A Pink Floyd Chronology 1966-1971
Music Biography by Nick Hodges and Jan Priston
A must for any serious Floyd fan. The book is in diary format and traces the early work of Pink Floyd until the beginnings of their work on Dark Side of The Moon. This is heavy stuff for hard-core Floyd fans, who wants to expand their knowledge of the early Pink Floyd. Many facts from the early days can be traced to the later work and helps to a basic understanding of music and lyrics. Performances and recording-days are being dealt with chronologically and no details are left out. Several misunderstandings from other biographies are discussed and corrected. See the sample chapters below.
The following are sample chapters from the book 'Embryo - A Pink Floyd Chronology 1966-1971'. Reproduced by kind permission of Cherry Red Records.
[start of sample chapter]
Introduction The Man And The Journey
To understand the early Floyd is to understand 'The Man And The Journey'. This piece was arguably the most significant opus in the history and development of The Pink Floyd, yet to most casual fans, and many not-so-casual, it remains unknown. Even to those who have heard it the piece remains an enigma to which the band themselves have seldom made reference. Yet it marks both the culmination and the genesis of the band's 'themed pieces', which were to become more and more explicit, resulting in 1983 in the polemical and lambasting Final Cut. We hope to shed some light upon the themes prevalent in the band's concept work, and perhaps go some way towards explaining 'The Man And The Journey'.
Part 1: Games For May The history of Floydian theme pieces may be traced back as far as 1967, when the band staged an event entitled 'Games For May: Space Age Relaxation For The Climax Of Spring' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. While it may be somewhat conjectural to cite this as the true beginning of the band's interest in the song cycle, it is clear that they made substantial efforts to tie their performance into some kind of coherent whole, creating recorded pieces to greet the audience and bid them farewell, while members of the band's entourage also entered the auditorium - as a gorilla, or to distribute daffodils to a bemused public - involving the audience in an experience which allowed them to participate rather than observe, as was, and is, the norm on such occasions.
The music was also tied into performance to a greater extent than the simple act of the band being on stage playing - during 'Tape Bubbles', a pre-recorded piece by Wright, the auditorium was Walled with soap bubbles through which light refracted into curious oil shapes; the light show was not only visual but tactile, the result being synethesthetic disorientation in which the audience was the main participant. The show began with a Waters-composed tape effect called 'Tape Dawn' which, he recalled in Q Magazine, August 1992, was 'to be played in the Theatre's foyer as the audience was coming in'. Significantly, the themology of this recording - essentially birdsong at half speed - was to reflect the very human concerns which were to dominate Waters' approach to concept pieces - life, death, day, night .
While the majority of the show comprised the band's 'greatest hits' one can see some reason for the particular order in which they chose to perform them. With the audience seated, the show properly began with 'Matilda Mother' - a song concerned with the morning of life: childhood. 'Flaming' came next, a classic song, which is both laden with images gleaned from childhood, seen through the distorted lens of psychedelics, space-age, and a lyrical eulogy to nature and the joys of spring. This was ideally complemented by 'Scarecrow': a song about a straw man in more senses than the obvious.
While many nominate 'Jugband Blues' as, in the words of Pete Jenner, 'the ultimate self-diagnosis of schizophrenia', 'Scarecrow' is more poignant for me at least - our first indication of the chinks in Syd's armour. While it remains undocumented, it is here that I feel the band took the interval, since the mood of the performance becomes far more up-beat with the arrival of 'Games For May'.
'Games For May' was of course written specially for the performance, suggesting perhaps more than anything, that the band wished the event to say something more than an average gig. Since it was rewritten for release as 'See Emily Play' it is difficult to say quite what its intent was, other than to celebrate the season of rebirth.
'Bike', on the other hand, is far more straightforward - hopeful of love with a desperate undercurrent. Significantly Barrett displays his fascination with childhood, and one suspects that it sums up his yearning for a meaningful relationship, despite its whimsical, almost nonsense, phrasing. That he refers back to a friendly mouse, an image that also appears earlier in 'Scarecrow' bears mention. While it may be over-stressing it, mice - passive and gentle creatures - seem the only thing able to move him; that the mouse is 'getting old' further indicates the sad predictability of life - those closest to us will ultimately be rendered nothing more than dust. The mechanical completion of the piece could be said to reflect that ultimate hippie fear, technology at the hand of The Others ('most of them have got one') in which mankind will find its inevitable damnation.
'Arnold Layne' and 'Candy And Currant Bun' were to follow - this was more due to the fact that they were the band's latest release, and their appearance in the suite is to our mind a consequence of this fact, rather than to any thematic purpose, since the next song was 'Pow R Toc H' - a space piece to all intents and purposes. Toc H is, to those who did not realise already, a benevolent fund for old soldiers (a point which would not have been lost on Waters, one can be sure). As such it represents two things, old age and death. The cycle has almost come full circle, with one thing left - salvation?
'Interstellar Overdrive' is a metaphor for a number of things: the inner journey - enlightenment; 'space-age relaxation' - a musical 'trip' in its many senses; and nirvana - a state many believe is found in death. This is further confirmed by the placing of 'Tape Bubbles' at this point - something I have earlier touched upon. The bubbles themselves may indicate peace - contentment, and heavenly euphoria - similar as they are to the clouds upon which the Kingdom of Heaven may be found, if so desired.
