Over 40 years after Britain’s foremost ‘underground’ band released their debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd remain one of the biggest brand names and best-loved bands in the world.
This film features extended archive, some of it rarely or never seen before, alongside original interviews with four members of Pink Floyd – David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and the late Richard Wright – and traces the journey of a band that has only ever had five members, three of whom have led the band at different stages of its evolution.
Tracing the band’s history from psychedelic 60s London to their reunion appearance at Live 8 in 2005, this is the story of a succession of musical and commercial peaks separated by a succession of struggles around the creative leadership of the band. Their story was given added poignancy by the 2006 death of their estranged frontman, Syd Barrett.
Pink Floyd spearheaded the concept album, never sold themselves as personalities and expanded rock way beyond its three minute pop song beginnings. Pink Floyd has made the four members very rich and has consumed their creative lives, but it hasn’t always made them friends. When first meeting their American record company, one of the executives apocryphally asked, “Which one’s Pink?”. This film traces the reverberations of that question throughout the band’s history.
First led by the innovative singer, songwriter and guitarist Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd were at the forefront of Britain’s psychedelic era. After putting the band on the map with hits like Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, Barrett drifted out of the band after experimenting with LSD.
The three remaining members added Barrett’s old Cambridge friend David Gilmour to the band on guitar and functioned as a communal unit while creating extended sonic explorations on albums like Atom Heart Mother and Echoes. While creating ever larger and more visually ambitious stage shows, the band personally shunned the limelight, taking the stage as four shadowy figures and never appearing on their album covers.
Gradually Roger Waters emerged as the band’s key songwriter, creating those massive selling concept albums of the mid-70s, Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, two of the biggest-selling and boldest albums of all time. But Waters’s desire to control the band and the increasing passivity of the others eventually left to him leaving the band and the name after 1983’s The Final Cut album.
David Gilmour eventually assumed control of the band, producing two globally-successful Pink Floyd albums, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994), with the help of Nick Mason and Rick Wright. Meanwhile, Waters conducted a less commercially-successful solo career.
As a result of Bob Geldof’s pleading, David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason reunited with Roger Waters for one time only for 2005’s Live 8, playing together for the first time in approximately 25 years.
Whether Pink Floyd will ever record or perform again with or without Roger Waters remains unclear.