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Animals

In 1975, Pink Floyd bought a three-storey group of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington and began converting the building into a recording studio and storage space. In 1976, they recorded their tenth album, Animals, in their newly finished 24-track studio. The concept of Animals originated with Waters, loosely based on George Orwell's political fable, Animal Farm. The album's lyrics described different classes of society as dogs, pigs, and sheep. Hipgnosis received credit for the packaging of Animals; however, Waters designed the final concept, choosing an image of the ageing Battersea Power Station, over which they superimposed an image of a pig.

The division of royalties was a source of conflict between band members, who earned royalties on a per-song basis. Although Gilmour was largely responsible for "Dogs", which took up almost the entire first side of the album, he received less than Waters, who contributed the much shorter two-part "Pigs on the Wing". Wright commented: "It was partly my fault because I didn't push my material ... but Dave did have something to offer, and only managed to get a couple of things on there." Mason recalled: "Roger was in full flow with the ideas, but he was really keeping Dave down, and frustrating him deliberately." Gilmour, distracted by the birth of his first child, contributed little else toward the album. Similarly, neither Mason nor Wright contributed much toward Animals; Wright had marital problems, and his relationship with Waters was also suffering. Animals is the first Pink Floyd album that does not include a writing credit for Wright, who commented: "Animals... wasn't a fun record to make ... this was when Roger really started to believe that he was the sole writer for the band ... that it was only because of him that [we] were still going ... when he started to develop his ego trips, the person he would have his conflicts with would be me."

Released in January 1977, the album peaked on the UK chart at number two, and the US chart at number three. NME described the album as "one of the most extreme, relentless, harrowing and downright iconoclastic hunks of music", and Melody Maker's Karl Dallas called it "[an] uncomfortable taste of reality in a medium that has become in recent years, increasingly soporific".

Pink Floyd performed much of the album's material during their "In the Flesh" tour. It was the band's first experience playing large stadiums, whose size caused unease in the band. Waters began arriving at each venue alone, departing immediately after the performance. On one occasion, Wright flew back to England, threatening to leave the band. At the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a group of noisy and enthusiastic fans in the front row of the audience irritated Waters so much that he spat at one of them. The end of the tour marked a low point for Gilmour, who felt that the band achieved the success they had sought, with nothing left for them to accomplish. 

1978–1985: Waters-led era

The Wall

In July 1978, amid a financial crisis caused by negligent investments, Waters presented the group with two original ideas for their next album. The first was a 90-minute demo with the working title Bricks in the Wall, and the other would later become Waters' first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. Although both Mason and Gilmour were initially cautious, they chose the former to be their next album. Bob Ezrin co-produced, and he wrote a forty-page script for the new album. Ezrin based the story on the central figure of Pink—a gestalt character inspired by Waters' childhood experiences, the most notable of which was the death of his father in World War II. This first metaphorical brick led to more problems; Pink would become drug-addled and depressed by the music industry, eventually transforming into a megalomaniac, a development inspired partly by the decline of Syd Barrett. At the end of the album, the increasingly fascist audience would watch as Pink tore down the wall, once again becoming a regular and caring person.

During the recording of The Wall, Waters, Gilmour and Mason became increasingly dissatisfied with Wright's lack of contribution to the album. Gilmour said that Wright "hadn't contributed anything of any value whatsoever to the album—he did very, very little" and this was why he "got the boot". According to Mason, "Rick's contribution was to turn up and sit in on the sessions without doing anything, just 'being a producer'." Waters commented: "[Wright] was not prepared to cooperate in making the record ... [and] it was agreed by everybody ... either [he] can have a long battle or [he] can agree to ... finish making the album, keep [his] full share ... but at the end of it [he would] leave quietly. Rick agreed."

The album was supported by "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)", Pink Floyd's first single since "Money", and topped the charts in the US and the UK. Released on 30 November 1979, The Wall topped the Billboard chart in the US for fifteen weeks, reaching number three in the UK. The Wall ranks number three on the RIAA's list of the all-time Top 100 albums, with 23 million certified units sold in the US. The cover is one of their most minimalist designs, with a stark white brick wall, and no trademark or band name. It was also their first album cover since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn not designed by Hipgnosis.