The show ended, prosaically, with a Barrett-composed piece entitled 'Tape Ending' - an enigmatic track about which I can claim no knowledge, and about which I make no comment. If this reading of the show is to be accepted, the encore is the band's musical joke - 'Lucifer Sam'; there is no heaven, only hell, and a plaintive desire for death amidst the 'shifting sands'. Life is a hard taskmaster.
Part 2: A Saucerful Of Secrets The next attempt by the band to create a structured piece was in the following year, with the piece 'A Saucerful Of Secrets' from their second 'difficult' album. Given the last twelve minutes of the album as a gift by the record company to do with what they wanted, the band chose to explore in further detail the themes discussed above. Unlike 'Games For May' or others of the band's later concept pieces, 'Saucerful' is, of course, wholly without lyrics - vocals only appearing as instruments to convey feeling. This realised, anyone wishing to understand the song must rely upon the music, and song titles (as found upon the Ummagumma version a year later) to make sense of the piece.
The piece opens with the sound of quiet wind chimes, bringing to mind memories of a child's crib. If one speeds the track up many times, the timpani rumble takes on the sound of chiming bells. This may be regarded as an awakening, or birth - while the song becomes increasingly frantic, symbolising in our mind the fear a baby experiences as it enters the real world, with all its strange noises and disjointed experiences. As the song reaches full consciousness there is a gentle realisation of safety, before the band launch into 'Syncopated Pandemonium', focused around Nick's cyclic drumming, reminiscent of a heartbeat. The ensuing minutes are a maelstrom of white noise and dissonant keyboard - life is flashing before your eyes, disappearing into a haven of peace and tranquillity - the 'Storm Signal' arrives too late - perhaps it is a last look back.
Rick's keyboard makes its entrance, bearing all the hallmarks of Anglican church music - the inference is too strong to ignore: 'Celestial Voices' is the entrance to heaven at the end of life. In one way 'Saucerful' is a concentrated acid vision - birth, fear, nirvana and death. In another it strongly symbolises the crystallisation of the band's preoccupation with that very earthly theme of life itself.
Part 3: The Man And The Journey 1969 began in earnest on Saturday 18 January with 'Turn On The Tap Zap: An Event By The Pink Floyd', a Middle Earth night at the band's old haunt, The Roundhouse. The event was an all-nighter - 10.30 pm 'til dawn - plenty of time to perform any manner of 'events'. Quite what they performed is an enduring enigma. Perhaps it was here that 'The Man And The Journey' began to take shape .
It was, in its embryonic, and to our mind most fulfilling, form complete by April of that year, when it made its debut on Monday 14th at The Royal Festival Hall, just up the road from the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank. The show had been preceded by a number of low key dates in the UK and on the continent, and ran virtually concurrent with eight days of sessions at which they recorded the sound-track to Barbet Schroeder's seminal film More.
Many of the tracks recorded for More were to make their first appearance as part of 'The Man And The Journey' suite, properly called 'The Massed Gadgets Of Auximenes . More Furious Madness From Pink Floyd'. Of the suite, three tracks were already part of their repertoire - 'Beset By Creatures Of The Deep' (Careful With That Axe, Eugene), 'The Pink Jungle' (Pow R Toc H) and 'The End Of The Beginning' (Celestial Voices, from the 'Saucerful Of Secrets' suite). The development of 'The Man And The Journey' and that of More was highly integrated, indeed, the copy of the programme held by the Royal Festival Hall archive features hand-written notes which detail More's working titles next to those given by the band for the 'Massed Gadgets' cycle, indicating that by the 14th, the band had already started work on the film sound-track (and that they were having fun doing it!).
'Sleeping' features the note 'Quicksilver', while 'The Beginning' ('Green Is The Colour') has the legend 'Stephan's Tit'(!) alongside, and 'Doing It' is also labelled 'Up The Khyber'. There is little doubt that while the songs featured in two contexts, that of the film and that of the suite, they were intended to develop the intent of both in their own ways.
Quite by virtue of the piece's title it is clear that the 'concept' is straightforward, and the individual elements feature titles which label the steps our pilgrim makes through their life and on their journey. The facts are well documented elsewhere, so we will refrain from describing the set list, apart from where it benefits the following argument.
Seven tapes of the suite are in common circulation amongst collectors, the first and rarest being of the Royal Festival Hall debut, the second being of a performance at the Manchester Free Trade Hall on 22 June. The third tape - of 'The Final Lunacy', at the Royal Albert Hall, is relatively easy to find, while another, most common recording, taken from a VPRO radio broadcast of a performance at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw on 17 September complements an incomplete audience recording which does feature music cut from the radio show. A part performance at the Plumpton Blues and Jazz Festival has survived in rather fine quality, while the last tape is almost a footnote; an often forgotten performance at the Théâtre Des Champs Elysées in January 1970. Thanks to our illicit friends it is relatively easy to trace the development of the show as the year passed.
