Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pink Floyd, The #27 Artist of the Seventies*

Guitarist Roger Waters and drummer Nick Mason met while studying architecture at the London Polytechnic in England.  They began playing in the band Sheilagh, and another architecture student, Richard Wright, joined the group later that year.  Waters switched to bass in 1964, and the group underwent several other name changes before deciding on the Tea Set. 

The other members gradually left the group, and in 1965, the band was the resident band at the Countdown Club, where they played three sets of ninety minutes each.  Syd Barrett took over on lead guitar and also sang lead vocals in mid-1965.  When the band found out their was another group called the Tea Set, they changed their name again to the Pink Floyd Sound. 

The group landed a gig at the prestigious Marquee Club in 1966, where Peter Jenner caught their act.  Jenner was so impressed that he became their manager, and suggested they drop the "Sound" from their name and be known simply as Pink Floyd. 

The group began attracting a fan base at the UFO Club in London.  They recorded some songs at Sound Techniques in 1967, and three days later, Pink Floyd signed a recording contract with EMI.  The first two singles received significant airplay in the U.K., but success was mostly contained there.  By 1967, there were vast changes in Barrett's behavior, as he was regularly using LSD. 

Pink Floyd had to cancel concert dates as a result, then they went on their first tour of the United States.  On appearances on The Dick Clark Show and The Pat Boone Show, Barrett did not respond to questions and merely stared off into space.  He also did not move his lips when it came time to mime their performance.

The group canceled the rest of their U.S. dates and went home.  By the end of the year, Pink Floyd brought in guitarist David Gilmour, for they could no longer count on Barrett.  Within a few months, Barrett was out of the group completely.

But Jenner, who felt Barrett was the genius of the group, quit as manager, soon replaced by Steve O'Rourke.

Pink Floyd released three more albums in the decade, gradually increasing their exposure and sales outside of Great Britain.

In 1970, Pink Floyd released the album Atom Heart Mother, a #55 album in the United States that sold 500,000 copies.  We feature the elaborate title song.

For their next album, they tried several unproductive experiments, spending long periods working on basic sounds and trying to create music from a variety of household objects.  Finally late in 1971, the group released the album Meddle.  Although it sold at a mediocre level at the time in the U.S. (#70 on the Album chart), future Pink Floyd fans, wanting to hear what else the group had, bought the album to push it past two million in sales.  The top track on the album is "Echoes".

Pink Floyd released "One Of These Days" as a single, but it failed to even make the Top 100.

Obscured by Clouds in 1972 also went Gold, giving the group three consecutive albums that went over 500,000.  

At this point, all nine Pink Floyd singles flopped in four six of the seven continents other than Europe, and after their first two releases, even their native U.K. fans didn't buy them up.  So the group set out to record their next album, without which they would have been ranked no higher than #86 in The Top 100 Artists of the Seventies*.  In fact, it by itself spurred sales of the entire catalog, so it's probably safe to say that without it, the group probably would not have been in The Top 100* at all.  That album elevated Pink Floyd all the way to #27*.  That's an incredible amount of weight for one album!
Money by P.F. on Grooveshark
The group recorded the album at Abbey Road Studios in London with staff engineer Alan Parsons.  The Dark Side of the Moon was one of the early concept albums of the Rock Era, with the title being an allusion to lunacy.  The single "Money" became one of the group's biggest hits at #13. 

The group featured the music on their U.S. tour.  One of the great album tracks of all-time is "Us And Them".
The Dark Side of the Moon was never a huge-seller at any one time; it was only #1 for one week in the U.S., and only #2 in the U.K.  Rather, it was consistent, hanging around and hanging around on the album charts, until it spent over fourteen consecutive years as one of "the top 200".  Another great track on the album is "Time". 

Clare Torry did an amazing job with guest vocals on this stellar track--"The Great Gig In The Sky".

Today, the album has sold over 15 million copies in the United States to rank #21 all-time, and it is over 40 million worldwide.  We also want to feature "Speak To Me"/"Breathe"/"On The Run".

The success of the album made Pink Floyd members rich.  They bought huge houses in the country, and the album gave them bargaining power in signing a new recording contract with Columbia Records.  "Brain Damage" leads into "Eclipse" on The Dark Side of the Moon

After a monumental album like that, the pressure was on to duplicate it, an impossible task.  In fact, they wouldn't come up with an album even close to it until late 1979, with most of The Wall's airplay and sales coming after the end of the decade, the cutoff for this rating period.  What they did do is release the album Wish You Were Here.  The title song, while never a hit, received a good amount of airplay, and is one of the group's all-time best efforts.

Waters organized the songs to describe what he felt about the absence of former member Syd Barrett.  The album rose to #1 in both the U.K. and the U.S.  Another solid track on the album is "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Wish You Were Here has now gone over six million in sales, again with a good portion of that coming as music fans in future decades discovered The Dark Side of the Moon.  "Have A Cigar" is another featured track.

In 1976, Pink Floyd purchased a group of church halls and converted the building into a recording studio.  They recorded the album Animals in this new studio.  Waters loosely based the album theme on George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, with lyrics describing different classes of society as dogs, pigs, and sheep.  While Waters had ideas flowing, according to the other group members, he deliberately kept Gilmour's songwriting efforts down.

"Dogs" is one of the lead tracks from the album.

Animals made it to #2 on the Album chart in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S.  We will also feature "Sheep" in this salute.

Pink Floyd played the new material on the accompanying tour, their first playing large stadiums.  The size of the crowds made the members nervous; Waters arrived at each venue alone and left immediately afterwards.  In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one group of enthusiastic fans in the front row bothered Waters so much that he spat on them.

Wright left Pink Floyd in 1979 prior to another of Pink Floyd's greatest albums, The Wall, in 1980, but rejoined the group later.   The band recorded and toured through 1994.  Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Pink Floyd had just one hit in the Seventies, "Money" at #13.  They sold 29.5 million albums in the decade.    

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