Gerald Scarfe produced a series of animations for the subsequent live shows, The Wall Tour. He also commissioned the construction of large inflatable puppets representing characters from the storyline including the "Mother", the "Ex-wife" and the "Schoolmaster". Pink Floyd used the puppets during their performances of the album. Relationships within the band were at an all-time low; their four Winnebagos parked in a circle, the doors facing away from the centre. Waters used his own vehicle to arrive at the venue and stayed in different hotels from the rest of the band. Wright returned as a paid musician and was the only one of the four to profit from the venture, which lost about $600,000.

The Wall concept also spawned a film, the original idea for which was to be a combination of live concert footage and animated scenes. However, the concert footage proved impractical to film. Alan Parker agreed to direct and took a different approach. The animated sequences would remain, but scenes would be acted by professional actors with no dialogue. Waters was screen-tested, but quickly discarded and they asked Bob Geldof to accept the role of Pink. Geldof was initially dismissive, condemning The Wall's storyline as "bollocks". Eventually won over by the prospect of participation in a significant film and receiving a large payment for his work, Geldof agreed. Screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1982, Pink Floyd – The Wall premièred in the UK in July 1982.

The Final Cut

In 1982, Waters suggested a new musical project with the working title Spare Bricks, originally conceived as the soundtrack album for Pink Floyd – The Wall. With the onset of the Falklands War, Waters changed direction and began writing new material. He saw Margaret Thatcher's response to the invasion of the Falklands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and dedicated the album to his late father. Immediately arguments arose between Waters and Gilmour, who felt that the album should include all new material, rather than recycle songs passed over for The Wall. Waters felt that Gilmour had contributed little to the band's lyrical repertoire. Michael Kamen, a contributor to the orchestral arrangements of The Wall, mediated between the two, also performing the role traditionally occupied by the then-absent Wright. The tension within the band grew. Waters and Gilmour worked independently; however, Gilmour began to feel the strain, sometimes barely maintaining his composure. After a final confrontation, Gilmour's name disappeared from the credit list, reflecting what Waters felt was his lack of songwriting contributions.

Though Mason's musical contributions were minimal, he stayed busy recording sound effects for an experimental Holophonic system to be used on the album. With marital problems of his own, he remained a distant figure. Pink Floyd did not use Thorgerson for the cover design, Waters choosing to design the cover himself. Released in March 1983, The Final Cut went straight to number one in the UK and number six in the US. Waters wrote all the lyrics, as well as all the music on the album. Gilmour did not have any material ready for the album and asked Waters to delay the recording until he could write some songs, but Waters refused. Gilmour later commented: "I'm certainly guilty at times of being lazy ... but he wasn't right about wanting to put some duff tracks on The Final Cut." Rolling Stone magazine gave the album five stars, with Kurt Loder  calling it "a superlative achievement ... art rock's crowning masterpiece". Loder viewed The Final Cut as "essentially a Roger Waters solo album".

"A spent force", Waters' departure and legal battles

Gilmour had recorded his second solo album, About Face, in 1984, and he used it to express his feelings about a variety of topics, from the murder of John Lennon to his relationship with Waters. He later stated that he used the album to distance himself from Pink Floyd. Soon afterwards, Waters began touring his first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking. Wright formed Zee with Dave Harris and recorded Identity, which went almost unnoticed upon its release. Mason released his second solo album, Profiles, in August 1985.

Following the release of The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Waters publicly insisted that Pink Floyd would not reunite. He contacted O'Rourke to discuss settling future royalty payments. O'Rourke felt obliged to inform Mason and Gilmour, which angered Waters, who wanted to dismiss him as the band's manager. He terminated his management contract with O'Rourke and employed Peter Rudge to manage his affairs. Waters wrote to EMI and Columbia announcing he had left the band, and asked them to release him from his contractual obligations. Gilmour believed that Waters left to hasten the demise of Pink Floyd. Waters later stated that, by not making new albums, Pink Floyd would be in breach of contract—which would suggest that royalty payments would be suspended—and that the other band members had forced him from the group by threatening to sue him. He then went to the High Court in an effort to dissolve the band and prevent the use of the Pink Floyd name, declaring Pink Floyd "a spent force creatively." When his lawyers discovered that the partnership had never been formally confirmed, Waters returned to the High Court in an attempt to obtain a veto over further use of the band's name. Gilmour responded by issuing a carefully worded press release affirming that Pink Floyd would continue to exist. He later told The Sunday Times: "Roger is a dog in the manger and I'm going to fight him". In 2013, Waters stated that he regretted the lawsuit, saying: "I was wrong. Of course I was."