The development of the show was not as dramatic as that of Eclipse - essentially, the greatest differences to be found are in terms of the band's confidence as they become more familiar with the piece. Roger has admitted that the Royal Festival Hall debut was more like a rehearsal than a proper performance, and Dave's guitar in particular is allowed to wander and find its own way, which I find particularly refreshing. 'Doing It' and 'Sleeping' bear closest relationship with their partners on More at this gig; by the time the band played at the Concertgebouw the links were far more tenuous as the suite became something altogether its own.
'Grantchester Meadows' (here titled 'Daybreak') opened the show, following extended birdsong around the auditorium. For Roger and David the song is very much one associated with childhood; it is a matter of record that they regularly visited Grantchester on bikes as young teenagers, and the area is a virtual idyll, located as it is on the banks of the Cam, about four miles from the city of Cambridge. The association between childhood and morning is a common one, both for the band and literature in general. 'Daybreak' could just as easily have been a piece written for 'The Journey' as 'The Man', indeed there are strong indications that 'The Man And The Journey' is more a retreading of the old birth, life, death theme than one describing an average day and a fantastic journey. This argument will be taken further in the course of our discussion.
'Daybreak' is rudely shattered by 'Work' which again works on two levels. The obvious, that given by the title, is of a rail journey and factory labour. The track, not present on all tapes (but particularly evidenced on the Royal Festival Hall, Manchester and Concertgebouw audience recordings), is highly percussive, industrial, and conceived with the sound of a steam train whistle. It is this locomotive image which leads to our second, Freudian reading of the track - that it is also a reference to the fact that the 'average man' thinks of sex about once every six minutes (particularly so when work is repetitive and boring).
'Work' leads into 'Afternoon', available elsewhere as 'Biding My Time' on the Relics compilation. 'Afternoon' is not simply about 'any afternoon', but the afternoon of our lives - 'I'll never pine for the sad days and the bad days, when we was working from nine to five'. Retirement beckons - it is sad that our hero only finds love, 'the warm light of the firelight in her eyes', so late in the day. The song gets gradually more bawdy, turning almost into a French burlesque towards the end; love and sex cannot be divided, and so we begin 'Doing It'.
The track is a unique drum solo in most cases, but appears as an improvisation by Wright and Mason (recalling 'Up The Khyber') at the Festival Hall. Cliff Jones has described the Cockney origins of the phrase 'Up The Khyber' and it is clear that in this context it is a (short!) paean to the reproductive act. Which all too soon leads to 'Sleeping'. 'Sleeping' is a wonderful instrumental which the band played in many forms during 1969, alternatively as 'Quicksilver' during the 'trip' sequences in More and 'One One', an outtake from Zabriskie Point which one suspects was a variation on the 'Love Scene'. As an instrumental the track is extremely versatile, on the one hand hedonistic (associated with drugs and sex) and on the other, gentle.
In its form as part of 'The Massed Gadgets' it is possibly the most interesting moment of any within the annals of Floydian history, since it features the first appearance of the 'schoolteacher' rant which was to appear again ten years later on The Wall. Clearly the image was one which particularly haunted Roger, and one which he felt deserved greater exposure. Naturally then, it is 'Nightmare' ('Cymbaline') which follows this sequence. The song is particularly personal to Roger, being an early expression of his disillusionment with the music business, and his fear of failure. 'Nightmare' also sets the stage for the ensuing journey in much the same way as 'Daybreak' which opened the piece. One could make much of Waters' association between dreaming and travel (reaching its zenith with The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking, of course). Here, however, it serves to illustrate a fear of the unknown. One gets the feeling that the sleep of 'Nightmare' is the sleep of death - our 'Man' asks to be woken as if it is something outside of his control, that if he is allowed to continue he will never wake again. The inference of death (and ravens, the parasitic carrion crow) is countered by the image of 'a butterfly with broken wings', at once fragile and needing care - care which one is powerless to provide, given that there are so many other distractions and pressures to deal with.
'Nightmare' gives way to 'Daybreak' (reprise), essentially just a denouement and sound effect of an alarm clock. The circle is made and the day begins again.
It was at this point that the band took their interval, and it is unclear whether or not 'The Journey' was intended to take up where 'The Man' ended, or whether it is a piece in its own right. 'The Man' seems unhappy in his role as worker and uncomfortable in that of the lover, while he dreams of travel. It is not inconceivable that he should take a journey, especially one where he shall find fulfilment, as seems the case on one level in the second part of the suite. 'The Journey' is fantastic and there are numerous elements which point to it not being an externalised, but an internalised one.
It begins, somewhat obviously, with 'The Beginning' ('Green Is The Colour'). The subject of the song is, essentially, hope. The final line gives the clearest indication of its meaning: 'heavenly is the bond between the hopeful and the day' - the line twixt dream and reality. This song, like many around this time, features a strong religious, almost evangelical subtext - 'the canopy of blue', before which stands a woman (an angel or guardian) through whose dress shines light so bright you must cover your eyes. The second verse seems to have been written with its appearance in More in mind, since it would appear to be describing Estelle's drug use. With hope, or a vision, our 'Man' embarks upon his journey.
