A foundational stone in the monument of rock and roll, few bands are as integral to its construction as Pink Floyd. Without Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason, the world of music would look drastically different today. Their perfect blend of creativity and cultured artistry meant that during the 1970s, no band had a more significant impact on pop culture. Through their expansive psychedelic sound, the group changed music as we know it today.
Unsurprisingly for a band with a long career, they released many misfires, but the great moments they crafted are really that. Be it Meddle, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, or even The Wall, the debate concerning the ultimate Pink Floyd album will likely still be raging long after we’ve departed from this earthly realm, a testament to just how incredible their highlights are. But one thing is clear, at least according to Nick Mason, none of those albums would have been possible without one band.
There are plenty of influential groups from the 1960s. Pink Floyd are likely considered one. But with the sweeping change of pop culture during that decade, there was only one band who seemingly changed the entire world overnight, and of course, we’re talking about The Beatles. When the Fab Four made waves during the early part of the decade, nobody could have predicted the seismic shift in pop music that would follow.
A band that Ozzy Osbourne described to his son as:” ‘Imagine going to bed in one world, and then waking up in another that’s so different and exciting that it makes you feel glad to be alive,” may well have launched a thousand bands after their tunes hit the radio and the surge of electricity filter into an entire generation. Still, some of those bands were more important than others.
While David Gilmour has regularly shared how much he adored The Beatles, playing with Paul McCartney and once claiming they were the only band he ever really wished he could be in, the truth is they had a more direct impact on the launching of Pink Floyd’s stratospheric rise. When drummer Nick Mason was asked for some of his favourite songs of all time, he picked ‘Lovely Rita‘ a Beatles song with which Pink Floyd had a strong connection.
“I put this in because it was such a great moment for us,” recalled the drummer. “We were recording our first album in Abbey Road. We were in studio three recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and down the corridor, The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper. There was an invitation to go and visit the gods on Mount Olympus.” Given that the band had been topping charts for years and turning Britain into one of the coolest places on earth, the idea of the band as Liverpudlian deities is not so far-fetched. Of course, such an expansive group opened doors for Pink Floyd’s sound.
“It was a pivotal moment because actually without The Beatles, we probably wouldn’t have existed,” continued Mason, “because Sgt. Pepper was the album that absolutely changed the face of the record industry because up until then, it was all about singles. Sgt. Pepper was the first album that actually outsold singles. That enabled bands like us to have more studio time and more freedom to do what we wanted,” the drummer said.
While Sgt. Pepper opened the door for a whole heap of bands; no group barged through the doorframe more effectively than Pink Floyd. Below, listen to ‘Bike’, the song apparently inspired by that session.