n the very early days of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett was the center of everything. He was the only one of us who was writing any songs. He was very zippy in that way, very creative, in a way that people who are in danger of going over the edge sometimes are.
Syd was terrific to be around, and great to be in a band with. He's still alive. He lives with his mother in Cambridge. But he was a casualty. After a while, he became completely impossible, so we approached David Gilmour to come in and play guitar and sing, which he did. And we were all fine for a while. Syd even did a couple of gigs with us. But he was becoming crazier and crazier. I remember the final straw, and that was when Syd one day suddenly decided that the answer to the band's problems was to introduce two saxophone players and a girl singer. We said, "Yeah, yeah. Good idea, Syd."
Syd moving out meant what we just had to start writing. In fact, his leaving made us pursue the idea of the extended epic and a more classically constructed idea of music. "A Saucerful of Secrets" was fifteen minutes or so long, and that was considered rather outlandish at the time.
From the early Seventies on, I'd say, from Meddle on, I made all the decisions -- how often we're going to tour, how long the tours should be, which cities, when should our next record be, those kinds of things.
And my writing was such that I could never make anything up. Dark Side of the Moon, for example, in terms of its construction and lyrical content, as well as the music, is simply how I was feeling in 1972. I found that the more direct I've been with my feelings, the better I felt about work at the end of the day. Even up to the last Floyd album, Final Cut, which was almost more direct than anything I had ever done because it was about my father, was about how I was feeling.
And although it wasn't a huge commercial success, I could say, "So what?" It's very easy to become trapped into the thing of, "Well, what's important is selling a lot of records and filling a lot of stadiums and making a lot of money." Of course that's important to anyone who's gone into rock'n'roll. But that can't be the most important thing. And it's not the most important thing to anybody who lasts a long time in this business.
At the end of the day, whatever day, I knew that Dark Side of the Moon was a well-structured album. I listened to it recently, for the first time in maybe ten years, and it holds up very well. It's interesting that people are still buying it. It takes a long time to arrive to its point all the time, and there are meandering passages. If you took it to an A & R man today, he'd say, "OK, we've got to tighten this up. Nobody's going to stand for this. Take these sixteen bars out here, please. They'll never play it on the radio." I mean, if that record were made today, it would be dismissed out of hand as a no-hoper.
But Dark Side of the Moon is very easy to digest. It's easy listening, and yet it feels different, somehow serious.
When you go through the list of bands that came out of England, the so-called important bands, people always talk about the Beatles and the Stones and the Who because they all played the game one way or another. We never did. So we never get mentioned in that context. But I feel if you're talking about Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, and John Lennon, you should be talking about me, as well. Sometimes I get a bit niggled and miffed by that. What's interesting, I think, is the fact that we will always be remembered for the number of weeks Dark Side of the Moon remained on the Billboard charts, and not for anything we did, because of what makes good copy and what doesn't.
I finally had to leave Pink Floyd because inevitably people change, and the way a band works changes. In the end, Pink Floyd changed in a way that was uncomfortable for all of us. Inevitably jealousies and things crept up, and at the end of the day they start to outweigh the pleasures. The battles get a bit tougher, and there's a bit more backbiting. In the end, you just have to say, "Well, let's do something else." I never wanted to be in the longest-lasting band in the history of rock'n'roll anyway. I think we'll leave that to the Stones or somebody else.
Main Page | Seventies Superstars | The Classic 500 | Seventies Almanac | Search The RockSite/The Web