It is apparent, however, that the mission is not to be without danger, since our hero takes his first steps only to be 'Beset By Creatures Of The Deep' (Careful With That Axe, Eugene). Perhaps, as in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, he must face out the danger in order to attain enlightenment. The theme is common to many concept pieces of the progressive movement, recalling Yes' 'Close To The Edge' (but better!). The danger, however, is not immediately obvious - the ominous bass theme is almost imperceptible at first, and it is extremely difficult to tell quite where 'The Beginning' ends and 'Beset' begins. It is only after having come close to death, one assumes, that 'The Man' reaches land (with a momentary degree of familiarity, and greater security) and enters 'The Pink Jungle'.
'The Pink Jungle' is the earliest piece included in the suite, being a heavier version of 'Pow R Toc H', a track the band had been playing three years earlier at the Free School. Here it is a sound-picture indicating a surreal environment, and harking back to the psychedelic pursuits of expanding horizons and taking on new experiences. Given this link, it is unsurprising that it ends with a scream and a descent into a place which would appear to be within oneself: 'The Labyrinths Of Auximenes'.
'Labyrinths' brings to mind 'Heart Chakra', a track by Tim Leary on the sound-track to the film Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. Waters' strong bass line recalls the heartbeat, while the image of the 'labyrinth' suggests the human mind. Our hero is actually coming face to face with himself as a result of his experiences, and finds the experience a fearful one, at least at its inception. Auximenes, it has been suggested, was the Greek king Oxymenes - perhaps Waters may have wished to draw a parallel with Theseus' encounter with the Minotaur. In many ways 'The Journey' is Waters' Iliad, Homer's odyssey of enlightenment.
'The Labyrinths Of Auximenes', like 'Sleeping' was also to be used extensively for a number of years in different forms. Even while it featured in 'The Massed Gadgets' the band performed it as part of 'A Celebration For Moon-night', an Omnibus special for the BBC's evening of programmes celebrating the Apollo 11 moon-landing on 20 July. Later it was to re-appear as an instrumental on their 1971 tour which has subsequently been christened by bootleggers as 'Corrosion'. Others have noted that elements were to be incorporated into the bass-line of 'Money' on Dark Side Of The Moon. It would seem the case that when necessary, the band were quite happy to mine a seam until it was exhausted, despite any intervening years.
It is Gilmour's strong and tranquil guitar wash which heralds 'The Man's' ultimate salvation. 'Behold The Temple Of Light' is clearly a vision of utopia: which may be seen, but not yet experienced. 'The Temple Of Light' may be read objectively as final enlightenment and ultimate contentment. It quickly gives way to 'The End Of The Beginning'. This oxymoron would suggest that while the journey has come to an end, it is never over. While 'The Journey' is complete, the obstacles encountered will not disappear and there is always the risk that one will have to surmount them again to maintain one's new-found contentment.
The thoughts above may seem conjectural to some. Our main aim here is to encourage a re-evaluation of early themes and concept pieces in the band's history - things which often tend to be ignored in the light of their later, more narrative works. Perhaps, by a thorough knowledge of the chronological facts, this will become an easier and more accessible task for those inclined to set a mind to it. Hopefully the following examination of the band's activities will aid in this process.
1965 The Beginning - part one
There are seven known occasions on which The Pink Floyd Blues Band / The Tea Set / The Pink Floyd played in 1965. For further details the reader should consult Povey and Russell.⁄ The entries that follow reflect the relevant known recorded output around this time.
Jokers Wild 5-track single sided LP recorded at Regent's Sound Studios, London, UK. The band released fifty (or forty - no one, not even Clive Welham, their drummer, is sure) copies of this, probably the most scarce Floydian release (RSLP 007). Dave has kept the master tape, though it's unlikely he'll ever give it a proper release.
Private LP, 11.36, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, 1.53, Walk Like A Man, 2.11, Don't Ask Me, 2.58, Big Girls Don't Cry, 2.16, Beautiful Delilah, 1.54
Two tracks from the album were also pressed up on a single sided EP (RSRO 031), also in a limited edition of fifty copies.
Private EP, 4.53, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, 1.53, Don't Ask Me, 2.58
'Syd's First Trip' Filmed by Nigel Lesmoire-Gordon in a disused quarry outside Cambridge.
This received a limited official release by Vex Films in 1993. Cliff Jones in Mojo magazine told a convoluted tale about the experiences inspiring 'Astronomy Domine'.
'Lucy Leave' and 'King Bee' recorded.
7.00, Lucy Leave, 3.57, King Bee, 2.53
This 'test recording' has been widely bootlegged. It could have been recorded in November rather than October. EMI engineer Phil Smee has no doubt about their authenticity: 'These are the demos that Peter Jenner said were not good enough to submit to anyone.'<'Lucy Leave' might be the same recording as 'Lucy Lee In Blue Tights' which we have entered under 31 October 1966.
1966 The Beginning - part two
Sunday 30 Giant Mystery Happening, Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
Sunday 27 Spontaneous Underground, Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
John Hopkins recalled in his oft-quoted 'Psychedelphia' article that: The Pink Floyd had been gigging around for a year or two on the London Art College Scene when Steven Stollman got them to play at one of his Marquee Club happenings. That was almost exactly a year ago. Somehow word got around that what they were doing was different. It was. They played mainly instrumentals and numbers would sometimes last for half an hour each. Guitars played with cigarette lighters, etc.>
Friday 11 Rag Ball, Essex University, Colchester, Essex, UK.