1985–1994: Gilmour-led era

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

In 1986, Gilmour began recruiting musicians for what would become Pink Floyd's first album without Waters, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. There were legal obstacles to Wright's re-admittance to the band; however, after a meeting in Hampstead Pink Floyd invited Wright to participate in the coming sessions. Gilmour later stated that Wright's presence "would make us stronger legally and musically"; Pink Floyd employed him as a musician with weekly earnings of $11,000. Recording sessions for the album began on Gilmour's houseboat, the Astoria, moored along the River Thames. Gilmour worked with several songwriters, including Eric Stewart and Roger McGough, eventually choosing Anthony Moore to write the album's lyrics. Gilmour would later admit that the project was difficult without Waters' creative direction. Mason, concerned that he was too out-of-practice to perform on the album, made use of session musicians to complete many of the drum parts. He instead busied himself with the album's sound effects.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason was released in September 1987. Storm Thorgerson, whose creative input was absent from The Wall and The Final Cut, designed the album cover. To drive home the point that Waters had left the band, they included a group photograph on the inside cover, the first since Meddle. The album went straight to number three in the UK and the US. Waters commented: "I think it's facile, but a quite clever forgery ... The songs are poor in general ... [and] Gilmour's lyrics are third-rate." Although Gilmour initially viewed the album as a return to the band's top form, Wright disagreed, stating: "Roger's criticisms are fair. It's not a band album at all." Q Magazine described the album as essentially a Gilmour solo effort.

Waters attempted to subvert the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour by contacting promoters in the US and threatening to sue them if they used the Pink Floyd name. Gilmour and Mason funded the start-up costs with Mason using his Ferrari 250 GTO as collateral. Early rehearsals for the upcoming tour were chaotic, with Mason and Wright entirely out of practice. Realising he had taken on too much work, Gilmour asked Bob Ezrin to assist them. As Pink Floyd toured throughout North America, Waters' Radio K.A.O.S. tour was on occasion, close by, though in much smaller venues than those hosting his former band's performances. Waters issued a writ for copyright fees for the band's use of the flying pig. Pink Floyd responded by attaching a large set of male genitalia to its underside to distinguish it from Waters' design. The parties reached a legal agreement on 23 December; Mason and Gilmour retained the right to use the Pink Floyd name in perpetuity and Waters received exclusive rights to, among other things, The Wall.

The Division Bell  

For several years Pink Floyd had busied themselves with personal pursuits, such as filming and competing in the La Carrera Panamericana and recording a soundtrack for a film based on the event. In January 1993, they began working on a new album, returning to Britannia Row Studios, where for several days, Gilmour, Mason and Wright worked collaboratively, improvising material. After about two weeks, the band had enough ideas to begin creating songs. Ezrin returned to co-produce the album and production moved to the Astoria, where from February to May 1993, they worked on about 25 ideas.

Contractually, Wright was not a member of the band, and said "It came close to a point where I wasn't going to do the album." However, he earned five co-writing credits on the album, his first on a Pink Floyd album since 1975's Wish You Were Here. Another songwriter credited on the album was Gilmour's future wife, Polly Samson. She helped him write several tracks, including, "High Hopes", a collaborative arrangement which, though initially tense, "pulled the whole album together," according to Ezrin. They hired Michael Kamen to arrange the album's orchestral parts; Dick Parry and Chris Thomas also returned. Writer Douglas Adams provided the album title and Thorgerson the cover artwork. Thorgerson drew inspiration for the album cover from the Moai monoliths of Easter Island; two opposing faces forming an implied third face about which he commented: "the absent face—the ghost of Pink Floyd's past, Syd and Roger". Eager to avoid competing against other album releases, as had happened with A Momentary Lapse, Pink Floyd set a deadline of April 1994, at which point they would resume touring. The album reached number 1 in both the UK and the US. It spent 51 weeks on the UK chart.

Pink Floyd spent more than two weeks rehearsing in a hangar at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California, before opening on 29 March 1994, in Miami, with an almost identical road crew to that used for their Momentary Lapse of Reason tour. They played a variety of Pink Floyd favourites, and later changed their setlist to include The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. The tour, Pink Floyd's last, ended on 29 October 1994.

