The Pink Floyd Sound…   Leave a comment


The Pink Floyd Sound…

With the Tea Set lacking the vocals of Noble and Metcalfe, Klose introduced them to Chris Dennis, a technician with the Royal Air Force. During Dennis’ tenure, the Tea Set acquired an alternative name—the Pink Floyd Sound. The name was derived from the given names of two blues musicians that Barrett had in his record collection—Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. On the spur of the moment, Barrett created it upon the discovery that another band, the eponymously-named Tea Set, were to perform at one of their gigs.

Dennis was posted to Bahrain, thrusting Barrett into the spotlight as frontman. Minus Wright—who had taken a break from studying—they acquired studio time between 1964–1965. They recorded a cover version of „I’m A King Bee”, and songs written by Barrett, using the recordings as promotional material. Meanwhile, Wright had recorded and published a song called „You’re The Reason Why”, for which he was paid an advance fee of £75. They later became the resident band at the Countdown Club near Kensington High Street in London, playing three sets of 90 minutes from late at night, until early the following morning. According to Mason, this period „… was the beginning of a realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos.” They auditioned for the ITV programme Ready Steady Go! (whose producers expressed enough interest to invite them back into the studio audience the following week), another club, and two rock contests. Bob Klose left in 1965, at the behest of his father and college tutors, and Barrett took over on lead guitar.

They began to receive paid bookings including at the Marquee Club in March 1966 where they were watched by Peter Jenner. The band played mostly rhythm and blues songs, but Jenner was impressed with the strange acoustic effects that Barrett and Wright created during their performance. Jenner traced Waters and Mason to their flat, and with his business partner and friend Andrew King was subsequently invited to become their manager. Although the pair had little experience of the music industry, they shared an appreciation of music, as well as a childhood history. Using inherited money they set up Blackhill Enterprises and purchased new instruments for the band, as well as equipment which included a Selmer PA system. Under their guidance, they began performing on London’s underground music scene, notably at a venue booked by the London Free School in Notting Hill. At the All Saints Hall they were confronted by an audience whose members were often under the influence of drugs, and who arrived with few or no expectations. Question and answer sessions would often be held following each performance. The Pink Floyd Sound felt encouraged to work on the instrumental excursions they had experimented with at the Countdown Club, and rudimentary light shows projected by coloured slides and domestic lights were used to powerful effect. To celebrate the launch of the Free School’s magazine International Times, they performed at the opening of The Roundhouse, attended by 2000-strong crowd which included such celebrities as Alexander Trocchi, Paul McCartney, and Marianne Faithfull. Jenner and King’s diverse array of social connections were meritorious, gaining the band important coverage in The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.

„At the launching of the new magazine IT the other night a pop group called the Pink Floyd played throbbing music while a series of bizarre coloured shapes flashed on a huge screen behind them. Someone had made a mountain of jelly which people ate at midnight and another person had parked his motorbike in the middle of the room. All apparently very psychedelic.”

By October 1966 the band was playing more of Barrett’s songs, which would later feature on Pink Floyd’s first album. Their relationship with Blackhill Enterprises was strengthened when they became full partners, each owning an unprecedented one-sixth share.[24] More gigs followed, including at the Commonwealth Institute, and one at a Catholic youth club whose owner refused to pay. At a magistrates’ court a judge agreed with the owner, who claimed that the band’s performance „wasn’t music”.[32] This was not the only occasion on which they encountered such entrenched opinions, but they were better received at the UFO Club in London. They enjoyed playing there, and used the in-house lighting to good effect. Barrett’s performances were exuberant, „… leaping around and the madness, and the kind of improvisation he was doing … he was inspired. He would constantly manage to get past his limitations and into areas that were very, very interesting. Which none of the others could do.” The audience was receptive to the music they played, but unlike some of their spectators they remained drug-free —”We were out of it, not on acid, but out of the loop, stuck in the dressing room at UFO.”

Although in 1967 Mason admitted that the psychedelic movement had „taken place around us—not within us”, the Pink Floyd Sound were present at the head of a wave of interest in this new style of music. There was substantial interest from record companies, and steered by Joe Boyd in January 1967 they recorded several songs at Sound Techniques in West Hampstead, including „Arnold Layne”, and a version of „Interstellar Overdrive”. They also travelled to Sussex and recorded a short music film for „Arnold Layne”. Despite early interest from Polydor, the band signed with EMI with a £5,000 advance, and Boyd was unfortunately left out of the deal.

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