Roger Waters: 'In 1966 we did a gig at Essex University. We'd already become interested in mix media, as it were, and some bright spark down there had done a film with a paraplegic in London, given this paraplegic a film camera and wheeled him round London filming his view. Now they showed it up on screen as we played.'
Sunday 13 Spontaneous Underground, Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
The Floyd would play such things as 'extraordinarily loud and muffled versions of "Louie Louie", "Roadrunner" and the Chuck Berry songbook with instrumental numbers which built up layer upon layer of electronic feedback.' The flyer for the gig read 'TRIP bring furniture toy prop paper rug paint balloon jumble costume mask robot candle incense ladder wheel light self all others March 13th 5 pm'. Interviewed in July 1995, Nick Mason commented, in reaction to being shown an ad for this gig, that:
There were elements of the underground that we did tune into. The main one was mixed media. We may not have been into acid but we certainly understood the idea of a Happening. We supplied the music while people did creative dance, painted their faces, or bathed in the giant jelly. If it had been thirty years earlier Rick would have come out of the floor in front of the cinema screen playing the organ.
Sunday 27 Spontaneous Underground, Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
Thursday 7 Spontaneous Underground, Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
Rick's comments about 'a private affair' at the Marquee in June may explain why the Marquee's advertisements omit mention of any performances at the venue by any band on the dates the Floyd are known to have played until late December, when the band's profile became more established, and events entered the public domain.
Syd goes to watch experimental avant-garde band AMM record their debut LP with Joe Boyd.
Keith Rowe, AMM's guitarist, is said to have had an influence on Syd. Their LP AMMUSIC now fetches very high prices, though this doesn't stop it from being bloody awful to most ears. It was issued on CD a few years back with additional session outtakes.
Goings On Club, Archer Street, London, UK.
Underground: The London Alternative Press 1966-1974 describes Miles: having made contact with a group of students at the nearby Architectural Association . went to see them play at the Goings On Club in Archer Street, a tiny place largely frequented by poets. They were called the Abdabs, specialised in serious experimentation in sound and light, wore white coats, and would discuss their work, post-performance, with the equally serious audience.
This recollection, while interesting, is also somewhat confusing . the truism 'if you can remember the 60s you probably weren't there' springs to mind! Most likely Miles is mistaken about the band's name - the group had certainly been using the name 'The Pink Floyd' prior to the summer of 66, and the event seems similar to the Sound / Light Workshops which were presented at the London Free School in November. Nigel Fountain, the author of Underground, mentions how the week after Miles reviewed the gig for East Village Other, the US underground paper, the band changed their name to The Pink Floyd . Sue Miles in Days In The Life describes how 'anybody could get up and do anything they wanted. It was actually very good in a funny sort of way. There were all sorts of poets, bits of magic - Spike Hawkins dropping bits of broken egg down Johnny Byrne's back.'
Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
Richard Wright has told how 'It was when we were playing a private affair at the Marquee that we met managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King.' Interviewed in zigzag 25, Jenner recalled that:
It was in June, I remember, because I was in the middle of the crucifyingly boring chore of marking examination papers . Anyway, I decided to pack it in for the evening and go along to this mad gig at the Marquee, which was being run by people like Steve Stollman and Hoppy . I arrived around 10.30 and there on the stage was a strange band, who were playing a mixture of R&B and electronic noises . and I was really intrigued because in between the routine stuff like 'Louie Louie' and 'Roadrunner', they were playing these very weird breaks; so weird that I couldn't even work out which instrument the sound was coming from. It was all very bizarre and just what I was looking for - a far out, electronic, freaky, pop group . and there, across the bass amp was their name: 'The Pink Floyd Sound'.,
Peter Jenner told the story again for The Story Of Pop, a BBC radio documentary broadcast in 1994.⁄⁄ He confirms there that at the time the band were known as 'The Pink Floyd Sound'.
Peter Jenner takes a demo tape of the band to Joe Boyd.
Joe Boyd recalled in the 1994 Omnibus documentary that he received a tape of the band at around this time. We suspect that there may be some confusion between this tape and the account of the Syd Barrett demo tapes, which appears under '1967'. The two might be one and the same.
Joe Boyd referred to the same (or a subsequent!) tape again in 1997. In part two of a documentary series called Joe Boyd: A World Of Music, he commented that shortly after October 1966 he 'took the Pink Floyd to Jack Altman and he wasn't interested. But then when I left Elektra [in October of 1966], I carried on taking Floyd tapes to people and got Polygram interested and ended up recording the Pink Floyd .' The version of 'Interstellar Overdrive' featured in the CBC Radio documentary described under 'Early 1967' might be sourced from either of the above recordings.
Friday 30 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
The correct postal address for All Saints Hall is Powis Square rather than Gardens - we have followed convention. Some people refer to it as being at 26 Powis Terrace, this address being where many of the educational courses and information-giving of the school took place. All Saints Hall was knocked down in the early 80s. Anybody particularly interested in the 'scene' might like to search for the recently reprinted Days In The Life. The gig was advertised as a 'Celebration Dance' featuring the 'Pink Floyd Sound and others'. A flyer for the gig is reproduced in Miles. His reproduction of IT 8 behind the flyer has nothing to do with the gig.
Tuesday 11 International Times newspaper launched.