2005–2014: Reunion, deaths, and final album

Live 8 reunion

On 2 July 2005, Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright performed together as Pink Floyd for the first time in more than 24 years, at the Live 8 concert in London's Hyde Park. Organiser Bob Geldof arranged the reunion, having called Mason earlier in the year to explore the possibility of their reuniting for the event. Geldof asked Gilmour, who turned down the offer, and then asked Mason to intercede on his behalf. Mason declined, but contacted Waters who was immediately enthusiastic. Waters then called Geldof to discuss the event, scheduled to take place in one month. About two weeks later Waters called Gilmour, their first conversation in two years, and the next day the latter agreed. Gilmour then contacted Wright who immediately agreed. In their statement to the press, they stressed the unimportance of the band's problems in the context of the Live 8 event.

They planned their setlist at the Connaught Hotel in London, followed by three days of rehearsals at Black Island Studios. The sessions were problematic, with minor disagreements over the style and pace of the songs they were practising; the running order decided on the eve of the event. At the beginning of their performance, Waters told the audience: "It is quite emotional, standing up here with these three guys after all these years, standing to be counted with the rest of you ... we're doing this for everyone who's not here, and particularly of course for Syd." At the end, Gilmour thanked the audience and started to walk off the stage. Waters then called him back, and the band shared a group hug. Images of that hug were a favourite among Sunday newspapers after Live 8. Waters commented on their almost twenty years of animosity: "I don't think any of us came out of the years from 1985 with any credit ... It was a bad, negative time, and I regret my part in that negativity."

Though Pink Floyd turned down a contract worth £136 million for a final tour, Waters did not rule out more performances, suggesting it ought to be for a charity event only. However, Gilmour told the Associated Press that a reunion would not happen, stating: "The [Live 8] rehearsals convinced me [that] it wasn't something I wanted to be doing a lot of ... There have been all sorts of farewell moments in people's lives and careers which they have then rescinded, but I think I can fairly categorically say that there won't be a tour or an album again that I take part in. It isn't to do with animosity or anything like that. It's just ... I've been there, I've done it." In February 2006, Gilmour was interviewed by Gino Castaldo from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica; the resulting article declared: "Patience for fans in mourning. The news is official. Pink Floyd the brand is dissolved, finished, definitely deceased." Asked about the future of Pink Floyd, Gilmour responded: "It's over ... I've had enough. I'm 60 years old ...it is much more comfortable to work on my own." Gilmour and Waters repeatedly said that they had no plans to reunite with the surviving former members.

Deaths of Syd Barrett and Richard Wright

Barrett died on 7 July 2006, at his home in Cambridge, aged 60. His family interred him at Cambridge Crematorium on 18 July 2006; no Pink Floyd members attended. After Barrett's death, Wright commented: "The band are very naturally upset and sad to hear of Syd Barrett's death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band line-up and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire." Although Barrett had faded into obscurity over the previous 35 years, the national press praised him for his contributions to music. On 10 May 2007, Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason performed during a Barrett tribute concert at the Barbican Centre in London. Gilmour, Wright and Mason performed the Barrett compositions, "Bike" and "Arnold Layne", and Waters performed a solo version of his song "Flickering Flame".

Wright died of an undisclosed form of cancer on 15 September 2008, aged 65. His former bandmates paid tributes to his life and work; Gilmour said "In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten. He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound." A week after Wright's death, Gilmour performed "Remember a Day" from A Saucerful of Secrets, written and originally sung by Wright, in tribute to him. Keyboardist Keith Emerson  released a statement praising Wright as the "backbone" of Pink Floyd.

Further performances and re-releases

On 10 July 2010, Waters and Gilmour performed together at a charity event for the Hoping Foundation. The event, which raised money for Palestinian children, took place at Kiddington Hall in Oxfordshire, England, with an audience of approximately 200. In return for Waters' appearance at the event, Gilmour performed "Comfortably Numb" at Waters' performance of The Wall at the London O2 Arena on 12 May 2011, singing the choruses and playing the two guitar solos. Mason also joined, playing tambourine for "Outside the Wall" with Gilmour on mandolin.

