50 Years of Pink Floyd
50 Years of Pink Floyd
It is an incredible 50 years since Pink Floyd turned professional and began to make their mark on the underground music scene. There remain many steadfast Floyd fans who have followed the band since their early days whilst a new generation is now discovering the group’s music.
A Pink Floyd gig was a multi-sensory experience befitting of a new age of liberation, youth culture and, of course, drugs! An intensely visual band, Floyd made extensive use of light shows and film projection which meant that their performances were decidedly ahead of their time.
In the Beginning
Founder member Roger Walters met up with Mick Mason and Richard Wright whilst studying at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture in London. The trio, together with other musicians, formed Sigma 6, a rhythm and blues band. They were later joined by Syd Barrett who Walters had known as a child. The band clearly struggled to find the right name. It was changed many times becoming variously Meggadeaths, the Abdabs, the Screaming Abdabs, Leonard’s Lodgers, and the Spectrum Five, before the rather unexciting choice of the Tea Set was settled on!
In 1964 the band were introduced to singer Chris Dennis who was with the Royal Air Force at the time. In December of that year they were able to enjoy a session in a recording studio for the first time. Chris Dennis was then posted to Bahrain and so Barrett became the lead singer. Barrett was also the principle songwriter for the band. They became the house band at the Countdown Club in Kensington but struggled to fill their 90 minutes sets due to their limited repertoire. Their solution was to extend their songs with lengthy solos.
The Floyd Sound
It was these digressions which were to distinguish the Floyd sound but they were not met with universal praise. Some went as far as to suggest that Pink Floyd’s work was not music and their sound certainly became increasingly improvised and experimental.
Evolving the Name
In 1965 they were to play a gig and Barrett realised that another band called the Tea Set would be appearing on the same bill. Barrett created a new moniker for the group from the names of two musicians whose music featured in his record collection – Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The band played the gig as the Pink Floyd Sound. The “sound” element of the name was dropped a year later at the suggestion of their new manager Peter Jenner.
The Record Deal
Pink Floyd signed with EMI in 1967 and they were on the path to success but Syd Barrett’s life was beginning to unravel. His innovative and experimental approach to music had set Pink Floyd apart but he was suffering from depression and was under the influence of LSD. His increasingly detached attitude and metal health problems prompted the other Floyd members to invite a fifth musician, David Gilmour, into the band in case Barrett could not perform. Syd Barrett’s behaviour became increasingly bizarre and resulted in several disastrous gigs. He eventually agreed to leave Pink Floyd in 1968. Jenner followed him as he believed that Barrett was the creative genius in the group.
The Waters Era
Pink Floyd had become more adventurous and used unique sound effects and incredible improvisation. After Barrett’s departure Waters became the principle song writer. His music saw Floyd become the biggest album sellers of the 1970s. The album The Dark Side of The Moon was a massive global hit and the band’s live performances were now the stuff of legend. Following the release of The Wall, Waters left Pink Floyd in 1983. Wright had also departed and Gilmour was now at the helm.
In the years since there have been further Floyd albums and solo releases by the members of the band but no live performances since 1994. Richard Wright died of cancer in 2008. Syd Barrett faded into obscurity and died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. Floyd fans still dream of an on stage reunion of the remaining members but it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the band will ever perform live again.
Pink Floyd are perhaps the most visual band in the history of music. Their live performances were characterised by amazing light shows and projections. Their iconic album covers featured the work of leading image makers including Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis. It is the visual nature of their life performances and their album covers which are explored in this issue.
“Really, we have only just started to scrape the surface of effects and ideas of lights and music combined; we think that the music and the lights are part of the same scene, one enhances and adds to the other.” Syd Barrett
This issue features 6 stamps each 34.5mm x 31.5mm.
1st class THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN (EMI Columbia, 1967) Pink’s Floyd psychedelic debut is named after Chapter 7 of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel, The Wind in the Willows, one of frontman Syd Barrett’s favourite books.
1st class ATOM HEART MOTHER (Harvest, 1970) Pink Floyd’s fifth album provided them with their first UK Number One. It was also the first of their albums not to feature the band’s name on the front of the sleeve.
1st class THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (Harvest, 1973) With sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Dark Side remained in the Billboard chart in America over 40 years after its release and has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-charting album.
£1.52 ANIMALS (Harvest/EMI, 1977) Animals was released as punk was in full force. While Johnny Rotten wore a T-shirt with the slogan ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’, Nick Mason busied himself producing The Damned’s Music for Pleasure.
£1.52 WISH YOU WERE HERE (Harvest, 1975) Legendary jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli was invited to play on the album’s title track. His violin is inaudible but he wasn’t credited on the album sleeve.
£1.52 THE ENDLESS RIVER (Parlophone, 2014) Ostensibly a tribute to the late Richard Wright and described as a ‘headphones’ album by David Gilmour.
The minisheet showcases 4 stamps, each 60mm x 30mm.
1st class UFO Club, 1966. The UFO Club opened on Dec. 23, 1966. Pink Floyd were booked for the
opening along with Soft Machine.
1st class The Dark Side of the Moon Tour, 1973. This show included the special effect of a plane
crashing into the stage at the end of the song “On the Run”.
£1.52 The Wall Tour, 1981. Gerald Scarfe produced a series of animations for the Wall Tour.
These animations were projected onto a 40-foot high wall of cardboard bricks which was
gradually built between the band and audience.
£1.52 The Division Bell Tour, 1994. Over 5.3 million tickets were sold for this tour and it grossed approximately 100 million US dollars.
You will also enjoy the First Day Cover. This is an envelope which features Pink Floyd iconography and an insert card exploring the graphic design partnership of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell.
The presentation pack has been written by Phil Alexander the Editor in Chief of the music magazine MOJO. It includes the six stamps, the mini sheet, a reflective piece exploring 50 years of Pink Floyd and an exploration of Pink Floyd art.
The Dark Side of the Moon Maxi Sheet celebrates one of the greatest albums of all time. The sheet is a limited edition of 10,000.
The Syd Barrett Souvenir Cover reminds us of the genius of the mercurial Barrett. This sheet is a limited edition of just 3,000.