International Times, or IT as it was more commonly known, was to become the voice of the London underground, in the same way as the Village Voice was to articulate the interests of the Eastern US counter-culture. As a fund-raiser the newspaper organised an event to be held at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London - its announcement was a customarily bold statement of intent, as was the fashion at the time:
Eleven pm October 15 Round House Chalk Farm. Lovers of the world unite. Costumes. Popstars. All night rave to Launch International Times. The Soft Machine, The Pink Floyd, Steel bands, Strips, Trips, Happenings, Movies. Bring your own poison & flowers & gas-filled balloons & submarine & rocket ship & candy & striped boxes & ladders & paint & flutes & feet & ladders & locomotives & madness & autumn & blowlamps. Pop / Op / Costume / Masque / Fantasy / Loon / Blowout / Drag Ball / surprise for the shortest barest costums [sic] at - The Round House, Chalk Farm Underground. 11 pm onwards.
The Roundhouse was a vast railway shed, owned by British trade unionist Arnold Wesker, who intended setting it up as a centre for bringing 'art' to the working class. He called the venue Centre 42, but did little with it - it was in a bad state of repair and he couldn't raise funds for refurbishment. The Underground, however, borrowed the keys and moved in, much to Wesker's embarrassment - rehearsal space for London's orchestras, not free-form happenings, were what he'd had in mind for the building. In Underground: The London Alternative Press 1966-74, Miles later told Nigel Fountain how 'Centre 42 had the place for years and had done fuck-all with it. Through Michael Henshaw we got permission to have a party there. Later on Arnold Wesker severely regretted this.'
Friday 14 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
Syd's set list, reproduced in Miles, would indicate that the band performed 'Pink', 'Let's Roll Another', 'Gimme A Break', 'Piggy Back', 'Stoned Alone', 'I Can Tell', 'The Gnome', 'Interstellar Overdrive', 'Lucy Leave', 'Stethascope', 'Flapdoodle Dealing', 'Snowing', 'Mathilda Mother', 'Pow R Toc H', and 'Astronomy Domine'.
The repertoire was to remain more or less the same through the early days of UFO and the Free School.
Saturday 15 International Times' First All-Night Rave, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London, UK.
A flyer produced for the event promised a 'pop op costume masque drag ball et al, strip trip, happenings, movies, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd Steel Band'. It was the Floyd's first major gig - they played before 2,500 people. Admission was 10d - 5d for anyone in costume. The ancient power supply gave up during 'Interstellar Overdrive' bringing their set to a dramatic end. According to Pip Carter, a friend of the band, 'The Floyd were playing mad interpretations of well-known songs - psychedelic blues such as 'Cops And Robbers' with Syd improvising like hell. He was using his Zippo [a metal cigarette lighter] on his guitar as well as running ball bearings down the neck to produce controlled feedback.'
Melody Maker reviewed the above two gigs, giving the band their first ever national press, passing comment that 'the Floyd need to write their own material - "psychedelic" versions of "Louie Louie" won't come of .', comments which have been widely quoted elsewhere. At the All Saints Hall:
the slides were excellent - colourful, frightening, grotesque, beautiful - and the group's trip into outer space sounds promised very interesting things to come. Unfortunately all fell a bit flat in the cold reality of All Saints Hall, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill, but on Saturday night at Chalk Farm's Roundhouse things went better when thousands of people turned up to watch the show.
Mick Farren, a popular figure in the underground at the time, was to describe his experience at the gig in his 1972 book Watch Out Kids:
A band called the Soft Machine played from the floor as a weird biker rode round and round them. Another band, called Pink Floyd, took possession of the stage. They played music that sounded like a guitar solo by The Who, only it was a solo without any song to go round it - like a sandwich without bread. They honked and howled and tweeted, clanked with great concentration. They were very loud with no musical form save that every forty minutes they stopped, paused a while and started again. Across the room an Italian film crew filmed a couple of nubile starlets stomping in a mess of pink emulsion paint. As we lurched into shot we were told by the producer: 'Fuck off, you're spoiling the spontaneity'.
A sizeable proportion of latter day general descriptions of the gig - who was there, etc. - seem to have been initially sourced from the review published in IT 2 very shortly after the event. The Pink Floyd get a brief mention:
The Pink Floyd, psychedelic pop group, did weird things to the feel of the event with their scary feedback sounds, slide projections playing on their skin (drops of paint run riot on the slides to produce outer space / prehistoric textures on the skin), spotlights flashing on them in time with a drum beat.
Perhaps the best report on the event which we have come across was Richard Boston's article printed in New Society⁄ (later to become New Statesman). Boston not only comments on the gig, with the amusing detachment of many who must have passed the throngs of partygoers as they converged on The Roundhouse, but spoke to John Hopkins about the Free School ('a non-organisation existing in name only, with no elected officers and no responsibilities') and IT's politics.
