes, while others were punchy little pop songs that had strange endings tacked on to them.

    While recording Piper, Pink Floyd received two visits. One was from Beatle John Lennon who was recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in another Abbey Road studio, and the other was Barrett's childhood friend--guitarist David Gilmour. Gilmour noticed that the recording process was wearing on Syd, and that the rigors of having a hit single in "Arnold Layne" and recording the album were not what Syd had bargained for.

    Prior to the release of Piper, the band released their second hit single titled "See Emily Play". Pink Floyd's prowess as a pop act could no longer be denied, however, the release of their album confused music fans. The underground psychedelic fans understood the album as they had been hearing that sound for two years, but the rest of the world was expecting an album of pop songs, and this was not it.

    At shows fans would scream out the titles of Floyd's two pop hits, but the band refused to play them. Barrett started to sink deeper and deeper into depression, and his behavior was made further erratic by drugs. In  November of 1967, the band asked David Gilmour to come along and help out by playing and singing Syd's parts. Syd would normally just stand there while Gilmour kept the sound moving along. In January of 1968, Gilmour was announced as the fifth member of Floyd, and by April 1968 Syd was out; leaving Gilmour as the band's guitarist and vocalist.

    With the more musically inclined Gilmour on board, the band started to get away from wandering jams and bring more structure to their psychedelic sound. By the time they released the album Meddle in 1971, the band had stripped themselves of their psychedelic roots and was now establishing yet another new genre of music - progressive rock. With epic masterpieces such as "Echoes", Pink Floyd became known as a band that required your complete attention to absorb the total message of the music.

    The influence and importance of Pink Floyd cannot be understated. They were responsible for the rise of psychedelic music in London, they revolutionized stage production, and they created the genre of progressive rock that led to such bands as Rush and King Crimson. Pink Floyd's history is an important chapter in the history of rock music, and their contributions to live music as well as innovations in recorded music production are responsible for much of what we hear today.

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