Credit: EMI

How Pink Floyd used condoms to change the shape of live music

Pink Floyd’s influence on music goes far beyond the incredible albums Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright made during their extensive career. The group were not only one of the first adopters of operatic rock music, nor presenting their songs in surround sound, they weren’t just the purveyors of prog-rock perfection, they also used condoms to change music forever.

The band’s earlier days were even more experimental than after David Gilmour replaced founding member Syd Barrett. The band were some of the most avant-garde acid-rock London had ever seen and in 1966 the group would use a condom to stumble upon one of music’s greatest innovations—the rock show.

The band’s famous live show is something the single members of Pink Floyd can always look back on with the utmost pride. In the seventies, as the band’s style began to evolve and develop into something more closely resembling a theatre production, we’d bet nobody in the audience would know that the dramatics on stage were all inspired by some of the most rudimentary instruments.

In mid-1966 the Pink Floyd’s tour manager Peter Wynne-Wilson joined the group who weren’t quite called Pink Floyd at the time and revolutionised the lighting rig. His innovative ideas included the use of polariser mirrors and stretched condoms which added the generational-defining stage show that became part of the band’s iconography.

Arriving at a Pink Floyd gig in 1966 suddenly became an event. It provided the band with a clear and definitive line in the sand between them and the rest of the British invasion groups. While The Beatles and the Stones were beginning to find their own ways to express the influx of psychedelia, Pink Floyd put their credentials in front of everybody’s eyes.

The band now had a stage show which included visuals nobody else could provide and they all came about using a stretched condom over a lens and splattering it with paint and oil—Wynne-Wilson had started something that he never likely imagined, in essence, he began the rock show as we know it.

After this moment the need for the visuals of a band to be just as impressive and important as the music was firmly installed. Pink Floyd had begun a trend that still emanates today and put their live performance, the moment they connect directly with their audience, at the forefront of everything they did and all thanks to an old condom.

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