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Why Pink Floyd turned down Stanley Kubrick


If the visionary techniques, grand scopes and tempestuous working patterns of Stanley Kubrick were equated to a musical counterpart, then Pink Floyd would certainly be one of the first names in the hat. The band and filmmaker share an undeniable artistic kinship and it would seem that their paths crossed in a more direct sense on a few occasions. 

It has often been postulated that Pink Floyd actually synced up their 23-minute epic track ‘Echoes’ with the final sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The sound and vision of the two artistic vignettes form such a hand in glove marriage that many have argued that it simply had to be intentional. 

The band have denied this, but they have also paradoxically stoked the flames of the sync-up by stating that they originally targeted an appearance on the sci-fi epic’s soundtrack. The fact that Pink Floyd didn’t feature in 2001: A Space Odyssey led to a tit for tat conflict between the band and Kubrick. 

As Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Uncut in an interview back in 2018, in 1971 Kubrick contacted the band with a request to use music from their Atom Heart Mother record in A Clockwork Orange, his follow-up to the seismic success of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Pink Floyd refused to grant the director permission to use their music, and according to Mason this was because “he wouldn’t let us do anything for 2001,” says Mason. 

He later went on to say, “It sounds a bit petulant! I don’t remember whether he did ask for something from Atom Heart Mother. We’d have loved to have got involved with 2001 – we thought it was exactly the sort of thing we should be doing the soundtrack for.”

Sadly, Kubrick denied their desired intentions to feature on 2001: A Space Odyssey thus the perfect match-up would be cast to the ash heap of ‘what-could-have-been’ forevermore.

Although the prospect is a titillating fantasy of two monolithic forces in the pop-culture zeitgeist colliding to brilliant effect, it is also worth acknowledging that the final soundtracks crafted for Kubrick’s movies exist in a rarified realm of brilliance that nobody would want to meddle with, so on this occasion, we can rest easy without fearing that fate duped us.

You can check out the cut of ‘Echoes’ transposed over 2001: A Space Odyssey below.