Diving deep into the bizarre world of the Far Out archives, we’re revisiting the trippy and unusual moment Pink Floyd allowed their music to appear in a TV advertisement for Dole bananas.
The band, who famously refused to allow their creations to be used for commercials unless it was for a good cause, encountered a somewhat experimental period of Pink Floyd’s existence in the mid-70s. In 1974, Pink Floyd were approaching their creative peak when Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason were afforded more opportunities to monetise their work—but all were not in agreement.
Pink Floyd had just released the album The Dark Side of the Moon when they were scheduling their European tour. In an attempt to make the rising ticket prices cheaper for their fans, the band decided to compromise their beliefs and agree to a campaign for a French soft drink, ‘Gini’. It was one the band would later regret, but it was also one that allowed them to gain more income to make the situation easier for the fans. However, their first step into the world of advertising had opened the door.
That same year Pink Floyd were approached by the Dole Food Company, the American organisation who have now established themselves as the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world. The company, planning a major campaign around their bananas, wanted to use the band’s 1973 track ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ for a particularly racy approach at selling the fruit.
Speaking about the track, Richard Wright once said: “‘Great Gig in the Sky?’ It was just me playing in the studio, playing some chords, and probably Dave or Roger saying ‘Hmm… that sounds nice. Maybe we could use that for this part of the album’. And then, me going away and trying to develop it. So then I wrote the music for that, and then there was a middle bit, with Clare Torry singing, that fantastic voice. We wanted something for that bit, and she came in and sang on it.” It was this fact which caused some issues for the band.
While Pink Floyd only ever allowed their music to be used in a commercial four times in total, ‘Great Gig in the Sky?’ took up half of those situations. “Rick wrote that music,” founding member of the band David Gilmour once said. “He remade it for them. It’s down to the writer. If my name had been on that track too it wouldn’t have happened,” he said of the advertising use. “I wouldn’t do it. But that’s Rick’s business. I didn’t approve of it, but I have no control over it.”