Of the event he wrote that:
The music was by two groups - the Soft Machine and the Pink Floyd, which is a 'psychedelic pop group': that is to say, if I understand rightly, they produce sounds and lights which resemble hallucinations in psychedelic experiences. Men outnumbered women substantially, and all the girls seemed firmly attached. Certainly it was not a good place for a pick-up. A mini-skirted girl, who had presumably just repulsed a prowling male, was heard to say to her even more mini-skirted friend, 'What a corny approach.' . In an area of at one side, out of sound of the music, films were being shown. There was a Feiffer film (called The Feiffer Film), and another called Towers Open Fire in which William Burroughs talked junk. There were probably others as well, but it was not easy to see over the heads of the crowd at the back, especially as some heads kept getting between the projector and the screen.
Sunday 16 First nationally published interview with the group in the Sunday Times newspaper, UK.
This interview, made following the IT launch party, and widely quoted, was published on 30 October.
Friday 21 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
The London Free School's reputation grew very quickly. Roger Waters: 'There were about twenty people there when we first played, the second week one hundred and then three to four hundred and after that many couldn't get in.'
Friday 28 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
Some Americans turned up with a collection of non-moving psychedelic slides at one of the All Saints gigs around this time. So as to improve their effect, the band managers went out and bought some sealed beam spotlights and a white sheet for the slides.
Monday 31 Blackhill Enterprises is established.
Peter Jenner and Andrew King sign a six-way partnership with the band. Some have suggested that the then lighting man, Joe Gannon, was also party to this original agreement - early articles on the band often referred to him as the fifth band member - however, this seems unlikely. To our knowledge this has not been substantiated, least of all by Jenner who commented in 1994 that, '. we originally had a six-way partnership, which they have never queried. They're incredibly honourable. The Floyd's yearly royalty cheques have kept the wolf from the door on many occasions.' The name 'Blackhill' was taken by King from a Welsh border cottage that he owned. Other, thorough details may be found in Days In The Life.
Thompson Private Recording Studios, Hemel Hempstead, UK.
The studios were very basic - actually a basement in someone's house!
Let's Roll Another One and improvisations, 3.15
'Let's Roll Another One' would, of course, later be renamed 'Candy And A Currant Bun'. The quality of the recordings was by some accounts dreadful, and by King's account in Crazy Diamond, quite good - 'similar to things people do on home portastudios today'. The recording of 'Let's Roll Another One' in circulation bears the former suggestion out.
However, 'Interstellar Overdrive' as later appeared on San Francisco in April 1968, is of reasonable quality.
San Francisco, Interstellar Overdrive, 15.22
We have five different recordings of the soundtrack, timings of which range from 14 min. 34 sec. to 16 min. 14 sec. All are identical but for the 16mm film source or tape copy running at different speeds. The most reliable length, we would suggest, is that given above (timed by the authors at a private viewing of an original print). Further details regarding the film are given under April 1968.
It is likely that the band also recorded 'Lucy Lee In Blue Tights' and 'I Get Stoned'. Joe Boyd, whom the band knew from his involvement in the UFO, suggested that lackhill record some high quality masters which could be sold to a record company for immediate release. Years later, according to Crazy Diamond 'King and the studio owners waged a bitter legal battle for the rights to the tapes.'
Friday 4 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
A poster for the gig - possibly the most valuable that exists - may be seen behind Peter Jenner in his interview for the BBC's 1994 Omnibus documentary.¤⁄
Saturday 5 Wilton Hall, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, UK. Fiveacre Psychedelic Nudist Colony, Watford, Hertfordshire, UK.
Guy Fawkes night special!
Tuesday 8 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
Friday 11 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
Tuesday 15 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
The ad for this gig and for the one on the 22nd describes the occasions as being a 'Sound / Light Workshop - experimentalists welcome'.
Friday 18 Philadelic Music For Simian Hominids, College of Art, Hornsey, London, UK.
The next three gigs were advertised in an attractive advert placed in Melody Maker on the 19th. It was Mike Leonard - their former landlord and a lecturer at Hornsey College of Art whose experiments with combined sound and lightshows first inspired the band to use the idea in their own shows.
Nick Mason was to comment in a Melody Maker interview in early 1967 that 'We were very disorganised then until our managers materialised and we started looking for a guy to do the lights full time. The lighting man literally has to be one of the group. When we were in our early stages we didn't play a lot of our electronic "inter-stellar" music and the slides were still rather amateurish.'
Saturday 19 Technical College Dance, Canterbury Technical College, Canterbury, Kent, UK.
The Floyd played in front of a fifteen-foot high tinfoil Buddha, and were supported by a band called the Koalas.¤< The Kent Herald printed an extensive review, and interviewed the band for a feature on the 23rd.
At last the psychedelic sound has come to Canterbury - and how! To my mind, the most powerful instrument of the group is the organ, played by Rik Wright [sic]. The strong, loud vibrating sounds drone continuously and build up the main sense of weirdness'.
The journalist goes on to say how 'it is becoming increasingly difficult to describe the music produced by groups today, and in this case the only real solution is for everyone to experience for themselves the effect of psychedelic music'.
Tuesday 22 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
Tuesday 29 All Saints Hall, London Free School, Powis Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, UK.
