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Pink Floyd's official exhibition's in Madrid, and this could be your last chance to catch it
By thinkSPAIN Team Sun, Sep 8, 2019
ROCK fans, take note: The official Pink Floyd exhibition is in Madrid until October 27, having been extended by popular request.
Taking over the capital's huge IFEMA trade fair centre – which is easy to reach by metro or motorway – the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains covers the full history of the British band, from its origins as a bunch of architecture students at London Polytechnic in 1965 through its signing up with EMI Records, its catapaulting to international fame in the late '60s and early '70s, the Waters-led and Gilmour-led eras, and reunions in the 21st century.
In it, you'll find the band's instruments – including the Azimuth Coordinator and the Binson Echorec Baby effects unit – props from its The Wall tour, such as the masks worn by the 'surrogate band', a penned letter from Syd Barrett to girlfriend Jenny Spires, his bike, and pages from Nick Mason's 1968 diary.
You'll also see a mirrorball (remember those from '70s and '80s discos?) shaped like a flower, which the band used in its live gigs between 1973 and 1977 (fourth picture).
The face cast from Richard Wright, worn by the 'surrogate band' during the opening track of Pink Floyd's The Wall tour, In The Flesh?, to make the audience think it was in fact Richard they were seeing, is one of the star pieces on display (second photo), as is the head of the 'wife puppet' used in the same tour (third picture).
Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains – a title taken from a line from their The Wall track Nobody Home (“I've got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains,”) - kicked off in May 2017 in London's Victoria and Albert Museum before setting off from the band's native city to Rome, then Dortmund (Germany), and finally Madrid on May 10.
It should have been winding up soon, but such has been its huge popularity that the organisers have opted to continue it until the end of October – and fans should make sure they do not miss it, since it is not clear whether another venue is on the cards or whether it will finish altogether once it leaves the Spanish capital.
Pink Floyd: A background
For anyone who only knows Pink Floyd by name and not by fame, who has never (knowingly) listened to their music or for whom the rockers' heyday was before their time, a bit of history before heading to the exhibition does not go amiss: and you may not have realised that these Londoners who changed the face of the '60s music scene were probably the band which has had the most names in rock history.
After Roger Waters, Nick Mason and, a year later, Richard Wright, on lead guitar, drums and rhythm guitar respectively, clubbed together in a group set up by Keith Noble and his sister Sheilagh along with Clive Metcalf, they called themselves Sigma 6. Then, once the first three went off on their own, guitarists Bob Klose and Syd Barrett joined, they became the Meggadeaths, the Abdabs, the Screaming Abdabs, Leonard's Lodgers – since they were sharing a flat in Stanhope Gardens, east London, owned by college tutor Mike Leonard – the Spectrum Five, then the Tea Set.
All this happened between 1963 and 1965, when they re-baptised themselves Pink Floyd Sound on the spur of the moment after finding out they were to share gig space with another outfit called the Tea Set.
The band's final name was a combination of the blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, both of whom figured heavily in Syd Barrett's record collection.
Starting off with a repertoire of mostly rhythm & blues, Pink Floyd was finally noticed in 1966 by a London School of Economics lecturer and his business partner, who decided to invest in them by shelling out the equivalent of €1,100 on musical instruments for them – in today's money, just over €20,000.
They would be reviewed later that year in national publications such as the Financial Times and the Sunday Times, the latter of which described their works as 'throbbing music' against a background of 'bizarre coloured shapes flash[ing] on a huge screen', creating a 'very psychedelic' effect.
EMI Records signed Pink Floyd up in 1967 and released their first single, Arnold Layne, which reached number 20 in the UK charts despite being banned by several radio stations due to its allusion to men dressing in women's clothing.
With single number two, See Emily Play, reaching number six in the British charts, the band made its début appearance on Top of the Pops the same year it signed up with EMI.
Syd Barrett left in 1967 due to depression, soon after the band's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was released, and he was replaced by David Gilmour, after which Pink Floyd continued to release an album a year – A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother and Meddle followed, then The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Animals – based upon George Orwell's political novel Animal Farm – and The Wall came at bi-annual intervals.
Pink Floyd's 1982 album The Final Cut was largely a protest against the Falklands War, often considered Roger Waters' 'solo album', given five stars by Rolling Stone magazine, and went straight to number one in the UK charts.
Their last album, now without Roger Waters, was The Division Bell in 1994, the name chosen by Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams and the Danish artist Storm Thorgerson designing the iconic cover, featuring two Moai-type rock heads in profile, said to signify the absences of Waters and Barrett (fifth picture) – although Richard Wright had also left by then, meaning the only original member was Nick Mason.
Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright, in a reunion engineered by Bob Geldof, reappeared as Pink Floyd at London's Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, but made it clear there was no chance of their ever getting together permanently and reviving history.
Richard Wright and Syd Barrett both passed away over 10 years ago, although Waters and Gilmour performed together at a charity concert, in 2010, and Mason and Gilmour released the album The Endless River in 2014.
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