On 26 September 2011, Pink Floyd and EMI launched an exhaustive rerelease campaign under the title Why Pink Floyd...?, reissuing the band's back catalogue in newly remastered versions, including "Experience" and "Immersion" multi-disc multi-format editions. The albums were remastered by James Guthrie, co-producer of The Wall. In November 2015, Pink Floyd released a limited edition EP, 1965: Their First Recordings, comprising six songs recorded prior to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

The Endless River  

In 2012, Gilmour and Mason decided to revisit recordings made with Wright, mainly during the Division Bell sessions, to create a new Pink Floyd album. They recruited session musicians to help record new parts and "generally harness studio technology". Waters was not involved. Mason described the album as a tribute to Wright: "I think this record is a good way of recognising a lot of what he does and how his playing was at the heart of the Pink Floyd sound. Listening back to the sessions, it really brought home to me what a special player he was."

Samson announced The Endless River in July 2014 on Twitter. Details were announced on Pink Floyd's website on 7 July, describing it as comprising "mainly ambient" and instrumental music. It was released 7 November 2014, the second Pink Floyd album distributed by Parlophone following the release of the 20th anniversary editions of The Division Bell earlier in 2014. Though The Endless River received mixed reviews, it became the most pre-ordered album of all time on Amazon UK, and debuted at number one in several countries. The vinyl edition was the fastest-selling UK vinyl release of 2014 and the fastest-selling since 1997.

Gilmour stated that The Endless River is Pink Floyd's last album, saying: "I think we have successfully commandeered the best of what there is ... It's a shame, but this is the end." There was no tour to support the album, as Gilmour felt it was "kind of impossible" without Wright. In August 2015, Gilmour reiterated that Pink Floyd were "done" and that to reunite without Wright "would just be wrong".

The Early Years 1965–1972

In July 2016, the band announced a forthcoming box set, The Early Years 1965–1972, containing 27 discs comprising CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays of outtakes, live recordings, new mixes and feature films.

Musicianship

Genres

Considered one of the UK's first psychedelic music groups, Pink Floyd began their career at the vanguard of London's underground music scene. Some categorise their work from that era as space rock. According to Rolling Stone: "By 1967, they had developed an unmistakably psychedelic sound, performing long, loud suitelike compositions that touched on hard rock, blues, country, folk, and electronic music." Released in 1968, the song "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" helped galvanise their reputation as an art rock group. Other genres attributed to the band are acid rockproto-progpsychedelic pop, and experimental pop (while under Barrett). By the late 1960s, the press had begun to label their music progressive rock. O'Neill Surber comments on the music of Pink Floyd:

Rarely will you find Floyd dishing up catchy hooks, tunes short enough for air-play, or predictable three-chord blues progressions; and never will you find them spending much time on the usual pop album of romance, partying, or self-hype. Their sonic universe is expansive, intense, and challenging ... Where most other bands neatly fit the songs to the music, the two forming a sort of autonomous and seamless whole complete with memorable hooks, Pink Floyd tends to set lyrics within a broader soundscape that often seems to have a life of its own ... Pink Floyd employs extended, stand-alone instrumentals which are never mere vehicles for showing off virtuoso but are planned and integral parts of the performance.

In 1968, Wright commented on Pink Floyd's sonic reputation: "It's hard to see why we were cast as the first British psychedelic group. We never saw ourselves that way ... we realised that we were, after all, only playing for fun ... tied to no particular form of music, we could do whatever we wanted ... the emphasis ... [is] firmly on spontaneity and improvisation." Waters gave a less enthusiastic assessment of the band's early sound: "There wasn't anything 'grand' about it. We were laughable. We were useless. We couldn't play at all so we had to do something stupid and 'experimental'... Syd was a genius, but I wouldn't want to go back to playing "Interstellar Overdrive" for hours and hours." Unconstrained by conventional pop formats, Pink Floyd were innovators of progressive rock during the 1970s and ambient music during the 1980s.

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Live Play all   

High hopes   

Shine on you crazy diamond   

On the turning away   

Comfortably numb   

One of these days   

Time   

Money   

Learning to fly   

Breathe   

Keep talking   

Coming back to live   

Wish you were here   

Echoes   

Marooned   

The great gig in the sky   

Another brick in the wall   

Us and them   

Sorrow   




The dark side of the moon Live 1974   

P.U.L.S.E. Live at Earl´s Court 1994   

Pink Floyd reunion at Live 8 2005