With their increasing renown and the growth in underground venues around the capital this would be the last time the band would appear at the Free School, probably to the relief of the vicar, who was in the habit of throwing them out at 11 pm. Norman Evans reviewed the gig in IT 5:
Since I last saw the Pink Floyd they've got hold of bigger amplifiers, new light gear and a rave from Paul McCartney. This time I saw them at Powis Gardens, w11 on Tuesday 29th. The last of their regular shows there. Their work is largely improvisation, and lead guitarist Sid Barrett [sic] shoulders most of the burden of providing continuity and attack in the improvised parts. He was providing a huge range of sounds with the new equipment from throttled shrieks to mellow feedback roars. Visually the show was less adventurous. Three projectors bathed the group, the walls and sometimes the audience in vivid colour. But the colour was fairly static and there was no searching for the brain alpha rhythms by chopping the focus of the images. The equipment that the group is using now is infant electronics: let's see what they will do with the grownup electronics that a colour television industry will make available.
The Architectural Association, Bedford Square, London, UK. Royal College of Art, Kensington, London, UK.
Saturday 3 Psychodelphia versus Ian Smith, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London, UK.
Organised by the Majority Rule for Rhodesia Committee, an anti-apartheid coalition. The flyer meanwhile looked forward to 'the biggest party ever, fancy dress optional. Pink Floyd - Films. Madness etc.'
Monday 12 You're Joking? A Show For Oxfam, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, UK.
This was the Floyd's first appearance at a large and prestigious venue. According to Rick Sanders, they shared the bill with John Bird, Eleanor Bron, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Thursday 22 Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
Their first appearance at the club since Spontaneous Underground - the event ran from 7.30 until 11.00 pm, with The Iveys also performing. John Hopkins was to offer the band a contract to supply mixed-media for his new club, UFO.
Friday 23 UFO Presents Night Tripper, The Blarney Club, Tottenham Court Road, London, UK.
The club's opening night; John Hopkins and Joe Boyd set up UFO as a response to the increasing popularity of the Free School, and the success of events at the Roundhouse. The idea was originally intended to run over Christmas, with two nights at the Blarney booked. It quickly became evident that the club was what the underground needed, and UFO almost immediately became the heart of the London underground. A detailed account of the early days of the club may be found in Days In The Life.
Miles reported in IT 29 that 'December 23rd saw "Night Tripper" at Tottenham Court Road, advertised by a poster and display ad in IT 5 and by pamphlets handed out on the Portobello Road in Notting Hill. There was no indication as to who would be there performing, the audience attended because they 'knew' who would be there and 'knew' what was happening.'
The true meaning of the acronym UFO has never been convincingly told . suggestions have included Unlimited Freak Out, Underground Freak Out or, more obviously, Unidentified Flying Object. Chris Welch wrote at length on the Club in the Melody Maker, including interviews with Joe Boyd and Dave Howson. A nice but blurred photo of a band that looks like the Floyd (!) accompanies the piece.
The ad for the gig, and that on the 30th, appeared in Melody Maker on 24 December and promised 'films, slides, heat, food'. 'Night Tripper' started at 10.30 pm and finished at 4.30 am. Membership was free on the opening night. Support was provided by Soft Machine.
Thursday 29 Marquee Club, Soho, London, UK.
An advertisement in Melody Maker¤· advises that it was scheduled to run from 7.30 - 11.00 pm. Early enough for ravers to catch the last tube home. The band were supported by Syn.
Friday 30 UFO Presents Night Tripper, The Blarney Club, Tottenham Court Road, London, UK.
Following this gig the Blarney Club was renamed UFO and became a regular event. Miles in IT 29, 'the name change to the UFO occurred the next week and the first UFO advertised the Pink Floyd, Fanta and Ood, the Giant Sun Trolly and Dave Tomlin improvising to government propaganda.' Until this point, the Blarney Club, which was more used to hosting Irish dances on Thursdays and Saturdays, attracted little or no attention from the nearby Tottenham Court Road Police Station. As the weeks went by, the police would increasingly succumb to the temptation to search the strange-looking people who queued patiently outside the Berkley and Continental cinemas above the club, but would stop at going inside.
Saturday 31 New Year's Party, Cambridge Technical College, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK.
Psychedelicamania, New Year's Eve All Night Rave, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London, UK.
The Pink Floyd supported The Who and The Move. A large and interesting advert was placed in Melody Maker on the 24th and the 31st to promote the event, which was scheduled from '10.00 pm till dawn'. The Daily Mail newspaper attended both gigs, and published an article warning of 'pop above the danger level'.
Teenagers celebrating the New Year at two psychedelic pop music sessions in London were risking permanent damage to the ears. The music and light were arranged to create the psychedelic sensations similar to those experienced by taking the drug LSD. The lowest sound level in both clubs was 90 decibels on the edge of the dance floor. The highest was a steady 110 near the loudspeaker, where 20 to 30 young people were clustered in dazed immobility. The Pink Floyd group occasionally reached 120 at the 'Freak-out'. Nick Jones reviewed the gig in detail for Melody Maker on 7 January of the following year. Of the Floyd he wrote how 'on stage the Pink Floyd, The Who, and The Move each attempted to excite the audience into some positive action. The Pink Floyd have a promising sound, and some very groovy picture slides which attract far more attention than the group, as they merge, blossom, burst, grow, divide and die.'
Late Pearce Marchbank (later to design Friends and Time Out) plans an underground magazine to rival IT: the Wall Street Journal.
The magazine, which to the best of our knowledge didn't get off the ground, was to include posters by various artists including Nick Mason.
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